One might think it's a simple job to design a simple guitar - but it's quite the opposite. How to bring anything worthwhile into a concept that is already stellar? It's all the little things. By cleaning up and revising every detail, one can do miracles. I got my mojo working good.
Juha Ruokangas - Master Guitar Maker
First I dodged the idea of touching this style that has so often been modified but rarely improved upon. I'm glad I finally went for it, and I learned a lot on the way, too. In Leonardo da Vinci's words - simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
As I turned 40, I couldn't afford a race car. I ended up designing this guitar instead - the embodiment of my mid-life crisis! The Mojo King is great fun - it has tons of tonal options, and I love the hot rodded looks of it, too.
When Tommy Emmanuel bought a Mojo Grande from me, he said it was "the most acoustic electric guitar" he had ever played. That's a great definition for the Grande! It's as if there’s nothing standing between your fingers and making music.
Tone is usually my first source of inspiration when making a new guitar model. On the Mojo model, Wilko Johnson was definitely one of my key influences. Listen to the early Dr. Feelgood tunes 'I Don't Mind' or 'Keep It Out Of Sight'. Mind blowing sounds and attitude!
Finnish alder has a warm, yellowish to brownish natural color, and when skillfully finished, the grain has a beautiful shimmer. Alder gives our bolt-on guitars a classic, open voiced and ringing tone that most players would define as “vintage”.
Thermally aged tonewood behaves the same way as naturally seasoned wood does. When done the right way, thermal ageing has only positive effects. I’ve used thermally aged tonewood in my guitars since before turn of the millennium, and later on it has become popular all around the world among luthiers and guitar factories.
"I can't believe it's possible to build a new guitar that feels and sounds like a twenty, thirty year old good friend!"
- Kalle Thiel (Germany)
"... beautifully built on a level that is virtually non-existent among all but a few instruments made today at any price."
- ToneQuest Report (USA)
"The tone and responsiveness are amazing, it feels as if the guitar is alive!"
- Stuart Skilling (UK)
"I am very happy! It’s unbelievable how the Mojo King reacts and how the tone evolves..."
- Ralf Plate (Germany)
"Man, I love this guitar! It's a dream to play and sounds terrific!"
- Sonny Landreth (USA)
"My Mojo King is a wonderful instrument - so responsive - it has a soul, I think!"
- Jean-Philippe Marchand (Switzerland)
"The Mojo Grande survives rough life on the road. The players' choice!"
- Jani Wickholm (Finland)
"When the Mojo King is running clean (or semi-clean) it conjures lush, airy, three-dimensional tones."
- Premier Guitar (USA)
"… the guitar feels like someone you have known for a long time and want to continue spending time with."
- FUZZ Magazine (Sweden)
"Both the Duke and Mojo are flawlessly finished with details you simply don’t see today."
- ToneQuest Report (USA)
"Juha is a passionate, adventurous builder with an admirable dedication to using locally sourced materials."
- Premier Guitar (USA)
"Plugging in the Mojo Grande was pure pleasure."
- Guitar One Magazine (USA)
"I have owned many boutique instruments and this is the best I have played - it just feels like an old friend."
- Jeff Van Blarcom (USA)
"The Mojo Grande is really really a top guitar - you have a new fan!"
- Thomas Maack (Germany)
"My 12-stringed Mojo Grande is a true piece of art, brilliant grand sound, easy to play and joy to eye."
- Kurt Kokko (Finland)
"I am totally in shock Juha! This is a killer guitar - I have 20 guitars, but this one is the best!"
- Michael Pagaard (Denmark)
"I'm playing the Mojo Grande a lot and it's a pleasure for the ears, the hands, and the eyes!"
- Davide Iudica (Italy)
"Among all the instruments on display at the NAMM 2005, Ruokangas guitars made the greatest lasting impression."
- ToneQuest Report (USA)
"When I plugged in the Mojo to record our latest songs, everyone's jaws dropped."
- Joel Auge (Canada)
Why do some guitars have "more twang" than others? This characteristic tone quality that many desire is a sum of many variables - wood species, construction, pickups, bridge, string gauge - and eventually it boils down to how each player digs the notes out of the instrument.
We make one guitar at a time. Each guitar is made by one luthier. This means that every guitar part we make gets uninterrupted attention to detail, and it enables us to take your custom wishes into account better. And besides - it's way more fun to make guitars this way!
People often ask me if a set-neck is better than a bolt-on neck. It's not really about better or worse. Different joint styles serve different purposes. And regarding quality - one can make a great set neck - or a poor one. We prefer doing our job so that we can sleep well at night.
Electric guitars made in the 1950's had a very simple truss rod that was able to correct an up-bowed neck. Such truss rods are still used a lot. To me this is a no-brainer - sometimes the old way just isn't the best way. All my guitars have a high quality double-way truss rod that doesn't cause trouble in any climate.
Our purpose is to create the ideal tools for your art of making music. To achieve this goal, each of our guitars is individually handmade to the highest standard by one of us, the Ruokangas team, using the finest materials in the world. No serial production methods or automated processes are involved in the making.
One can claim that a magnetic pickup only picks up the vibration of the strings - not the sound of the guitar. True. But - the way the strings sound, the way the harmonics of strings are enhanced or cancelled, the interaction between the strings and the rest of the guitar - that is a complex equation!
Not many come to think that one of the key reasons for the twangy sound of this style guitar is the traditional bridge baseplate made of steel. It is a magnetic material that changes the shape of the magnetic field of the pickup, emphasizing the characteristic edgy sound of this type guitars.
We’ve decided not to count the hours or the minutes, but instead just keep on doing the very best we can. Skillfully installed and finished frets make a worlds difference to how the guitar feels to play. Expert levelling enables super low and buzz free action – and mirror buffed frets make bending notes smooth as butter.
A musician recognizes an exceptional instrument when he plays one. Our mission is to make sure that every Ruokangas guitar that leaves our shop is such an instrument.
I own many guitars - some good, some even great. Then I have the ones I use. They're all Ruokangas guitars.
– Juha Torvinen
Electric guitar was an inseparable part of the pop culture revolution in the 1950's. But it's still a young musical instrument, that keeps on evolving in the hands of guitar makers around the world. I'm proud and thankful to exist in the focal point of this invigorating age, when guitars are made better than ever before.
– Juha Ruokangas