The Unicorn sums up my career in so many ways. The special wood materials I’ve learned to love so much, my trademark constructional features, the tonal fine-tuning, the aesthetic and ergonomic balance – it’s all there – entwined with tradition, reinventing the roots. A guitar that at first glance may appear conventional, yet when experienced, turns out to be quite exceptional.
Juha Ruokangas – Master Guitar Maker
MAKING THE UNICORN
After fifteen years as a professional luthier, I went back to my first love of electric guitars, challenged myself and started from the beginning to create the single-cut electric I had always wanted.
The Unicorn tops are all made from arctic birch because of its unparalleled tone, and appearance that is unlike any other guitars. Figured arctic birch is not readily available, so I need to hunt it down the hard way – I trek in the forests, hand-pick the trees I want, and the logs are cut exclusively for me. It’s a lot of work – but I’m stubborn enough to walk the extra mile.
We all belong to a continuum. We draw from the past – but luckily we can renew ourselves, too. Establishing the use of Spanish cedar in electric guitars is one example of my personal renewal processes. By doing so, I wish I have not only generated a new tradition, but also succeeded in contributing a little to the ongoing evolution of electric guitar.
Quality of tonewood means everything to me, because it essentially dictates whether or not a guitar has the potential to become a great musical instrument. Thermal ageing is not a magic trick – it doesn’t change bad wood into good. But it is the best method to make sure my hand selected tonewood is all game to begin the transformation into a great guitar.
The next level
I am very happy with my Unicorn Classic and I am sure, that she is on the next level above of the rest of world!
Forging a unique path
You are certainly forging a unique path both in terms of guitar building style and guitar building philosophy!
I can confirm that the Unicorn not only looks absolutely gorgeous, but also sounds wonderful!
Passion and inspiration
The Unicorn Artisan is the epitome of passion and inspiration.
Thanks for building me this fantastic guitar. My Unicorn is simply one of the best instruments I’ve ever played!
What an amazing instrument. By the looks alone it is a stunner. And soundwise it’s a tone machine!
It’s all there
The Unicorn leaves nothing to the imagination or to be desired – it’s all there!
A better sounding and playing guitar simply can not be built!
Ruokangas guitars are instruments for grown-ups!
Setting the bar
Ruokangas sets the bar as a standard by which all of the boutique guitar companies should be measured against…
I strive to make my guitars as limitless as possible regarding the sound. An electric guitar is an acoustic instrument – and an exceptionally good electric guitar must have superb acoustic properties in order to deliver the richest, liveliest and most characteristic possible sound when amplified.
The purpose of a carved top is not only to please the eye, but also to contribute to the sound. Every structural detail matters – the angled neck together with the bridge and tailpiece create a solid foundation for the energy of the strings to transfer to the carved top and the whole body of the guitar in the most vibrant way.
During my years as a repairman I got so tired to fix broken headstocks, that I decided to do mine better than that. I want my guitars to last from father to son. The Unicorn has the steep vintage style headstock angle, but I revamped the construction completely, making the neck super strong.
JOY TO PLAY
BUILT FOR LIFE
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.
We use a lot of time to do the fretwork – more than most would consider sensible. It takes forever just to do the dome shaped fret ends like we do them. But then again, that’s what our job is about. The best playability can only be achieved when every detail is thought out and executed to its full potential.
It takes years for a luthier to master the art of making a flawless nut to a guitar. It starts from selecting the right material, and in Finland, the number one choice is moose shin bone. It keeps the tuning best, breaks strings the least, outlasts synthetic materials or metals, and gives unique clarity to the open notes.
A great guitar finish feels right, looks right and protects the wood right. A great guitar finish must be thin and hard to not dampen the sound of the guitar. Instead of blindly repeating what was done before me, I’ve trusted my own intuition and experience, done my own research and found the best finishes for my own guitars.
We make heavy duty tools for serious players. It doesn’t make a difference if it’s the most stripped down model or top of the line eye-candy – every Ruokangas guitar is top notch, right out of the box.
RUOKANGAS SETS THE BAR
In the world of boutique guitars, Ruokangas sets the bar as a standard by which all boutique guitar companies should be measured against for making an outstanding product. I am a very proud owner of these instruments.
– Jay Jay French | Twisted Sister Homepage
I have consciously decided not to take part in the ongoing industrial race for cheaper labour and bigger profits. Our ambition is simply to live our lives making guitars, cherishing the tradition of handcraft. Why? Because we love it. It’s a good life.
– Juha Ruokangas