There is a certain friendliness in old guitars, that you don't often feel in new instruments. And yet, I want to rather create new than to repeat the past. I've worked hard for years to grasp that magic of the old world and to merge it into my new guitars.
Juha Ruokangas - Master Guitar Maker
One of the early magazine reviews described the VSOP as a player’s guitar rather than a poseur’s instrument. That warmed my heart, cause that's exactly how I see this guitar model too. A reliable workhorse that won't let you down.
I keep raving about our unique combination of tonewood - spanish cedar and arctic birch top. It works, no matter what style the instrument! In the case of VSOP Deluxe, I've taken the s-type guitar to the extreme, from working man's tool to elaborate work of art.
The renowned S-style electric guitar with a bolt-on neck. That's the embodiment of an idea to mass produce guitars, fast and effective. And yet, my idea is quite the contrary - one guitar at a time, using all the time it takes. Where one may see contradiction, I see an opportunity to exceed the existing limits.
Alder contributes to our bolt-on guitars with a classic, open voiced and ringing tone that most players would define as “vintage”. The alder we use originates from sustainable local sources in Finland.
I have worked hard since year 2000 to educate and convince players, one by one, about this breakthrough technology. For a long time it felt like we were the only ones pushing on with it. One of the turning points took place in January 2006 when ToneQuest Report magazine published an article about us and thermally aged tonewood.
"You can’t help but be impressed by the simple, assured clarity of the VSOP…"
- Marcus Leadley / The Guitar Magazine (United Kingdom)
"The VSOP drives extremely well with distortion and doesn’t lose any of its natural dynamics."
- Gitarre & Bass (Germany)
"I thought my Duke was the best guitar on the planet, but I was wrong - my new VSOP DeLuxe is on the same level."
- Peter Steinlehner (Germany)
"Fantastic tone machines. So stable, resonant, and balanced that it's hard to put them down once you pick them up."
- Edgie Salvador (Singapore)
"There is a big risk of becoming addicted to the VSOP..."
- FUZZ Magazine (Sweden)
"The VSOP is an unassuming instrument that will deliver the goods in all situations and make a good amp sing."
- The Guitar Magazine (UK)
"Thank you maestro! Great work - I am really very happy in every way with the VSOP - playability, sound..!"
- Markus Zlöbl (Austria)
"I’ve been very satisfied to how all my Ruokangas guitars play, sound and feel - and they just keep getting better!"
- Antti Paranko (Finland)
"I totally fell in love with the VSOP and yet it’s getting better and better. The sound of this guitar is unbelievable."
- Falco Karassavidis / The Jooks (Germany)
"It's not smart to define happiness by fixed assets, but your guitars are the key to hours and hours of pure happiness!"
- Peter Steinlehner (Germany)
"It's like you are from another planet and arrived on earth to build the best guitars in the whole universe... seriously!"
- Falco Karassavidis (Germany)
"Ruokangas guitars are the ultimate combination of vintage vibe with modern possibilities, looks and reliability."
- Hans Elmers (The Netherlands)
"Now 20 gigs done and the VSOP's getting better all the time. It's the guitar of my life!"
- Pete Tolonen (Finland)
"This guitar is perfectly balanced, plays like a fantasy, and is extremely robust."
- Ben Wigler / New Beard (USA)
"No need to tune up the VSOP during the test, even though I provoked the trem with as deep dives as it permitted."
- FUZZ Magazine (Sweden)
"The sustain is unbelievable and the guitar feels well played-in."
- Rytmi Magazine (Finland)
"The VSOP is very comfy to play both sitting down and strapped on – essential when playing through long sets.
- Juha Björninen (Finland)
"My humble thanks, guys, for the two VSOPs you built for me. May the excellence and mightiness be with you!"
- Jarska Sipilä (Finland)
"Among all the instruments on display at the NAMM 2005, Ruokangas guitars made the greatest lasting impression."
- ToneQuest Report (USA)
I love to draw. When I was a little boy, my father made me a lightbox and I traced superheroes, drew my own comics and what not. It is a meditational experience to focus your whole being to the slow pencil movement on paper - absolute single-tasking without distraction.
Each Ruokangas guitar is built by one luthier from beginning to the end. This means, that every one of us has profound knowledge of the whole process, and each of us gets to enjoy the result of their work. A happy guitar maker makes happy guitars - and happy players.
A skilled player recognises an exceptional guitar. It is essential that the acoustic properties of an electric guitar are superb in order for the instrument to deliver the richest, liveliest and most characteristic possible sound when amplified.
The neck quality is essential for the sound of a guitar. One of the essential measures is the stiffness of the neck. An inflexible neck not only keeps the tuning better, but also contributes into a better balanced sound without dead spots.
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.
There is a certain “rule of thumb” for a great guitar finish – and I’m convinced most luthiers would concur with me on this. In order to get the best tone out of wood, the finish should not dampen the resonance of it. And in order to not dampen the vibration of the wood, the finish needs to be thin and hard.
I’ve taken the liberty to curate the choice of hardware strictly and respectively for each guitar model. It is because I want to offer only options that make sense. I strive to remain aware and alert regarding the fact that things can change, and therefore no opinions or evaluations done by myself or others should ever be carved in stone.
I have witnessed countless times the wisdom of the famous phrase: “When everything falls into place, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts”. It is so true, that when every part and detail of your guitar works together in a harmonious way, it’s like a miracle. Such an instrument makes you play better, feeds your creativity and makes you happy.
A skilled player can tell a great guitar apart from the rest, just like any professional recognises an exceptional tool of his/her trade. The magic grows from countless elements and details, fueled with passion, bound together with hard work.
The Ruokangas VSOP is one of the finest and most versatile guitars that I’ve played. The immense amount of tonal variation make it often the only guitar I need for sessions and gigs.
– Aaron Kaplan
After more than 20 years as a professional guitar maker, I have arrived to this state of being, where I can say: I stand on pretty solid ground. I know what I’m talking about - and when I don’t have an answer to a question, I have the guts to admit it.
– Juha Ruokangas