THAT MAGICAL “THING”…
I’ll keep it short for my part and let Kingsley tell about how our paths have crossed. Please do check out his music from one of the links above. Thank you Kingsley for your kind words!
“My interest in Ruokangas guitars started when I read the interview with Juha in ToneQuest Report back in 2005. I knew from how Juha talked about his ideals and his work that I would like his guitars and him as a person as well. We had a chance to meet at the 2010 Montreal Guitar Festival and my expectations were confirmed on both accounts: Juha and I had much in common, in terms of our ideas about how guitars should and could be, we could talk all day about this and many other topics, and his guitars were simply wonderful.
My only problem…
My only problem was that I already had a whole lot of wonderful guitars! It took me quite a while to figure out what I wanted Juha and his colleagues to build for me, because I wanted it to be something special that I would use a lot but that would not usurp the place of some of my other favorites, such as my Artinger guitars. The answer came to me in a dream. The main guitar that I use in my Trio is a semi-hollow Artinger that has vintage dog-ear P-90 pickups and a Bigsby vibrato, that is named “Lily” after its green finish. At the same time, I have always loved Les Pauls and Les Paul recipe guitars. I have several of those, including some vintage ones, that I play all the time at home but not so much in bands or on gigs. Eventually, I had a dream of a guitar that was a “Les Paul version of Lily.” It was Juha’s Unicorn model, with a Bigsby, P-90 pickups, and an absinthe green finish.
The guitar surpassed my expectations
As the idea evolved, it struck me that what I was after sonically was a guitar that someone like Bruce Conte (from Tower of Power) or Bill Connors (from Return to Forever) would be happy to play, which meant changing to humbucking pickups. The resulting guitar surpassed my expectations in every way. The ebony fretboard gives me plenty of the crispness and definition that I normally have to use single-coil type pickups to achieve, but the humbuckers allow me to get a sound that also works beautifully in contexts where I would normally use my PAF Les Paul. Overall, the sound is open, warm, full, and detailed, with plenty of that magical “thing” that the vintage Les Pauls have.
Babs – Lucille’s sis…
The name, “Babs” evolved out of a conversation with David Torn, in which he pointed out that the green finish was a color he associated more with bad absinthe than the good stuff. Bad Absinthe is now the official Ruokangas name for this color, and my friend Tom Kesel, who has named several of my guitars, had the idea of shortening it to Babs. Tom describes the guitar as “Lucille’s better-looking, and naughtier, sister.” Indeed. Babs has quickly become one of my favorite and most often-used guitars.”