Dreaming Tree

Ruokangas Steam - Dreaming Tree


Artwork with personal significance
Aleksi Aromaa ordered this Steam Classic from us in 2015. He wanted light weight, unpretentious, simple P-style bass – with a “little” twist. Aleksi presented to me a drawing of a “dreaming tree”. He explained that this artwork had a personal meaning to him, and that he would like to have it in this bass in some discreet way.

Aleksi continued explaining, that he would use the bass in his work, often on theatre stage or performing live music – and he would feel awkward if the ‘dreaming tree’ would be visible to people. He felt he didn’t want to make such a public statement about it in these live situations.

Hmmm… I’m not sure…
Fair enough. Aleksi and I started brainstorming together how to do this. We went through various optional approaches. At some point we were leaning towards making a little tree inlay – and we also talked about having it done with airbrush in a subtle, silhouette style.

Then I came to think of wood carving. What if Jani Rinta-Keturi, my talented wood carving master, would carve the ‘dreaming tree’ in large size… on the back of the body..!? Aleksi wasn’t quite sure what to think of it – because he didn’t know what exactly it meant.

Jani did a little test carving on a piece of alder – and after seeing the “draft”, Aleksi was sold on the idea!

Ruokangas Steam - Dreaming Tree


What about the controls?
All of us – Aleksi, Jani and me – were excited about this solution. A big ‘dreaming tree’ carving that would fill the whole back of the body…

… and then Lari (who builds our basses) walks in: “What about the control cavity?”. Right. Reality check. The Steam bass controls are assembled from the back. The control plate would screw up our whole idea!

Chain reaction
Ok… back to the drawing board. As it (surprisingly) often is, a great idea may cause a chain reaction…

We could have done a wooden back plate and matched the wood as close as possible. But… that didn’t feel right. The carving should be 100% uninterrupted by any other elements on the back of the body. So, we could have added a control plate to the front, you know, in a Fender Jazz Bass -style – but that felt also a bit glued on.

No compromises
In the end, we decided to not compromise. I would design a whole new pickguard shape for the bass. This would allow us to load the controls in from the front. A perfect solution. More work than the alternative approaches, but definitely worth the effort.

Downplayed to boost the contrast
We also felt that the unassuming looks (on the front side) of the bass called for a thin satin finish. This way the overall aesthetics were downplayed as much as possible – and the ‘dreaming tree’ wood carving showed beautifully as a gentle play of light and shadow.

About that wood carving. Jani did some extraordinary work there! Speechless. The photos tell the story better than I ever could. Enjoy!