When was the last time
you heard a new sound?

The truth is, the world doesn’t need more guitars. There’s already so much. What a liberating thought – it has freed me to explore the unknown – new soundscapes and perspectives. That’s what the Valvebucker is about – it sounds unlike anything else. Most people will never want or need it. But those few whose lives the Valvebucker will change – you make it all worthwhile.

Juha Ruokangas – Master Guitar Maker

Unicorn Shapes

Valvebucker

guitar

You’re not hallucinating – the pickup does glow. It’s not a magic trick, not a gimmick. It is an active pickup system, powered by tubes.

The Valvebucker will respond to your slightest whisper and loudest scream, channeling your passion to your audience with greater dynamic capacity than any other electric guitar pickup can.

The Valvebucker is available as an option for all our guitars. We can install it into 6- and 7-stringed models. The Valvebucker is not available as an aftermarket pickup system.

Valvebucker

bass

That’s right – it is finally available for basses, too. I’m proud to present to you our vacuum tube powered active pickup system.

From the lowest lows to the highest highs and every frequency in between, the Valvebucker will capture the nuances of your playing in the finest imaginable resolution. Your bass will be heard unlike ever before.

The Valvebucker is available as an option for all our basses. We can install it into both 4- and 5-stringed models. The Valvebucker is not available as a retrofit product.

Become heard

In our times, it is more challenging than ever before to become heard and recognized. You have it in you – but how to stand out from the crowd in this overwhelming flood of content?

Watch the Ruokangas YouTube channel Valvebucker Playlist – a collection of videos we’ve either filmed by ourselves or found online and wanted to share with you.

The guitar heroes we love
changed the world
with their unique sound –
You can find yours, too

“I love the Valvebucker Mojo! This pickup/system is unique and doesn’t sound like anything else. If I had to sum it up with one word, it would be smooth as the Valvebucker is the smoothest sounding pickup I’ve ever experienced. It kind of reminds me of the difference between vintage Neve and SSL consoles of the day.

I especially like it for dialing in a big, clean tone with the selector switch in the middle position for my solo songs. The range from top to bottom for moving parts of bass lines against chord melodies etc is balanced and nothing “pokes out” too much – much easier to let multiple parts speak. Also, I love how complex, distorted chords with open tunings for slide sound.”

– Sonny Landreth

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Its own animal…
I found that there is definitely a degree of detail and articulation and harmonically pleasing “juiciness” in the sound that makes this instrument (Duke w/ Valvebucker) its own animal…

Art Thompson / Guitar Player Magazine
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Complex, distorted chords
I love how complex, distorted chords with open tunings for slide sound with the Valvebucker.

Sonny Landreth
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The Finer Resolution
The finer resolution, the richness, all the nuances of the sound – that to me, as a player, is the most significant thing about the Valvebucker system.

Ruben Roeh (Germany)
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Doesn’t sound like anything else
The Valvebucker pickup system is unique and doesn’t sound like anything else. If I had to sum it up with one word, it would be smooth, as the Valvebucker is the smoothest sounding pickup I’ve ever experienced.

Sonny Landreth (USA)
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Full-body experience
You cannot explain the Valvebucker. It is something you have to try and feel in your own hands. It’s a full-body experience.

Hannu Aronen (Finland)
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Never heard something like the Valvebucker
I can play with it for hours and never tired and it sings with an incredible sustain and rich sound full of harmonics. Honestly never heard anything like that from any of my many guitars.

Antonello Madonna (Italy)
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Like an angel
The Valvebucker can be gentle like an angel playing a harp as well so punchy like a hammer on an anvil or so much hard like a powerful hungry dog biting like hell.

Antonello Madonna (Italy)
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Big, clean tone for my solos
The Valvebucker kind of reminds me of the difference between vintage Neve and SSL consoles of the day. I especially like it for dialing in a big, clean tone for my solo songs.

Sonny Landreth (USA)
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Very Unusual!
All that harmonic content makes the distorted sound very rich, multilayered.. like you would’ve already processed the sound to pop and shine in the mix. It’s really weird, cause all of this is happening at the very beginning of the chain. Very unusual!

Ruben Roeh (Germany)
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Revolutionary
I do think the Valvebucker is revolutionary. It sounds like having a beautiful mic right under my fingers and the instrument just rings with harmonics and amazing sustain.

Roy Mader (USA)
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Once I let go
Once I let go of the effort to find familiar voices I started to notice how each of the three sonic options from the Valvebucker pickup has its own compelling, dynamic, and expressive sound.

Kingsley Durant (USA)
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New Sonic Territory
The Valvebucker definitely opens up new sonic territory that players who love hi-fi sounds will want to explore, and this alone makes it worthy of investigation for anyone who thinks they’ve heard it all and can appreciate the possibilities that lurk in the melding of two very different audio technologies from the past.

Art Thompson / Guitar Player Magazine
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Undeniable Fidelity
The Valvebucker has an undeniable fidelity! Very impressive! The entire piece works extremely well as an overall entity.”

John E. Callahan III (USA)
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Notes hang on…
Another thing, which I didn’t necessarily expect or see coming, is that with Valvebucker, notes hang on for noticeably longer.

Kingsley Durant (USA)
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Much easier to let multiple parts speak
The range from top to bottom for moving parts of bass lines against chord melodies etc is balanced and nothing “pokes out” too much – much easier to let multiple parts speak.

Sonny Landreth (USA)
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I didn’t expect this
The dynamics and presence of the Valvebucker are like nothing I have heard. Each nuance of my playing is conveyed so well I feel so inspired in a way I didn’t expect. I have never had this feel and tone before.

Roy Mader (USA)

If you don’t let go of the old
You will never find out
who you might become

Capturing sound, unspoiled

The conceptual theory behind the Valvebucker descends from studio technology rather than electric guitars. Think of tube microphones – the Neumann U47, with a sensitive capsule capable of capturing every nuance of human voice or other audio source. This rich, “unspoiled” signal is then amplified by tubes, right there at the source, inside the guitar. The result is a high fidelity signal that is exceptionally pleasing to the human ear. Exactly the same principles apply to the Valvebucker design.

Play, the highest form of research

The idea to plant vacuum tubes inside a guitar emerged with these playful words: What if the electric guitar would’ve been invented in 1895?”. This question led me onto a voyage that first took the shape of a guitar named ‘Captain Nemo‘ – and eventually materialized as the Valvebucker. Hats off to my design team – Junnu Vuorela, Jorma Kostamo, Jyrki Kostamo and Lassi Ukkonen. In Albert Einstein’s words: “Play is the highest form of research”. Applies to making music – and inventing new sounds.

Military spec precision

The Valvebucker is built to last. And even if something would break, the circuit is always repairable. The Valvebucker is covered by our standard 20 year warranty. We use only NOS military spec tubes from the 50’s and 60’s, and what comes to the life of these tubes – well, with the voltages we run them on, we’re confident to give the tubes a lifetime warranty. In other words, if a tube would fail, we replace it free of charge.

Too hot to handle?

One of the most common worries has been the heat generated by the tubes. No high voltages are fed into the instrument. After being powered up for several hours, a thermal camera scan shows +50°C (122°F) temperature inside the tubes, and on the outside surfaces where you can touch the temperature can be at highest at the level of human body temperature. The circuit is shock-protected with a fuse that is located in the floor unit.

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.

Ruokangas 20 Year Warranty

To understand the sound
of the Valvebucker
You must play it

Is it the right thing for me?

The Valvebucker sound and feel don’t quite fit into any of the existing electric guitar archetypes – the S, T and what not. It is a new archetype of its own. Therefore, if you’re looking for better S-style (or one of the other classic) sounds, the Valvebucker most likely is not the best choice. If, however, you’re the curious type, open to explore new soundscapes and musical inspirations, you should definitely give the Valvebucker a try.

What music is it meant for?

The feedback from players has varied a lot, but a common thread appears to be that the Valvebucker can be a great choice for any playing style within “the dynamic range” of making music. If you want to dive a bit deeper and learn more about what the Valvebucker can mean for a professional musician, please take a moment and watch this video – player’s perspective – by Ruben Roeh. Thank you for your consideration.

Where can I try it?

The best way to enquire about testing a Valvebucker guitar or bass is to contact me personally. I will assist you to the best of my ability – you can always visit us in Finland, or perhaps one of our retailers has such an instrument available for testing – or maybe you and I can meet at a guitar show somewhere. The Valvebucker is handmade here in Finland, and the production is limited currently to 20 pcs a year. The Valvebucker is only available as a custom option for Ruokangas guitars and basses.

‘Sympathy’ by Earkraft

Antti Paranko – Guitars
Markus Setzer – Bass
Mikko Arlin – Drums

Music & Lyrics by Antti Paranko. Please listen with good headphones or speakers. Only Valvebucker® -powered stringed instruments were played on this recording.

Love or hate

Juha Ruokangas - our ambition is simply to live our lives making guitars, cherishing the tradition of handcraft

The first time I plugged in the first Frankensteinish prototype of our tube pickup was an experience I will never forget. The sound was so… unexpected. I never thought an electric guitar could sound or feel like that. After over a decade of hard work we released the Valvebucker, and the reaction from the guitar loving community was… confusing, to say the least. A lot of players were curious – many fell in love with the idea – and at the other extreme people were shooting my invention down and laughing at it – without ever trying it. I thought it was great – if people love it or hate it so passionately, we must be onto something meaningful!

– Juha Ruokangas