“Our work is a testimony for the old world values. We have consciously decided not to take part to the ongoing industrial race for cheaper labour and bigger profits. Our ambition is simply to make our living by making the best electric guitars in the world and to cherish the tradition of handcraft.”

– Juha Ruokangas

Juha Ruokangas

Juha Ruokangas

Emma Elftorp

Emma Elftorp

Jyrki Kostamo

Jyrki Kostamo

Tomi Nivala

Tomi Nivala

Lari Lätti

Lari Lätti

Jani Rinta-Keturi

Jani Rinta-Keturi

A day in the life of a guitarmaker

tour1Ruokangas Guitars was founded in 1995 by luthier Juha Ruokangas. The story goes from repairing guitars in the late 80s to studying lutherie under guidance of the finest Finnish luthiers in the early 90s – then forming a company and building guitars alone in his 35 square meter workshop since 1995. Today Juha and his skillful team of luthiers make about 120 unique guitars a year in their facility of 350 square meters in the beautiful old Harviala Manor surroundings. This little series of photos should give you a nice view to the life of this small group of luthiers earning their everyday bread.

“I am fortunate to have now a handful of skilled craftsmen beside me. Together we stand strong against the tide of the massive guitar industry that sells more in a day than we are able to build within a year. Their main interest is the shareholders profit, whereas for us this is purely a labour of love.” – Juha Ruokangas

tour2ORIGINAL RUOKANGAS DESIGN
Juha designs all his guitars the old school way – by working on an old fashioned drawing board from the 60s and building prototypes from scratch. He describes this being an extremely relaxing and important method of working – always keeping things down to earth and staying scaled 1:1. One of Juhas’ leading thoughts has been to build as ergonomic guitars as possible – yet still maintain the feminine beauty of classical stringed instruments strongly present.

FROM TOP OF THE GRADE MATERIALS
tour3Ruokangas is known of their use of not so common tonewood species to their guitars. Juha pioneered in the 90s by starting to offer Spanish Cedar as the body- and neck wood for his Duke guitars. Arctic Birch is another distinct Ruokangas feature, that you don’t see anywhere else. All the wood is carefully selected and dried. The generous 20-year warranty of each and every Ruokangas guitar leaves no open questions about the quality.

tour4WITH LOVE AND DEDICATION
Building a guitar involves thousands of phases of work. The best guitars are designed and built keeping all the phases and details in mind – and humbly asking on every step – can this be done better? The primary motivation for building guitars on a small scale is not money – there are thousands of easier ways to get rich!

FOR THE MOST DEMANDING PLAYER
tour5“From the very beginning my goal has been to offer high end guitars that even the most demanding players would fall in love with – a handmade instrument, that would rival the best. Not a very humble goal, I admit… There is no way to learn lutherie by reading books or watching others do it – you have to dig in as deep as you can, to let your hands have the time to learn the craft. The hard way is the only way.” – Juha Ruokangas

MULTI-TALENTED SUPERPERSONS
Old school lutherie in the modern world involves many special skills. Skilled craftsman and finishing specialist is not enough – you need to master also electronics engineering and to be a musician, marketing professional, photographer, and video editor – not to forget the occasional psychological skills needed with the sometimes so delicate mind of the performing artist…

THE ROAD GOES EVER ON
Thank you for joining this little Ruokangas workshop tour. We hope you succeeded to catch in some of the spirit our craftsmen create by their dedicated work together!