Master Luthier, CEO Juha Ruokangas
Ruokangas Guitars builds solid-body and semi-hollow electric guitars, including models such as Duke, VSOP, Mojo, Hellcat and Unicorn. The company builds guitars using traditional methods – no modern computer controlled machinery etc.
Ruokangas Guitars is a privately held corporation, solely owned by Master Luthier Juha Ruokangas.
1995 - Juha Ruokangas founds the company as a sole trader and rents a small workshop facility in Finland, Hyvinkää at Wanha Villatehdas, building and repairing guitars.
1997 - The website www.ruokangas.com is published, and the first Ruokangas guitar model – the Duke – is launched. Juha experiments with Spanish Cedar (Cedrela odorata) as the body- and neckwood - a tonewood not commonly used in electric guitars. Spanish Cedar is to become one of the fundamental characteristics of Ruokangas Guitars.
1998 - Juha participates in a Thermo Treatment project (Finland), funded by the European Union. Thermo Treated tonewood is later on to become a common feature in Ruokangas guitars.
1999 - Juha starts co-operation with fellow craftsmen Mika Koskinen and Jiri Kaarmela. Juha designs and launches new variations of the Duke theme and introduces another uncommon material - the Arctic Birch tops.
2001 – Luthier Jyrki Kostamo joins the Ruokangas team. The company format changes from sole trader to privately held corporation. The first dealerships are confirmed and Ruokangas is reviewed in guitar magazines more regularly. Ruokangas proprietary pickups (manufactured by Harry Häussel in Germany) are launched.
2002 - Ruokangas Guitars publishes a new website design with online guitar builder tool, where one can visually choose colors, pickups, woods, parts etc. online and send price enquiries to the manufacturer. This same website design remains in use until 2009.
2004 - Luthier Tomi Nivala joins the Ruokangas team. The Ruokangas website wins the MindTrek Award for productive innovations. Ruokangas launches a new guitar model – the Mojo. Ruokangas licences the Buzz Feiten Tuning System.
2005 - Ruokangas Guitars attends The NAMM Show for the first time. Master Degree becomes available for luthiers in Finland. The national Ruokangas website www.ruokangas.fi is published. Ruokangas Guitars celebrates 10 Year Anniversary.
2006 – Luthier Emma Elftorp, from Sweden, joins the Ruokangas team.
2007 - Ruokangas Guitars attends the Fuzz Guitar Show in Gothenburg, Sweden. Co-operation with True Temperament company starts.
2008 - The Hellcat, a new guitar model, is introduced. Ruokangas joins the web communities MySpace and Facebook. Juha and Emma start “The Project Unicorn” - new guitar design process open to public via YouTube.
2009 - The Unicorn guitar model is introduced. Juha receives his Master Luthier degree. Ruokangas is invited to exhibit at Montreal Guitar Show, the annual high end event for the finest guitars in the world. Juha becomes one of the founding members (and the first chairman of the board) of The Guild Of Finnish Luthiers (Suomen Soitinrakentajien Kilta).
2010 - The new Ruokangas website and iPhone application is launched in January. The website gets an Honorary Award in the Grand One 2010 competition - the Best Information Design category. Ruokangas exhibits again at the Montreal Guitar Show (MGS), and the show organization Salon de Guitare de Montréal orders a Ruokangas guitar to their Ste-Cat Collection. This is the first European guitar in the collection. Juha lectures at MGS about the Mythology Of Tone. The 4th employee, luthier Lari Lätti is hired.
First introduced in 1997 - a carved top double-cutaway electric guitar with set-neck construction. Both solidbody and semi-acoustic versions exist. Includes a number of unique design points. Current model versions are: Sonic (replaced the earlier Sonic and TwinSonic), Classic (replaced the earlier Classic, Standard and DeLuxe), Artisan (replaced the earlier Special) and Royale.
First introduced in 2000 - a solid body bolt-on double-cutaway electric guitar with tremolo bridge. The current model versions are: Classic (replaced the Standard, Plus, Special and King) and DeLuxe (replaced the Supreme).
First introduced in 2004 - a bolt-on single-cutaway electric guitar. Both solid- and semi-acoustic versions exist. Current model versions are: Classic (replaced the earlier Classic and Blues), DeLuxe and Grande (replaced the earlier Supreme and Grande).
First introduced in 2008 - a modern solidbody double-cutaway electric guitar with Floyd Rose type tremolo, both bolt-on and neck-thru-body designs exist. The model versions introduced: Classic, DeLuxe and Artist.
First introduced in 2009 - a modern take on a traditional solidbody single-cutaway electric with set neck and carved top. The model version introduced: Classic. The Unicorn guitar design process and the making of the first two prototypes was documented as a YouTube video diary by Juha Ruokangas and Emma Elftorp.
Jay Jay French (Twisted Sister), Mick Box (Uriah Heep), Josh Smith, Tommy Emmanuel, Matias Kupiainen (Stratovarius), Jukka Tolonen, Juha Torvinen (Eppu Normaali), Mikko “Pantse” Syrjä (Eppu Normaali), Sami Ruusukallio (Eppu Normaali), Juha Björninen, Peter Lerche, Ben Wigler (Arizona), Rainer Nygård (Diablo), Sami Saarinen (Status Minor), Marko Karhu, Peter Engberg, Florian Zepf (Candycream), Joel Auge (Hewit), Sascha Wiegand (Bitune), Christian Wosimski (Bitune), Aaron Kaplan, Henri Arola (Dyecrest), Pirkka Ohlis (Dyecrest), Matti Pasanen (Dyecrest), Kai Seppälä (Jetsetters), Edmund Piskaty, Jani Wickholm, Saku Mattila, Rick Simcox (The ToneQuesters), Mr. Manetti
Guitars – A celebration of Pure Mojo by David Schiller. ISBN 978-0-7611-3800-6
MindTrek 1997–2006 Bittivirtaa, Kuohuntaa ja Arkipäivää by Tommi Pelkonen & Ulla Vehmasaho. ISBN 952-92-1155-4
Suomi Kitarat by Juha Vartiainen. ISBN 978-952-220-012-9
Suomalainen Kitara 2000-luvulla by Jarno Vesa. ISBN 978-951-98245-9-8