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Thread: Belated NGD: Ruokangas Duke Classic

  1. #1

    Belated NGD: Ruokangas Duke Classic

    So yeah, got this one back in November already but haven't had the time to get any good pictures snapped of her (not that these are too good either, sh*tty camera). Too busy playing the guitar! That and the fact it's been a really dark winter so far in Southern Finland, not really seen too much sunlight lately due to being at work at those hours.

    I present to you the Ruokangas Duke Classic, a true masterpiece crafted by the Finnish master luthier Juha Ruokangas and his skilled team of luthiers. This one was custom made for me right from the start and I visited their workshop at one point during the order process to try out some of their neck options and pickups. Just to confirm that the options I made would really make for a perfect guitar for me. Good thing too as I would've originally went for a bit smaller fretwire size and different pickups but my hunch about the neck shape was right.

    You can see the spec sheet below in the pictures but basically the body and neck are made from Spanish Cedar (a close relative to the REAL mahogany of old) that Juha has been using in the Duke models right from the beginning as he felt it is much better than the current mahogany species. The top is a highly figured piece of Arctic Birch, a wood specifically harvested for Ruokangas Guitars right here in Finland. Very hard to get in big quantities so other luthiers rarely use it but tonally it is close to the more common maple. Just quite a bit more exquisite... and beautiful in my opinion. The binding on the body and neck is also made from the same Arctic Birch. The fretboard is ebony with a MOP "R" inlay, same thing with the headstock face and the truss rod cover. Stainless steel jumbo frets and Ruokangas Unicorn Custom pickups (custom made by Hussel Pickups). The Boat neck carve is a copy of a real '59 Burst Les Paul originally made for the Ruokangas Unicorn guitar which is Juha's take on the classic Les Paul guitar but with his own improvements to the original. The pickups were enginereed for the same purpose and can be described as a great classic PAF pickup (asymmetrically wound coils, A5 bridge/A2 neck). You may also notice the inlay on the truss rod cover. That's a custom 'logo' inlay of my initials we designed with Juha. Had to have something to show it's MY guitar!

    Wish I could share any clips at this time but I can only say that the guitar is nothing short of PERFECT. It's lightweight but rings loud acoustically, sustains for ages and generally has a lot of weight to the tone despite being light. The fit and finish is also impeccable. It is finished in gloss polyurethane lacquer and it definitely is the best PU finish I've seen or played on a guitar. Ruokangas also offers the option of using their own formula of gloss nitrocellulose lacquer for the top and a satin nitro finish for the back and neck of the guitar. Their nitro is very close to the original nitro lacquer without all the plastic that is used these days and will age beautifully but also rather quickly if used a lot so I opted for the more durable PU myself. The guitar was actually originally set for a bit lower action and still played clean but I raised the strings just a bit from the original just because used to playing like that. And oh man, those stainless steel frets! I've never had a guitar with SS frets before but after this one I'd want all my guitars to have them! They are just so incredibly smooth for bends and combined with the slick ebony fretboard (and Elixir strings) the guitar is just an absolute breeze to play even with the hefty sized neck. Now sure all this perfection comes with a rather substantial price tag and I did have a few sleepless nights before finalizing the order. The way I see it now is that the price is fully justified not only for a Finnish handcrafted guitar made specifically for me but also a true piece of art and show of local craftsmanship.


    TL;DR... Just check out the crappy pics below!
    Gear:
    Ruokangas Duke Classic
    MacPherson Guitars Private Order Custom Explorer w/ Fishman Fluence KSE Signature Set
    Warmoth Mahogany/Koa Soloist w/ EMG 57 & SLVX
    Bacchus Classic Series BLP-STD-H Relic w/ WCR Godwood set
    Warwick Corvette ProLine

    Ampete One
    Zilla Super Fat Boy 2x12 w/WGS Retro 30 & ET-65 speakers
    Korg Pitchblack Advance
    Dunlop 535Q Wah
    Excalibur Tone Screamer
    Neunaber Immerse

  2. #2
    Forgive me for the absolutely dreadful photos. They do nothing to capture how amazing this guitar really looks!





    Gear:
    Ruokangas Duke Classic
    MacPherson Guitars Private Order Custom Explorer w/ Fishman Fluence KSE Signature Set
    Warmoth Mahogany/Koa Soloist w/ EMG 57 & SLVX
    Bacchus Classic Series BLP-STD-H Relic w/ WCR Godwood set
    Warwick Corvette ProLine

    Ampete One
    Zilla Super Fat Boy 2x12 w/WGS Retro 30 & ET-65 speakers
    Korg Pitchblack Advance
    Dunlop 535Q Wah
    Excalibur Tone Screamer
    Neunaber Immerse

  3. #3




    Gear:
    Ruokangas Duke Classic
    MacPherson Guitars Private Order Custom Explorer w/ Fishman Fluence KSE Signature Set
    Warmoth Mahogany/Koa Soloist w/ EMG 57 & SLVX
    Bacchus Classic Series BLP-STD-H Relic w/ WCR Godwood set
    Warwick Corvette ProLine

    Ampete One
    Zilla Super Fat Boy 2x12 w/WGS Retro 30 & ET-65 speakers
    Korg Pitchblack Advance
    Dunlop 535Q Wah
    Excalibur Tone Screamer
    Neunaber Immerse

  4. #4

    Last edited by Hansi; 18-01-2014 at 11:44 AM.
    Gear:
    Ruokangas Duke Classic
    MacPherson Guitars Private Order Custom Explorer w/ Fishman Fluence KSE Signature Set
    Warmoth Mahogany/Koa Soloist w/ EMG 57 & SLVX
    Bacchus Classic Series BLP-STD-H Relic w/ WCR Godwood set
    Warwick Corvette ProLine

    Ampete One
    Zilla Super Fat Boy 2x12 w/WGS Retro 30 & ET-65 speakers
    Korg Pitchblack Advance
    Dunlop 535Q Wah
    Excalibur Tone Screamer
    Neunaber Immerse

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain
    Posts
    685
    Looks superb, Hansi. Congratulations. I always read very good reviews about Ruokangas. The only point I don't like very much is the headstock design, but appart from that it's a very good looking guitar with a beautiful top. Just one question: in the picture you post about the back of the guitar, it seems that the neck is also two pieced, following the body two-wings union and not centered in the middle axis. Am I wrong?
    www.inlovingmemory.es
    (melancholic doom/death)


    Caparison: Dellinger SE-OM, Angelus HGS GM ProWhite, Angelus HGS TransBlack, Angelus TR Trans.RedBurst, TAT Red Sunset, TAT Frozen Sky
    Mayones: Regius 6 Gothic, Regius 7 Gothic, Duvell Elite 6, Setius 7 Gothic
    Skervesen: 4AP Custom, Raptor 6 NTB Custom, Raptor 7 FF Custom, Shoggie 7FF
    Ran: Crusher 7 FT Custom
    Strandberg: Boden USA 7
    Ibanez: J.Custom RG8527Z BX

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Xykhron View Post
    Looks superb, Hansi. Congratulations. I always read very good reviews about Ruokangas. The only point I don't like very much is the headstock design, but appart from that it's a very good looking guitar with a beautiful top. Just one question: in the picture you post about the back of the guitar, it seems that the neck is also two pieced, following the body two-wings union and not centered in the middle axis. Am I wrong?
    Yeah the headstock design divides opinions a bit but I personally love it. Of course Ruokangas will do basically ANY headstock design you can think of but the regular one works well for the Duke in my opinion. The same headstock was originally used for the La Muerte model which later became the current Hellcat model so it works with that body design quite well too.

    The neck is actually a 3-piece. It is originally made from a single piece of Cedar which is then cut into three pieces and the middle piece is flipped 180 degrees and then glued back together. This makes for a more stable neck.
    Gear:
    Ruokangas Duke Classic
    MacPherson Guitars Private Order Custom Explorer w/ Fishman Fluence KSE Signature Set
    Warmoth Mahogany/Koa Soloist w/ EMG 57 & SLVX
    Bacchus Classic Series BLP-STD-H Relic w/ WCR Godwood set
    Warwick Corvette ProLine

    Ampete One
    Zilla Super Fat Boy 2x12 w/WGS Retro 30 & ET-65 speakers
    Korg Pitchblack Advance
    Dunlop 535Q Wah
    Excalibur Tone Screamer
    Neunaber Immerse

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain
    Posts
    685
    Quote Originally Posted by Hansi View Post
    The neck is actually a 3-piece. It is originally made from a single piece of Cedar which is then cut into three pieces and the middle piece is flipped 180 degrees and then glued back together. This makes for a more stable neck.
    Interesting idea!
    www.inlovingmemory.es
    (melancholic doom/death)


    Caparison: Dellinger SE-OM, Angelus HGS GM ProWhite, Angelus HGS TransBlack, Angelus TR Trans.RedBurst, TAT Red Sunset, TAT Frozen Sky
    Mayones: Regius 6 Gothic, Regius 7 Gothic, Duvell Elite 6, Setius 7 Gothic
    Skervesen: 4AP Custom, Raptor 6 NTB Custom, Raptor 7 FF Custom, Shoggie 7FF
    Ran: Crusher 7 FT Custom
    Strandberg: Boden USA 7
    Ibanez: J.Custom RG8527Z BX

  8. #8
    Dat top
    Gear:
    Caparison Horus Snow Cloud (DiMarzio D-sonic & Air Norton S)
    Caparison Horus Maple Night (Seymour Duncan Distortion & Hot Rails)
    Caparison Horus-HGS MF07 Oiled Walnut (DiMarzio Evolution & The Chopper)
    Line6 Pod X3 Live
    KRK Rokit RP5 G2

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