This was the first time I went to Turenki Tonefest although I believe it was the fourth year it was organized. I pretty much knew what to expect, incredibly beautiful guitars, amps and other paraphernalia from some of Finland’s best luthiers, and I wasn’t disappointed. The only surprise was with the amount of people that had come to the festival, at times it was difficult to move from stall to stall and made taking pictures almost impossible. The festival took place in the very pretty old train station of Turenki, a suitable setting for some of the prettiest guitars I’ve seen with my own eyes.
I had read a bit about who’s stands I was likely to see, but didn’t want to know too much since I often prefer surprises. But the first stand I saw was Ruokangas Guitars, which if you know anything about contemporary Finnish guitars, is not exactly a surprise. Ruokangas’ guitars are known for their absolutely top notch quality and superb playability, and after seeing them up close, they are indeed amazing. And it was nice to see that Juha Ruokangas was there to answer questions and to explain the details of his designs. A very nice chap and he deserves all the good press he’s been getting.
As a whole, the rooms were packed with gorgeous guitars, so I can’t write in detail of each and everyone, but the quality was high in general. The ratio between electric vs. acoustic guitars was around 60/40 in favor of the electrics, so I was definitely pleased to see so many acoustic instruments and I hope this trend continues. In fact, one of my favorite stands was the one of Keihäs Guitars. They had brought four instruments, three guitars and a lap steel, and all were acoustics. The woods they’d used were all from Finland and they were all finished in clear lacquer, which displayed the color of the woods magnificently. They truly looked as if they were made as a series, each slightly different but complementing each other both visually and sonically. What really made my day was to see an acoustic lap steel, it’s not often you get the chance to do that!
To follow a certain chronological order, what followed next was the ground floor where I found Ikata’s stand. Ikata happens to be my school and I was lucky to have one of my instruments on display together with with several instruments made by my schoolmates. On show was everything from Jouhikkos and acoustic guitars to electric basses, and although I’m saying it myself, they all looked pretty darn tasty.
I left with a feeling of relief, because clearly, the finnish guitar building has come far and will keep doing so with the hard work and dedication of the new generations.