Review: Vuorensaku T-Style Custom

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Vuorensaku T headstock – preview – mid

Vuorensaku is a guitar maker from the Finnish town of Jyväskylä. Luthier-Artisan Saku Vuori repairs and builds all types of string instruments. Vuorensaku also winds his own brand of custom pickups.

When it comes to handcrafted instruments, Vuorensaku isn’t relying on any specific range of models, instead this is a true custom workshop which makes one-offs according to its customers’ wishes.

Saku Vuori is a member of The Guild of Finnish Luthiers.

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Vuorensaku T-Style – full front – bgr

Saku sent us a recently finished solidbody electric for review – a very cool crossbreed of a Seventies Fender Telecaster Deluxe and a Fifties Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster. Vuorensaku’s guitars usually are designated by their serial number only, but for the sake of simplicity I will name this instrument the ”Vuorensaku T-Style Custom”.

Vuorensaku T-Style – full back – bgr

The T-Style Custom has been crafted from quality tonewoods:

The bolt-on neck has been carved from a piece of lightly flamed Canadian hard rock maple, and it features an Indian rosewood fretboard. The bound-top body consists of two pieces of very lightweight African mahogany. The centre glue line is virtually impossible to make out, thanks to Vuorensaku’s extremely crisp workmanship.

Vuorensaku T-Style – headstock – bgr

The Vuorensaku’s nut is crafted from genuine moose bone.

The fretboard comes with a modern, bend-friendly radius (9.5″) and sports 21 medium-sized stainless steel frets.

Vuorensaku T-Style – tuners – bgr

The T-Style Custom’s updated Kluson Deluxe-tuners may have that famous vintage look, but they work much more smoothly than their forebears from the 1950s.

Vuorensaku T-Style – back beauty – bgr

The neck joins the body in time-honoured fashion, using four wood screws and a rectangular steel plate.

Thanks to the T-Style Custom’s satin nitro-finish this instruments simply oozes with natural elegance, feeling very friendly to the touch.

Vuorensaku T-Style – bridge

Kluson’s fantastic Half-Size Tele-bridge is a clever way of bringing genuine Tele Twang to non-Tele guitars, as well as making it possible to use this type of bridge in combination with different bridge pickups.

Many guitarists still favour the (almost archaic) three-saddle Telecaster-bridge for its gorgeous tone, especially when it comes with three brass saddles (like this Kluson does). The threads for the intonation screws on the T-Style Custom’s bridge have been deliberately cut at an angle to improve the guitar’s intonation.

Vuorensaku T-Style – pickups 1 – bgr

Vuorensaku’s customer specified three Dog Ear-pickups for his dream guitar, so a set of said pickups was sourced from another Finnish maker – Rautia Guitars from Joensuu.

Veijo Rautia’s Dog Ear-set comprises a pair of splittable humbuckers for the neck and bridge positions, as well as a P-90-type singlecoil in the middle.

Vuorensaku T-Style – controls – bgr

The control panel has been turned the ”wrong” way around to facilitate easy master volume access.

Vuorensaku T-Style – electronics – bgr

Ingeniously, Saku Vuori has managed to fit all the necessary components into the guitar’s small traditional Tele control cavity:

The volume control comes equipped with a push/pull-switch for splitting the humbuckers. The five-way blade switch works like on a Fender Strat. As you can easily see from the photo the workmanship is very clean and the components are of top quality.

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Vuorensaku T-Style – beauty 2 – bgr

The Vuorensaku T-Style Custom scores top marks for workmanship and playability! Handmade instruments of such high calibre always possess that little something extra, a special feel that is nigh on impossible to find in a mass-produced guitar.

The T-Style Custom is a lightweight instrument. With a slippery nylon strap you might even notice a hint of neck-heaviness, but nothing a nice leather strap couldn’t get to grips with easily.

The fat C-profile of this Vuorensaku’s neck is just what the doctor ordered. The combination of this profile with the modern fretboard radius and the gorgeous fretwork, makes for a fantastic playing feel that’s fast and easy to control. The setup was superb with a set of 010s and a low action (low-E: 2.1 mm/high-e: 1.5 mm).

Acoustically, the Vuorensaku sounds just like the prime exponent of a Fender-type guitar it is – open and ringing.

Played amplified, the T-Style Custom offers a broader, much more diverse picture, which isn’t really surprising, as the Vuorensaku comes equipped with a completely different set of pickups, compared to your run-of-the-mill Tele. The guitar’s three pickups, five-way switch, and humbucker split gives you a very cool selection of different Gibson- and Fender-style tones.

I love this Vuorensaku to bits, but I found a small point to moan about, too. The bridge pickup’s signal level is noticeably weaker than that of the neck pickup. This isn’t due to any shoddy workmanship, though, but rather down to the Dog Ear-type of pickup mounting, and a phenomenon many Gibson- and Epiphone-owners are well aware of. It’s very hard for a reviewer to criticise a custom-ordered guitar, because there’s always the possibility that the guitar was meant to perform in this way. Still, if this were my instrument, I’d ask Saku Vuori to add a small plastic shim (1.5-2 mm) beneath the bridge pickup to raise it closer to the strings.

The Rautia Guitars Dog Ear-set sounds fantastic. Thanks to the moderate output of the humbuckers, there’s never any danger of the sound getting mushy or ill-defined. The ’buckers also sound great in split-mode, and combining the two humbuckers with a rude-sounding P-90 in the middle position can only be described as a stroke of genius.

This clip gives you an idea of the guitar’s sounds with the humbuckers split (starting with the neck pickup):

Here we have a similar clip featuring the full humbuckers:

And to round it off, here’s the audio from the You Tube-video:

Vuorensaku T-Style – body beauty 1 – bgr

What a guitar! The Vuorensaku T-Style Custom is another excellent example of the fantastic quality of Finnish guitar-making. Too bad the owner wants his guitar back…

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Vuorensaku T-Style Custom

Price range for a similar guitar: 2,500 – 3,000 €

A big ”thank you” goes to the promoter of the Rockkaamo Festival, Mr Jani Savolainen, for the loan of his guitar!

Pros:

+ Made in Finland

+ handcrafted

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ sound

Cons:

– balance between neck and bridge pickup

Vuorensaku T-Style – body beauty 2 – bgr

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