Kiirassoitin – instruments from the Purgatory; the name alone makes pretty clear from the get-go that these aren’t your dad’s guitars!
Simo Iiskola, the man behind Kiiras Instruments, is a custom guitar maker (and drum builder!) from Central Finland. His main guitar line – the Katras Series (katras is Finnish for flock) – stands firm as a wholehearted manifesto to Metaldom, both visually and in terms of sound.
Kitarablogi got the chance to spend some quality time with two Kiiras Katras guitars – the Ahti and the Ukonkirves (prices starting from 1,495 €).
The Kiiras Ahti (named after the Finnish water god) is a two-horned affair, looking like the wild love child of a Fender Strat and a Burns Bison.
The hand-distressed, rustic finishes on Katras Series instruments resemble the bark of the birch tree.
The reviewed Ahti was built using a three-piece alder body.
All Kiiras Katras guitars feature a three-piece body, with a wide central piece and two narrower pieces added on the sides.
The Kiiras Ukonkirves (ukon kirves is the Finnish equivalent of Thor’s Hammer) is a Flying V-shaped electric guitar.
The reviewed Ukonkirves uses ash for its body.
Both instruments feature a rib cage chamfer.
All Kiiras Katras guitars have five-piece maple and wenge necks with sturdy bolt-on joints.
The area around the bolts is dressed away for easier access to the top frets.
Simo Iiskola uses top-drawer Gotoh parts in black chrome, like the Gotoh SG381 machine heads on our review instruments.
The Gotoh Floyd Rose is a model GE1996-T.
The wenge fingerboard comes with 24 chunky jumbo frets.
Our vibrato-equipped review guitars feature a 16-inch fretboard radius, while stoptail-equipped Kiiras guitars usually come with a compound radius ’board.
The look on these Kiiras instruments is non-more-Metal, and the pickups have been chosen accordingly.
The Ahti comes with a pair of passive humbuckers – the Seymour Duncan Sentient (neck) and Nazgûl (bridge)…
…while the Ukonkirves sports a sole Nazgûl humbucker in the bridge position.
The stainless steel pickup rings, switch plates and jack plates are all custom-made to fit the birch bark theme.
The Ahti’s controls comprise a three-way switch – giving you neck pickup, off [!], and bridge pickup – as well as separate volume controls for each pickup and a master tone.
The Ukonkirves makes do with two controls – volume and tone.
The electronics cavities look very clean, and they are shielded with conductive paint and a foil-lined wooden lid.
Despite its ”distressed mythical old plank” looks, the Kiiras Ahti feels every bit the smooth, well-balanced, and comfortable custom-made guitar it is.
The flattish C-profile neck is fast, but chunky enough not to feel flimsy or uncomfortable. The frets have been seated and dressed with great care, although some might find the look of the fret ends a tiny bit scruffy. The important thing is, though, that the frets (and fret ends!) feel even smoother than the guitar’s cool satin finish!
The reviewed Ahti was set up for standard-C tuning. The set up was fantastic, offering a slinky, yet precise playing feel, coupled with an in-tune Floyd Rose.
Seymour Duncan’s Sentient and Nazgûl humbuckers are among the darkest and most brutal passive humbuckers offered by the company. Still, these pickups manage to combine brooding darkness with a very musical and rich top end. Sure, these humbuckers will kick your amp’s butt, but they don’t offer blunt power at the expense of great tone.
Here are two basic demo clips recorded with a Blackstar HT-1R:
I turned to a Metal expert for the demo track to do the guitar and the genre justice. My son, Miloš Berka, recorded the guitar tracks using his Atomic Amps AmpliFire amp modeller:
The Kiiras Ukonkirves is a great V-shaped guitar for the no-compromise, no-nonsense lead guitarist.
If you try to play a V-style guitar seated, you’re doing it wrong. This type of guitar is meant to be used standing up with a strap.
Just as on the Ahti, the feel and playability of the Kiiras Ukonkirves is fantastic, and its set-up (in D-standard tuning) was spot on!
It may all be in my head (or down to the tuning), but I feel the ash-bodied Ukonkirves sounds a tiny bit brighter than the alder-bodied Ahti:
Once again Miloš recorded the demo track using his Atomic Amps AmpliFire amp modeller:
I’m sure some will find the looks of these two Kiiras Katras guitars a little bit too much of a visual statement. They’re entitled to their views, and won’t have any problems finding a black instrument.
There’s no denying, though, that both the Kiiras Ahti and the Kiiras Ukonkirves are about much more than just bold looks. These are excellent custom-made electric guitars, completely geared towards the needs of modern Metal guitarists.
Simo Iiskola’s Kiiras Instruments also offers plenty of custom options, from the pickups and electronics used all the way to different headstock shapes. If these guitars rock your boat, go check them out!
Kiiras Instruments Ahti + Ukonkirves
Prices starting from 1,495 € (includes hard case)
Demo Track composed, played and recorded by Miloš Berka.
+ handmade in Finland
+ custom options available