Bespoke

Behind Bespoke: Raymond Kraut

Welcome back for another round of Behind Bespoke! This time we're catching up with a luthier whose designs push the limits of what's possible for the acoustic guitar: Ray Kraut!

The world renowned builder has staked his claim in the boutique guitar world with his uniquely responsive guitars and their incredible aesthetics (just check out that Nouveau series model!). Following a stint with Ervin Somogyi where he learned the legendary luthier's methodology, Ray has taken those principles even further and in his own direction. Focusing on a few select models—including, naturally, the Modified Dreadnought—and working with a wide range of tonewoods, Ray's guitars are quick favorites among modern fingerstylists and any player who is truly able to take advantage of every tonal possibility the instrument can offer. When a player comes to Ray for a custom guitar, they've chosen him because they appreciate the unique character of his guitars—from there, it's just about refining the features.

I love the satisfaction that I create something that is both meaningful to me and to the end user. The sharing of this experience is a powerful feeling.

Ray, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today! To start, how would you define Bespoke and what does it mean to you?
Building a guitar is a fascinating and creative experience. It is a complicated structure which offers me artistic expression while at the same time offering specific needs for another person’s artistic expression. I define bespoke as a product that is uniquely built for a person’s individual needs. I create tailored musical instruments for the art they create.  
What does a custom guitar offer a player, that purchasing a spec guitar or factory-made guitar doesn't?
Building a bespoke guitar means that the player gets to have total control over specifications such as scale length, string spacing, action requirements, tonewood choices, or visual aesthetic. The client can refine every detail of the guitar to their wants and needs.

Bespoke incorporates aesthetic, playability/ergonomics as well as specific tonal considerations. Do you find the customers tend to focus upon a specific area within this?
People come to me for the tonal qualities of my guitars as I have become well known for these attributes from my time with Ervin Somogyi. People tend to focus on wood selection and string accommodations such as scale length, nut width, and string spacing at the bridge. Along with tonal qualities, I have also become known for my aesthetic sensibility which is contemporary.
That makes sense! You have a well-defined style both tonally and aesthetically. So how do you interpret what a customer asks for? And how do you put all of these elements together?
When clients come to Ray Kraut Guitars, they want that Ray Kraut sound because I have established strict consistency in the tone and aesthetic sensibility of the guitar. Regarding the alterations of the guitar, we refer to scale length which is easy to understand and incorporate. If there are specific design requirements, I end up making three different sketches and let them choose or select elements from each.

 

When clients come to Ray Kraut Guitars, they want that Ray Kraut sound because I have established strict consistency in the tone and aesthetic sensibility of the guitar.

That's clear and helpful. Is there one tonewood you always think customers should explore?
In my efforts to find alternative tonewoods, I find great species all the time. Not every species of wood will always yield great tonewood which is why I like to travel in person to find the species that I work with. Wood tells a story and the only way to understand that story is to have it in your hands. It could be a common street tree, a CITES-protected and rare wood, or an old telephone pole. I have never had one specific tonewood but rather a selection I have found through my travels. There is not one perfect species but rather a small amount of wood from each species that will make fantastic guitars.

What is it about the bespoke process that takes people out of their comfort zone?
Most people do not know what they really want. Part of my job is to help give a person insight as to what a combination of details will result in. They have ideas, thoughts, and some experience that leads them to this process, but the reality is that the process is a little intimidating. If they have been through this process before, they have insight that gives them perspective towards the result.

What is the scope of specific customizations and requests that you receive?
The scope can be as small as a nut width specification to making a Dali-inspired aesthetic guitar to my Noveau-style of instruments. So long as the requests fall into the perview of a Kraut Guitar then the sky is the limit.
What do you love most about building bespoke?
I love the satisfaction that I create something that is both meaningful to me and to the end user. The sharing of this experience is a powerful feeling.

Thank you, Ray, for sharing your thoughts and experience with us!


Check out these Kraut guitars we have available, including a Bespoke slot!

Sold out

Sold out

Sold out

Sold out

Comments

Please login or sign up to leave a comment

Sort by

Other reads

Why Buy From The North American Guitar

Secure payment methods

We accept all major credit and debit cards as well as PayPal or bank and wire transfers

Flexible finance options

We offer an array of flexible finance options so that you can secure your dream guitar

Safe and secure packaging

All instruments ship in triple-layered guitar boxes stuffed with packing peanuts

Global shipping

We use the most trustworthy couriers to give peace of mind no matter the location

No hidden fees or taxes

What you see at checkout is what you pay so there are no surprises at your door

72-hour appraisal period

All our guitars come with an appraisal period meaning easy returns if you’re not satisfied