Duke Robillard, four times voted the US best blues guitarist, will have his own guitar model, the Katar Bluesmaster, made by Katar Kustom Kuitars in Finland. Katar Kustom Kuitars founder Jukka Kattelus from Seinäjoki, Finland has been a luthier for 30 years.
Duke Robillard, who has performed and recorded with Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and others, recently toured Finland with Finnish group Wentus Blues Band. In his free time, the team visited the musical instrument fair at Veturitallit in Jyväskylä, where various guitar builders presented their instruments. Robillard fell in love with a Katar Popmaster guitar made by Jukka Kattelus.
“I was touring with my friends the Wentus Blues Band in Finland and they told me on the way to a show we would stop at a guitar show with several different guitar builders. I tried a few interesting guitars but when I came upon the Katar Booth I was blown away by how cool Jukka’s guitars were and how beautiful and well built they were”, says Duke Robillard, and continues:
“Of course the look got my attention first. I think as a player you have to be drawn visually to a guitar first. The Katar guitars are visually pleasing and the beautiful orange color and wood grain made my guitar look very special. When I play it people always comment on how beautiful it is and how great it sounds!”
“Over the last 50 years, I have owned over a thousand guitars and my Katar is certainly one of the best I’ve owned”, Robillard praises Kattelus and his craftsmanship.
The Katar Popmaster guitar is also featured in the Duke Robillard Band’s new ”Outta here” music video.
Robillard: Katar is of an amazingly high quality
Duke Robillard describes the Katar Popmaster guitar he owns as an instrument of amazingly high quality. According to the musician, of all the instruments he owns, ”no other guitar sounds the same”. This inspired Robillard to negotiate with Jukka Kattelus for his own Katar model.
“We talked with Duke about the guitar I had made and he suggested a collaboration, changing the Popmaster name to Bluesmaster. At the same time, I could have used his name for marketing. But I didn’t want to change the already established name.”
“After further discussion, we decided to create a signature model for him, based on the guitar he bought from me, with his additions. Limited Edition of 12 guitars will be available”, says Jukka Kattelus, explaining how the collaboration came about.
The legendary musician looks forward to the new model.
“I am very excited about the new Duke Robillard Bluesmaster model! The wood will be the same as my Popmaster. The neck and fretboard will be made of the same wood as my guitar now and shaped to my specifications. It will be a very special guitar built with the same incredible workmanship that makes these guitars so special! I am proud to have my name associated with such a fine instrument.”
Katar’s sound comes from wood and handmade microphones
Duke Robillard says the woods of Katar guitars contribute to their unique sound. The Bluesmaster uses the same wood as the Katar Popmaster he already owns.
“The fretboard is an African wood that feels great and is unique to Katar. It’s a special wood that feels harder than rosewood and softer than ebony – which is just right in my opinion. The woods used in this guitar make a special sound.”
Finnish birch and alder have also been used in the guitars.
“The top is Finnish birch and the rest of the guitar is made of beautiful Finnish alder. It is a beautiful wood. Birchwood was used in guitar making in the US in the 1920s and 1930s. Alder has always been a great solid-body guitar wood and I believe the birch top must add something special to its tone”, Robillard says.
The sound of the Katar Bluesmaster comes also from Veijo Rautia’s hand-wound microphones, which Rautia made to Robillard’s specifications. The microphone maker, who was recommended by Kattelus, is an old fan of the guitar legend.
“I had a couple of Robillard records in the 80s and he was one of my guitar heroes along with Jimmie Vaughan. It’s great to be involved in this project”, says Veijo Rautia enthusiastically.
30 years of building musical instruments
Jukka Kattelus of Katar Kustom Kuitars has been working as a luthier and repairer since 1992. Kattelus has also been teaching musical instrument building and maintenance since 2007 at a community college. Jukka has made many different guitar models, researched their characteristics and combined the best of them into the Katar Popmaster guitar, which was introduced in 1995.