10 Questions We Ask Everyone

Kari Nieminen (Versoul Guitars, Finland)

Versoul Guitars: Art you can strum

Guitar tech Alan Rogan said these guitars are ‘art you can strum’. And there’s nothing better for guitarists than this. Alan worked for Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards, Joe Walsh, Graham Nash, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Pete Townshend, John Fogerty, Nigel Sinclair and many others. Alan knows.

It’s not a casualty if Ronnie Wood owns 13 Versoul guitars and the ‘reverend’ Billy Gibbons has six in his huge guitar collection.
Kari Nieminen is the (only) man behind the brand: Guitar Researcher and Builder, Industrial Designer, Master of Arts in Design. Kari has been designing and building guitars over 40 years already. Deep passion and strong know-how are his ‘secrets’ to transform a sound in his mind in a perfect instrument with soul, stunning piece of art you can strum.  

(PS. Don’t forget to take a look at the photo gallery to understand why Mr. Pete Townshend never broke his Versoul guitars…).    


GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you end up becoming, or start out as, a luthier?

Kari Nieminen: At three years I started carving wood and making my own toys. At 13 built my first electric guitar and around at 16 started to repair guitars for local music store and also got my first customer and built an electric guitar for him in 1977 and after since I have been designing and building guitars. I spent 6 years at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki 1983-89 and received Master of Arts Degree in Industrial Design. Versoul Ltd was founded in late 1995 and I'm the sole owner.    

GUITARS EXCHANGE: What inspires you to design and manufacture a new guitar?

Kari Nieminen: Sometimes certain music, or a player, but normally I already hear the sound and can see the design in my head.    

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Do you look for a given sound for any particular reason?

Kari Nieminen: I have studied very closely all brands; history, materials, constructions, production technics, etc. and made my own creations. Most of all the distinctive sound is the most important feature, but combined hand in hand with ergonomics and aesthetics, a guitar is a tool in a creative process for a musician.    

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Select one and talk about: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop…or other.

Kari Nieminen: Blues, which is a backbone for rock music, very simple at first glance, but one of the most difficult art forms, you just can not learn it, you just have it or not.    

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Are you a jobbing artist or a solitary artisan?

Kari Nieminen: Maybe both, but also a producer for my work, searching and making new contacts.    

  GUITARS EXCHANGE: What was the last record or CD you bought? And listened to?

Kari Nieminen:  Adele: "25", which is a splendid record.      

...ONE BODY...

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Electric or acoustic?

Kari Nieminen: Both, and also Electric Acoustic    

...ONE NECK...

  GUITARS EXCHANGE: What is the secret behind your choice of wood?

Kari Nieminen: Well, more and more we have to think about ecological issues. Many tropical hardwoods, which have been used for centuries for instrument making are in danger due to over loggings. Therefore I have already used some substitute wood materials for guitar construction for many decades, like aspen, certain birch species and alder. The resonant and construction quality are the most important features.    


  GUITARS EXCHANGE: Why should we consider luthier-crafted guitars as a viable option to guitars made by the large manufacturers?

Kari Nieminen: One thing is that clients can order Custom models and many players prefer personal service. My clients sometimes have special needs and ideas, therefore is a challenging opportunity to work with them.    

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like to have play your guitars?

Kari Nieminen: Many hi-end players, like: Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Kenny Burrell, John Hanlon (Neil Young's producer and engineer). There are a few songwriters and producers who I would like to have as clients like: Greg Kurstin and Paul Epworth.      

Official Versoul website: www.versoul.com