Ray Kraut's Artist Statement

The guitars I make are very different from any other guitar you have played.  As a builder who has given my life to lutherie, I am dedicated to building the most optimally responsive guitar possible.

A fine musical instrument can open doors that you did not know were there.
— Don Latarski

I believe that my guitars should be an extension of the player.  An important relationship develops between a player and his or her guitar.  The guitar should bring the player to life through its ability to immediately respond and show the player what is possible.  The guitar should draw out expression from you and act like an extension of your own voice. I build my guitars to be dynamic and sensitive in order to facilitate this unfolding relationship between the player and the guitar.

What does responsiveness mean?  To some it is feeling, some it is tone, to some it is measurable, to some it is instinctual.  All of these factors come into play with the experience of the guitar.  An optimally responsive guitar is not one thing, it is all things.  It brings all these attributes and characteristics together: aesthetics, engineering, sound, feeling.  I am dedicated to building guitars that perform on all of these levels.

Many guitars will never give you the range that is possible; they only go so far. Even when you play soft on one of Ray’s guitars you can feel the possibility.
— Don Latarski

I design the guitar as a single unified aesthetic entity. The aesthetics of my guitars go far beyond how they look and feel on the surface.  My approach goes much deeper into how the aesthetics of the construction – the structural integrity of the guitar – create a beautiful playing experience. This aesthetic experience is what playing my guitars is about.

The physics behind a contemporary acoustic guitar, as developed by Ervin Somogyi, allows for a resilience and flexibility in the voicing and structure of the guitar. He developed an unprecedented ability to make a truly responsive guitar.

My apprenticeship with Somogyi allowed me to learn and gain mastery in his technique. My guitars and my approach to my craft epitomize this aesthetic.
I want the details of my guitar to compel you to pick it up and play it. Then, once the guitar is in the player’s hands a whole new realm of subtle aesthetic details come to play. I love these details involved in the process of making an instrument. I love creating them in a way that people don’t even notice, but contribute to the experience of playing the guitar. 

All of these factors are why the guitars I make are very different from any other guitar you have played.

To take yourself to this next level isn’t taking a step forward. It is taking three leaps forward.
— Spence Barton

There are many small details that come together to make a guitar that is a joy to play.  In order to accommodate the unique needs of a musician, I will offer any scale length, fretboard radius, nut width, bridge spacing, neck shape, neck thickness, and set up.  Thus the responsiveness created in the body and voicing of the guitar is translated through every aspect of the guitar for each player’s unique needs.  The sensitivities of articulation, balance and bass response is felt and experienced is every part of the guitar.

Music is powerful. Music has always been an inspiration to me, as a guitar player, and simply as a person in the world. Music makes me feel good. I am able to create an instrument that inspires others to make music that inspires me.  I feel so lucky to be part of such a wonderful cycle and give to others the joy that they have given me.

Somehow it gets in my heart and it lives. When I have a Kraut guitar I have something that is personal to me – it is like breath. It is in me – not outside of me.
— Bill Douglas

A short documentary about my process and product: