My story begins in Võru, a country hamlet nestled in the hills of southern Estonia where I was born on the 6th of February, 1956. I spent my childhood days there where I learned to enjoy working with wood. In the beginning I carved and whittled knives and spoons, later I learned to construct small things like birdhouses. My first real effort with a Kalluste guitar was a small, simple, plywood instrument with wire strings. This first Kalluste even had frets on it.
I spent the next decade studying both of my loves, music and woodwork. Woodwork I studied at the “Võru Technical School” and music I studied at the prestigious “Georg Ots School of Music in Tallinn”. All during my school years, I earned money performed as guitarist with countless groups throughout the former Soviet Union.
On the road back then, I managed to get my hands on a very special, a very rare guitar – the Fender 25th Anniversary Stratocaster. This was an outrageous accomplishment for anyone in the Soviet Union. Word of my possessing such a treasure reached the ears of our premier Estonian violin maker Aaro Altpere in l983. Because there was a such a critical shortage of good guitars in the Soviet Union, Aaro immediately wanted to make a copy from my Stratocaster. I immediately agreed, and I was excited by this opportunity, to learn from a master. Together we made drawings of my Stratocaster and because Aaro was willing to share his knowledge and expertise in building fine musical instruments with me, it was the beginning of Kalluste Guitars.
Under the guidance of master Aaro, I learned how to repair old cellos, double basses as well as violins, which led me to appreciate and specialize in archtops. I loved what I was doing. I was further encouraged by Aaro as he discovered I was a quick learner and didn’t hesitate to teach me more and more.
Soon I built my own workshop in my apartment in Tallinn. I quick began repairing guitars. Soon I was constructing them from scratch. By the beginning of the 90’s I was specializing in repairing and constructing any and all types of electrical guitars. It was when the millenium year 2000 approached I began to fully appreciate archtop guitars. I especially liked their sound and style. I began dreaming of having one of my own. Still, it took me ten years of studying and planning before I finally made my first Kalluste archtop in 2010.
When I design and construct any of Kalluste guitars, the first thing I do is make sure it is comfortable to hold and play. It is critical the guitar fits snugly in your lap. The guitar must be balanced and not pull in any one direction. Next, it is essential the guitar has a good sound; this requires utilizing only the best materials. Having worked as a guitarist myself, playing many sets often all night, I appreciate the importance of a guitar with great sound and comfortable to play as well. The shape of the guitar is also important. I have worked hard and struggled to find the optimal shape for the neck of the guitar. It must fit perfectly so that fingers or hands will not tire easily while playing. I can honestly say now I have succeeded with my Kalluste guitars…
When making my Kalluste electric guitars, I prefer to use our Estonian alder; it is light and produces a soft sound. Usually archtop guitars are made from a combination of spruce, maple and rosewood. Whenever possible my Kalluste guitars are constructed from aged wood, sometimes scavanged from rare hundred year old instuments. All of my woods are dried naturally. This is what gives my guitars their durability, stability and the exceptional clear tones. For the clearest sound, I prefer to use stainless steel frets.
So now you know my story. As you can see, I put my soul into every Kalluste guitar I produce.
Wishing all of you, to whom my website applies, many happy, long, but enjoyable hours with one or more of my quitars!