This fall marks 10 years of playing (I started playing in 1995). I've had a lot of loves in my life, but no passion has ever contested music for the most important non-parental influence on my life. Playing music has informed my humanity and continues to shape the way that I live. I've always fantasized about owning a truly exceptional custom made guitar and pairing it with an incredible rig and playing in an incredible band. It is my life's joy to tell you that the dream I had when I first started getting serious about the guitar has come true. I am playing and singing in the best band I can imagine (www.arizonatheband.com with many more soundclips to come), using an excallibur of guitars (http://members.aol.com/obsidiansw/arizona/vsopcustom) into a sweet, beautiful rig (Jamison 2x12 amp on full, various pedals). This guitar, the work of Finnish luthier/artist Juha Ruokangas, is the culmination of 10 years of dreaming. It is not enough to say that the guitar supercedes any fantasy I've ever had. It also is the musical instrument incarnation of the music created by my band, and the real world accompaniment to a character created in collaboration between Arizona (we have a song 'Jubilee' on our first record, which we're down to just 300 of) artist Deems (www.inaspoon.com) and Ruokangas. But enough; let me tell you about the VSOP Supreme (www.ruokangas.com; not sure if the finish/inlay of my guitar makes it count as a custom, but it is a representitive of Ruokangas' finest work)- Here she is, Jubilee. Ruokangas' take on the character differs slightly from Deems. Wheras Deems character (http://www.inaspoon.com/proganim.html) shows Jubilee bound by the character-in-black, Ruokangas' depicts Jubilee as slightly more mischevious all by herself. By the way, the character may look exactly the same in outline to the album cover, but there is actually a distinction in style between Juha's work and Deems'. Furthermore, Ruokangas' selection of materials for the inlay defies explaination- I have a post on here that shows the picture above, but the real life inlay is about 1000 times as cool as what you see her. Not only does it look 'that good' in person (the panel looks GORGEOUS against the spanish cedar back), but the colors and depth of the various pieces change so much as you look at them from different angles- the effect is beyond holographic. It is as if you are staring into and beyond the guitar. Really, I've always been an inlay nut, and I've never seen anything like this on a guitar.