My name is Viachaslau Kuletski but I’m also known as Vik Kuletski to the world. Here’s my little story for those who may be interested.
I was born in 1983 in a small town of Mikashevchi which is in Belarus that was still a part of USSR back in those days. I don’t remember much of those early years but I’m sure I’d had same as good soviet childhood as any other kid back then. I was 8 when things changed, the Soviet Union crushed and we finally got a chance to absorb whatever culture the rest of the world had to offer. I grew up with those early 90s Disney cartoons and later blockbuster movies like “Rambo” or “Die Hard” where a hero alone kicks bad guys’ asses, saves a beautiful girl and they live happily ever after.
Just a bit later in my teenager years I got the virus of rock’n’roll infused by my friend’s Iron Maiden records and that “disease” never really got out of my system. Naturally I found myself totally fascinated and obsessed with rock music and more than that willing to become a part of it by approaching guitar playing and creating a rock band. That passion was still with me when I successfully graduated from the Lyceum in city of Ivatsevichi in 2001 and moved to the capital of Minsk to study law at BSU’s law college.
Just like any student from a simple family I was short on money and couldn’t afford buying fancy guitars and gear to play in my band. So I had to do whatever I could with my hands. I completely rebuilt a so called “guitar” that I bought for 70$, allegedly made it somewhat better and found myself enjoying that process quite a bit. I think that’s pretty much what got me into the world behind the guitars where I got acquainted with several local guitar service guys and builders.
That was also the time when I began having hard times with seeing myself as a lawyer in the country where the law only works for the system but not for you. So I dropped out of college in 2004 and joined a luthier who was kind enough to take me under his “wing” and let me learn some of the basics of the job.
For 2,5 years I was servicing and repairing guitars, both electric and acoustic, and occasionally doing some works on building brand new instruments. Fixing stuff was tough but great school, though I was way more into creating things from ground up. I built guitars for myself and my bandmates and started to get some jobs/orders of my own.
I’ve built LPs and stratocasters, RGs and Explorers and pretty much most of the other commonly known guitar types and shapes. It was about that time when ViK Custom Guitars was created but still long before I came up with any designs of my own. I still find it crucial for any new builder to start with the classic stuff. It’s like learning the alphabet of guitar making or 7 basic notes and chords that allows you to get a strong good foundation, shape up a good taste and vision that you can build on later.
It was the year of 2007. A huge year for me on so many levels. I got married and we gave birth to our son Vlad. I already had a small shop of my own and I finally came up with my very first own guitar design.
It was a tele-ish styled chambered body 6 string with maple top, alder middle and rosewood back, bolt-on maple neck and rosewood fretboard. I named it Caprice. It wasn’t perfect and was upgraded/rebuilt several times and still sits in parts somewhere deep in my shop but it was the one that became foundation for creating the styling and design language for all the Caprice series you see today and more importantly it became the sail point for the venture named ViK Guitars as an independent company with its own product and style.
I wish I could say that was an easy sail. But truth be told trying to introduce a new design in post-soviet world (where people would still kneel and hit the ground with their heads every time they’d see a real USA made Fender like it was some sort of a miracle) wasn’t exactly a safe and sure move. It was also still time when the Internet wasn’t in everyone’s pocket (Apple would only introduced first iPhone that same year) so spreading the world wasn’t as easy as it is today.
It took years of hard work both in the shop and online before the world finally paid some attention to a luthier from post-USSR and first international orders started to came in. I already had Caprice S and T, Duality and Black Lotus designs, then followed by Saviour and Domineer models. All those, thanks to talent and creativity of my customers from around the world, were turned into every possible configuration of strings, scales, awesomeness and beauty.
Today I’m happy to know that I’ve worked with and created instruments for some of the finest musicians of this world: Jeff Kollman, Adam Nolly Getgood, Tosin Abasi, Keith Merrow, Fredrik Thordendal, Alan Sacha Laskow, Fred Brum, most of which want nothing to do with me any longer.
I’ve participated as luthier and business owner in a great amount of international music trade and guitar shows, been a member of professional guitar makers organizations and international guitar community.
More than anything I’m happy that my creations are appreciated and desired in so many places around the Globe.
Hopefully this little story will keep on going. At least for as long as that rock’n’roll virus will still be in my blood, and God help they’d never invent a cure for it)).