More about us
How Kononykheen Guitars started
Long story short: we were musicians and simply couldn't find instruments which would completely satisfy us. This guitar sounds good but has some lack of playability. That guitar has enough speed potential but the tone is so-so. The other one pays nice, sounds nice, but the design is totally uncool. So Kononykheen Guitars are instruments constructed for musicians by musicians. At present moment none of the Kononykheen team are currently active working musicians, it's all matter of past now, but each aspect: sound, playability, weight, design, moddability - everything is just right what we wanted to see in our guitars back then. We build our dream guitars and share it with you people.
And thus it's OK when Kononykheen Guitars vision is not liked by everybody. They are not supposed to be liked by every single guitar player on the planet. We just raise our flag and look around to see who's with us.
A little history tip: till late 80s Russia (a part of USSR in the past) were under heavy cover of Iron Curtain. No import stuff was in free sale, only smuggling. In early 90s Iron Curtain fell - from western to eastern part of our country. So, as many Far-Eastern musicians, we are highly influenced by Japanese instruments which flooded our local market in the 90s. They were so fine! Beautiful pieces of different models from Fernandes, Greco, Takamine, Fujigen produced in the 70s-90s - crazy mix! Nice instruments at a fair price. Those guitars were re-thinking of Western luthiery, and Kononykheen Guitars somehow are re-thinking of re-thinking. Imagine these guitars in our hands and long-awaited USA / UK rock music playing in our heads. And as a result, Kononykheen Guitars are somewhere in between of Fenders and Ibanez (hope big guys won't sue us for mentioning their trademarks). Not too conservative, but classy. Not 300% shred-only guitars, but speedy. And some actual Kononykheen players told us that our guitars totally remind them late 80s Schecters, some player told us "like LP type but with brighter attack due to 25.5 scale".
In total: fusion all the way. Classic attitude, contemporary playability.
This is where we came from.
To bring instruments which we ourselves would love to play for musicians all over the world
What do we put in our guitars and what do we want to produce
- Playability. That's it, comfortable playing is a #1 priority for us, even over the sound. During our experience as musicians, we loved to mod our guitars. We used to experiment with rigs: tons of different amps and pedals. So we were able to achieve thousands of different sounds from 1 guitar. But if that guitar is not playable - all that tone hunting is in vain.
- Sound. Of course, guitar MUST sound good. The tone of instruments depends on many different aspects. Besides obvious wood and electronics, they also are body finish, neck joint method, fretboard lacquer etc. The hardest thing is to achieve a nice sound in case if you use cheap & simple rig - this is the real test for guitar.
- Versatility. We mean versatility in playing different kinds of music. We know that most guitar players have a collection of at least 3 instruments. But when we project our guitars we imagine a situation when a potential customer who plays different styles, from jazz to metal, use only one particular Kononykheen model. As a result, you can see that exact Kononykheen model in active usage by totally different musicians: metalheads, shoegazers, Latin-pop players - you name them!
- Design. In a narrow meaning: guitar MUST look cool. That's not only a matter of showing-off on scene or behind your mirror. How do you feel about guitar have a direct influence on how you play. You can put more energy and passion in your performance if you truly love your instrument. In a wide meaning: "design" for us is not only a "look". This definition entails also convenience of playing, durability, maintainable construction, compatibility with unstock parts and some other aspects of engineering. Most of our models build in the conception of simplicity. Simplicity is a friend of functionality. A decent part of Kononykheen fans are mod-heads and like to convert stock guitars into their custom hot-rods. We are responsive to their needs, and so Kononykheen guitars are compatible with most of unstock parts in the market. And Kononykheen guitars are a good base to build your own Franken-something.
- Responsiveness. This is not about guitars themselves, more about service, but also very important. We work hard to reply daily or twice a day for all questions in all platforms: email, direct messages in socials, website contact form. Sometimes we have delays in response like when we are preparing a new model release. And we are not gonna lie, sometimes we face unexpected situations like delay in transportation, dents and damage because of "close item inspection" on customs (cheers to all brave Brazillian guitar player who import their guitars from abroad) etc. In all situations like that it's uber important for us to be responsive and reply quickly to solve everything.
- Worldwide. We see a lot of talented guitar player not only in the USA and Europe. Latin America, Asia, Australia - good guitar players live everywhere and we are doing our best to reach them disregarding of geography. For us "Worldwide" term also entails optimized logistics, safe packing and a price level below USD 1000: not all countries are so wealthy. Not everyone who needs a professional instrument can afford a $5000 guitar. Equal and available for all - that's Kononykheen Guitars.
Why we produce our guitars in limited series?
As you may know, each Kononykheen model goes in limited series and available only for a short time. After we get model out of production we give public promise to not build it anymore. Never. So Kononykheen owners can be confident about their guitar rarity. And the only way to get retired Kononykheen model is to get it from the original owner.
It started as a forced necessity. Small company, limited production facilities and thousands of ideas for new guitars! We simply hadn't enough room to produce all the guitars we want at the same time. So we decided to build the first project, discontinue it and then take the next one into production. As time goes by we noticed that this feature is actually attractive for guitar players & collectors all over the world. So limited runs conception became a marketing feature by itself. We grow little by little but still got not enough facilities to produce everything we want at one moment, but at least we can run 5-6 series at once. Old Kononykheen fans remember that we could keep only 1-2 models in production back then. As we grow we have 2 options: to produce more models at once or to keep the same limited model line at 5-6 models but make a further optimization to reduce cost. This is not finally decided for us yet and any Kononykheen Guitars fans’ opinion would be highly appreciated on this question.
How do we keep the price in “under $1000” level
We’ve mentioned above that it’s important for us to have access for small national markets, and to keep Kononykheen guitars affordable for players all over the world we are doing our best at:
- Perfect optimization of the production process. Each minute of labour is important, all facilities should be loaded. And if we found a way to save final cost and if it doesn’t affect sound and playability (important!) – we apply it
- Not using big brands parts to avoid added value for the famous trademark. Instead of this, we work directly with factories who supply big brands. Of course, we don’t use other companies engineer researches and intellectual property. We just know excellent reputation factories that keep high-quality level and cooperate with the biggest brands on hardware & pickups components
- Purchasing parts, components, materials and chemistry in large quantity at once. We get good discounts from factories which allow us to keep a fair price in the end
- Not stocking parts and components which we don’t actually use for ongoing models. And we don’t stock big quantities of finished guitars. Don’t freeze funds in the parts we don’t need, don’t pay rent for a large warehouse – saving on a final cost as well.
- Lowering the margin. We work directly with end-users or through independent music stores, and therefore avoid long chain of resellers.
Why we don't do custom guitars?
As you may know, we don't accept custom specs orders. At the dawn of existence Kononykheen Guitars were considering this option. But in the end we declined it.
Technically we can build any or almost any custom specs. So why don't we?
- To optimize cost and production time we have strictly organized production process. It works flawlessly only if we produce serial guitars. If we set even 1 custom model in production we can waste the whole production schedule and thus let down our customers. Don't want to risk in this way
- As one of cost optimization know-hows, we stock only those parts and components which we actually use for the currently available model line. We purchase them on factories in large quantity so we get a good price for it (that helps us to reduce final production cost). Needless to say that if we get any part at 1 pce. we can't have such a good wholesale purchasing cost with huge discount. Also custom guitar requires more time and labour to produce rather than serial guitar. Therefore...
- If we'd produce a custom guitar it would cost way more than our serial models. For most guitar players it would be more convenient to order the same specification at local luthier's workshop. Even if it would be slightly more expensive than at Kononykheen Guitars you can interact with your local luthier personally. Support your local luthiers!
- We simply don't want to build custom guitars. As we were saying before our mission is to bring instruments which we ourselves would love to play. Each our model goes through careful projecting and prototyping process. As a result, each Kononykheen model is perfectly balanced music machine and reliable working horse for tours, gigs, studio recordings and rehearsals. Producing guitar according to customer's specs leads us to unpredictable result. And we don't want any Kononykheen guitar to be the one which we ourselves wouldn't play.
We are very thankful to guitar players community for big attention to Kononykheen Guitars, but we physically and financially can’t sponsor each guitar player we interact with. So working at a partial endorsement scheme instead of full endorsement is a suitable solution for both us and our fans. In few words, full endorsement is a free gear for the famous musician (who can provide big exposure for the brand), and partial endorsement is a significant discount for not-so-famous but talented musician (local exposure for the brand). It also entails some additional benefits from us like additional exposure for musicians from our side, news about their new releases in our sources, announcing their tours etc. As many other Kononykheen Guitars know-hows, partial endorsement feature was suggested by Kononykheen fans community. When some local scene guitar players mailed us about the endorsement and requested “a discount in exchange of rep a brand in their socials”. It appeared to be a win-win for both of us! And we established long productive cooperation with those players. We prefer to keep our roots, stay close with musicians’ community and while we are an underground independent brand we are at partial endorsement policy. Full endorsement could be possible too for guitar players who are strong influencers like at 100K Instagram/YouTube following, but most of them are affiliated with big brands. Some brief facts about our artist relations in numbers, for 6 years, since January 2014 to January 2020:
- Around 17000 guitar players reached us with endorsement requests. We don’t count here requests like “hi plz send free gitar”, and believe us, we receive dozens of messages like that weekly
- Around 1500 guitar players reached by us with endorsement offers. Someone haven’t even seen our messages and emails, someone was already affiliated with other guitar companies, someone refused an offer
…and as a result of these two types of interactions with guitar players:
- Around 300 guitars shipped under endorsement agreement. The actual number of guitar players who got agreement is less because some players got several (3 or 5 or even 7) different Kononykheen models, still continue to cooperate with us through years and looking forward to getting more Kononykheens. And the nubmer of these players is spred all over the world in 50+ countries.
What does “Kononykheen” mean?
It’s time to introduce myself. My name is Victor Kudriavtsev, and I’m the founder of the company. I named Kononykheen Guitars after a grandfather, Victor Kononihin (just changed a lettering a bit so it look cooler on the headstock). My granddad was a strict and righteous person, real commander, a naval officer. Everyone in the neighbourhood, all the people around respected him very much! And granddad was always kind to me, even when I was a mischievous child. As he was a specialist and was training cadets submarine torpedoes mechanism & maintenance, he was fond of everything technological. Once they with my grandma saved some money and bought a washing machine (that was a really big purchase back there in the Soviet Union, comparable with several monthly salaries). And the first thing he did he disassembled it. And then got it back together and said: “Okay, now I understand how it works”.
Sadly he passed away when I was only 8. My parents named me in honour of him and I’m proud to bear the same name with my granddad. And when it came to “how to name my most beloved creation” I was thinking only a couple of seconds – it should be dedicated to the loving memory of a grandpa. I want to believe he’d be proud of Kononykheen Guitars if he was with us now.