Nicolaas Kraster was born and raised in Fredonia, NY. Son of guitarist Rudy Kraster and dancer Kathie Christian. Rudy left the family very early on but left a bass and a guitar in the house in case his two sons might someday play them. Kathie was the town’s dance teacher (Ballet,Tap and Jazz) so Nicolaas grew up surrounded by the arts.
His parents had a successful run in the group “Collage” before his birth, but the second child meant it was time to settle down. Nicolaas took to art very early on and one of his favorite things to draw was the guitar his dad left behind. He used to draw it on cardboard, color it in with crayons and pretend he was playing it. Just before his 16th birthday he received a guitar for Christmas. The interest in playing came from watching his older brother Christopher advance rapidly at playing over the previous year. By the time Nicolaas was leaving for college to attend Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, guitar was taking on an ever-expanding role in his life.
In his second year as an illustration major he realized that guitar was his greatest love and dropped out of school to pursue it. He went back to western NY for a few months then returned to Sarasota. He quickly made friends in the bustling Sarasota music scene that were the late 90’s. “Thorson (Joshua Moore) and Scott Gibson were the two big dogs in town and they both took me under their wing.” He went on to form the groups Ajna, Da Buddamilks, The Lotus Fire, Cabal and most recently Ari and the Alibis.
In early 2015 Nicolaas bought an expensive guitar by one of the largest American manufacturers but it turned out to be a lemon. This inspired him to commission a guitar of his own design. After several months and a few upgrades in hardware he has Vesta, the gray guitar he plays on stage. In the summer of 2015 he attended NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) with his then drummer Dave Stark. This led to ongoing NAMM attendance and performance opportunities.
Before the 2017 winter NAMM Nicolaas began designing a collection of guitars and decided to introduce himself as a designer rather than as a musician. “Once I said I was a designer they pulled back the curtain and let me in. All of a sudden I was one of them. I would show them my designs and then, all of a sudden, I was meeting the presidents of companies and being treated as an equal. It was amazing!”
So where is Kraster Guitars today and when can we expect to see the line-up? “The LLC should be finalized by the time this article comes out. I have five guitars being built for me from different builders and once I receive them I will know which builder I want to work with. Once I have my supply chain solidified I will put in a large order. I’m hoping to launch the website in July with about twenty guitars available for purchase”.
What sets Kraster Guitars apart? “My goal is to have a guitar that a gigging musician can afford that has all of the design elements of guitars they can’t. Currently if you want all the bells and whistles, great hardware, great pickups, five-ply binding, back strapping, etc., you are looking at a $3 -$10k instrument. Outside of great design elements and hardware, the hardware itself will be available in seven different finishes chosen by the purchaser. This adds a level of customization that I have never seen at my price point of $1-$2k.”
Where do you see Kraster Guitars in five years? “Honestly, I have no idea. I went from a kid playing cutout cardboard guitars that I drew to playing one of my designs on stage. The journey that led me here has been more inspired than planned so the possibilities are endless. For now I’m just going to focus on creating an amazing guitar at a great price, the rest will figure itself out.”
photo credits Salvatore Brancifort