to your own tune with bespoke guitars from Enzo
amir Karnik started playing the guitar at age 10, soon becoming a fixture on a number of college bands including the popular Zephyr from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. But that one day he would be crafting guitars is something he never saw coming. As part of the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of the bank he used to work at, Karnik saw first hand the skills and artisanship the country has to offer. “That’s how I got interested in working with wood. And I was also looking to do something more hands-on, than sitting glued to a computer all day, sending emails,” he informs. Working primarily with local woods, like mango and neem, he started creating small boxes, knick knacks and stuff that were ‘not too ambitious.’ “Then I would sit with carpenters and observe how they worked. I learnt a lot, like the right way to use various tools, cutting and carving wood, etc.,” he tells us.
Knock on wood
A guitar making course at Jungle’s Guitars in Goa followed and one-and-a-half years ago, Enzo Guitars was born. Making each piece from scratch, with no assistants involved, Karnik works with unusual wood like jackfruit, mango, neem, tamarind and babul, though a request for a guitar made from regular wood will not be turned down.
“Each sound is different. For example, jackfruit wood produces a more absorbant and warmer tone. Neem is a great alternative for mahogany, as they sound almost the same,” explains Karnik, who has a degree in environmental sustainability from Edinburgh University, Scotland. “In India, we have a wide variety of wood to choose from, so we don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive materials like ebony, rosewood and walnut,” he adds.
Respecting the craft
Sourcing his material from places like Bhiwandi and Kerala, Karnik is quite picky about his clients. “I once saw a guitar I created for a friend, with a huge crack down the middle. That’s when I decided I shouldn’t be making guitars for anyone and everyone. I prefer my clients to be involved in the entire process, come to me with their research done and be genuinely passionate about guitars. If you just say you want a replica of Eric Clapton’s guitar, I’m going to turn you down,” he says quite frankly.
While he has thus far stuck to crafting acoustic guitars, the latest project he has taken on is a smaller version of a bass guitar. “My client wanted something that was easy to carry around and easier to play with than the regular-sized one,” he explains, adding, “Electric guitars are far simpler to make.”
Aiming to be environmentally responsible, he repurposes the waste material from his workshop and creates crosses, birdhouses, cute little boxes and even jewellery for friends and neighbours. While he used to take about a month to craft one piece when he just started out, Karnik has now slowed down to two months as that affords him the luxury of perfecting every element of the instrument. “When I see the finished product all strung up and ready to go, I feel totally fulfilled and satisfied with my life,” he concludes.
Rs. 25,000 upwards. Details: 9820656924 / facebook.com/enzoguitars