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Your First Real Six-String

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Your First Real Six-String

Get your own custom guitar made by these luthiers in India

I’m not sure if the Make in India campaign has been a success. But I do know that musicians made in Indian cities have garnered a healthy fan-following and wide popularity.

With Indian musicians reaching new levels of maturity and recognition, their expectations of the right ‘sound’ have also evolved. In that regard, these are acche din, for guitarists at least.

No longer do guitarists need to bear the tyranny of mass-produced factory guitars. A growing generation of guitar makers (luthiers) are crafting custom guitars, manufactured to the specific tonal qualities and tastes of individual artists.

What’s interesting is that most of these craftsmen are building quality guitars using local wood. Renowned musicians are already their clients.

With an extended budget, the perfect guitar — handmade and customised to your specs — can also be yours.

1. Bigfoot, Delhi/NCR

What started as a project to repair guitars has thrust Karan Singh into the luthier’s seat.

Bigfoot builds steel string, classical, electric guitars, ukuleles, and special instruments out of a workshop in Karan’s Gurgaon home.

Using local tonewoods such as mango, jackfruit, and Indian red cedar, these finely finished instruments have wowed Raghu Dixit and Ehsan Noorani among other artists.

Prices are closer to what you’d pay for a signature instrument. Bigfoot continues to repair and adjust guitars as well.

More details here.

2. Dehradun Guitar Company, Dehradun

Since 2010, a quiet revolution has been brewing in Dehradun. Founded by David Murray, a US luthier, DGC has brought together local youngsters towards a common goal of creating beautiful acoustic guitars.

Impeccably crafted using top quality tonewoods and resonating like a soothing bell in the high Himalayas, these guitars are truly works of art.

Leading artists such as Dhruv Visvanath and Indian Ocean’s Susmit Sen are clients.

More details here.

3. Enzo Handcrafted Guitars, Mumbai

Acoustic guitars are Enzo’s speciality.

Samir Karnik, company founder and guitarist for Zephyr, started practicing his craft after attending a guitar building workshop in Goa. His guitars avoid using exotic (and threatened) woods, but are high quality instruments nonetheless.

More details here.

4. Arul Guitars, Bangalore

In the busy suburb of Kammanahalli, Arulnathan Dominic Xavier makes high quality guitars out of his workshop.

Named after his son, who passed away when he was 17, Arul Guitars is a one-man sonic show.

Spending years working with luthiers in the US and Mexico has defined the quality of the instruments he makes. Arul uses traditional Spanish methods and imported materials to construct his guitars, focusing mainly on classical guitars.

The city’s rockers, though, swear by the professional guitar set up he provides as well.

More details here.

5. Astha Guitars, Bangalore

A new entrant into the guitar-making scene, Astha is a collaboration between a Swiss guitar company and Indian social organisation ACTS. Imparting guitar building skills and empowering underprivileged members of society is their aim.

They’ve recently started building their first guitars, but their on-point guitar ordering system hints at their ethics and supreme production quality.

Electric guitars and basses will be available soon, but you could pre-order their acoustic guitar now.

More details here.

Image Credit: Astha Guitars

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Mineli Goswami is a 24-year-old Assamese-East Indian, which usually translates into pretty good weekend feasts. When she’s not at her desk struggling with poetry – more often than she’d like – she’s seen wasting time on an assortment of things such as lugging an antique SLR, breaking nails climbing boulders, and chasing turtles. She’s graduated in history and has an unofficial PhD in Bandra-style jiving.

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