In the first article in a new series, we asked four of India’s most innovative guitar players, known for their unique playing style and signature sound, to design their own dream Gibson guitars.
If you’re a guitar player looking to emulate one of these guitar heroes, whether it’s the jangling shimmering sound of Something Relevant’s Tanmay Bhattacherjee or the angular lines of The Circus’ Arsh Sharma, the fluid solos and supple licks of Swarathma’s Varun Murali or the hazy textures of Anup Kutty of Menwhopause, this feature takes you closer into the mind of some of India’s most boundary-pushing guitar players.
Read on as four of India’s most exciting guitarists discuss how they’d design their dream Gibson axes:
Varun Murali (Swarathma)
“Shape-wise, I’d definitely love to go with the Les Paul shape. I feel its simple yet iconic and a shape that will never age.
“I’d like a body made out of mahogany with a maple top sprayed with Nitrocellulose lacquer. I’d put in a Standard ’60s neck with single piece mahogany and rosewood fretboard. Custom inlay on the 12th fret.
“Regarding colour, I love the Antique Gold color, like the Joe Bonamassa Les Paul.
“With hardware, I’d go with Graphtec Nuts and saddles as well as high-quality locking tuners. Standard Les Paul volume and tone knobs and strap locks.
“Pickups and electronics: Bare Knuckle or the Lindy Fralin pickups. I’d like mid-output stuff, which are pretty hot but still clean up well with a tight low end and smooth highs. Standard wiring with a coil tap switch for the neck and bridge individually, Orange Drop 500k capacitors, Switchcraft selectors and output jack.”
Swarathma just released their highly acclaimed second album Topiwalleh and have just come off their month-long 10-city Rest Less Tour in support of the new album.
Photo caption: Arsh Sharma (second from left) with The Circus.
Arsh Sharma (The Circus)
“On the aesthetic side, I would go with the typical Les Paul body in complete black, with maybe a slight tinge of purple in it. For the outline, I’d like to see a nice cream line.
“On the technical side, let’s talk about my bass and treble pickups. On one pickup, I’d probably like a nice Bare Knuckle or something similiar; you know, for that nice crunchy mid-heavy tone, so probably a humbucker. On the other pickup, well… I also like a nice clean sound. So if I could find a way to combine those two, i.e. a sweet clean sound and a really crunchy distortion sound, if I could get that, that would be perfect for my style of playing.”
Arsh Sharma is currently in the studio working on The Circus’s second album as well as his electronic project FuzzCulture.
Caption: Anup Kutty (on the left) with Menwhopause.
Anup Kutty (Menwhopause)
“I’d call my design the Kuitar.
“It will be the Les Paul shape but will have a fixed tremolo as well. I want the body to be some sort of LCD screen, which projects its own images. Basically you’ll be able to upload your video clips and images and play them at the click of a button on the guitar! It will also have a small camera that can help record the view from the stage and stream it live on our website!
“As far as electronics go, I’d have two humbuckers and maybe a single coil in the middle just for the heck of it.
“I’d like a fat neck and a built-in sustainer kit.
“A feature I definitely want is robotic tuning that will allow me to quickly tune the guitar to any tuning I want and back to standard tuning within seconds.”
Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty is currently in Europe on tour with his band.
Tanmay Bhattacherjee (Something Relevant)
"My dream guitar would be the Gibson CS-336 with an additional single coil pickup between the humbuckers I’d also like to see a wider fretboard for big hands!
“I’d include a Piezo pickup for acoustic sounds and a blend knob for mixing the Piezo with the other pickups. I’d also probably do away with the pickguard. Also, two separate outputs for the Piezo and the humbuckers and single coil (selectable).
“These are basically the few changes I’d make to the guitar’s basic functionality. Everything else about the 336 is beautiful!”
Something Relevant is currently working on setting up their brand-new STR studios in an old cotton press in Mumbai.
Photo credits: Vikas Munipalle (Tanmay Bhattacherjee) and Swarnabh Ghosh (Arsh Sharma)