Who is Samir Karnik
Samir Karnik is craziness surrounding a gentle core. His passionate love for guitars & music and, his bold exploratory perspective towards life cohabits with a need for solitude, a sense of harmonious existence with the natural world and compassion. This does appear paradoxical but that’s the multidimensionality of Samir’s existence. Having started playing a guitar at the age of 10, he spent his growing up years at St. Xaviers making and playing a lot of music with bands like Zephyr, Rachel and the Plutonians, Something Relevant and many more.
When music is elemental to you, the frenzy of live audience notwithstanding, simply jamming with friends under a tree or playing the bass, composing & recording tunes can be a deeply satisfying experience. The musician in him is constantly on a steamer. However his quest to push himself further led him to become a ‘Luthier’ – the guitar maker because guitar is not just a tool for him to play music but it’s also his steadfast companion. It’s pure divinity to play a guitar he has made himself and loves to make it for other guitar aficionados.
Just about sometime ago, Samir a musician sat in stark juxtaposition to Samir a well-paid executive in the Corporate Social Responsibility department of a leading private sector bank. Having a Master’s degree in Environmental Sustainability from University of Edinburgh did have its advantages. He traveled to several exciting places like the Sunderbans to come back to his desk to prepare some crucial funding reports for his bank. Life was cushy but something made him restless. It was this primal need to make and create music.
Art of making a guitar
Samir knew he had to make guitars. However the start had to be modest- learning basics of carpentry from carpenters. A practical course in acoustic guitar making from an English gentleman, Chris Horton in Goa and Samir was ready to build his own. This is when his environmental consultant mind worked in tandem with the gut of a musician. He decided to make guitars from alternate wood species like the mango, babul and neem to name a few instead of making them from commercially used and exploited mahogany and rosewood. For every tree he used for making his guitars he planted more trees through an agency. He imbibed the principles of sustainability in guitar building- creating as less wastage as possible in the process and making clever uses of residue wooden pieces.
Samir has a fully functional workshop at his home with the entire paraphernalia that includes a sander machine he built on his own. Guitar making process is quite dusty affair, much unlike the gorgeous guitar we see in the hands of a guitarist.
Samir encourages the involvement of his customers in the process since his credo is to make guitars that suit their personality and musical tastes. It’s about giving individual identity to each guitar he makes which needs patience and precision. For one of his customers in Shillong, he made a guitar from wood endemic to Shillong and painted it with his name. Given his passion, it takes him anywhere between one and a half to two months to make a guitar. For Samir there’s beauty in the sound of wood and he loves the natural acoustics of wooden guitars. Electric guitars according to him kill the fun of craftsmanship since they rely on magnetic acoustic devices.
Samir’s vision for himself is a beautifully blended concoction of his experience of how communities work and the knowledge of making guitars. He aims at being a social entrepreneur and set up a large community based workshop in a rural place to produce guitars on a large scale. Such an enterprise would invite the participation of people on the fringes of the society like the drug addicts or alcoholics so that they get another shot at normal productive life. He would compensate for the loss of wood by planting more trees on his family farm. Given his understanding of the funding industry courtesy his tenure in the bank, Samir is confident of raising capital and other resources for his dream.
It is this versatility of Samir as a guitarist, a luthier, an environmentalist, a corporate executive and a future social entrepreneur that makes him a passionate and a profound person.