CHENNAI: Most people like to play instruments, Pradeep Kanthan likes to open them up. Oh and he doesn’t stop there. In putting the pieces of a guitar back together again — he tailors the ‘tone’ of your sound, much like a designer dress on a runway. Except well...this 29-year-old prefers models with strings attached.
This hobby which has evolved into something of an obsession over the last five years has certainly paid off for this graduate with a masters in Engineering Design. So much so the word spread to music director Santhosh Narayanan, who has used a modified guitar of his while working on the soundtrack of upcoming Rajanikanth-starrer Kabali. “I changed the combination of strings because they wanted a heavier and more bass sound for the song Neruppu Da,” recalls Pradeep who is over the moon that he got to meet Narayanan as well. “He called me a ‘mad scientist’,” Pradeep remembers with a laugh.
Sitting in his work space in Kotturpuram, a room on a terrace that is a chaotic mess of wires, printed circuit boards he makes himself (used in amplifiers) and an assortment of instruments - it’s easy to see why. We count the number of guitars adorning the wall, sitting on the floor and on shelves and make it to about 14 before we snap back into conversation. It turns out that apart from modifying guitar tones and custom-making boutique guitar pedals, he has also begun dabbling in instruments that stores in Chennai don’t stock. “This girl called me recently and said she wanted to gift her dad a cajon. But it wasn’t available in any of the instrument shops that she had been to,” says Pradeep.
This is a box-shaped percussion instrument, originally from Peru. And browsing stores with no luck for a few weeks, this unexpected customer was on a deadline of four days to make it in time for her dad’s birthday. At the time, Pradeep had seen one up close in his life. But he said yes anyway. “I checked it out online, drew some designs, had it ready in two (days).”
He has large batches of orders from instrument stores themselves, not to mention percussionists who have discovered the option as well. Although if you think you can dial a number and make an order, Pradeep admits, “That’s no fun for me. Drop by for a jam session, and you’ll probably get that instrument twice as fast!”
(You can reach Pradeep at email@example.com)