In harmony: Basil Azizoghly and his wife Marie-Claude Charron play the quirky instruments at the Ripe Market in Dubai Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/XPRESS

Dubai: A Dubai-based entrepreneur has struck a different chord with the city’s music lovers by handcrafting guitars and other instruments from salvaged wood and recycled boxes.

Syrian-Canadian Basil Aziz-oghly, 27, said he drew his inspiration from a music festival in Tennessee in the US while he was on a road trip to Mexico a few years ago.

“I built the first guitar with a cigar box and some hardwood in 2013, the same year that I came to Dubai.

"The idea caught on and I saw the opportunity to convert the hobby into a business as lots of scrap wood was available at my family’s fibre-glass factory,” said Azizoghly, who works as the plant’s operations manager.

Two years on, the business, called Howlin’ Rooster Guitars and Such, has become a highly talked-about pop-up shop, surfacing at various community markets, the last appearance being at the Ripe market at Times Square Mall on June 27. 

 

Howlin’ notes

From oil can and paint can to metal body and jewellery box guitars, Azizoghly sells at least 15 versions of his innovations. And it’s not just guitars. There are banjos, ukuleles and percussion - all handcrafted from recycled wood and other material.

But what’s with the name Howlin’ Rooster? “It is just catchy and spontaneous,” said Azizoghly.

Vouching for the sound quality of his creations, he said the guitars are electric versions and can be plugged into an amplifier. It takes about a week or two to make one batch of instruments. The process starts by sourcing a box and a small piece of wood (1 inch by 1 inch by 1 metre) from a recycled palette. Besides the basic cuts, drills and shapes, customised requests for inlays, engraving and wood burning are also accommodated.

“The real challenge lies in getting the correct measurements as it must be musically right,” said Azizoghly, who even provides a do it yourself kit for those who want to assemble the instruments themselves. Currently working on eight orders, he said, “I must have sold over 80 of them so far. Peruvian drums are in great demand.”

The cost depends on the material used, the intricacy of the design and the time taken to build the guitar. “The DIY kits come for Dh150 while the cost of an assembled instrument could go up to Dh1,500 depending on these factors.”