Ibanez: What inspired you to start playing guitar?
Rob: I started playing guitar when I was about eleven years old. I was introduced to it by my older sister, Barbara. She had an acoustic guitar laying around, so I started to pick it up, she showed me some chords, and I haven't put it down yet. I started taking lessons at an early age, and by the time I was fourteen I was already teaching lessons. So I got into it very seriously.
Ibanez: How long did you take lessons?
Rob: I'm a big believer in lessons, because I think it helps you stretch your boundaries. I'm never satisfied with where I am. I always want to improve. So taking jazz lessons, classical, listening to different kinds of music, all of that stuff helps. I went to some different private teachers all the way up until college, and I ended up going to a music college. So I'm a big believer in that type of stuff.
Ibanez: What were some of the things you practiced to develop your technique?
Rob: I do a lot of alternate fingering exercises, like 1-2-3-4, 1-2-4-3, and all sorts of combinations. I also switch those exercises back and forth from picking to hammer-ons and stuff. That's a really good thing for technique and warm-up. I also like playing violin pieces on guitar, because it wasn't written for the instrument so it really forces you to stretch out.
Ibanez: How did your relationship with Ibanez guitars start?
Rob: I've been playing Ibanez since around 1985. I was introduced to them through guitar magazines and the players that were using them. So I finally got myself one, and I've been playing them ever since. I love the way they sound and the way that they play. The thing about it is when you have an instrument that you're that comfortable with; it really helps your creativity. So it's been a pleasure being involved with Ibanez, and they've done nothing but support me.
Ibanez: What drew you to the RG series?
Rob: When I first started playing Ibanez, I really liked the RGs and some of the early JEMs. As I started establishing my own career more, I started to move away from the signature models and focus more on the RGs. The shape of the neck is actually what really turned me on to those guitars.
Ibanez: Do you use any Ibanez pedals?
Rob: Yes, I use a TS-9 and I use the Tone-lok Autowah and sometimes the DE7 Delay/Echo.
Ibanez: How do you feel that your playing has changed from "Balance" to "The Color of Light"?
Rob: You know, your songwriting develops as you write more and more. When I did the first record, it was a culmination of a lot of years of ideas that I had stored on all these tapes. So when it came time to do the second record, I really tried to start honing in on the writing and developing my own style or voice. It's all a learning experience, and I'm really proud of all three albums. You always want to surpass what you've done before, so hopefully the new record is better than the last and the next one will be better than the current one.
Ibanez: What part did your Ibanez guitars play in the recording of "The Color of Light"?
Rob: It was all recorded with my Ibanez guitars. The L.A. custom shop has done a couple of guitars for me, so I have an alder body RG, a mahogany body RG, and a basswood body with maple top RG. I also have some vintage Ibanez models, and I used all of those on the album. I'm really into layering different guitar tones, so I often use a combination of guitars to achieve a certain sound. So yeah, my Ibanez guitars are a very important part of the recording process. A lot of times, certain tones will dictate how you play or how you write. So I'm always picking up different guitars to see where that sound takes me creatively.
Ibanez: What is your main goal when you go into the studio to record a new album?
Rob: It kind of has to do with my whole outlook. My main goal when I'm writing is to write a melody that people can come away remembering. I don't really want a big produced record, so I usually go for getting the pure sound from my amp at that moment without a whole lot of EQ or anything. Also, I try to be spontaneous in the studio and just go for it. I don't really like having the guitar solos written out beforehand. In fact, parts of "The Color of Light" were so spontaneous that I had to go back, listen, and learn my own parts again after it was finished.
Ibanez: What do you have planned for this year?
Rob: We just did some cool shows around NAMM, and I'm writing some new material. So hopefully that will get recorded soon. Dave Weiner and I are doing this thing, "A Night of Pure Guitar". So we've been trying to stretch out and play some different places with that. Also, I'll be headlining Jemfest Australia in April. I'll also be doing some clinics in Australia around that time.
Ibanez: Any parting words of advice for guitar players?
Rob: I think guitar is back, and I think you just gotta play and practice and support each other. We all have to support each other. I love talking to people and people emailing me, so I"d like to put that out there. People can email me through my website at robbalducci.com, and I'm very responsive to people.