When listening to Rob Balducci’s music, it’s instantly apparent that he is a master of the fret board. But it doesn’t stop there. Listening longer, I noticed the many layers, layers upon layers. He carefully, yet effortlessly, shapes a musical landscape where rhythm and lead seamlessly flow into one another time and time again. Watching the play-through video of his song The Color of Light, my impression was that he fills the space with his music, sounding more like an entire band than a single guitar player. Sometimes doubling up on the rhythm, powerful and heavy, and others slipping into blazing soloing, he lays the foundation for the feeling he’s trying to get across. After all, this is instrumental rock and everything has to be conveyed through composition. Experiencing the mastery of this many-layered composition, it’s not hard to believe that Balducci is a prodigy.
So what’s the story behind his guy and his music? How does someone like Rob Balducci become the virtuoso he is today? In many ways, it is a rather humble beginning that leads to something spectacular. As it often does, the story begins with family.
Rob Balducci started playing in the mid-eighties when he was about eleven years old. His sister had an acoustic guitar and showed him a few chords, and that was when he got the bug. With three older sisters, Rob was the youngest of four, a wide age spread between them. That was where he would pick up his first influences, listening to a broad range of music on his sisters’ records. He found a spark in the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, and even classic rocker Chuck Berry. Those styles would come to meld with early music interests of his own, bands like Kiss and Ted Nugent.
He inherited his sister’s off-brand acoustic and was later gifted with a Gibson guitar, not a Les Paul, but a short run guitar just called “The Paul”. This was before the Les Paul Studio, and possibly a forerunner to the same idea. The guitar ended up being a great instrument and unique in the aspect that it was built of walnut, which is not a wood we see on many Gibson line-ups. He played his walnut LP through a 1x12 Randall amplifier and an MXR Distortion Plus, his first (and definitely not his last) effects pedal. Such a humble beginning, but one that may sound familiar to many of us when recalling our first gear. Displaying his prodigious talent for the six-string right out of the gate, he was in his first band at fourteen and was teaching guitar only a year later! He was immediately gigging, and due to his age, had to be escorted by his father to the venue, where he would join his eighteen-year-old bandmates on stage.
In the early years of the nineties, he participated in and won a contest sponsored by Guitar for the Practicing Musician to earn the title “New York’s Best Guitarist.” The contest gave Balducci “a good speaking point”, which would help him along in his professional career. He also met people from D’addario strings, which would become his first endorsement deal (first of many). In the years following, Balducci earned a degree in Music Performance and Theory from Five Towns College. He released his debut album, 1995’s Balance, which brought him praise from press and guitar enthusiasts alike. Balducci was on the map as a promising new talent.
At this point the various musical influences from his past had merged with the progressive influences of bandmates. For those of us who were around in the mid to late eighties, we can recall the rise of instrumental guitar made popular by big names like Steve Vai, Jeff Beck, and Joe Satriani. It’s not hard to understand the effect that might have on a growing guitar talent living in the wake of Eddie Van Halen. After his debut album, Rob continued working on new material and taking his music to various record companies. Eventually he signed to Steve Vai’s record label Favored Nations Entertainment and released the albums Mantra, The Color of Light, and Violet Horizon worldwide.
Since then, Balducci has been a prolific personage, performing live in venues around the world and hosting clinics for many of the music world’s leading manufacturers. For example, Ibanez Guitars, Two Notes Audio Engineering, DV Mark Amps, Overloud THU, D’Addario Strings, Dimarzio Pick-ups, Lizard Spit Polish, George L’s cables, Morley Pedals, Keeley Pedals, Xotic pedals, Eventide, Hawk Picks, Dunlop, Maxon, FU Upgrades, Studio Devil, and Majic Box Pedals are all among his endorsements. He has received rave reviews and world-wide support for his music from industry publications like Guitarist UK, Guitar World, Young Guitar, and Burn. He has his own YouTube channel where followers can watch footage of his shows, get a quick guitar lesson, or experience Balducci playing from his own studio.
Balducci ‘s last album 821 Monroe Drive, a soul-searching collection of songs written about the house that his mother grew up in. This was the place he would spend his summers and where Rob describes as his woodshed years. Alone in his room spending all day working on his instrument.
So what is going on in the world of Rob Balducci now ? The new album “Transcendence” is here and will be released on January 7, 2022.
Transcendence is his best work to date and is some of his most personal music to come out of his mind , body , soul and heart. The music is inspired by the passing of his parents Vito and Natalie Balducci and dealing with their end of life and remembering the moments of time that seem to past by so fast. “ the music on this album is very personal to me but I feel everyone can relate to it. Each of us experience loss and I hope listening to this collection of music will bring some peacefulness into the world ".
Rob Balducci comes full circle on Transcendence and shows us just how deep that well of inspiration he draws from can be. Brimming with all the staples you have come to expect from Balducci; infectious melodies, stunning musicianship and gorgeous tones all shaped to take you, the listener on an aural journey that will not only surprise, excite and thrill you from the first note to the last, but leave you wondering ‘How did he do that?’