SEGAS interviews Robbie Calvo!

SEGAS: What got you interested in playing guitar?

CALVO: My mum had a really cheap guitar lying around the house when I was 11 or so and I’d play around with that and then my brother Dean wanted to go for guitar lessons one week and I asked if I could tag along. He gave up the next week and I keep going, so it there fault…:-)

SEGAS: Who were your biggest influences early on?

CALVO: I grew up listening to artist like The Who, Rush, Ella Fitzgerald, AC/DC, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Styx, Journey, Boston, Buddy Holly and loved it all. My favorite guitar players though are Keith Scott from the Bryan Adams band, Mike Landau & Steve Lukather. These guys are the epitome of taste and ability.

SEGAS: When did you decide that you were going to be making a living playing guitar?

CALVO: As soon as I realized I had something different to offer from other players, I focused on that ability and marketed that to my audience and producers out there. I’ve always had a good sense of balance between commerce and art and realize it’s very possible to make a living doing what you love. You just have to be ‘you’ and know what your niche market is. My first real sessions were in London working with a producer called Dave Cooke. I got to play on some really cool album stuff as well as theme tunes for the B.B.C.

SEGAS: How did the GIT School in LA help focus your playing and your career path?

CALVO: My year at G.I.T was the best year of my life. Moving from London to Hollywood was quite a shock but it allowed me to be the guy I always wanted to be not the pre-conceived Idea of who I was. So, I immersed myself in learning to read music and understanding harmony & theory and the chord scale relationships. I spent at least 10 hours a day practicing just to keep up. It was intense but only the beginning of a very long journey. I spent years after that taking the information I’d accumulated and developing that into my own style. The instructors out there are just amazing and I saw just how good you have to be to stay in the game. While music and guitar playing is not a competition, there are attainable standards that will help you create the best possible music for your career. I have to say I use all the stuff I learnt at G.I.T in my everyday playing situations, it’s who I am and I appreciate everything I got to experience.

SEGAS: What’s the coolest thing that happened to you, while teaching at the London Musician’s Institute?

CALVO: Getting to play on stage with some of the best musicians in town was pretty cool but there were times you could see that you had just imparted the most enlightening piece of information to a student. Something you knew would change there musical life forever. I had many of those Instructor / student epiphanies and to see that I had the ability to make such a difference has continued to drive me towards working as an instructor and clinician to the present day. I am here on this planet to be a teacher one way or another.

SEGAS: How did you break in to the Nashville studio scene?

CALVO: Most of the sessions that I’ve done In Nashville are for T.V. Shows, Advertising and the Songwriter demo’s. Knowing the producer is the best way in the door or through session friends who can recommend you. The master session scene is handled by a select few of established players and that is a tough market to get into. Again, It’s about finding your niche in a very competitive market.

SEGAS: Can you tell us about some of your favorite instruments?

CALVO: I have a Sasa Radicic classical, which is gorgeous, a 1933 roundneck Dobro, a Fylde Oberon, which is a handmade acoustic guitar from England, and I’ve just been trying out these lovely electric guitars by Nunley Wade who also hand winds the best custom pick-ups ever.Paul Gagnon at Esperance Guitars is making a custom guitar for me right now and I’m excited to see that when it’s finished.

SEGAS: How did your association with Little Walter amps come about?

CALVO: I met Phil Bradbury at the 2009 Nashville Amp Show and was just blown away by his passion for life, people and his philosophy on creating the absolute best sounding amplifiers on the market. I plugged in and played through his flagship 30 watt octal tube amp and was just blown away by the quality, clarity and transparency of the tone. I think Phil liked how I made his amps sound and we talked the next day about working together on developing some new products and as a result we have worked closely ever since. Phil and I also developed my Signature Amplifier the RC 30/30 which is a stereo 30 watt amp head and is hands down the best amp I’ve ever used. Phil hand drills and wires each amplifier with precision and painstaking detail. It’s no surprise that you can hear around every note being played. No other amp replicates the tone of your soul, fingers and guitar like the Little Walter amps, no coloration what so ever, just pure liquid tone. As you know we are here at the Raleigh show presenting our seminar on Tube Amp Technology and Guitar Techniques, please come and hang out with us and hear what we are so passionate about.

SEGAS: What’s the premise behind your “Sweet Notes” Instructional method?

CALVO: I’ve noticed through my years of teaching that guitarist were being told that certain scales worked over certain chords and progressions but weren’t really being shown the best tones to use and resolve too from within those scales. The strongest tones that you can play are the notes that make up the chords you are playing over. These are chord tones or Sweet Notes. So, my method is to initially take a simple progression like a Minor blues and show the students where the Sweet Notes are within say the Minor Pentatonic Scale over all four chords. We then start to learn how to improvise with chord arpeggios to really define the harmony and outline the changes as they go by. I have covered a lot of ground and several genres in the Sweet Notes course and it’s an absolute must see if you want to really understand how to apply the knowledge you may already have. We also cover the Modes etc.

I have just filmed a new DVD for Truefire which I’ll be demoing at the show too. Please come and join us for our seminar and you’ll be treated to some ‘light bulb’ moments from the Sweet Notes Course.

SEGAS: Can you tell us what’s on the horizon for your career?

CALVO: I have just finished filming a new DVD for Truefire so I’ll be working on the post production of that for a while. I have a Guitar Seminar that I’m hosting in conjunction with Little Walter Tube Amps on the 23rd & 24th of October at S.I.R Studio’s in Nashville. Two days of Instruction and playing with a Top International live and studio musicians. If you’d like more information on how you sign up for that you can go to

I’ll be writing and recording some new songs and planning some regional seminars around the country for next year. The most important part of the horizon for me though is to enjoy life and continue making a difference when I can. I hope to see you at the show. Thank You so much.

September 17, 2010 in 2010,News | Comments (0)