Five-time Grammy nominee Robben Ford is one of the most seasoned and versatile blues, jazz, and rock guitarists working today. Named one of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century" by Musician magazine, Robben is known for his complex phrasing, and effortless melodic mastery. Over the course of a career spanning nearly fifty years, Robben has performed with wide range of legendary figures including Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Witherspoon, Miles Davis, George Harrison, Phil Lesh, Bonnie Raitt, Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan, John Mayall, Greg Allman, John Scofield, Susan Tedeschi, Keb Mo, Larry Carlton, Mavis Staples, Brad Paisley, Little Feat, Kiss, and many others.
FIVE MINUTES WITH ROBBEN
PRS: When initially brainstorming ideas for the guitar that would ultimately become the Robben Ford Ltd, what features were the most critical?
Robben: The two most important aspects of a guitar are Tone and Playability. I knew the guitar would be beautiful, and the weight was easy enough to dial in. What attracts me most to Paul’s guitars is their playability, something that has become very important to me over the years. The guitars being made so well, we could focus on pickups, which I believe are the heart of a guitar. Paul took great pains to really dial the pickups into to the right specs, which will vary amongst guitar players.
PRS: Could you tell us a little more about the collaborative process involved in creating a signature PRS instrument?
Robben: I have had guitars made for me by other companies. But no one has ever gone as far as Paul to get things really right. The guitar went thru several iterations. I was sent quite a few that I would play, then critique with Paul, who was always there to listen and move forward with the design and sound.
Watch Robben discuss the making of his new signature guitar below:
PRS: You recently released Common Ground, a new studio record with Saxophonist Bill Evans, will there be any touring to support the new album?
Robben: We did some touring in Europe before the release last summer in Europe. The only thing on the books at present is Japan in April.
(BTW: I used PRS guitars on several songs on my last record “PURE”, a more important recording for me. They are featured on: ‘Blues For Lonnie Johnson’, ‘Pure’, and rhythm guitar on ‘If You Want Me To’.)
PRS: Having shared the stage with so many legendary figures throughout your career, what would you say is the most important thing to remember when it comes to working with other musicians?
Robben: Having big ears! To play well with others, you need to be listening to them and responding accordingly. If nothing definitive is happening, you need to have the nerve to lead.
PRS: Having recently moved from Nashville to Paris, what are the biggest differences between life as a musician in Europe versus the States?
Robben: This is something I’m still learning about and maybe it’s too early for me to say. I’m so used to the way music and musicians developed in the US, having grown up there. We will see what time brings.