Highly respected in Adelaide for his quality workmanship and contribution to the local music scene, owner of Salvi’s Fine Guitars, Steve Salvi wants to change the tune of mental health awareness.
The guitar craftsman, who has created and repaired guitars for international, interstate and local musicians, says music and his store provide a source of support for many people.
“People love music. There’s a connection when you talk about music. People come in here to talk about guitars, but we always end up talking about something else. It’s a common ground. It’s a little marketplace where people can come in and talk about what they love and leave feeling a bit better,” he says.
“One of the big problems with mental health and the reason it seems so prevalent today is that I think that our agency has slowly eroded and introduced a level of despair. Social media plays a huge part as well. You need something to do that’s yours. You have to tell your own truth and music can do that.”
Growing up without the resources to afford expensive instruments, but possessing a strong desire to play, Steve started making his own guitars at 14 years old.
“I couldn’t afford really expensive guitars, so I used to go and modify second hand guitars. When I was 16, I bought a second hand guitar, took it to school at Blackwood High and used a bandsaw to cut it into a new shape, because it was the old fashioned shape,” he says.
From there, Steve travelled to London to work in the legendary Denmark Street in London, before returning to Adelaide to win a Winston Churchill fellowship which allowed him to go and study guitar-making in America.
“I’ve made a signature range for Deniz Tek from Radio Birdman, I made the guitar for Duke Garwood from the Mark Lanegan Band, a lap steel for Jeb Cardwell who plays with Kasey Chambers; a hybrid guitar for Heather Frahn, a baritone guitar for Michael Brown from Tracer. I’ve made all sorts of weird instruments for people over the years,” he laughs.
And now he is passing that gift to his children who are both learning, growing and sharing through music.
“My son made a ukulele here at the shop when he was nine, which he uses at school. Now he’s learning guitar as well, but he didn’t want to learn from me because I’m his dad. But he loves showing me what he can do. My daughter will be playing music soon too. When the kids come to the shop, they have to do chores around the place and then they can use the bandsaw,” he says.
Steve uses the creativity of making his fine guitars as an outlet to help him get through days when he might be struggling with his demons and he reckons making music and musical instruments is a key to feeling better.
Salvi’s Fine Guitars is situated at 54 George Street, Thebarton and Steve and his team offer repairs, services and custom made guitars for any person on any budget, or, just pop in and have a chat.
“All guitars make music,” Steve says. “Doesn’t matter what the guitar cost or who you are or what your level is. If you’re making music, you’re making music. We’re here to help you make that happen, because when you’re making music, you’re telling your own truth and that goes a long way to improving your mental health.”
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