Hi Reddit!

At 7pm ET, Tommy will be answering your questions for up to two hours. We did song requests last year but got asked a lot of questions anyway so we're doing a proper AMA this time with a faster typist to help.

For those who aren't familiar with Tommy's playing, here he is playing some blues: http://youtu.be/qQhECkexmSI

Proof: Previously fulfilled song requests on this username - http://redd.it/kft6j

Thanks in advance for joining in!

EDIT: We have set up a SoundCloud account in case any questions require audio answers e.g. guitar techniques

EDIT 2: Took a wee break for a quick recording of a new arrangement...you're the first to hear it! http://soundcloud.com/tommyemmanuel/a-sneak-peak (sorry about "peak"...the pressure of typing quickly!)

EDIT 3: This has been so fun! Tommy has to head out now but will check tomorrow for some interesting questions left to answer, so feel free to keep asking - we may get to your question. Hope you've all enjoyed the AMA!

Last note: Tommy did his best to answer the late questions but he's now getting inundated with work. Sorry if your question didn't get answered, if you come to a show, you can ask him in person by signing up to a pre-show meet and greet as soon as you get tickets, otherwise the group will fill up and you'll miss out (details are under "contact" on his official site).

Thanks again for making his day with your enthusiasm! You've all opened Tommy's mind to the fun and awesomeness of the internets, and he loves it.

Comments: 570 • Responses: 74  • Date: 

SIRmackenzie177 karma

What's it like having 16 fingers on your left hand??

tommyemmanuel441 karma

Difficult to find gloves.

marvmarvmarv97 karma

Hello! Big fan! Saw you in Liverpool, I was right at the front! One of the best nights of my life. My question is, do you ever have issues remembering the bajillion songs you know? If you do, what steps to take to try to remember 'em all?

I've also drawn you this super quick picture of you taming a wild bear with your amazing guitar powers to thank you for sharing your amazing music and inspiring me to play guitar:


tommyemmanuel86 karma

Because I've always played songs, I can remember them right back to my childhood. However, some of the more complicated ones that I've written, I often have to practise to remember the fingering.

Thanks for the drawing!

[deleted]2 karma

Do you practice all your tunes in all keys and modes and stuff? That's how I pound tunes into my head. Is there a faster way? haha

tommyemmanuel3 karma

Only with jazz standards do I try to learn them in many keys. With my own songs, I've specifically written them in the keys that I felt really suited them. For me, it's all about getting the melody to sound and feel the best.

roamingFrets52 karma

Hey Tommy! Long time fan here.

  1. What settings do you usually have on your guitar/amp/PA? I try to crank up the mid range like you do but somehow the melody still doesn’t come out quite as much as I would like it to. I’ve tried a few combinations but nothing has worked perfectly on stage for me yet.

  2. You’re having a workshop later this month in Toronto and I’ve contacted Guitar Workshop Plus about the details. They told me it’s a weeklong workshop and it sounds fantastic, my friends and I would love to attend. But we’re about 2 or 3 hours outside Toronto and have school/work that keeps us from making this commitment. Is there any way we could come and support your workshop? Possibly play guitar with you once again?

A bit off topic, but just wanted to say you made my life when this happened.

You and I playing guitar before your Toronto show in May.

Thanks for being so awesome!

tommyemmanuel64 karma

  1. It's up to you to get the melody out properly, not the mid-range on your amp! If you can get the melody to stand out acoustically, then set the amp with everything flat, then it should sound good!

  2. I'm coming in for one day on the workshop, so my part of the workshop will be concentrated and I will try to help as many people as possible and give everybody a chance to play as well.

SeedyROM2244 karma

Favourite chord?

enigma2k24 karma

You are the worlds greatest guitar player even if you always deny it. How did you learn being so humble and always having so much positive energy? Do you engage in eastern spirituality like meditation?

tommyemmanuel86 karma

I think I learned a lot about ego and self importance from some experts in this field in my young years in Australia! It was obvious to me that I could play when I was young, and when I finally came to the big city and saw musicians much better than me, it was a great lesson...and instead of getting disillusioned about my own abilities, I chose to really get to work and was inspired to humbly ask every musician I came across many questions. And I learned a lot, and I still do.

I have always been energetic and positive, it's not something that I think about, it's just a part of who I am. When you see me on stage, that's who I am off stage as well.

BourbonSt24 karma

Hello Tommy! I play 7-8 gigs a week here in New Orleans. I gave up the flatpick about 4 years ago, working on any fingerstyle I can from delta blues to Jerry Reed... Any tips on building speed and fluency in fingerstyle and also, tips on playing lead lines with fingerstyle instead of a flatpick... Thanks, you are a true inspiration!

tommyemmanuel61 karma

Thank you for your kind words. The only way to build fluency and speed is by practise and dedication. It takes time, and sometimes people never reach the level they dream of and so they quit. This is a shame...you should find where your strengths lie and really go for it. Speed isn't everything, it's the quality and integrity of your music that will last.

spock8424 karma

Saw you play earlier this year and you seemed a bit annoyed about playing Classical Gas and just kind of rushed through it. Are you generally tired of playing it or were you just in a weird mood that day? The concert was good though :)

tommyemmanuel77 karma

I'm never annoyed about playing Classical Gas. My guess is that the sound was not inspiring me and it was the sound that was annoying me. This happens sometimes when I play large halls and cannot hear or feel the PA system, which is my world. That's all I can think of!

brakkum20 karma

Got to see you at the State Fair in Minnesota probably 7 or so years ago, it was great! My question is, if you could hear one last note, group of chords, progression, or anything one last time before you leave this earth, what would it be?

tommyemmanuel69 karma

Penny Lane, by The Beatles.

DerekDaman19 karma

What is your approach to writing songs?

tommyemmanuel37 karma

Firstly, I need an idea to inspire me to continue writing. If I get excited about an idea I've come up with, I usually see it through and finish writing it in one sitting. Some songs have come slowly to me and I've had to wait til I got the chorus right. Some songs like Angelina all came at once and I wrote the song and performed it on the same day.

alexchae18 karma

What was the most embarrassing moment when you were performing? (if you even had any!)

tommyemmanuel49 karma

I've never embarrassed myself on stage...others have done that for me!

[deleted]16 karma


tommyemmanuel19 karma

He grew up and got married. He still plays, you can see him on Facebook.

BeforeEffects14 karma

What books and practice methods do you suggest for us humans to practice? I'm working through Ted Greene's books right now which I saw you suggest in a youtube video before.

tommyemmanuel27 karma

I suggested Ted Greene's books because of the chordal knowledge that he has put in his books. Because I don't read music, I don't have music books - only guitar magazines!

I believe we guitar players should be working on our weaknesses and learning good songs all the time.

MichelleTele11 karma

Do you feel the lack of music reading ability sets you back?(I cant read music)

tommyemmanuel5 karma

I don't think it sets me back now...however, when I was playing studio dates, there were many times when I wish I could have read what was on the paper in front of me. Somehow, I could sense where the music was going and what the producer wanted, so I could always do the job.

[deleted]14 karma


tommyemmanuel80 karma

Please retrieve your guitar, dry it out and start playing it again! There are so many great players, past and present, who are mind blowing and so inspiring. I know I can't play like Joe Satriani or George Benson, but I can play like me and appreciate all the greatness around me.

It helps us to watch gifted musicians doing what they're born to do, so don't get discouraged by trying to compare yourself to somebody as good as Jeff Beck. None of us will ever play like him. However, we can try to be the best we can. Play on!

ShoTaRA13 karma

coming to see you in march 2013 in london! can't wait, i have front row seats haha! truly my inspiration in guitar ever since i heard about you, and my teacher keeps bigging up your live performances so i'm sure you cant disappoint me :)

I have a few questions:

  1. About independance in the thumb, I find myself being able to do quite a few fingerstyle songs that require mild independance, but I can't quite grasp your totally brilliant cover of lady madonna/day tripper, so my question is how would I go about training it to be able to play the beatles medley?

  2. if you could go back in time to one certain place in time to change something that happened, what would it be?

  3. where is your favourite place to tour? I imagine, as seen from videos, one of the asian countries like Korea due to the incredibly responsive crowd

thank you for your time and doing this, and hope to hear some replies :D

-Benny, 15 year old from Hampshire, England

tommyemmanuel33 karma

  1. You must work it out bar by bar, slowly. Then practise it up...that's the only way you're gonna get it. However, learn simpler music first.

  2. I would not have drank Jack Daniels as much in my youth!

  3. I love Asian countries, but also audiences in places like Russia, Poland, Serbia, Italy, Germany, Australia are all so wonderful to play to. The world is full of passionate people. In fact, the London crowds are some of my favourites. They are so tuned in.

ramesrolis12 karma

Hello! First I have to say that here in Canberra, at my school we are all big fans of you, all the guitarists end up playing versions of your songs for HSC pieces.

My questions is, what do you think makes a great performer, from a good performer?

Also, what advice do you have for someone who wants to be a musician in the future?

tommyemmanuel33 karma

A great performer is one who makes it looks easy, who has carefully crafted every nuance of everything he or she does on stage, who gives me the feeling that they are really committed to every note that they play, and who surprises me with how good they are.

Muhammed Ali said "Look for greatness within."

the_heebs11 karma

My dad is a big fan, saw you live once in Toronto, and has a signed pic from you. He has learned guitar and gotten pretty good over the last several years; it was always a repressed passion of his. He'd love to know:

What do you think is the most effective way for a guitar player to find his own style?

tommyemmanuel22 karma

Keep playing until it appears, but it takes a long time. I wish your dad all the best with his playing!

Inzer11 karma

Are you going to tour the US with the King of Strings?

tommyemmanuel23 karma

I hope we can. We enjoyed our first tour together so much and I feel American audiences would love the format and the song choice. We are three very different players and the show has a real European flavour to it. Hope we can do it next year.

ThievesAmongUs11 karma


tommyemmanuel18 karma

A Maton EBG808 - my yellow one.

nialleft10 karma

Hey Tommy! Met you in the hotel after your Belfast gig last December - you're a true gent! Just wondering who you think has done the best cover of one of your songs?


tommyemmanuel16 karma

A young lady from Korea played my song on a traditional instrument...it was great!

sir_nipplington9 karma

Hey Tommy!
Can't wait to see you again at CAAS!
I was just wondering about how you arrange, do you hear your arrangement in your head and then work it out or what?
Thanks for being cool!

tommyemmanuel28 karma

When I arrange a song, the first thing I do is look for the best key to play the song in. Then I look for how I can get as many open notes as possible in the melody. Then I try to find ways of substituting chords under the melody and maybe coming up with a key change to keep it interesting for the listener.

I learned a lot about arranging by just listening to Chet Atkins and so many other great recording artists.

MorningLampkin9 karma

I used to play guitar and was actually pretty good at it up until a few years ago, now I'm just never pushed on playing, I'll use any excuse to avoid it... I'm asking you please to just say something to me to reignite my love for it? Also I'm a huge fan, thanks for doing this.

tommyemmanuel34 karma

I think we all go through stages of not feeling inspired to play. We just have to get through them and find a new song to fire us up! Also, jamming with friends, especially some who play better than you, is a good idea. Try watching Jeff Beck live on youtube - that should inspire you!

electrictwist9 karma

i seriously love your stuff!

What type of music do YOU listen to?

tommyemmanuel36 karma

All kinds of music, as long as it has soul.

Louis_CKs_Dick_in_my8 karma

Your playing amazes and astounds me. I'm getting ready to release my own CD of jazz guitar. Can you give me any advice on how to promote it (on a budget!)? Thanks!

tommyemmanuel18 karma

I would get a camera like the zoom q3hd, get someone to film you playing your songs and put them on youtube with information on how to buy your music. Maybe send your bio and some copies of the CD to guitar magazines in the hope of getting a review. The best exposure is still in front of an audience, so opening spots for touring acts is always a good thing.

michaelfunderburk8 karma

Is it the best feeling in the world when you're caught in a groove on stage and realize you're playing in Barcelona or Paris (or somewhere else completely awesome!) and realize this is your job?! You're amazing

tommyemmanuel19 karma

Every day, I'm grateful for what I do and for how amazing my life is. There's not just commitment behind every not, there's a big commitment to every person in the audience. This takes physical strength and endurance to keep going and also a sensitivity to my fellow person that puts me in a vulnerable situation. I try to really play my best every time and really hope that the magic happens. Sometimes it doesn't and I'm disappointed...but that's life.

[deleted]7 karma


tommyemmanuel18 karma

  1. Classical Gas is a good song in popular music - I don't think it's in the class of early 1900s classical music or spanish music, but it's good.

  2. Jeff Beck.

BryanRason7 karma

Hey Tommy... did you ever record with Lenny Breau? if so where can I find it

tommyemmanuel13 karma

I never got the chance to record with Lenny, however, we did play together a couple of times and he was amazing. There'll never be anybody like him. Chet Atkins called him "a comet passing through".

ShpShp7 karma

You're touring a lot, your way of performing is very demanding physically and emotionally. So, you have to be always fit. Do you have a special favourite physical excersise course, morning gym or whatever? Very interesting. Thank you!

tommyemmanuel21 karma

I stopped going to the gym 25 years ago. I work harder on stage and I carry a lot of equipment and I walk a lot. I have never smoked cigarettes and I quit drinking alcohol, so I'm in great shape!

lbphilly7 karma

Saw you in Phoenixville, where my husband was fascinated by the way you play entire numbers with a plectrum in your mouth. He wonders whether you've ever swallowed one.

tommyemmanuel19 karma

I've never swallowed a pick! (he's laughing)

Frajer6 karma

What made you decide to become a guitar player? When did you realize you were good at it?

tommyemmanuel26 karma

I'm still working on it and I never wanted to do anything else. I love to play drums and bass as well, but guitar has been my life and taken me all around the world. I realised when I was a child that playing music was my destiny...and that something good happened to those who listened to me, so I felt strongly about getting up there on stage and playing for people. And I still do!

IPAjazz6 karma


tommyemmanuel15 karma

  • I do not play many songs in alternate tunings, mostly standard guitar tuning. I don't know about New Standard Tuning.

  • I play everything by ear as I've never learned to read music or studied theory. I just learn a lot of songs in a lot of keys and steal as much as I can from all the greatest players around!

joshua_36 karma

I remember you saying that only Chet can give CGP's but why not keep his legacy alive and maybe get together with the rest of the living CGPs and give that title to those who you see deserves it..?

Thanks for being what you are!!!


tommyemmanuel12 karma

Many people have said this but Paul Yandell received the last one and Chet didn't want any more people to have it. So if I outlive the other CGPs, then I'll be the last living one...then when I go, it'll be gone.

ijustwanttobeRodney6 karma

Just wanted to say your music is wonderful. so it goes is my personal favorite.

Are you friends with any of the candyrat guitarists?

tommyemmanuel14 karma

I'm friends with Andy McKee and Gareth Pearson. Some of the other guys I haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet.

gkord5 karma

Do you use any other brand of flat pick besides the Wegen mandolin style picks that you are known to use? Also do you file down and bevel your thumb picks to your liking?

tommyemmanuel17 karma

I am using David Grissman's Dawg picks (yo, wassup!), Martin Taylor turned me on to them and they are the next best thing to real tortoise shell picks. I lost my Wegen - booo :(

I don't bevel or file my picks or my thumb picks - I buy a lot of thumb picks and go through all of them to find the two or three that are perfect for me. I like Jim Dunlop mediums and Golden Gate thumb picks.

TheResidentPicker5 karma

I love your guitar playing and i was wondering if you have ever taken up any other instruments besides guitar?

tommyemmanuel14 karma

In my youth, I had a go at banjo, mandolin, pedal steel guitar, dobro, drums, bass, percussion and didgeridoo! Glad you weren't around to hear me!

polarregression5 karma

Tommy, you are fantastic. I don't really have any specific questions to ask, but I just wanted to thank you. You were an inspiration to my father, who later in life only had a guitar and music to occasionally take his mind off of his depression. Seeing you in concert was one of the last things he and I were able to do together during a hard family time before he passed away a couple years ago. It was the best and most beautiful concert I will ever have gone to.

tommyemmanuel4 karma

Thank you for telling me something so personal. You can be glad you got to share the concert experience with your Dad...I wish I could say the same.

dumbgaytheist5 karma

Wow, Tommy! Didn't expect you here, so I don't have a good question prepared!

Umm, let's see...Can you give us a brief anecdote of something the great Les Paul did or said that left an impression on you? You probably have a whole quiver of those.

Thank you for showing the world a concrete example of passion and mastery. You're so fun to watch and listen to, and will continue to inspire for many generations, I'm utterly convinced.

tommyemmanuel18 karma

Wow, thank you for your kind words, dumbgaytheist.

I saw him giving a young man some good advice once...he said to the boy, "Just play the hell out of it...and get the fuck out of my dressing room!"

enigma2k5 karma

Who do you think are the 3 best guitarist alive/dead? (beside you as #1)

tommyemmanuel10 karma

I think Django Reinhardt is the greatest guitarist of all time. The world is full of brilliant and creative players. People like Jeff Beck, George Benson and Joe Satriani are just some of the inspiring musicians that we can all learn from.

carcan5 karma

Hi Tommy! Your arrangements and compositions are fantastic! I was wondering if you remember how old you were when you composed your first song and do you still remember it? Thanks for sharing your talent and your thoughts with us!

tommyemmanuel7 karma

I was ten when I wrote "Tommy's Song" [laughs] I don't remember it, and it's probably just as well! I hope that I've learned something of songwriting over the last 40 years, and I hope I've given the world something that with stand the test of time.

[deleted]5 karma

I'm a huge fan of yours! I wish I could think of something to ask you right now, but I can't.
But I helped you and a young woman find the laptop bags and Tripod bags at the Nolensville Wal-Mart earlier in the year, when I worked in the electronics department. How are those working out for you? lol

Edit: I thought of one. What is the hardest song/style of music for you to play?

tommyemmanuel13 karma

Firstly, I remember you in Walmart, thanks for your help. Secondly, any kind of music is difficult to play well.

Coopdog374 karma

Hey Tommy, in picking 16th or 32nd notes like in endless road or the hunt, is it a matter of repetition alone? I play with a metronome and gradually raise the tempo, but it just feels like I will never get it. It is really the only lacking part in my playing. Ps my daughter and I met you at the meet and greet in Roanoke.

tommyemmanuel6 karma

Repetition is your friend, but when playing complicated things, you need to work them up slowly until you feel like you own them when you play them.

Also look at the position of your right hand and see if you tense up when playing fast. Try to relax and own it!

GuyInTheAttic4 karma

Hey Tommy, im a huge fan, i saw you on your last tour in Ireland, it was mind blowing. You are and have been my favorite acoustic player for a long time now.

I have been playing guitar for almost 10 years, through out my musical journey i keep reaching plateaus in my playing, then i get stuck there for a period of time, then finally breaking through to the "next level" where i can start progressing again (or at least feel like i am progressing). Currently i dont feel like i have progressed in a long time, perhaps iv regressed even, partially due to lack of practice i admit, but even when i was putting in more hours i felt trapped or stuck in a rut.

So my question is, what in your experience is the best way to break through these musical ruts? Is it simply more hours on the guitar, or is more about what im practicing, what did and do you you still do to keep improving ? Learn other peoples work, improvise more, create practice exercises for yourself which were out of your usual comfort zone... any advice would be much appreciated. My enjoyment of music is being effected by my inability to break through my current musical rut.

tommyemmanuel21 karma

Welcome to the human race. We all go through exactly what you're going through and those of us with grey hair have learned to be patient and just keep working. New songs, new challenges are what usually breaks us out of the plateau that we are getting too used to. We are creatures of habit, and we need inspiration all the time, so find some new songs, new players and people who inspire you to reach a greater level of excellence.

opksusa4 karma

hi Tommy. i first saw you at Black stump in Australia many years ago and you blew my mind. i live in kansas city Missouri now and everytime you come to town i make sure i come and watch your brilliance. and i always bring tommy virgins with me..lol i keep watching your site and facebook page for another gig here but i dont see one. when are you planning on coming back? by the way imy favorite song you do is initiation. pure legend stuff

tommyemmanuel8 karma

I know I'm playing St. Louis, Missouri in September...and will probably get to Kansas City next year. Thanks for turning your friends on to my music!

FatalReflexes4 karma

First off huge fan. I saw you awhile ago in South Carolina and was blown away. But here are my questions.

1.Who or what inspired you to play guitar?

2.What lead to you developing your fast paced style?

Thank you!

tommyemmanuel21 karma

  1. Music itself inspired me, also my mother found lots of good guitar and vocal albums to play for the whole family when we were young. When I heard Chet Atkins, I knew that his style was the most inspiring that I'd ever heard. Nowadays, I listen to everybody.

  2. I'm always double-parked.

celinebird4 karma

Hi Tommy! We met in Soave this year,you where my sunshine there! I'm kindergardener and my only question is, what would you say, does a child need to know, to get into real music? today children listen to such dump music, I try to give them an interest for an instrument, but I find it very hard... Help me out!

tommyemmanuel8 karma

Just start them with percussion instruments like tambourines, shakers, triangles and get them grooving!

CupofMud4 karma

I saw you a few months ago when you were in the Tampa Bay area. Great show, and great playing!

EDIT: I forgot the question portion—I've tried to play fingerstyle guitar without the use of fingernails, but it seems impossible. Not only can I not get a decent sound out of the guitar, but I get all fat-fingered when it comes to plucking the strings. Any tips on technique?

I think I should mention that I usually play on a classical guitar. This makes playing without fingernails seem even more difficult. Man, I would love not having to care for them so often.

tommyemmanuel9 karma

I have never used nails and have developed callouses which give me almost a nail sound. If you're using the classical technique or "rest" technique with your right hand, then you are going to have trouble getting a good sound without nails. If you want to work on getting a better tone, you need to look at some of my videos up close and notice the angle that I play on with my right hand. Therein lies how I get a good tone out of a steel string guitar without nails.

lbphilly4 karma

Would love to hear about the new album you finished recording with Martin Taylor in the last day or so -- an idea of the tracks, a guesstimate as to when it will be released.

tommyemmanuel11 karma

Martin and I recorded 14 tracks of songs that we love and he has really set the bar with his soloing on this album. Look out!

We've done some great classic swing tunes like Jersey Bounce, Heatwave and Bernie's Tune. We are looking for a November release. Stay tuned!

ManhattanBlues3 karma

Hi Tommy! Once again, congrats on your work. It's such an inspiration for some of us.

About song writing...do you just play what comes from your mind and soul or do you also apply some theory while writing?

Will you be coming to Spain soon?

Kudos. And thanks for letting us enjoy your music.

tommyemmanuel7 karma

I don't use music theory to write songs. I use what I've learned from listening to great songwriters. I always try to approach songwriting as if I'm writing for a singer and a band, like a pop song rather than a solo guitar piece.

We'll be in Spain this November!

Truart23103 karma

Love your stuff dude. I listen to your "windy and warm" cover at least twice a week. And your boogie is stupidly good.

My question: What is your favourite piece of classical music? (I mean guitar stuff -segovia/williams etc.)

tommyemmanuel9 karma

John Williams playing Chopin's Nocturnes. Yummy!

FraudianSlip3 karma


I've been attempting to work on harp harmonics recently, and I'm having a hard time getting that technique up-to-speed. Have you got any advice about playing harp harmonics? Also, what song would you recommend learning as a method of practising harp harmonics?

tommyemmanuel6 karma

Just go slowly up and down chords and work on clarity and hand strength. It takes time to really get the accuracy you need to play the harmonics with total clarity. Just take it slowly.

entropy31423 karma

Hey Tommy! Looking forward to seeing you with Martin Taylor in the UK next March! How do you choose which venues to play at? I'm sure sound quality comes at the top of the list, but do you, for example, have a favourite capacity to play to?

tommyemmanuel7 karma

Sound quality is always good because I have my own sound man! I don't choose venues, agents do. I like any kind of venue from small halls to stadiums, but I think I play best in small venues, just because the PA is closer to me and so are the people.

ZeBigBoss3 karma

Hi Tommy! I'm a big fan of yours and saw three of your shows already; twice in Montreal (including this year's show) and once in Quebec City! My father and I were blown away every time.

My question is: When you do a cover of a song, how do you choose the songs you want to adapt? How do you start the adaptation process?

Can't wait to go to another one of your shows!

tommyemmanuel6 karma

Thanks for your question. Firstly, I have to love the song that I want to arrange, and it has to suit the guitar. Not all popular songs make good instrumentals and I'm always on the lookout for a good melody.

So when I'm arranging, I try to find a good key to play the song in, then ways of making it interesting and enjoyable to play and to listen to.

denveg3 karma

What do you consider to be your most important strength and most important weakness as a father? Thanks for the AMA, the beautiful songs, your joy, the inspiration for me to start playing guitar again and the concerts in Holland! Best regards from a fellow father!

tommyemmanuel11 karma

I think I've shown both my children that integrity is not something that you can buy in the grocery store. And I think I've shown them that only by hard work do you get anywhere in life. I have always told them the truth about myself, and have never been afraid of being emotional in front of them.

GuitarAce1233 karma

Hi Tommy,

Loved your concert in Richmond. Of all the songs you play, what is your favorite?


tommyemmanuel9 karma

Those Who Wait.

blablubmarv3 karma

Hello Tommy, I know that you play since you are 4 years old. When did start giving your first solo concerts? And what initiate you to continue your solo carrier, instead of joining/looking for a band? Thanks advance!

tommyemmanuel7 karma

I spent the first 30 years of my career playing in bands. Then, from time to time, I played solo shows and I felt that it worked. So I started to get booked more as a solo artist and with a band. Then when I moved overseas to live in England, I decided I would just be solo.

I enjoy the challenge of playing solo concerts - it's fun and I am free on stage.

southernaesthete3 karma

Dear Tommy, How many hours a day would you practice during your most intense times in the "woodshed?"

tommyemmanuel11 karma

It depends if I have new songs to work on. These days, I'm always looking for new songs to play and new licks to learn...but I spend a lot of time travelling so I can only practise at airports and in hotel rooms. I do most of my playing at sound check and on stage during the show.

In my younger years, 10 hours a day of practise and then gigs at night was normal. Larry Carlton said "practise what you must, but play what you love." Very wise words.

delbrajan3 karma

Hi, Tommy - I saw (and met) you at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA and again at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville. I've got my tickets to see you again in Harrisburg, PA and three nights in a row in Beach Haven, NJ. (Does that make me a groupie?) I know you were influenced by The Beatles (so was I) and am wondering - have you ever done an arrangement of "Blackbird?"

tommyemmanuel13 karma

The problem with Blackbird is that the guitar part is so beautiful, but it doesn't match with the melody unless you sing it. I respectfully leave it as a vocal song.

noswodkcaj3 karma

Any chance you will be playing in The Netherlands soon?

noswodkcaj3 karma

I went to one of your concerts in The Netherlands earlier this year. I had never heard of you, but as a guitarist I thought, why not?

I was blown away.

You are amazing. I bought your dvd the week after and my friends were as amazed as I was. So next time you are here, my friends and I are all going to buy tickets and enjoy your show. €:

tommyemmanuel10 karma

Many thanks - I love playing the Netherlands. At present, I am planning tours for next year soon and dates will be announced when they're contracted. Hope to see you there!

enigma2k3 karma

what string action (high E and low E) are you using on your mouse?

tommyemmanuel5 karma

Don't ask me for exact measurements - I keep the neck straight and the action is fairly low and comfortable. It's not as low as people think!

Bioshocker3 karma


tommyemmanuel3 karma

I think it depends on how good the local artist is and if he/she presents a show that gets people's attention. If you're just wanting regular work, locally, then you've got to do something that pulls a crowd every weekend. Find what that is, and go do it (if that's what you want).

There has always been talent shows, right back to the 50s!

NGC54573 karma

Hey Tommy! You said in an interview that most of the songs you personally listened to were of great composers with other instruments (not guitar). What is some essential listening that a guitarist looking to get inspired should be aware of?

And thanks so much for doing this AMA. Opportunities like these is why I love reddit.

tommyemmanuel6 karma

I'm interested in learning from people whose music moves the world. Some of these people are: Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson and the list goes on. I try to write in a way that reaches the listener's very heart and soul, and takes them on a journey.

LustInSpace3 karma

Tommy huge fan. I want to know what you can tell us about your practice techniques. Early on in your career and now. How long did you practice for? How do you organize your practice sessions?

tommyemmanuel7 karma

When I was young up until about the age of 30, I barely did anything else but play the guitar. Sometimes I ate, sometimes I pooped...but mostly I played!

Nowadays, I practise when I can and when I feel like it. I also play a lot just for my own enjoyment. When I have new songs to perform, I make sure that I practise them up, even when I have been playing them on stage. I enjoy honing an arrangement and sometimes I'll get a better idea for one section of a song, and it makes me excited all over again for that song - even if I've been playing it for years.

The truth is, it takes years of playing an arrangement to really make it the best you can.

enigma2k3 karma

Tommy, could you make instructional videos (like you already did with Little by Little) for us mortals of your most popular songs like Classical Gas, Windy & Warm, Struttin', Blue Moon, Beatles Medley, Questions and of course Pink Panther (just love your version!!!) I would immediately buy it!!

tommyemmanuel7 karma

There's a new Certified Gems coming out from Truefire with a lot of my popular songs on it.

ShpShp3 karma

Dear Tommy, greetings from Moscow, Russia. Thank you again for your latest visit to Moscow, what a pure joy it was!! My question is: are you continuing your co-working with the TrueFire folks? Has anything been filmed already since The Certified Gems and Little by Little? Maybe do some of your older songs like I've Always Thought of You and Questions? Truly, it's the fastest and the most presise way of learning songs and The Method, the way one of the best musicians thinks musically and how he's moving his fingers!! Your TrueFire DVDs inspired me greatly and I think, I'm progressing much faster now than ever. Thank you so much!

tommyemmanuel5 karma

Thank you for your kind words, we have been filming a new Certified Gems set, and I have plans to film as many of my songs as possible over the next 12 months with TrueFire.

essejsnilloc2 karma

TOMMY EMMANUEL. I was snowed in at a lodge when I was younger while on a ski trip with my family. I think you were stuck there too and you decided to do a free show that night. I don't really remember it too clearly, as I was somewhat young, but do you remember something like this happening? I think it was in Pennsylvania in the late 90s.

tommyemmanuel5 karma

It was at the Sheraton in Allentown, PA. I found a way of getting into the house PA and we set up the chairs concert style, and I put on a show for everybody as we were stuck there for three days.

Some young Asian boys helped me set up the room and then sang some Beatles tunes so well, and the crowd loved them!

Kitosaki2 karma

HUGE FAN HERE. I found your music randomly and bought it for my dad. It is some of my favorite acoustic music and you are a master of the guitar.

I am really jealous of your talent! I love listening to your music while I drive.

What tips do you have for someone like me trying to learn to play like that?

tommyemmanuel3 karma

Firstly, I am not a master, I'm a doer and I don't quit til I get it right. Secondly, being jealous is a waste of time. We all have different talents, you should be getting on with working on yours. Happy listening!

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tommyemmanuel8 karma

I always fly my kite when I'm improvising and try not to think too much - just feel. I do not use music theory when I'm playing. I use my ear and my instincts...and try to rely on musical sensitivity. I also like to steal good licks from other players!

twohomie2 karma

First of all, thanks a ton for doing this. I had to set up an account for my grandfather last night just this IamA. He's seen you play live multiple times and is hoping he can go again the next time a show comes around. Second of all, what was the first guitar you bought/acquired? Do you still have it?

tommyemmanuel7 karma

Say hi to your grandfather for me. The second guitar I acquired was a Maton MS500, which my father gave me. It was my first electric guitar, and it's on the wall at the Maton museum in Australia. The first guitar was a cheap thing with cowboys painted on it.

ShpShp2 karma

What's the white wrist watch that you've been wearing for the last several years? I was looking for a similar model when I noticed that on your wrist)

tommyemmanuel6 karma

It's a Longines Classique that I got in Russia. It's my favourite watch.

Kieran_Murphy_Fan2 karma

Hey Tommy! Could you tell me something about Kierans developement? Does he still have his disorder? Will he come back to music business? Thanks in advance! Raik

tommyemmanuel7 karma

I don't know much about Kieran's personal situation - I know he's been through a lot. I believe he will be back touring, playing and promoting his new CD very soon. I heard some of his new music and I loved it. He is a good person and I support him wholeheartedly.

Satchmo55552 karma

Loved the performance with the all star band at TPAC last year. We really liked the setting at the Franklin Theatre Jan 2012. Stumbled upon you via YouTube 2 yrs ago, 45 yrs old and never owned a guitar until we seen you play in Nashville at the flood relief benefit concert in 2010. You signed my Taylor at the Franklin concert. All this to say you inspired me to learn something totally new. Taking lessons now (Travis picking), really cherishing the time spent practicing. Thanks. Adams, TN

tommyemmanuel6 karma

Thanks, Adam. Keep on learning those Travis tunes - they'll always be around!

asmithgdci2 karma

Thanks for doing this, it is very interesting to read through!

If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Who is your favourite guitarist (if you could only pick one)?

Thanks again! -Adam

tommyemmanuel10 karma

The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson Jeff Beck

southernaesthete2 karma

Dear Tommy, What was it like playing with the great Lenny Breau? WHat did you learn from him and what was your favorite song he used to play? Thanks

tommyemmanuel10 karma

Lenny had so many great versions of jazz standards and popular songs, it would be impossible to just pick one. Lenny was such a good improviser, and musically he was completely unpredictable.

One of the things I noticed when I played with him the first time was how gentle his touch was, yet the music came out so strongly and so evenly. I learned to not be afraid to think differently.