Tommy Emmanuel is an Australian virtuoso guitarist, songwriter and occasional singer, best known for his complex fingerstyle technique, energetic performances and the use of percussive effects on the guitar.
Arguably one of the finest guitar players in the world, Tommy Emmanuel frequently threads three different parts simultaneously into his material, operating as a one-man band who handles the melody, the supporting chords and the bass all at once. One of only five musicians handpicked by his mentor, Chet Atkins, as a Certified Guitar Player (CGP), he’s piled up numerous accolades, including two Grammy Award nominations, two ARIA Awards from the Australian Recording Industry Association and repeated honors in the Guitar Player magazine reader’s poll.
Give a listen to “Old Photographs,” the closing track on Tommy Emmanuel’s It’s Never Too Late, and you’ll hear the distinctive squeak of finger noise as he runs his hands across the frets of his Maton Signature TE guitar. Many musicians would edit those imperfections out, but to Tommy Emmanuel, those imperfections are perfect. A master technician, Tommy Emmanuel started professionally at age 6, rising through the ranks as a studio player and member of several Australian rock bands before he set off on a solo career.
Tommy Emmanuel’s talents, which translate in any language, carry him to the far corners of the globe, but he never plays the same show twice, and he improvises big chunks of every date. That leaves him open to those technical imperfections, though they also provide some of the humanity to this other-worldly talent.
“It’s all about the feeling of the music,” Tommy Emmanuel says. “And it has to make me feel something. I’m still playing for myself, you know, because I figure if I please me, then I’m pretty sure I’m gonna please you. And that’s not an arrogant statement, it’s just quality control.”