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Tommy Emmanuel Interview (Guitar Lesson)

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Jim Deeming

Tommy Emmanuel Interview

JamPlay was lucky enough to catch up with Tommy Emmanuel in Copper Mountain, Colorado for a lengthy interview.

Taught by Jim Deeming in Style of Tommy Emmanuel seriesLength: 59:41Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
JamPlay instructor Jim Deeming had a chance to sit down for an interview with the legendary guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. Tommy says he is currently playing more than he ever has, playing over 330 concerts each year. Aside from those, he spends a fair amount of time playing on his own. He carries around a travel guitar in a gig bag and plays any time he gets a chance.

Tommy Emmanuel: The guitar is such a fascinating instrument. You pick it up and it's different every time.We preceive things in a different way, every day of our lives. We're always different. I can hear a song and play it and think this is the right temp...and then a month later think "no that's too fast, it should have been slower". I recorded some stuff earlier this year and listened to it a week ago and thought "no, that's too slow". The ideal thing is to find the right tempo and try to remember it I guess!

Tommy Emmanuel: I started out playing the guitar as a rhythm player, from my mother...who played the lap steel. My brother Phil took up the guitar at about the same time I did. We played surfy kind of music, early 60's instrumentals. Then I discovered people like Buck Owens & Merle Haggard...people whose records sounded so great to us...and tried to copy and steal as many licks as we possibly could.

Tommy Emmanuel: I was 7 when I heard the great Chet Atkins on the radio. He was playing a tune called "Windy and Warm" and I've never heard that sound before; the sound of someone doing everything. Of course so many peopel when they heard Chet Atkins said "it's a recording trick, nobody can do that". I was only 7, but I could hear exactly what he was doing.

Tommy Emmanuel: To backtrack a bit, and explain a bit about how my ear works. When I first started playing, my brother played the lead parts. I had to play the rhythm parts. I thought the rhythm player played it all, bass and everything. It turns out the rhythm player was just playing the higher strings and the bass guitarist was taking care of the bass notes.

Tommy Emmanuel: It wasn't until I saw a band that had a bass player...and thought "what's that guitar with 4 strings"? Someone explaind the bass and I thought "wow I've been working too hard...I've been doing that part too!"

...for the rest of the Tommy Emmanuel interview, tune into the video above!

Video Subtitles / Captions

Supplemental Learning Material


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

mc reppamc reppa replied on November 14th, 2013

Wow! Great interview and insight into a master guitar player....many thanks Jim. I have tickets to a concert coming up in the new year. Can't wait to see him perform live!!! Gotta get working...

rhondoozierhondoozie replied on February 2nd, 2013

When he said, "I don't need no stinkin' glory," the tears hit me. That is one grateful man. How cool. Incredible interview. And, yep, Jim, you really did look like a kid in a candy store (Godiva!!)! Thanks for your lessons...I need them!

costeffcosteff replied on November 18th, 2012

As a long time fan of Tommy's music I have always aspired to be able to play like him (being an Aussie and all). His personality and quality of character only makes him even more impressive and inspirational. Great Interview! you looked like a kid in a candy shop getting to do that interview.

scooter111scooter111 replied on November 6th, 2012

Wow!!! I dont know if i should get busy practicing or quit and take up knitting. Great stuff!!!

rychekrychek replied on September 22nd, 2012

GREAT interview Jim!

hayesiphayesip replied on July 18th, 2012

As an Aussie, I've followed Tommy (and his brother Phil) for many years. He inspired me to take up guitar and I was lucky to have attended one of his guitar clinics about 25 years ago in my home town of Wollongong. There was only about 20 other people there in a little room in a pub. Awesome experience. He is such a generous outgoing person who makes Australia proud.

marthinusmarthinus replied on June 21st, 2012

God's gift to share his talents with all - the instrument his Spirit and Guitar Thank you and God Bless You!!!

bobstorybobstory replied on January 30th, 2012

That was a wonderfully inspiring to watch. Thanks.

thenin0007thenin0007 replied on November 18th, 2011

It looks like he was born with a guitar as one of his body parts! He is playing as easy as im talking

corvaircorvair replied on August 3rd, 2011

Great job from two great guitar players

jkrivisjkrivis replied on April 30th, 2011

This is a real treat. Thanks Jamplay!

vinnie13wvinnie13w replied on April 25th, 2011

I have to admit that I had never heard anything from Tommy Emanuel before this interview. I assure you I will be looking for his music. Obviously an amazing musician. What struck me most is how much this guy loves music, just watching him smile when he would talk about this chord or that song, its just inspiring.

SylviaSylvia replied on April 28th, 2011

Hey Vinnie: Here is Tommy (quite young) playing on an electric. Check these vids out to see just how truly amazing TE really is.

thortronthortron replied on April 27th, 2011

I could type for an hour about this interview butt...... Thank you Jim and thank you JamPlay.

mgapmgap replied on April 26th, 2011

Great interview Jim.

adamhrockadamhrock replied on April 26th, 2011

.....or guthrie

adamhrockadamhrock replied on April 26th, 2011

awesome!!......go for benson and/or martino next!!

nash24nash24 replied on April 25th, 2011

This is what sets Jamplay apart from the other sites. Thank you! This is wonderful stuff.

roger8289roger8289 replied on April 25th, 2011

Tommy is a great Aussie he's real true blue

jets42689jets42689 replied on April 25th, 2011

thank you for this... incredibly eye opening. What a brilliant dude

barry12barry12 replied on April 25th, 2011

absolutely blown away with this, great job jamplay, and jim looking forward to this series. again thanks

ramedyramedy replied on April 25th, 2011

What a thrill it must have been, sitting there with Tommy Emmanuel, and having such a comprehensive dialogue! He seems so down to earth! What a great experience!

jaysonjohnjaysonjohn replied on April 25th, 2011

Wow, thumb independance is the way forward. I can't wait for this. Thankyou Jamplay and Mr Deeming ! Many Thanks, Jayson

Style of Tommy Emmanuel

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Tommy Emmanuel is one of the most prolific, talented and loved solo guitarists of all time. Drawing inspiration from Merle Travis, Chet Atkins and a host of other great musicians Tommy has created a style that is uniquely his own.

Lesson 1

Tommy Emmanuel Interview

JamPlay was lucky enough to catch up with Tommy Emmanuel in Copper Mountain, Colorado for a lengthy interview.

Length: 59:41 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Series Introduction

In this lesson, Jim Deeming introduces the series and talks about his personal experiences with the great Tommy Emmanuel.

Length: 7:15 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

The Basics

Jim covers the basics of Tommy's playing. He talks about the collective influence that Chet Atkins and Merle Travis have had on his playing as well as his guitar, fingernails, and choice of strings.

Length: 11:32 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Sample Intro and Melody

Jim showcases and examines a sample introduction and melody in the style of Tommy Emmanuel.

Length: 16:59 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Key Change and Lick

Jim shows how Tommy uses key changes to add drama to a song and demonstrates a classic Tommy style lick.

Length: 16:07 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About Jim Deeming View Full Biography Jim Deeming got his first guitar when he was only six years old. His Dad was taking fingerpicking lessons, and Jim wanted to be just like him. The Mel Bay books didn't last very long before he strapped on a thumb pick and added the Chet part to Red River Valley so it sounded better.

Most of Jim's early learning was by ear. With unlimited access to his Dad's collection of Chet Atkins albums, he spent countless hours decoding his favorite songs. They were never "right" until they sounded just like Chet. Around the age of 12, Jim heard Jerry Reed for the first time and just knew he had to be able to make that "Alabama Wild Man" sound. The styles of Chet & Jerry always have been a big influence on his playing.

More recently he has pursued arrangements by Tommy Emmanuel and Doyle Dykes, in addition to creating some of his own and writing originals.

Jim has performed in front of a variety of audiences, including concerts, competitions, weddings and the like, but playing at church has always been a mainstay. Whether playing in worship bands or guitar solos, gospel music is deep in his roots and is also the driving theme behind his debut CD release, titled "First Fruits".

Jim has been playing for about 38 years. He also has taught private lessons in the past but believes is an exciting and better venue with many advantages over the traditional method of weekly 30 minute sessions.

Jim lives in Berthoud, Colorado with his wife, Linda, and their four children. Although he still has a "day job", he is actively performing and is already back in the studio working on the next CD. If you wonder how he finds time, look no further than the back seat of his truck where he keeps a "travel guitar" to take advantage of any practice or song-writing opportunities he can get.

The opening song you hear in Jim's introductory JamPlay video is called, "A Pick In My Pocket". It's an original tune, written in memory of Jim's father who told him early on he should always keep a pick in his pocket in case he ever met Chet Atkins and got the chance to play for him. That song is slated to be the title track for his next CD, which will feature several more originals plus some of his favorite covers of Chet and Jerry arrangements.

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