Tommy Emmanuel – Finger Picking Licks
Native Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel’s were played on steel strings, with one
technique has been described as fingerstyle, a panned to the left and one panned to the
unique way of playing the guitar similar to the center. The third part was played on a very
way a pianist plays piano using all ten fingers. ordinary Takamine nylon string that I bor-In fact, guitar legend Chet Atkins honored rowed. I wanted to get the sound of a real
Tommy Emmanuel with the title of “Certified guitar trio with a party atmosphere.
Guitar Player” for his lifetime contribution to the instrument, a rare honor
shared by only three other people in
the world – Jerry Reed, Steve Wariner
and John Knowles.
soundhole about 8” in front of me. I also
took a direct out from my guitar pickup into
my AER acoustic amp that was mic’ed in a
separate room. When we did the mix, we left
both acoustic guitar mics dry and put just a
little reverb on the amp mic to create that big,
beautiful depth – that really crystal
clear sound, like you’re right in front
of my guitar.
What preamps were used?
His career has spanned over four
decades and includes 16 music and
instructional recordings. Among his
achievements was receiving a 2007
Grammy nomination for the song
“Gameshow Rag” from his CD, The
Mystery, which was released on the
Favored Nations label. Tommy was also
voted one of the Top Three Favorite
Artists in an Acoustic Guitar magazine
readers’ poll. Tommy was honored by
Australia’s Rolling Stone magazine as
most popular guitarist for two consecutive years. He also has four Platinum and
Gold albums, and garnered the “Golden
Guitar” award in both 2006 and 2007 at
the CMAA Awards in Australia.
Kim used Pendulum preamps, which
Digital or analog?
were made for her studio (Pendulum
Audio specializes in high-quality, hand-
built vacuum tube recording equip-
ment designed for amplifying stringed
instruments – check them out
Ironically, back in the mid-nineties,
Tommy and I had something in common:
NAC Radio. I had signed with Instinct
Records and just released my acid
jazz album Last Kiss Goodbye, which
received quite a bit of airplay at NAC
Radio. Around that same time, Tommy’s
CD, Midnight Drive, was cruising the
same stations on the dial. Oddly, we had never
spoken until this interview.
We recorded the whole album in three
days using Pro Tools. For preproduc-tion, Kim goes into the studio the day
before and sets up the mics and tweaks
the sounds, so everything is ready for
me to record. The next day, I find the
right spot on the mic and just go from
there. I like using my custom guitars
that were made for me in Australia.
As an engineer friend of mine once
told me after he had witnessed Tommy
playing alongside Les Paul at New
York’s Iridium, “You’ve got to check this
cat out!” I now advise you to do the
same at tommyemmanuel.com.
Where was the album recorded?
I asked him about his most recent CD,
The Mystery, and, in particular, the song,
What guitars and mics were used to
record the CD?
In “Cantina,” I played three parts, sometimes in unison and sometimes in harmony.
I used my maple guitars and mic’ed them
with two Neumann 149s. I got a drum
machine to play the bass drum and conga
parts, then overdubbed brushes and real
drums around it. Two of the guitar parts
At a friend’s place in Nashville called Azalea
Studio; we mixed it at Wistaria Studio in
Virginia. Kim Person engineered the album –
she is a great engineer, specializing in acoustic
guitar. She can get such a great natural sound
from the guitar.
What acoustic mic’ing techniques
did you use?
I used a Neumann KM184 pointing down the
neck of the guitar towards the soundhole.
Right in front of me, I used a handmade mic
that a friend of Kim had designed, similar to
an old Telefunken 251 and centered to the
Emmy Award winning guitarist Brian Tarquin scored a
Top 20 hit in the nineties with “ The Best of Acid Jazz,
vol. 2 ” on Instinct Records and enjoyed several top 10
hits on the R&R charts. Founder of the rock/electronica
band, Asphalt Jungle Tarquin has scored TV music for
such shows as CSI, Smallville, MTV, Alias, 24, All My
Children and many others.