"When you practice the skills enough, one day, just like magic, the skills turn into music": Tommy Emmanuel's thumbpicking masterclass

Portrait of Australian virtuoso guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, photographed in Bath on January 13, 2017.
(Image credit: Adam Gasson/Future)

All guitarists get that lightbulb moment when a technique or theory suddenly becomes transparent. For Tommy Emmanuel it was looking at a Chet Atkins album cover and spotting a thumbpick: “So that’s how he does it,” said the young lad.

Fundamentally, a thumbpick adds weight to the thumb, giving basslines clarity and space in the mix between the thumb and fingers. In interview Tommy talked about songs like Guitar Boogie that are used as a skeleton for taking wherever you want, using the skills you’ve learned that enable you to improvise. 

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Tommy Emmanuel is an Australian guitarist, who's worked as a session player and won awards for his solo recordings. He is one of the finest acoustic players working today. In 2019, MusicRadar named him as one of the 10 best acoustic guitarists in the world.

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