The Australian fingerpicker explains how he uses minimal gear to get maximum tone.

Even at an ungodly hour, Tommy Emmanuel met with Premier Guitar where he revealed the gear behind his huge, natural acoustic sound. Of course, the secret ingredient is talent and listening.


Emmanuel tours with three Australian-made Maton guitars. Two of them are identical EBG808 models (he keeps one in standard tuning and the other tuned down a whole step). The 808s feature sitka spruce tops, Queensland maple necks and Maton’s proprietary AP5-Pro pickup system. The AP5-Pro contains both an internal mic and a piezo pickup with onboard EQ controls.
The third guitar is a Maton EBG808 TE Tommy Emmanuel signature model, which also features a sitka spruce top, but the back and sides are made of Queensland maple. An Ultra Acoustic Feedback Buster is placed in each soundhole to help keep any unnecessary frequencies under control.

Amps and Effects

The signal comes straight out of the Maton and into a Boss TU-3, which not only keeps Emmanuel in tune, but also allows him to mute when he switches guitars. From there, the signal runs into an AER Pocket Tools Colourizer before heading to the front of house.
The bypass output from the Colourizer goes to an AER Compact 60 amp. Any delays or reverbs are added by the soundman.

Picks and Strings

Emmanuel started with thin picks but kept upgrading to increasingly thicker picks. Nowadays, he uses extra heavy Dawg picks that were given to him by mandolin virtuoso David Grisman. He likes these picks because they give him a tortoise shell-like feel and tone. When a thumb pick is needed, he uses Jim Dunlop mediums. Emmanuel strings his guitars with Martin Acoustic FX strings (.012–.054), which he changes before every show to ensure great tone and minimize breakage.

Special thanks to Bill Warmoth of Artisan Guitars in Franklin, TN.

An all-analog polyphonic amplitude synthesizer that alters the attack and decay time of any sound source without sacrificing the fidelity of the original tone.

Read MoreShow less

A newly designed koa wonder that packs a punch.

Incredibly easy to play. Well-balanced tone.

Not as visually stunning as other koa models.


Taylor 724ce

Hawaiian koa has been a favorite of boutique acoustic builders for ages. It has a cool tone personality, somewhere between rosewood and mahogany. It can be used for both back and sides and for top wood, and it’s beautiful. It’s also pretty expensive. The good news is that Taylor’s new 724ce is built with a breed of Koa that actually helps players save a few bucks.
Read MoreShow less

Kenny Greenberg with his main axe, a vintage Gretsch 6118 Double Anniversary that he found at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville for a mere $600. “It had the original pickups, but the finish had been taken off and the headstock had been repaired. So, it’s a great example of a ‘player’s vintage instrument,’” he says.

On his solo debut, the Nashville session wizard discovers his own musical personality in a soundtrack for a movie that wasn’t, with stops in Africa and Mississippi hill country.

Kenny Greenberg has been Nashville’s secret weapon for decades. He’s the guitarist many insiders credit with giving the Nashville sound the rock ’n’ roll edge that’s become de rigueur for big country records since the ’90s. It’s the sound that, in many ways, delivered country music from its roots to sporting events.

Read MoreShow less