Adam Miller
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Adam Miller

Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | SELF

Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia | SELF
Established on Jan, 1998
Solo Jazz Acoustic


This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Adam Miller @ Foundry 616

New South Wales, Australia

New South Wales, Australia

Adam Miller @ The Grand Hotel

Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia



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The term "danceable" isn't one that's oftern used when describing music made by a solo acoustic guitarist, but it sure comes to mind when listening to 34-year old Australian fingerstylist Adam Miller. Not only does he own the groove, he takes polyphonic playing—with independent bass lines, melody, harmony, and even improvised solos—to incredible heights, inviting comparisons to players such as Tuck Andress and Charlie Hunter. But while Andress and Hunter are for the most part electric players, Miller’s most visible work is on a 6-string flat-top, with the result being a highly original voice.

Miller discovered the acoustic guitar by way of a cassette of fellow Australian picker Tommy Emmanuel when he was 12. Having already started to play electric guitar in bands at the time, Miller wore that tape out, eventually building his own repertoire of Emmanuel tunes. His first break came a few years later, when he was able to score a gig opening for his role model, a connection that would lead to several stints of touring together.

Miller released his first CD, After One Day, in 2001, and has since followed up with four more albums, the latest being 2012’s Delayed. But, although he chose the solo acoustic format for all of his CDs, and it is how you’re most likely to hear him perform at any of his gigs in the U.S., it really is only one of the contexts he is comfortable in. For starters, in addition to playing a Jeff Traugott Model 00 cutaway acoustic, Miller owns and plays a Traugott 7-string electric that formerly belonged to Hunter, which he frequently uses on sideman gigs. He also continues to play standard 6-string electrics, and has been a clinician for the Premier Builder’s Guild, demonstrating B3 guitars and Two-Rock amps. Many of Miller’s hometown gigs include a trio in which he plays both acoustic and electric guitars, and he’s released the download-only live album Underground at Miller also plays in a vocal/guitar duo with his wife, Holly. Besides performing, Miller keeps busy teaching guitar at the University of Newcastle’s Conservatorium of Music.

How would you describe the guitar scene in Australia?

It is small, but of really high caliber, starting with Tommy Emmanuel having been a mainstream artist here for so long. He’s a household name, and not just amongst guitar players, so that was always the point to reach. He set the bar pretty high.

And he helped launch your own career. How did that come about?

When I was 19, Tommy came to play in my hometown, so I contacted his management and asked whether I could open the show, and they said yes. It was pretty terrifying, because that was actually my first solo show. It went well, however, and from there we toured together a bit, with me opening more shows for him over the next few years. It was definitely a shaping experience. I don’t think I really wanted to play solo guitar before that, but it kind of threw me into the deep end. Up until that point, all I had been playing were Tommy Emmanuel pieces and arrangements, so it really forced me to create something unique for myself. I didn’t want to just play his songs before he came on and played them better [laughs].

What is it about the acoustic guitar that appeals to you?

When I played the electric guitar, I was always trying to sound like someone else— but when I played acoustic, I found it easier to play in ways that sounded like me. I stopped thinking about pedals and effects and amps, and I just got out what I put in, particularly with the solo stuff, where I’m playing bass lines. The flat-top guitar just does that so well, especially on my Jeff Traugott acoustic, with the fanned frets, and the strength of the bottom end.

What are the specs on that guitar?

It’s a 00-size, which is a pretty small body, so I can get around on it easily. The case is also smaller, which helps when traveling. As a result of the fanned frets, the high E is 25 inches long, and the low E is 27 inches. The back and sides are made from Indian rosewood, and it has a spruce top.

How did you get into this really evolved type of bass line/melody playing?

It was a consequence of two things. I was playing funk and jazz in bands, and Tommy Emmanuel and Chet Atkins material when I played solo, because that was pretty much all that I’d been exposed to. The first sort of groove-style playing and improvising while playing a bass line that I saw was John Mayer performing “Neon” live on a DVD. Then, someone said, “That sort of sounds like Charlie Hunter,” so I got into all of Charlie’s albums. I soaked everything up from there, and he was really the guy that made me realize that it was even possible to play a bass line and improvise over it at the same time.

What’s the most important thing to focus on when learning to play fingerstyle guitar with a great groove?

Timing. Whether you are playing with a metronome, or playing with other people, you need to be really aware of where your timing sits. And I think especially for the way I play, it’s having an understanding of the subdivisions of the bar, like how one beat interacts with the other beat. The funny thing about a lot of my stuff is that while it sounds like I’m playing two or three parts at a time, it’s really only the parts between each other, and how they work together that creates the overall feeling of the groove, in the same way that a drummer’s hi-hat and snare create a particular feel.

Is it a challenge to go from playing all the parts yourself when you’re solo to playing more sparse arrangements within the context of a band?

Most of the time, especially through the melodies, I tend to still play the bass lines, at least the bass line that I’ve written for the songs. One thing I’ve started doing recently is having the bass players create their own lines around what I’m playing, rather than following what I do, and we get this big sound that’s really nice.

What’s the story behind Underground, the live recording with your trio?

That was a one-off night of just getting a couple of amazing musicians together. There was no rehearsal, and I basically just had some charts written up, and a few beatbox drum parts to start things off.

When do you play your Charlie Hunterstyle 7-string electric?

I play it for live sideman work. Mostly pop, soul, and R&B sort of things. What’s kind of cool about it, and this comes back to the whole approach, is that with the bass and the guitar taken care of, you deliver such a strong groove, and it really suits those styles of music. You end up with very simple guitar parts that don’t go over the top. Often it ends up being just a drummer and me backing up a singer-songwriter who plays keyboard or guitar. It’s fun, because it takes the pressure off me and allows me to focus on the groove and the feeling of the music

What electric guitars do you play?

I have a b3 Water, a D’Angelico EXL-1, and a Telecaster-style guitar that I built from Warmoth parts. When I’m at home, they go through an original Two-Rock Jet head with a 1x12 cabinet. I don’t really use a lot of pedals anymore, except for sometimes a Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler, which I’m using for some Bill Frisell-inspired atmospheric things.

The thing is, I’m really starting to blur the lines between my acoustic and my electric setups. I’m using .012 sets with a wound G on my electrics, and at the same time, I’ve started using a Seymour Duncan MagMic pickup in my Traugott, which I sometimes play through the Two-Rock. This doesn’t sound as acoustic as when I run through my D-Tar Solstice and into a P.A., but it’s a very cool sound.

With Delayed having been out for a while now, what are you working on?

I’ve got two projects in the works. One will be a duo album with my wife, Holly. The idea is to do it the way we play live, with just vocal and guitar. I’m really hoping to introduce the 7-string, because it’s such a great instrument for accompaniment. Holly’s vocals just sit really nicely in the middle of the bass and the guitar parts. My own new album will be called Shifting Units. The title piece is a tune with different movements and time signatures, and there will be recurring themes throughout the album. It will continue with the groove idea, and also explore new ways of playing some of the tunes I’ve already been playing live, like “Wrong Note Blues,” and “Blow Your Horn.” It will be a combination of acoustic and electric guitar, and it will most likely feature a band on at least some of the songs. I’m also planning on spending a lot more time touring in the U.S. in 2014. - Guitar Player Magazine

Australian Adam Miller is an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist and composer who plays steel-string acoustic on this collection of fun, groove-infused solo performances. The disc begins with "Noah's Little Nod", and Miller doesn’t waste any time displaying his strong suit of funky melody lines played over a driving bass line (in fact, Miller named the tune after a toddler nephew who nodded his head in time to the piece). While much of the program is in this vein, he varies the tempo on the bluesy "Wedding Speech", which reminds me of James Taylor’s fingerpicking -- that is until he starts sputtering out lead lines. "That Way" features a strong walking bass line, chord stabs, and more funky treble lines. On "India", he evokes a westerner’s first encounter with the East. The next tune "The Sleazy Song", returns to Miller’s preference for staccato melodies over a driving bass, this time adding more a more greasy feel (hence the tune’s title). "Last Kiss", "That Way", and other slower tunes on the disc would work well with lyrics, which Miller could pursue in the future. Not that he’s particularly limited -- his grooves are strong enough to make him a plausible accompanist for Stevie Wonder. The final tune, "Delayed", is a departure, as Miller multitracks several guitars in a blues-based meditation. While taking influences from funk, bebop, and guitarists like Martin Taylor and Charlie Hunter, Adam Miller has successfully developed an original voice as a composer/performer. I recommend this CD and look forward to more music from him.
© Patrick Ragains -

BOOKING agent. Driver. Producer. Web designer. Accountant. Roadie. Travel agent. Promoter.

Adam Miller is a professional guitar player, but as a soloist who travels the world, the job involves a lot more than just playing music.

Miller proudly calls Newcastle home and always has.

The first time he played for money he was a teenager in a band called Liquifaction playing SJ's Hotel in Hamilton. "We were kind of like the Chili Peppers. We made $100 to split among four people."

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He was much younger, eight years old in fact, when he heard the music that inspired him most of all. It came from Tommy Emmanuel, the legendary Australian fingerstyle guitarist.

"He made it all seem possible," Miller says.

Now, at 33, Miller's just released his sixth album, Shifting Units, and is preparing for a quick tour in September to Europe, covering Denmark, Sweden, Germany and France.

The instrumental album has two CDs, one featuring Miller playing 13 original solo compositions, the other of the same songs played with a band.

"It shows the two different ways of arranging. It was kind of fun," Miller says.

The band side of the album was recorded over a week in late April, while Miller worked on the solo side at his home studio in Cardiff at night "when the neighbourhood was quiet and the freight trains would stop".

When Miller launches the album on Tuesday at the weekly jazz sesson at The Grand Hotel in Newcastle he will be backed by Lachy Doley on organ, Mitch Cairns on bass and Dom Borzestowski on drums.

The album is all about the music, of course. Miller does not sing.

"I can say a lot more with 12 notes than 26 letters," he says. "I can take one idea and expand on it for eight or nine minutes."

Miller's partner, Holly Clayton, plays piano on a couple of songs on the album. There is one in particular, that she's fond of, called Blues for Bert.

The song is about Miller's grandfather.

"It's just this little idea I wrote on a Sunday afternoon after I hung out with my grandfather and ate Darby's pies and drank Oak chocolate milk with him. He's 93. I don't know if he'll like it. He always says 'why don't you play this song, like How High The Moon?' It's just a happy little song. I was in a great mood, just hanging out with my grandpa."

Of course, Miller once played with the musician who made the best-known recording of How High The Moon, guitar legend, Les Paul, in Paul's New York club.

There is nothing simple about Miller's story.

His international touring is sponsored by multiple suppliers, particularly Jeff Traugott Guitars and Two-Rock amplifiers.

Miller plays a custom-made Traugott acoustic guitar. Made by Jeff Traugott in Santa Cruz, California, they are valued at $26,500 each. Traugott makes about 14 a year and the waiting list is five years.

Two-Rock lists 40 guitarists who back its products including Michael Franti, John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa and . . . Adam Miller.

Of course, Miller also plays electric guitar, and has worked with many artists over the years, from touring Afghanistan as a member of Ben Gillies' Bento project to standing in as Jenny Morris's lead guitarist on a couple of hours notice.

He also plays with Holly Clayton's band, Holly Who, which is gaining traction with its original blues sound.

He also teaches - he's a lecturer in jazz and contemporary guitar at the University of Newcastle.

Adam Miller, much more than a guitar player. - The Newcastle Herald


2002 - After One Day - Adam Miller

2004 - Direction - Adam Miller

2004 - Bending It - Fumi Boca

2008 - Out Of My Hands - Adam Miller

2011 - Delayed - Adam Miller

2011 - Underground Live - Adam Miller Trio

2014 - Shifting Units - Adam Miller

2016 - Adam Miller & Jason Lowe EP



25 Players Who Are Changing Guitar - Australian Guitar Magazine

'it takes an impossibly gifted player to improvise independent melodies, harmonies, and bass lines all at the same time - while maintaining an impeccable groove. Australia’s Adam Miller is one such rare phenomenon' 
- Premier Guitar Magazine

'Perhaps most impressive is his unerring focus on melody' -

'Not only does he own the groove, he takes polyphonic playing - with independent bass lines, melody, harmony, and even improvised solos - to incredible heights' - Guitar Player Magazine

'players will shake their heads at the precision, technical facility and sheer verve' - AcousticUK

Top 10 ESSENTIAL Albums of 2012 - Acoustic Guitar Magazine

‘His music is groove oriented, highly melodic and just plain fun. Coupled with incredible technique and a knack for writing a catchy tune, Miller has everything it takes to be a world-wide success' - GUITAR INTERNATIONAL 

'Approaching his guitar as if each of its six strings were a separate instrument, fingerstyle guitarist Adam Miller is a groove machine, creating a sound that invites comparisons to Tuck Andress and Charile Hunter' - Acoustic Guitar Magazine.  It’s this talent that has seen him play with Les Paul, Tommy Emmanuel, Matt Schofield, Charlie Hunter, Adam Levy, Tony McManus, Jim Black, Ben Gillies (Silverchair), and the list continues.... 

With a completely unique approach to the guitar, Adam's music is groovy and approachable, whilst having a melodic sophistication that only comes from years of cross genre hopping. His tendency to include complex rhythms, dissonant haunting phrases, combined with breathtaking riffs and melodies are his signature. His jazz influenced style with finger-picking mastery creates a improvisation filled live performance that is beautifully unpredictable. 

Miller's 5th studio album, ‘Shifting Units’ is a huge offering of original compositions played on both acoustic and electric guitars, presented in two halves, ‘Shifting Units – With Friends’ and ‘Shifting Units – Solo’. ‘Shifting Units’ features the same original compositions essentially recorded twice.

The solo album features Miller playing solo on both acoustic and electric guitar with no overdubs, with only some creative loop and delay use on the haunting 'Prayer For Bel'. The other half of the album features Miller with his ‘friends’, ensembles made up of Australia’s cream of the the crop jazz and blues musicians. 

Shifting Units’ will be a sonic adventure of sorts for listeners new to discovering Miller. “A lot of the time I play live with a band, especially in Australia, in a way the idea behind ‘Shifting Units’ was to complete the picture of how I compose and perform music” says Miller who is predominantly recognised as a solo acoustic artist. Drawing upon jazz, blues, finger-style and country, Miller’s incredible and versatile talent as a player, composer and arranger is clearly cemented on the album.

Australian Fingerstyle Champion (2002), Miller has played an array of International & National festivals including the Montreal Jazz Festival, Australian Blues Festival, A Day On The Green, Jazz In The Vines, and the Woodstock, Melbourne, and Adelaide International Guitar Festivals. He is a regular artist at NAMM (Los Angeles & Nashville) and Musikmesse (Germany) shows where he plays for some of the world’s most respected guitar companies and luthiers. He has also done two tours to Afghanistan performing for the Australian & Allied Forces.

Miller has featured in magazines such as Guitar Player, Acoustic Guitar, Premier Guitar, Acoustic UK, Australian Guitar, and Australian Musician. In 2013 his album "Delayed" was named in the top 10 Albums of 2012 by the US Acoustic Guitar Magazine.  He was also named on of the top 25 Future Legends in Australian Guitar Magazine. In 2010 Miller was named "Guitarist Deserving Wider Recognition" by US based magazine, Guitar International.

Adam juggles his time between international travels & Australia where he lectures in Jazz and Contemporary Guitar at the University Of Newcastle.

He is an endorser of Nik Huber Guitars, Traugott Guitars, Thorell Guitars, Two-Rock Amplifiers, Analysis Plus Cables, Seymour Duncan Pickups, and D’Addario Strings.

Band Members