I'm James Watkins, guitarist/songwriter based in Nashville, TN with 21 years of professional live (touring with hit artists) & recording experience. My specialties include country (traditional & modern), rock, pop, blues, funk, acoustic. I'm well versed in multiple music styles & genres. I'd love to create the perfect guitar sound for your project!

I'm James Watkins, a guitarist/songwriter based in Nashville, TN with 21 years of professional live (touring with hit artists) & recording experience. My specialties include country (traditional & modern), rock (old & new), pop, blues/fusion, funk, acoustic as well as singing/songwriting. A few artists I’ve worked with include Hillary Scott, Mark Wills, Steve Holy, Andy Griggs and Krystal Keith.

I make my living solely on music/playing guitar and am very well versed in multiple music styles and genres. I love/live for music and am set up to give you what you want! If you don’t know exactly what that is, I pride myself on working one-on-one with you to create the perfect sound you’re looking for.

(Just a few) Guitar Influencers:
- Brent Mason
- Albert Lee
- Johnny Hiland
- Steve Lukather
- Robben Ford
- Eric Johnson
- Larry Carlton

Each session includes 3 revisions for $70. I’ll gladly do up to 1 additional revision should you require it at no extra charge. I pride myself on collaborating with all of my clients, providing sound ideas if you're not sure exactly what you're looking for to ensure 100% satisfaction. I look forward to working with you!

Gear highlights

  • Various Fender Telecasters
  • Stratocaster
  • Gibson les Paul Standard
  • Takamine Acoustics
  • 70's Fender Princeton
  • Various Fender Twins
  • Mesa Boogie Mark 1
  • Marshall JTM45
  • Fulltone
  • Eventide
  • Boss effects

Genres I specialize in

Terms of Service

Each session includes 3 revisions for $70. I’ll gladly do up to 1 additional revision should you require it at no extra charge. Turnaround time is 3 days, although I work to get it to you ASAP.

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Interview with James Watkins

Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I am proud of everything I work on because I give 110% on everything I do! But probably the coolest thing I can remember is playing live on Toby Keith's Shut Up And Hold On tour with his daughter, Krystal Keith.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm overdubbing in my home studio for various clients, and also charting and arranging songs to record acoustic guitar for various songwriters.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
I have not searched for anyone, but if I do run across friends I'd be glad to recommend them.
Analog or digital and why?
They are both great! Some of the greatest recordings ever where recorded analog, but digital is faster and advanced the sound quality.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I'll get the job done in a timely fashion, provide a great sound, and give you what you want.
What do you like most about your job?
I love to study and practice. Seeing results and growth in my playing is my job, but getting hired to record and play live is the payoff.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
Customers typically ask (when they send over the first track to get started): "James, what changes would you make to make this track better?" I always give my opinion and we try different sounds until we find the right sound and my customer is ultimately happy.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
I don't see any misconception. It's a tough business and only a few break through...and yes we get all the chicks! ;)
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What kind of feel do you want on your song? What do you hear in your head? Are there any specific sounds you are looking for?
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
To look for a musician who is passionate about making a song come to life and giving the customer exactly what they want...someone who is willing to work to perfection.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
My 63 reissue tele, Fender Princeton, Marshall JTM45,Tonebone Trimode, Eventide timefactor. But oh yeah, I'm on a desert island...so I'd definitely be screwed!
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I've been playing guitar since I was 12 years old and a full-time Nashville recording artist for 15 years. I've toured with multiple number one hit artists and grammy award winners. Music and guitar playing is in my blood to say the least. My career path has naturally led itself to becoming a session guitarist, it's what I'm most skilled at.
How would you describe your style?
Very versatile and melodic.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Axl Rose, because Slash composed guitar riffs and solo's kids will be learning 1,000 years from now.
Can you share one music production tip?
Play in the pocket
What type of music do you usually work on?
I make my living in country music and I have mastered that, so I study jazz, blues and progressive rock.
What's your strongest skill?
Playing guitar and my overall musical creativity - creating hooks and solos on the spot.
What do you bring to a song?
I play to the specific song I'm recording. I can be creative and bring life to the song or I can play what you hear in your head.
What's your typical work process?
When I receive a session request, I ask that you send an email with notes/direction, along with the track. Then, if necessary we will schedule a follow up call to further discuss the project, so I fully understand your vision and what you're trying to accomplish. If you're unsure of this, I pride myself on being able to provide the creativity to achieve the sound you're looking for. (this is what I love to do!) I collaborate with my clients to ensure 100% satisfaction, while keeping in mind, time is money.
Tell us about your studio setup.
iMac computer, Steinburg UR 22 interface, NHT Pro monitors, Cubase LE AL Elements8, Various MXL and Shure microphones, Digitech rack effects.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I'm inspired most by musicians who can cover any style of genre, such as Brent Mason and Steve Lukather to name a couple.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I arrange songs if needed, I record all needed electric parts, and acoustic parts depending on what the song needs and what the client wants.