Ambarchi has been performing music live since 1986. In the late 1980s he played free jazz in Sydney, originally as a drummer. In an interview with ABC Radio broadcaster, Jon Rose, Ambarchi described how he started playing guitar,
There happened to be one laying around in our rehearsal room. I picked it up and starting hitting it with drumsticks and using it in whatever way I wanted to use it in, and one thing led to another. I'm glad I wasn't trained. I've always loved rock..