We’re pleased to announce that our global search for 2019’s Guitarist of the Year and Bassist of the Year is complete and we can reveal the worthy winners of our four category finals.
The four finals - encompassing Bassist, Young Guitarist, Acoustic and Guitarist categories - took place at the UK Guitar Show / London Bass Show across 21 and 22 September. Performances were judged by a panel of editors drawn from Guitar Techniques, Guitarist, Total Guitar and MusicRadar, alongside some esteemed guest judges, including Ariane Cap, Nick Beggs, Chris Buck, Lari Basilio and Adam Lee.
Finalists came from Japan, Brazil, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, France, the US and the UK to compete. Each player was ranked on originality, technicality, musicality and feel, and the winners walked away with prizes from Orange, Ernie Ball, Takamine and PRS Guitars.
All four finals were remarkably close, reflecting the quality of our final threes and we believe our four champions have extremely bright futures ahead of them.
Guitarist of the Year 2019 winner: Dylan Reavey, Australia
“I've been playing about 11 years now. So I started when I was in grade 7, so from primary school, and then I did a bachelor's degree in jazz guitar. I finished that last year and then I’ve kept going, supporting myself doing my own music and playing gigs.
“I’ve come from metal roots as a lot of guys my age have - now I’ve found myself doing more jazz fusion that’s a little bit more interesting rhythmically, harmonically and melodically.
“I haven’t really played many games in the last couple of years but it’s always been a hobby for me, so I just decided one day that I should just combine the two. I’ve already got a lot of experience composing game music so I thought I could do that and add guitar to that – fusion!”
Acoustic Guitarist of the Year 2019: Christie Lenée, USA
“It’s really synchronistic because this weekend is the same weekend of the International Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in Wichita, Kansas, and this year was the first time I’ve been booked to play at the festival where that happens.
“I brought a band there and we played six sets, and on Saturday after the main stage set I jumped on a shuttle to get to the airport and come here!
“Discovering classical - Andrew York, his piece Sunburst - was kind of a pivotal moment for wanting to play fingerstyle. Before I was playing everything with a pick. Then Michael Hedges, years later when I discovered him, I listened to that album Aerial Boundaries every night.”
Young Guitarist of the Year 2019: Yamato Mori, Japan
“My cousin played a guitar and that was how I started. Plini is also an inspiration for me - he tells a story with his music which is what I try to do.
“I want to thank you to my family and the people back in Japan that have supported me. I’m going to practice more and make more music!”
Bassist of the Year 2019: Leo De Santi, Italy
Leo De Santi hails from Italy and wowed us with his composition Ananda. He cites a broad range of musicians and artists as influences, including Tommy Emmanuel and Stu Hamm. “To me, there’s no such thing as ‘being a bassist’ or ‘being a guitarist’,” he says. “It’s just being a musician who chose an instrument that suits his needs best.”
Be sure to check in later this week to see the final performances of each of four winners, but for now, congratulations to these four amazing players!