Are you a guitar star, bass behemoth or acoustic trailblazer? We’ve kicked off our search to find the 2019 Guitarist of the Year (opens in new tab), Young Guitarist of the Year (opens in new tab), Acoustic Guitarist of the Year (opens in new tab) (in association with Takamine) and Bassist of the Year (opens in new tab), and we want to see you play.
Alongside our pals at Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar Techniques, Guitar World, Guitar Player, Bass Guitar and Bass Player magazines, we want to shine a light on the world’s greatest amateur guitarists and give talented players the opportunity to show off their skills to a panel of star judges.
The Guitarist of the Year title has previously been held by Guthrie Govan (opens in new tab) (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Hans Zimmer) and Dave Kilminster (David Gilmour, Steven Wilson). In addition to the prestigious title, winners will also walk away with a suite of top guitar prizes (which last year included PRS and Takamine guitars and Ernie Ball string endorsements), a swathe of industry contacts and exposure to a huge audience – videos of last year’s live final performances (opens in new tab) have been viewed a whopping 4.3 million times.
2018 Guitarist of the Year winner Gabriel Cyr has already enjoyed a boost to his playing career since winning the competition: “I had a few interviews with the biggest radios and TV channels in Quebec and I also had a full page in the newspaper. It helped me and my band Universe Effects to promote our last album Desolation and my YouTube channel (opens in new tab) now has 36,000 subscribers. Before Guitarist of the Year I only had 300. I’ve also started to do some clinics in Quebec.”
Last year’s entrants had their playing scrutinised by star judges including Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Mark Tremonti, Mike Dawes, Tommy Emmanuel, Jon Gomm, Mike Dawes and more.
This year is no exception – already confirmed to judge Bassist of the Year are Mark King (Level 42), Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani, Steve Vai), Joe Dart (Vulfpeck) and Robert Trujillo (Metallica). Heading up our Young Guitarist of the Year panel we're pleased to confirm prodigious prog instrumentalist Plini, Alice Cooper/solo shredder Nita Strauss and Toska and YouTube star Rabea Massaad.
For Acoustic Guitarist of the Year, among others, your playing will be picked over by fingerstyle virtuoso Andy McKee and award-winning acoustic guitarist Molly Tuttle. For Guitarist of the Year we're pleased to confirm Toto and session icon Steve Lukather, John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders) as our judging heavyweights. More judges will be announced soon!
Enter the competition here!
So, how does the competition work? Our judges will select three finalists from all online entries submitted in each category, scoring them for musicality, creativity, feel and originality. Finalists will then travel to London to perform for the top spot live in front of a panel of judges at the UK Guitar Show (opens in new tab) on 21 and 22 September.
If you make the cut, you'll need to be available and able to cover the cost of travelling to London that weekend. Last year's globe-trotting finalists flew in from Russia, the USA, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.
Entering the competition is easy: simply upload a video of your playing to YouTube and fill out the entry form below between now and 23.59 (BST) on 3 July 2019. Before you enter, read our complete tips and rules for the full lowdown on what we’re looking for.
Don't forget to choose the category you want to enter from the dropdown menu below - good luck!
9 tips for Guitarist of the Year success
1. We need to see you play! No promo-style band videos or miming please.
2. Keep it musical. We’re all for fretboard madness and next-level sonics but not at the price of trusty musicality and genuine mastery of multiple techniques. This competition is open to all types of player.
3. Keep it tight and get to the point fast. Our experts are begging to be impressed, so 15 minutes of noodling won’t make the grade.
4. Make it impressive. Go for it. We want to see the full breadth of your skills in as tight a playing package as possible.
5. Just your best video please! Our experts are busy. Don’t make us wade through multiple entries where one would do.
6. Make it sound and look good! Smartphone audio can work fine, but remember to point the camera at yourself, not at the dog.
7. Want to enter all four categories? ‘Guitarist’, ‘Young Guitarist’, ‘Acoustic Guitarist’ and ‘Bassist’ of the Year? Go for it!
8. The Guitarist of the Year team and judges also want to know about the person behind the playing; use the ‘tell us about yourself' box to explain what drew you to the guitar, what styles you favour, the gear you use, and anything else that could make you stand out.
9. A final word from 2018 Guitarist of the Year Gabriel Cyr: “Music is a very subjective field. Try to stay authentic while showing what you can do best without overdoing anything. It is not absolutely about technique and tricks, you must find something that distinguishes you from others.”
1. All entries must be via videos uploaded to YouTube and submitted through the entry form above. No other emails or points of contact will be accepted.
2. Entries must be received by 23.59 (BST) on 3 July 2019.
3. Young Guitarist of the Year entrants must be 16 or under on 21 September 2019.
4. Don’t call us - we’ll call you if we like what you’re doing.
5. You need to be okay with us sharing your video to our wider online audience, appearing in Future Publishing magazines and playing live on stage at the UK Guitar Show in London on 21 or 22 September. Live performances will be filmed, photographed and live streamed.
6. You need to be available to travel to London for the live final and must cover all your own travel and accommodation costs for the event.
7. As ever, the judge’s decision – picking our finalists and our eventual winner – is final.