Guitarist of the Year 2019 judge John Petrucci: “Do not hold back. First impressions are extremely important”

Guitarist of the Year 2019 judge and Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci

If you haven’t heard, we’re currently on the search for 2019’s Guitarist of the Year. If you’re an amateur shredder or budding Blues player looking to boost your career, Guitarist of the Year is a great place to start.

Not only will finalists have the chance to perform live on stage at the UK Guitar Show in London this September and win massive guitar prizes, but you also stand a chance of having your playing seen by our star judges, which this year includes Steve Lukather, Tosin Abasi and John Petrucci.

Entering is easy: simply shoot a video of your playing, upload it to YouTube and send us the link using the form below. We’re hosting Bassist, Acoustic and Young Guitarist of the Year categories, too.

To help you fine-tune your performance, we posed some questions to judge and Dream Theater shred king John Petrucci, who was recently named as the 2019 recipient of the SENA European Guitar Award, to find out what he’ll be looking for in your Guitarist of the Year entry.

How to enter and how to win

What qualities will you be looking for in players who enter Guitarist of the Year 2019? “Musicality and concept. Technique, tone, feel and emotion as well as originality.”

What tips can you offer players looking to enter? “Put your very best work forward from the beginning. Do not hold back. First impressions are extremely important.”

How important is sound and video quality compared to a good performance, creativity and originality?
“It all matters. It is hard sometimes to get past bad sound or video quality. It also shows that the contestant cares and is more serious and invested in the competition if it all looks and sounds great as well.”

What advice do you have for guitarists who might be nervous or reluctant to put their playing out in the public domain?
“Take the leap! Although music comes from a very personal place, talent is meant to be shared. Go for it!”

Did you ever enter any guitar competitions or battle of the bands when you were younger?
“I entered my demo into Mike Varney’s Spotlight column in Guitar Player magazine.”

What does playing guitar mean to you?
“The guitar is the ultimate vehicle for expression and composition for me. It’s a part of my DNA!”

John Petrucci will be judging Guitarist of the Year 2019 alongside Tosin Abasi and Steve Lukather

John Petrucci will be judging Guitarist of the Year 2019 alongside Tosin Abasi and Steve Lukather

Enter here!

8 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.


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.

MusicRadar Team

MusicRadar is the number 1 website for music makers of all kinds, be they guitarists, drummers, keyboard players, djs or producers...

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