How Guitarist of the Year helped Guthrie Govan, Dave Kilminster and more become guitar stars

The 2019 Guitarist, Acoustic Guitarist, Young Guitarist and Bassist of the Year competitions are in full swing. You can enter now by shooting a video of your playing, uploading it to YouTube and sending us the link using the form below.

If you manage to impress our panel of star judges – which includes John Petrucci, Tosin Abasi, Nita Strauss, Plini, Andy McKee, Robert Trujillo and Mark King – then you could be following in the footsteps of past Guitarist of the Year entrants including Guthrie Govan and Dave Kilminster.

Guitarist of the Year isn’t a new concept. In fact, current Guitar Techniques magazine editor Neville Marten launched the Guitarist of the Year competition as editor of Guitarist way back in 1991. Entries were submitted on VHS tapes!

Dave Kilminster won the first year with his tune ‘Sundance’, which was an incredible piece and made him the undisputed winner. Dave was the very last entrant but he blitzed the competition. From that he went on to teach at various London academies and also to write for Guitar Techniques, which he did for many years. He has been Roger Waters' guitarist since 2006, touring the globe with the Pink Floyd superstar.

Guthrie Govan won the following year under David Mead's editorship. David wrote a melody that entrants were to use as the basis for their entry. That became Guthrie's popular ‘Wonderful Slippery Thing’. Guthrie also wrote for Guitar Techniques for many years, increasing his worldwide profile and helping to launch his wider career, which includes working with Steven Wilson and The Aristocrats.

Other notable winners include sensational blues guitarist Paul Rose; Stuart Ryan who is now Guitar Techniques' acoustic columnist and head of guitar at BIMM Bristol; and Will McNicol, another fantastic acoustic guitarist who won, alongside James Bell at the reinstated competition in 2011 under Mick Taylor (Will has released four critically acclaimed albums and is a busy top-flight player, while James is currently signed to management and working on various projects).

Notable entrants include Fraser Thorneycroft-Smith who went on to work with Craig David, James Morrison and Adele (writing and playing on ‘Set Fire To The Rain’), and producing Stormzy's number one album Gang Signs & Prayer; and Paul Garthwaite the extraordinary and unique multi-stringed instrument player who uses, among others, an incredible 22-string monster built by Andy Manson.

With so much potential for your guitar playing career, you have nothing to lose. Enter Guitarist of the Year today!

Enter the competition 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.


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