Want to win Young Guitarist of the Year 2019? Guest judge Plini reveals how

Guitarist Plini poses with his guitar in the middle of a road

There’s just over a month to go until entries close for the 2019 Young Guitarist of the Year competition - powered by Ernie Ball - and we’ve already seen some amazing submissions from around the world. If you’re under 16 and play guitar, we want to see you in action - it might just be the spark that ignites a flourishing career in music.

Entering is easy: simply shoot a video of your playing, upload it to YouTube and send us the link using the form below. 

If shortlisted by our star judges – which this year includes Nita Strauss, Rabea Massaad and Plini – you will battle it out with two other finalists at the UK Guitar Show this September. Last year, Hunter Hallberg walked away with the title and a haul of amazing prizes, including a PRS guitar. Hunter recently shared his winning tips with us.

If you’re still not sure what to play or you’re feeling nervous about entering, we hit up star judge Plini for his tips, advice and pointers for what he’s looking for.

What qualities will you be looking for from Young Guitarist of the Year entries?
“Inventiveness, originality, tone, phrasing, vibrato... the same things I look for in any musician, young or old!”

What tips can you offer players looking to enter?
“Be yourself, use that crazy technique you're working on, use that unpredictable note choice, and don't be afraid to take a deep breath and leave some space in between the notes!”

How important is sound and video quality compared to a good performance, creativity and originality?
“Thanks to excessive amounts of downtime on tour scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, I feel like I can tell if a tone is good whether it's recorded professionally or on a phone camera. That said, I do want to be able to hear the nuances in someone's playing and see their hands in action, so a certain level of production quality definitely helps with that!”

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(Image credit: Olly Curtis/Future)

Me And My Guitar: Plini

What advice do you have for guitarists who might be nervous or reluctant to put their playing out in the public domain?
“You have to start somewhere, and revisiting old videos (that you can't delete, because the internet is forever) is actually a great way to document your progress over months and years. You might not believe me now, but the videos that embarrass you now will turn into fond memories with time!”

Did you ever enter any guitar competitions or battle of the bands when you were younger?
“I entered an online guitar solo competition a few years ago and came third! What was especially rewarding though, was hearing the other entries and becoming friends with a lot of peers as a result.”

What does playing guitar mean to you?
“Like all instruments, it's a way to express emotions and creative and musical ideas. And like all instruments, it has all its own unique properties that we guitarists love to get obsessed with - all the crazy techniques and the endless quest for the best tone.”

What guitar projects do you have on the horizon?
“I've just released a signature guitar amp/effects plugin with Neural DSP, and I’m currently writing for an album!”

Entry form

8 tips for Young 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

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