Watch 2018’s phenomenal Guitarist of the Year finalists in action

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Since April this year, we’ve been on the hunt for the best amateur guitarists around the world, to see who should be crowned Guitarist of the Year 2018 - and now you can view the winning performances at the final, held at the UK Guitar Show on Saturday 29 September.

Gabriel Cyr was crowned the winner at the PRS-sponsored event, with Flo Naegeli and Stig Trip runners-up. All three delivered unbelievable solo performances, as you can see below.

Hundreds of entry videos were submitted, before standout performances were sent to star judges Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert and Mark Tremonti. The three finalists were then judged at the show itself by Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar Techniques and MusicRadar editors, as well as Simon McBride.

In addition to the prestigious title, Gabriel walked away with a beautiful PRS USA Custom 24 in McCarty Sunburst and a one-year Ernie Ball string endorsement, among other fantastic prizes.

Enjoy the three finalists’ performances below…

Winner: Gabriel Cyr

There was a lot of music in Gabriel’s family when he was a child growing up in Canada. His grandfather was a folk violinist, his mother played piano and his sisters played clarinet and trumpet. Gabriel really developed an interest in the guitar when he heard one of his uncles play the electric bass. His first instrument was a bass guitar. He switched to guitar at 12 and became very passionate about it after discovering John Petrucci and Paul Gilbert.

Gabriel describes music as a wonderful, passionate and limitless way to express himself through a powerful language. It drives him, brings him to new places and it gives him opportunities to meet awesome and passionate people. His influences include Guthrie Govan, Kiko Loureiro, John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore and Pat Metheny.

This performance is a mash-up of three different songs from Gabriel’s progressive metal band Universe Effects. He chose three instrumental sections that emphasise and show different aspects of his playing. The tracks will appear on his band’s upcoming album Desolation.

Florian Naegeli

Florian started playing guitar at the age of 14. After breaking both his forearms, his uncle got him a Squier guitar and a Jimi Hendrix CD, and he fell in love with it immediately.

Playing the guitar and music in general is a form of freedom for Florian, a place where he has the opportunity to speak fluently. It was always a big desire for him to be fluent with music because he has a speech disorder. His influences include George Benson, Jimi Hendrix and J Dilla.

On learning he had a place in the Guitarist of the Year final, Florian told us he thinks it’s important for musicians who want to make a living out of music to remember that we’re all in the same boat, and that he hopes this will never feel like a competition, but more like getting to know people from all around the globe.

For his performance, Florian wanted to make something with a simple hook that you can whistle or sing in the shower, and something that wasn’t just about the guitar.

Stig Trip

Denmark resident Stig started playing guitar at the age of 12. His dad has always been a big fan of guitar-music and the blues, so Stig grew up hearing a lot of music from the ’60s and ’70s like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Eric Clapton. He decided to learn the guitar when he was shown the Jimi Plays Monterey concert.

Stig tells us that playing the guitar is his kind of meditation where he can shut down the world around him and just have fun. The thing he really loves about this instrument is that there are always new things to learn. He enjoys coming up with original ideas.

As well as Jimi Hendrix, Django Reinhardt is another of Stig’s big inspirations. He tells us that being selected for the Guitarist of the Year final is awesome and says it’s amazing to get recognition for the hours he’s put into guitar playing.

Blue Ocean is a solo piece that mixes melodic notes, blues notes and some gypsy jazz-inspired runs.

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