Watch bluegrass guitarist Ian Ly become the 2023 US National Flat-picking Champion

Ian Ly
(Image credit: The Acoustic Shoppe / YouTube)

Springfield, MO music store The Acoustic Shoppe has shared footage of this year's National Flat-picking Guitar Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas – held between 13 and 17 September – and it's an incredible showcase of acoustic guitar bluegrass talent.

The finalists Chapman Welch, Hayden Reidling, Mike Cramer, Danny Spires and eventual winner Ian Ly are so good they both inspire us and make us want to quit playing. And it's all the more impressive because these aren't big-name players, they're a showcase of the level of talent found in the US bluegrass scene. Seeing young players including Reidling – who valiantly battles a string break during his performance and Californian Ly – shows the future is bright too. 

Flat-picking is the name given to simply picking the guitar string with a plectrum. And the definition is simple but the level of skill you'll see above certainly isn't. One of the greatest contemporary talents in bluegrass guitar Molly Tuttle, gives a great insight into her approach to alternate picking and the way it enhances her songwriting in the video below. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.