Young Guitarist of the Year judge Nita Strauss: “Relax, show us your best and have fun!”

Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss holds her Ibanez guitar over her shoulders

Could you be the best young guitar player on the planet? If you’re under 16 and love to shred, the Young Guitarist of the Year 2019 competition - powered by Ernie Ball - is for you. What's more, we’ve signed up a crew of star judges to help us select the talent.

Submit a video of your playing using the form below and your entry could be shortlisted and judged by some of the biggest names in guitar, including Nita Strauss, Rabea Massaad and Plini.

If you’re selected as one of three finalists you will battle it out for the title and a brace of huge guitar prizes at the UK Guitar Show in London. Last year’s winner Hunter Hallberg is already seeing an upswing in his playing career. Could you be next?

If you’re considering entering but need an extra push to submit your video, here are some sage words from Alice Cooper guitarist, solo shredder and Young Guitarist of the Year judge Nita Strauss. Nita also shares an update as she gears up for a busy summer on the road.

What qualities will you be looking for from Young Guitarist of the Year entries?
“Number one is definitely going to be creativity! Technique and chops are important but I feel like the standouts for me will be the ones doing something out of the ordinary with their solos.”

What tips can you offer players looking to enter?
“Relax, show us your best and, more importantly, have fun!”

How important is sound and video quality compared to a good performance, creativity and originality?
“It’s important that we can see and hear what you’re playing clearly - beyond that, it doesn’t matter at all!”

The most important thing is to relax and trust your playing

Nita Strauss

What advice do you have for guitarists who might be nervous or reluctant to put their playing out in the public domain?
“The most important thing is to relax and trust your playing. As long as you’ve put the practice time in, there’s no reason to be nervous! Trust yourself and your instincts.”

Did you ever enter any guitar competitions or battle of the bands yourself?
“Absolutely! Many many battle of the bands. Some we won, some we lost, but we learned something from every one.”

Tell us about the guitar projects you have coming up that you're most excited about?
“At the moment my biggest project has been creating a great live show for fans coming to see my solo music played on tour. It’s one thing to make a great album but it’s another to make it translate to a concert experience, so that’s been my biggest focus. I’m also working up something pretty cool for the upcoming Alice Cooper tour.”

Tell us what fans can expect to see and hear on your solo tour?
“We’re playing Controlled Chaos almost in its entirety, which is so cool because the album is like my baby - it’s hard to choose between songs. We also throw in a little Iron Maiden and Alice just for fun!”

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You released Controlled Chaos last year. How have those tracks been going down live?
“The reaction has been incredible. It’s awesome to hear the crowd singing along to songs that have no words.”

What is your go-to guitar rig for your solo shows?
“I keep it super simple for the solo shows - I have to be able to carry everything I need on a plane! So I bring two guitars, a Shure GLX-D Wireless and a Boss GT-1000, and run that direct into the PA.”

You also released your signature Ibanez in 2018. What has the response to that guitar been and do you have plans for other signature products in the pipeline?
“It’s been an amazing response! It’s the coolest feeling to not only get to play my dream guitar, but to bring it to production and see guitarists around the world playing it. We definitely have some fun things in the works for 2020.”

What does playing guitar mean to you?
“It means everything! It’s the best and most pure way that I know how to communicate and express myself.”

Young Guitarist of the Year 2019 judges Rabea Massaad, Plini and Nita Strauss

Young Guitarist of the Year 2019 judges Rabea Massaad, Plini and Nita Strauss

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.

Rules

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.