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Are You the Guitarist of the Year?

Colorado’s Hunter Hallberg — 2018’s Young Guitarist of the Year winner — performs at last year’s UK Guitar Show. (Image credit: Future)

Guitar World — along with Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar Techniques, Guitar Player, Bass Magazine and MusicRadar — has begun the search for 2019’s Guitarist of the Year, Young Guitarist of the Year, Acoustic Guitarist of the Year (sponsored by Takamine) and Bassist of the Year. 

Past Guitarist of the Year winners include Dave Kilminster (David Gilmour, Steven Wilson) and Guthrie Govan. In addition to walking away with prizes supplied by sponsors PRS and Takamine, plus a year’s supply of Ernie Ball strings, last year’s winners have enjoyed increased exposure; videos of the 2018 finals have generated more than 4 million views. The 2019 finalists will be selected by star judges and industry experts, with the finals taking place September 21 and 22 at the UK Guitar Show in London. Confirmed judges for 2019 include John Petrucci, Steve Lukather and Tosin Abasi for Guitarist of the Year, Andy McKee and Molly Tuttle for Acoustic Guitarist of the Year, Plini, Nita Strauss and Rabea Massaad for Young Guitarist of the Year and Mark King (Level 42), Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani), Joe Dart (Vulfpeck) and Robert Trujillo for Bassist of the Year.

Guitarists need to post a video of their playing to YouTube and upload the link to the entry form on MusicRadar, before selecting the category they want to enter from the drop-down menu.

What the judges are looking for:

• We need to see you play! No promo-style band videos or miming, please.

• Keep it musical. We’re all for fretboard madness and next-level sonics, but not at the price of musicality and genuine mastery of multiple techniques.

• 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.

• Make it impressive. Go for it. We want to see the full breadth of your skills in as tight a playing package as possible.

• Just your best video, please! Our experts are busy. Don’t make us wade through multiple entries where one would do.

• Make it sound and look good! Smartphone audio can work fine, but remember to point the camera at yourself, not at the dog.

• Want to enter all four categories with different videos? “Guitarist,” “Young Guitarist,” “Acoustic Guitarist” and “Bass Guitarist” of the Year? Yeah! Go for it.

A few rules:

• All entries must be via videos uploaded to YouTube and submitted through the entry form. No other emails or points of contact will be accepted.

• Entries must be received by 23.59 (BST) July 3, 2019.

• Young Guitarist of the Year entrants must be 16 or under on September 21, 2019.

• Don’t call us; we’ll call you if we like what you’re doing.

• 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. Live performances will be filmed and live streamed.

• 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. 

• As ever, the judge’s decision — picking our finalists and our eventual winner — is final.

• Guitarist of the Year is set to be the biggest guitar talent search of 2019, and the competition is now officially open for entries. Get involved by spreading the word through your websites and social channels, using the official hashtag #guitaristoftheyear

For more info, or to discuss sponsorship or supplying prizes, contact Chris Barnes at