Of all this year’s categories, Young Guitarist of the Year was perhaps the hardest to judge. The caliber of entries from these six-string wunderkinds was so high, it made our jobs extremely difficult.
But here are the five who made the cut, a diverse group of players who show the best of what the next generation of guitar heroes has to offer.
Now we want you – in addition to star judges Tosin Abasi, Matt Heafy and Lzzy Hale – to tell us which one is your favorite.
Voting ends at midnight EST on December 20, after which we’ll tally the public, judges’ and editors’ votes to make a final decision, which we’ll reveal on December 21.
Until then, enjoy the wealth of guitar talent on display…
Social media star Jasmine began playing acoustic guitar eight years ago, before taking up the electric four years later, influenced by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Jason Becker, B.B. King and Brian May. Gear-wise, she opts for a Fender Strat and Ernie Ball Music Man Jason Richardson 6-String Cutlass, running through a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp.
“I feel very honored just to be recognized by Guitar World and to be included in such an awesome group of talent,” she says.
“I actually viewed quite a few of the entries and everyone was so good and had so much heart and such awesome energy. I am blown away and it’s funny because I was rooting for the other entries because they all really deserve recognition for all their hard work. Thank you Future/Guitar World for giving us this chance to showcase what we all love doing!”
If you’re wondering how Seth is quite such an accomplished player, that could be down to the fact that he started playing at just five years old. His influences run the gamut of contemporary virtuosos, including Angel Vivaldi, Jason Richardson, Tosin Abasi, Plini and Guthrie Govan, while he adds that “if Beethoven had been a guitarist he would be on my list!”
His classical-tinged composition features a Chapman ML1-8 RS, running through Neural DSP’s Archetype: Plini for the lead tone, while the rhythms utilize a Line 6 Helix LT set to the PRS Archon model through ML Sound Lab’s MIKKO with Mega Djent cab.
“I’m ecstatic to have made it to the final and very grateful for this amazing opportunity,” he enthuses.
“I am excited to be able to offer up my music to such a huge audience. Winning this would afford me the opportunity to make valuable connections in the music industry and help me kick start my musical career. This is my dream.”
After starting his playing journey at the age of eight, 14-year-old Juho is now studying the guitar at South Ostrobothnia Music Institute in Seinäjoki, Finland. He’s a big fan of progressive rock and metal in its many forms, with Kiko Loureiro, John Petrucci and Plini standout players.
Juho plays a PRS SE Custom 24M-SB Limited through a Blackstar HT-20RH MKII amp, and uses a Boss GT-100 multi-effects pedal for his FX.
As for how he feels about making it to the final, an elated Juho says, “It feels absolutely fantastic! Training for the competition and creating my single Diversity has been a very exciting and instructive process. I wanted to use my own song in this competition and it is unbelievable that I made it to the finals.”
Although he’s not quite sure whether he started playing guitar in third or fourth grade, Tom’s formidable skills are certainly not under question.
Infusing his playing with influence from Guthrie Govan, John Petrucci, Mateus Asato, Plini and Periphery, Tom wields an Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty and Strandberg Boden Fusion, running through Neural DSP’s Archetype: Plini and Archetype: Nolly.
“I am really surprised,” says a shocked Tom, “but at the same time EXTREMELY honored.”
Lorenzo started playing at the age of eight years old, and his musical tastes soon developed to encompass the playing of Joe Satriani and David Gilmour, as well as Italian guitarists such as Ciro Manna and Massimo Varini.
For the lead playing on his track, The Travel of Dreams, he employs a handmade HSS Strat-style guitar, running through an Elektron Analog Drive into a Fender Bassbreaker 15, with a 4x12 Mesa/Boogie cabinet IR and Line 6 HX Effects.
“Being a finalist is a dream come true,” he says.