We've reached the final stage of the Guitarist of the Year 2020 (sponsored by PRS) competition. The team at Guitar World – alongside an elite squadron of guest judges – have been hard at work sifting through your entries. It's been difficult, but we've narrowed them down to only five in each category.
Now, we're proud to present the finalists for the Electric Guitarist of the Year category, and we want you – with star judges John Petrucci, Nita Strauss and John 5 – to pick the winner.
Voting ends at midnight EST on December 20, after which we’ll count the public, judges’ and editors’ votes to make a final decision, which we’ll reveal on December 21.
Until then, enjoy this curated collection of shred....
Ramon Luis Galang
Ramon first picked up the guitar aged nine, and cites Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Guthrie Govan and Greg Howe as his biggest influences. His main setup includes a Dean Zelinsky Private Label guitar and a Peavey Delta Blues 30 watt amp, though in this video, he wields a Suhr.
“When I got the email I was actually playing Valorant, went AFK and lost,” he says of being a finalist. “I'm excited. Lots of talent out there, I don't feel worthy. But honored at the same time, I worked hard on that piece.”
Though he received his very first electric around the age of seven or eight, Hunter didn't fully begin his guitar journey until around 11. Mateus Asato, John Mayer, John Frusciante, Nick Johnston, Dave Mustaine and Randy Rhoads are among his favorite guitarists, though he cites his father as his main influence.
His main rig includes a PRS Custom 24, Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III, Suhr Shiba Drive Reloaded, TC Electronic Flashback Delay, and Holy Grail Reverb pedal. Says Hunter, “It is such a surreal feeling, just thinking about how many amazing players entered the contest, and knowing that some of my favorite guitarists chose my submission is extremely humbling. Making it this far is more than I could have asked for.”
As is likely the case with so many guitarists, Igor's guitar journey began when he first heard Van Halen's Eruption. His influences aside from EVH include Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Van Halen, Vinnie Moore, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Guthrie Govan.
He wields Fender, Ibanez and Charvel guitars, and his amp setup includes Kemper and Fractal Audio amp modelers. “I am very excited and flattered to learn that I was chosen as one of the top 5 finalists, and I can't wait to hear other players and their entries,” Igor says.
Jiri began his guitar journey at the age of 10, and describes John Petrucci, Yngwie Malmsteen and Paul Gilbert as his “holy trinity” of favorite players. His guitars include an Ernie Ball Music Man JP6, a custom Sivcak Longhorn, a Fender '91 US Strat '91 and a Fender '94 YJM signature JPN Strat. To achieve his tones, he uses a Fractal Audio AX8 amp modeler.
“I'm so amazed and surprised that I've been chosen to the finalists,” he says. “Especially because my guitar idol number one, John Petrucci, is one of the judges!”
After picking up a six-string at the age of 12, Darren Stroud has since developed proficiency in a range of musical styles. He lists his favorite guitar players as Randy Rhoads, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Brad Paisley.
His gear setup includes an ESP EC-256, Blankenship amps, a Boss SD-1 [overdrive] and a Boss CS-3 [compressor]. “Wow! What an honor!” Darren says. “With so many amazing guitarists out there I’m just totally honored to be considered, thank you so much!”