HOW IT WORKS

Sign-ups for Battle of the Blues start April 1st and run until each of the 30 contestant spots per store are filled.

230 Guitar Center stores across the U.S. will be holding competitions this year.

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What is Guitar Center's Battle of the Blues?
Guitar Center's Battle of the Blues is a nationwide amateur guitar competition in which we set out to find the next great undiscovered blues guitar player.
How do I sign up?
In order to compete you must sign up at a Guitar Center store. You cannot sign up online or over the phone. When you go into the store tell any sales associate that you'd like to sign up for King of the Blues and they will have you fill out an official sign up form.
How long do I have to sign up?
Sign ups start April 1st and go until the 10 contestant spots and 2 alternate spots fill up at each store, for each of the 3 store preliminaries. (There are a total of 30 spots and 6 alternate spots available for each store holding a competition.) You can sign up for any of the 3 store preliminary competitions so long as the spots aren't already full! They do fill up quickly so don't wait, Sign up Now >

What are the requirements?
You must be 16 yrs. of age or older to compete and must be a lawful resident of any of the 48 contiguous United States or the District of Columbia. AND you must play guitar (or lap steel, or pedal steel) and you better like the Blues! (of course) Also, you must be a "qualified amateur".
What is a "qualified amateur"?
A "qualified amateur" is defined as one who does not earn more than $20,000 adjusted gross income per year as a professional musician, based on the previous tax year. By competiting in Guitar Center's Battle of the Blues and signing the official rules you are stating that you meet all of our eligibility requirements. If you make it to regional finals you will be required to submit your W2 tax form as proof.

How does the competition work?
The competition is broken down into 3 store preliminary competitions; 1 store final (store prelims and store finals take place in 230 Guitar Center stores); 26 district finals; 6 regional finals and 1 grand final. All stages of the competition take place at a Guitar Center store with the exception of the grand finals. Grand finals location and date TBA.

The contestant with the highest score from each of the 3 store prelims and the contest with the 2nd highest score from each of the prelims will advance to the store finals. So that means there will be 6 competitors at each of the 214 store finals. There will be only 1 winner at the store finals. (214 store winners total.) This store winner will go on to compete at 1 of 25 district finals. (25 district winners total.) From there the 25 district winners will compete at 1 of 5 regional finals. (5 regional winners total). The regional winners will then go on to compete at the Grand Finals.
What will I be performing at the competition?
Each contestant will perform live to 1 of 35 original backing tracks. You will get 5 minutes to set up plus check levels and will perform to any 1 of the official backing tracks of your choice.

In the event of a tie you will be required to play an additional 2 minutes with no backing track. So be prepared to demonstrate your skills without the backing track as well!
What are the gear requirements?
Contestants may bring and use any 4-, 6-, 7-, or 12- string acoustic or electric guitar, cigar box guitar, lap steel or pedal steel guitar; and each contestant may also, if desired, bring and use any audio pedal effects, harmonica with neck holder/rack, all that can be set-up and ready to play in 5 minutes. While playing guitar, the contestant may also accompany him/herself on the harmonica. WIRELESS SYSTEMS, BASS GUITARS, LOOPING EFFECTS AND POWER AMPS ARE NOT PERMITTED AT ANY LEVEL OF THE COMPETITION. Guitar Center will provide all cables, microphones, speakers and amplifiers including a choice of several combo amplifiers and ½ stack amplifier/speaker setups. Contestants may NOT bring their own amplifiers or speakers.
Anything I need to know about incorporating the harmonica into my performance?
Yes, glad you asked! You must provide your own harmonica and rack if you so choose. If requested, Guitar Center will provide you with a mic. You are only allowed to accompany your guitar playing with the harmonica. If you attempt to solo on your harmonica without playing the guitar, you will be disqualified.
What amps will the store be providing for me to play on?
There will be 4 of the following amps set up (see below). Keep in mind that the choices will vary from one store to the next based on availability. Feel free to check with the store ahead of time.

  • Egnater Renegade Half Stack or an Egnater Renegade Combo (112 or 212)
  • Egnater Rebel 30 or Tweaker/Rebel 20 Head + 112 Cabinet
  • Mesa Boogie Half Stack or Peavy 6505 Half Stack or Line 6 Spider Valve
  • Fender '65 Twin Reverb or a Hot Rode Deville 410 or a Deluxe
What are the judges looking for/what will I be evaluated on?
We are looking for someone who genuinely embraces the spirit of the blues and pays tribute to the roots. While it's important that you bring your own unique style to your performance, it must be rooted in the blues. You will be evaluated on the following: authenticity, originality, skills/technique, stage presence, and overall performance.
What is the biggest reason someone is disqualified?
Arriving at the store late. If you arrive late you will be disqualified. You must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the official start time of the competition. Make sure you are clear on what time the competition starts at your store and be sure to give yourself extra time. We understand that there can be bad traffic or you might get stuck at school or work but to be

Where do I get the backing tracks?
All backing tracks are available for free download here >
Can I download more than 1 backing track?
Yes! Feel free to download as many as you like in order to find the 1 that works best for you. Keep in mind you will only get to play to 1 at the competition.
Do I have to bring the backing track I've chosen to the competition with me?
No! The store will have a CD with all of the backing tacks ready for you. However you must know the name of the tracking you will be playing along to. Very important, please make sure you know the name and not just the "track #". The last thing you want to worry about right before you go on is to have to search through all the tracks in order to find yours. Keep in mind you only have 5 minutes to set-up!
What do I do if I have problems downloading a backing track?
Please report all download issues to customerservice@guitarcenter.com

What do I win?
The Grand prize is $25,000 cash plus:

  • Studio Session with Grammy Award Winning Producer Pete Anderson
  • Gibson Custom Les Paul '59 Reissue or 335 '59 Reissue(winner's choice)
  • Epiphone 1965 Elitist Casino
  • Egnater Full Stack {winner's choice of Egnater Head plus two matching cabinets: Renegade, Tourmaster, Vengenance, or Armageddon}
  • Egnater Rebel-30 112 HG Combo
  • Boss GT-10 Guitar Multi-Effects Processor
  • Winner's Choice of 2 Boss Single Stomp Pedals
  • Endorsement Deals from Gibson, Ernie Ball, Boss, Shure, and Egnater
  • Feature in Guitar World Magazine
  • $1,000 in gear from Fret Rest, Road Runner, and Live Wire {winner's choice}
  • Shure Artist Package {includes a Shure ULXD14 Digital Wireless Guitar System and Shure 520DX 'Green Bullet' Harmonica Microphone}
For a complete list of store finals, district finals, and regional finals
prizing click here >

If you still have questions please see the official rules or email us.