Playing a double-necked Ovation acoustic guitar in a solo performance, Williamsburg, VA’s Mark Kroos took down an onslaught of electric guitarists to become the champ of Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar (GPGS) 2011.
Second place was captured by Fredrik Halland of Bergen, Norway, and third place went to Arek Religa of Chicago, IL. Nashville’s Forrest Lee, Jr., and Jeremy Ore of North East, PA, also roared onstage to compete.
Guitar legend Larry Carlton hosted the event, which was held in the Grand Ballroom at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel in Nashville, TN, during the summer NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention. Each of the five finalists — which were selected by the Guitar Player magazine staff from hundreds of video entries — performed an original instrumental song, and was rated on tone, technique, charisma, and composition by three guitar-star judges: Muriel Anderson (founder of All-Star Guitar Night and a stellar fingerstyle player), Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Ozzy Osbourne), and Carl Verheyen (L.A. session master and current member of Supertramp).
“Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar is not so much a competition, as it is an initiative to evangelize extreme guitar playing to both the ‘in-the-know’ community of guitarists and fans of guitar music who may not be players themselves,” says Guitar Player Editor in Chief Michael Molenda. “Through seven seasons of producing this event, we’ve never been disappointed in the talent, passion, and goodwill of the finalists. This is truly an awesome celebration of the guitar and those who play it and adore it.”
As 2011 GPGS champion, Kroos won a feature article in Guitar Player magazine and a digital-distribution contract from Guitar Player Records/MI5 Recordings/Universal. He also took home a prize package from Ampeg, Framus, D’Addario, Love Pedal, Pigtronix, and TC Electronic worth more than $4,000. Halland scored prizes from D’Addario, Reverend, Love Pedal, Pigtronix, and TC Electronic worth more than $2,500, and Religa walked away with a $1,500 prize package from Godin, D’Addario, Love Pedal, Pigtronix, and TC Electronic. All five finalists also received gift bags worth $1,000 packed with products from D’Addario, Delta Labs, EMG, Essential Sound Products, Levy’s Leathers, and SKB Corporation.
Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar 2011 was also chosen by GPGS presenting sponsor Ampeg to debut the company’s brand new GVT tube amplifiers. The entire amp backline for the show was provided by Ampeg, and all players plugged into GVT amps. In addition, Ampeg provided the night’s opening act, Elephantgun, which was chosen from thousands of bands who entered a “Straight Up Tone” competition to promote the new GVT amp line.
“‘Straight Up Tone’ is more than a theme, it’s what Ampeg GVT is all about, so what better place to showcase the powerful and versatile tone than Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar,” says Shaunna Thompson, Media and PR manager for Loud Technologies, owner of Ampeg. “With its GVT Series, Ampeg is making a serious return to the guitar amp business, and we were very excited to see the overwhelmingly positive reaction from guitarists and fans alike.”
The other presenting sponsors of Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar 2011 were EMG Pickups, Framus, NAMM, and SKB Corporation.
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NAMM is the not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and strengthens the $17 billion international musical instruments and products industry. NAMM’s activities and programs are designed to promote music making to people of all ages. NAMM comprises approximately 9,000 Member companies. For more information about NAMM or the proven benefits of making music, interested parties can visit www.namm.org or call 800-767-NAMM (6266).