Sometimes, it can really suck to hold this job. At times, I even ponder what type of self-loathing oaf you have to be to put up with the pressures of producing a tangible artifact that’s wide open to praise and censure from an extremely impassioned community. Trust me—it’s not very nurturing to endure vicious personal attacks from readers who think your cover artist is far less talented than a banana slug with a lobotomy, and it’s so not enlightening to read for the 3,187,756th time that the staff lies about its product reviews because every single one of them is owned by the companies who purchase ads in the magazine. But, you know, that’s all part of a job that’s really pretty damn cool, even when it’s frustrating.

But then, there are those days in an editor’s life when a warm sun kisses your brow, dolphins beg you to play with them, mutant bunny rabbits tear all the world’s mean people to shreds, and every war zone is temporarily transformed into an arena of peace, love, and understanding. Today is one of those days, because we’re just 24 hours away from Guitar Player’s Guitar Hero 2006 competition at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, and I’ve been experiencing multiple bliss-gasms in anticipation of the big night. Last year’s Guitar Hero concert at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was one of the best moments of 2005 for me. The contestants were truly amazing—and not just as technicians. Every one of them was supportive of their peers, sincerely jazzed to be a part of a Guitar Player event, and tremendously excited about all things guitar.

This year, the event has grown up a bit—a larger venue, more celebrity judges, more industry support, bigger prizes, and expanded media attention—but the GH competition will always be committed to a simple goal: Giving talented guitarists a wider forum from which to spread the gospel of hot guitar playing. Of course, mounting these mammoth events ain’t exactly easy, and GP owes big thanks to our communications manager Laney Erokan, marketing coordinator Molly Corman, project manager Lauren Gerber, designer Joelle Katcher, and Web editor Max Sidman—as well as GP assistant art director Damien Castaneda (who designed the totally bitchin’ GH logo), pubisher Vicki Hartung, group president Tony Keefe, and house band musical director Ernie Rideout. I must also salute the ten guitarslingers who made the cut to strut their stuff in front of the judges (Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather, Richie Kotzen, Rafael Moreira, Shredmistress Rynata, and Steve Read), the GP staff, and the public: Trey Alexander, Joe Cefalu, Ed DeGenaro, Nathan Hahn, Joshua Karickhoff, Ron LoCurto, David Powers, Sergei Roudzinski, Anton Tsygankov, and Patrick Woods.

If you weren’t at the live show on September 23, then I’m sorry we missed you, but you will be able to see the whole affair very soon on GPTV, and you’ll even get to vote for your favorite GH06 guitarist via an online election. Stay tuned for details.