Two-Tiered Guitar Design Competition: Overview

Interest in both boutique guitars is growing. But that growth doesn't mean these guitar builders are guaranteed success. Competition is fierce. For smaller builders, full-page ads are out of the question, and music stores are reluctant to take a risk on obscure, big-ticket items.

Larger companies face a whole different set of challenges: maintaining market share, managing a huge network of suppliers, and achieving consistency across a large product line. The instruments they build must necessarily appeal to a large number of consumers. In this context, creativity is not always appropriate.

ArtWins has created the Sonrous Desert two-tier competition for both boutique luthiers and the larger brands. For the boutique set, they have the opportunity to increase public awareness of their unique art and win cash prizes to further their career. For the big shop competitors, they can enjoy an opportunity to display their most unique concepts and radical designs that are unlikely to see wall space at your local guitar shop.


  • Rollout in Social Media: Mid-March
    ⁃ Projected Entrants: 1000 
  • Deadline for 1st Round: 5/15/2019
    ⁃ Winners of 1st Round (200 selected):
    ⁃ Announced 6/15/19 
  • Winners of Semifinal (Round 2)
    ⁃ (50 selected): Announced 8/1/19 
  • Winners of Semifinal 2 (Round 3)
    ⁃ (12 selected): Announced 9/1/2019 
  • November: Final (w all 12 guitars on display) 

Judges: Confirmed

  • Rich Lasner
    ⁃ VP of Development at VOX Guitars/Korg
    ⁃ Former Head of Development, Ibanez
  • Gary Brawer
    ⁃ Celebrity Guitar Technician
  • Frank Falbo
    ⁃ Pickup/guitar hardware designer
  • Joe Gore
    ⁃ Former Editor of Guitar Player
  • ⁃  Former Editor, Current Contributor of Premier Guitar
    ⁃ Creator of recording software “logic”
  • Gene Baker
    ⁃ Senior Master Builder, Fender Custom
    ⁃ Shop, B3 Guitars 

Judges: Invited

  • Alice Cooper
    ⁃ Singer, Songwriter, Actor
  • Dweezil Zappa
    ⁃ Guitarist, Actor
  • Thomas V Jones aka TV Jones
    ⁃ Pickup maker
  • Brian Swerdfeger, Fender
    ⁃ Influential R&D / Design Expert
    ⁃ Created the acoustasonic guitar

Guitar Design Competition: Rules

Art Wins / Guitars Rule is designed to identify and honor up-and-coming and established luthiers deserving of wider recognition and support. Luthiers from around the world will be invited to submit sketches / mockups of instrument designs. Three models may be submitted, each consisting of a:

  • headstock picture
  • body (top) picture
  • body (bottom) picture
  • full length picture (neck, headstock, body)

Scale must be identified (24 5/8”, 25”, etc.) Pictures must accurately represent functional, buildable instruments, or they will be disqualified / assumed to be unworkable / decorative in nature.

A video of three minutes featuring the guitar played with a clean (undistorted / unprocessed) tone is mandatory, and must contain all possible pickup options and use of the tone control(s).

Any type of electric or acoustic guitar or bass design is eligible for this competition.

Entries will be judged by the following criteria:

  • Sonority
  • Tonal Versatility
  • Quality / Craftsmanship
  • Appeal / Beauty
  • Design
  • Playability
  • Innovation

Prizes will be given for each of those qualities / categories. Design with the overall highest score (all categories combined) wins the grand prize.