International Home of the Legends Thumbpicking Championship Official Rules
*Registration will begin at 9:00 am on the Saturday morning of the contest. Contestants must be at the contest stage by 9:45 on Saturday to draw for initial order of appearance in the preliminary round. There are two categories of competition: Traditional & Contemporary. (Please see below for Junior Shootout Rules/Guidelines) There will be a $10.00 entry fee for each category. In an effort to complete the competition in a professional and timely manner, contestants who are not present by 9:45 to draw for playing order will be disqualified from the competition and will forfeit entry fee. It is the responsibility of each contestant to be prompt both in drawing for picking order and performance time. Due to limited space, the green room / rehearsal area is for contestants only.
*Contestants must be prepared to play two tunes per round of competition. No tune shall be played more than once during all appearances of a contestant. Performances time is limited to six minutes for each contestant per round. Points will be deducted if a performance exceeds the allowed time frame.
*The top five places in the Preliminary Competition in each category will advance to the final round to determine the Grand Champion for that category. Scores are not cumulative, meaning that the second round of competition each competitor starts fresh. There will be no playoff between the Traditional & Contemporary Winners for an overall Grand Champion. Due to COVID having such a global impact, sponsorship of guitars for the 2021 competition year simply cannot happen. We fully support Gretsch Guitars with this decision, and look forward to our continuing partnership in the future! Prizes this year will consist of cash in each class. The number of competitors will determine the amount. At this time there is a guarantee of $300 to the winner in each class.
*All instruments used must be electric or acoustic guitars. Competitors will have the option to run direct, mic the instrument, or use an amplifier. Contestants are allowed to use a different guitar for each tune if they wish (for ex. use an acoustic on one tune, and electric on the next) but need to keep in mind that time spent switching guitars will be included in total performance time. Effect units are allowed.
*Contest rules will be reviewed and discussed the day of the contest.
*All decisions of the judges and contest committee will be final.
*Contestants who have won a particular class within the last 5 years (5 competitions completed) are not eligible to enter that same class. For example: If a contestant won the Traditional category 2 years ago, they are not eligible to enter Traditional again until 5 competitions total have passed from the date of winning that class. They may enter the Contemporary. This rule applies to all three classes.
Grand Championship winners are not eligible to enter any class of the competition for a period of 5 competition years from the date of winning the title of Grand Champion. (5 competitions must pass before being eligible to enter again)
Please contact the NTPHF if there are any further questions regarding these guidelines.
Category Specific Rules:
*Contestants in this category will be required to perform tunes which demonstrate thumbpicking in a traditional manner, such as any Merle Travis, or early Chet Atkins tunes. The Traditional Category focuses on traditional arrangements/songs played in a traditional manner. The best explanation for this is if a contestant plays a tune such as “Cannonball Rag” in a style similar to Merle Travis, it will score higher than if it was played equally as well but in the style of Tommy Emmanuel, which would then make it more of a contemporary style of playing.
*Contestants are required to play tunes which use a steady and alternating bass pattern with their thumb. This may be performed utilizing a thumb pick, or bare thumb. Finger picks may be used. No flat picks are allowed.
*Judging will be on traditional thumbpicking technique & ability, arrangement, rhythm and timing, and tuning.
*Contestants in this category will be required to perform tunes which demonstrate thumbpicking in a contemporary manner such as later Chet Atkins, Tommy Emmanuel, Doyle Dykes, and Jerry Reed.
*Contestants are required to play tunes which use a steady and alternating bass pattern with their thumb. In some Contemporary Arrangements, there are periods where the alternating thumb pattern is not present for certain runs, etc. This is acceptable in the Contemporary category, but contestants are to keep in mind that this is not an open fingerstyle class; therefore, tunes with NO alternating thumb or thumb accompaniment present for the majority of an arrangement will result in point deduction. Some contemporary tunes exhibit more of a “walking bass line” than an alternating thumb. This is also accepted in the contemporary category. Contestants may perform utilizing a thumb pick, or bare thumb. Finger picks may be used. No flat picks are allowed.
*Judging will be on contemporary thumbpicking technique & ability, arrangement, rhythm and timing, and tuning.
*Ages 17 & Under – There must be at least two competitors entered in order to have the Junior Shootout. Any contestant 17 & under may enter the adult category, and is not required to enter the junior class - Once a contestant has won a Junior Championship, they may not enter the class again for a period of 5 years, or after the age of 17. The Junior class winner will receive a cash prize of $300, and cash will be awarded to the runners up as well.
*Junior Contestants may play tunes in either a Contemporary or Traditional style.
*The Junior category is made up of one round, where competitors will play 2 songs, winner take all. Contestants may play one Traditional & one Contemporary tune, two Traditional tunes, or two Contemporary tunes
*Please refer to the category specific rules to view the guidelines of Traditional & Contemporary tunes.
*Judging will be on thumbpicking technique & ability, arrangement, rhythm and timing, and tuning.