Judges Comments On The Guitar Idol Finalists!!!

Here is a list of the 12 finalists in order of play, with selected comments from the 7 judges on the actual day. For the sake of people’s feelings and/or egos, we have not put the final scores for each finalist. We do however mention the Top 3 places and their scores out of a possible 140 points!

The judges were Drew Cullingham (Rockschool), Andy James (Sacred Mother Tongue, Ernie Ball, Lick Library, ‘Future Of Shred’), Martin Goulding (The Institute Of Contemporary Music, Linear Sphere), Edward Box (Vendetta, Lion Music, All Out Guitar, Teacher), Phil Hilborne (Performer, Writer, Teacher, Lick Library, We Will Rock You, Nicko McBrain etc), Rory Sullivan (All Out Guitar, Guitar Idol, Writer, Producer) and Beth Johnson (Ernie Ball/Musicman USA). Billy Sheehan was unable to judge the whole show in the end, as he needed to leave half-way through to play a set with Ray Luzier from Korn.


Nice Tone, good performance, could be more varied technically but hard to be on first! Phil Hilborne

Great Start, good performing, nice phrasing and great end! Edward Box

Good Opening – very Andy Timmons, maybe too much hair flinging… good technique though! Andy James

Great confidence and technique and gave me goose bumps x 4!!! Beth Johnson

Not easy first on but good performance. Slight tuning issues in first half of what was a neat song. Rory Sullivan

Good performer, good rock music, melodic crunch chords and tasteful. Martin Goulding


Varied techniques in a good confident performance. A vibe a bit like Yngwie – nice! Phil Hilborne

A very confident performance, with great and varied technique. Edward Box

Awesome start and control! Andy James

Very good technically and demonstrates many styles (if a bit too frequently) but had great fun! Beth Johnson

Seven strings, hybrid technique with slap, picking and tapping. Good vibrato – all in! Martin Goulding


Seemed very nervous and static but stylish Vinnie Mooresque opening and the main solo was rocking. Rory Sullivan

A dedicated and modified technique with a beautifully written song. Beth Johnson

The lad can play and has the most soul so far. Drew Cullingham

Lovely phrasing in a sweet ballad. Edward Box

Good tone, vibrato and melodic playing with some nice chops. Phil Hilborne

Melodic, bluesy and tuneful with good technique. Martin Goulding

LYLE WATT (UK) (Runner Up - 115 Points)

Amazing phrasing, great tone and excellent vibrato! Edward Box

Mature playing for his age and good tone and technique. Andy James

Connected with the band very well – solid player and people were rocking out! Very good composition, reminded me of Lukather and demonstrated the importance of both lots of notes and the absence of them! Beth Johnson

Great tone and performance – Lyle totally surpassed his original youtube entry with a polished display. Rory Sullivan

Good chops, funky and engaging. Drew Cullingham

Satch like groove and feel. Uses space well, mature phrasing, very confident and entertaining. Phil Hilborne


Fast tremolo shredding – tense technique, good in places, messy in others. Martin Goulding

Trying to be Steve Vai. Very bright tone and good in places. Didn’t quite seem to pull it off on the day. Phil Hilborne

Could dial in a less trebley tone but good technique. Beth Johnson

Way too many effects and the intense performance seemed lost in the mix unfortunately. Rory Sullivan

Too much delay and too loud – but looks cool! Edward Box


Good connection with the band, great fretboard work and fun to watch. Beth Johnson

All technique but no song. Visually great but left me cold. Andy James

Superb technique. Tone a bit fuzzy but lovely interaction with the band.
The guy even harmonized with himself! Edward Box

Extraordinary technique but nothing the cling onto musically. Rory Sullivan

Many varied techniques and great chops! Tone could have been better and could be more musical with better phrasing. But overall – great stuff! Phil Hilborne

Excellent at everything. Incredible 8 finger tapping and a classical/modern rock expert! Martin Goulding

DANIELE GOTTARD (Italy) (3rd Place – 114 points)

Nice innovation and feel – like Jeff Beck in places. Sound a bit effected but great technique and overall very good. Phil Hilborne

Nice phrasing with a strat tone. Easily definable and quirky. Martin Goulding

Very interesting style, good technique and song – great tone! Andy James

Awesome intro with instant tone! Superb intonation on bends. Edward Box

Technique – 9/10 Tone 10/10! Rory Sullivan

Pretty Damn Good! Drew Culligham


All in all, melodically very interesting. A lot going on but the drummer lost it. Phil Hilborne

Disorientating composition. Good playing but could be better structured. Martin Goulding

Musically very interesting stuff. Too much high end in the mix and feel sorry for him as the band (drummer) lose it in the middle – he keeps going though to his credit. Rory Sullivan

Weird song that didn’t fit together that well. Turned his back too much and had band tech issues. Beth Johnson

Composition all over the place but had some good ideas. Andy James

Good tone and interaction with the crowd. Edward Box

GUSTAVO GUERRA (Brazil) (Winner – 124 points)

Great presence, performance, opening, tone, technical ability and control. Great smile as well! Great interaction with the band. Rory Sullivan

Well structured piece and very confident performance. Technically very strong, cool vibe, aggressive phrasing – nice one! Entertaining and like the pics into the crowd! Phil Hilborne

Great fun to watch! Huge smile! Great connection with the band and audience. Very well balanced and versed. Beth Johnson

Good riff and melody. Great technique. Andy James

Good tone, song, playing, melody and stage presence! Martin Golding

Great attitude, performance, song and technique! Edward Box


Dialed in a nice guitar tone. No connection with the band or audience but had good style. Beth Johnson

Lovely ideas like Brett Garsed, Refreshing fusion but no song really. Edward Box

Very Greg Howe style. Nice hybrid ideas and great tone. Andy James

Great tone and technique but little stage presence. Rory Sullivan

Nice tone and good vocabulary melodically. Very Greg Howe/Brett Garsed but a bit like an exercise for me. Phil Hilborne

Hybrid picking, nice semi-clean touch and mature phrasing. Also good fast technique. Martin Goulding

BEN RANDALL (UK) (Winner of Rockschool’s Award For Most Promising Young Guitarist)

Very mature for 16. Great playing and held back only by the sound. Give him a few years… Drew Cullingham

Very toppy tone and could be more controlled. Feedback in all the gaps etc. Has a good technique though and the vibe is OK. Phil Hilborne

Good vibrato and tone. Control lacking and feedback issues but great performance anyway! Edward Box

Good song, plays very well but not much connection with the crowd. But the song communicated well – enjoyed it. Beth Johnson

Obvious technical ability, but bedroom effects being used on stage it seems. He got more into it as it progressed and I like the song - great future ahead. Rory Sullivan


Great song! Fantastic use of stage and nice clean tone! Beth Johnson

Nice melody, good presentation, good vibe, neat and tidy if a little sloppy in places. Martin Goulding

Great riff and stage presence. Tone a bit weak for the style of music and attack but a huge talent AND the most ‘Rock Star’ performance of the day. Rory Sullivan

Horrid strat tone, too many pinch harmonics but got much better towards the end. Andy James

Good performer with very good melody. One of the best for me and a great tone as well! Phil Hilborne

Rock God! Cool! Edward Box

So there you have it and what a debate could be had about Gustavo Di Padua’s tone it seems... and it's worth noting that due to issues completely out of hands (wot again?) that none of the finalists had a sound check on the day, so all did amazingly to control their 'sounds' as well as they did.


Big Congratulations To All The Finalists and To Mr. Guitar Idol 2008 - Gustavo Guerra!!!

All of the above photos are by Steve Thorne and are now available at www.rocklens.com

Steve Thorne is a Rock Photographer who has been shooting the stars since he first smuggled a small rangefinder camera into a Black Sabbath gig in 1974. Since those early beginnings, Steve has taken thousands of concert images from Jeff Beck to Iron Maiden to Killswitch Engage.

For details please contact Steve Thorne at info@rocklens.com directly if you want to use or purchase copies of any images.

And there’s a detailed review of the whole show from the John Petrucci Forum: