Picking for the Prize Guitar Contest and Martin Guitar Giveaway

hosted at IBMA World of Bluegrass


Martin Guitar is a longtime Presenting Sponsor of IBMA’s World of Bluegrass Exhibit Hall. This year, we are excited to feature our partner by hosting the Picking for the Prize Guitar contest and Martin Guitar giveaway at World of Bluegrass® 2023.

This is an online flatpicking contest like you’ve never seen before! Five finalists will be chosen from an online submission process to appear and compete LIVE at this year’s World of Bluegrass® in Raleigh, North Carolina, Friday morning, September 29. See below for full details and Official Contest Rules.

IBMA is also teaming up with bluegrass flatpicker extraordinaire and YouTube personality Marcel Ardans who is this year’s World of Bluegrass® Artist in Residence. Who better than the Lessons With Marcel team to review submissions from flatpickers all around the world and serve as the judging panel?

Official Contest Rules

After receiving almost 60 submissions and carefully calculating scores, the 5 Finalists were determined for the Picking for the Prize Guitar Contest and Martin Guitar Giveaway hosted at IBMA World of Bluegrass® .

The Picking for the Prize Finalists:

(in no particular order)

Ken Marut
Daniel Watkins
Tyler Rennix
Danielle Yother
Mike Johnson

Congratulations to Picking for the Prize champion, Ken Marut! 

The Winner’s Prize Package includes a brand new Martin D-28, 1 lesson with Lessons with Marcel, and a conference pass to IBMA World of Bluegrass 2024 (which includes numerous networking opportunities and Gig Fair).

The winning artist will also get to play a brief set right after the contest. But that’s not all!


The Walnut Valley Association which hosts the Walnut Valley Festival and the National Flat Picking Championships in Winfield, Kansas, partnered with IBMA and our sponsor, Martin Guitars, to sweeten the Grand Prize pot. Not only will Picking for the Prize Guitar Contest be on the Walnut Valley Association’s list of accredited guitar contests, but our friends at Winfield are ALSO generously contributing to the Grand Prize Package!

The Walnut Valley Festival held each year on the 3rd weekend of September at Winfield, Kansas for 51 years is proud to be a partner in support of the inaugural 2023 Picking for the Prize Flatpicking Guitar Championship sponsored by Martin Guitar and hosted at IBMA World of Bluegrass.

The Walnut Valley Festival has officially partnered with IBMA to sweeten the pot for all involved. Not only will Picking for the Prize Guitar Contest sponsored by Martin Guitar be on the Walnut Valley Association’s list of accredited guitar contests, but our friends at Winfield are ALSO generously offered to contribute to the Grand Prize Package!

“As the host of the National Flatpick Guitar Championship, we would like to extend our congratulations to all the fine musicians who competed in this year’s championship and look forward to welcoming this year’s Picking for the Prize champion at the 2024 National Flatpick Guitar Championship on September 21, 2024, at the 52nd annual Walnut Valley Festival.”

The Grand Prize winner will ALSO receive:

One (1) Full-Festival Ticket for the 2024 Walnut Valley Festival.
One (1) guaranteed entry in the 2024 National Flat Picking Championship

IBMA World of Bluegrass® Artist in Residence 2023

Marcel Ardans

Marcel Ardans is a flatpicker, transcriptionist, and educational YouTuber living in the greater Raleigh, North Carolina area.

In recent years, Marcel’s work as an industry leader in the bluegrass YouTube community has garnered notoriety and praise, with Acoustic Guitar Magazine calling him, “a specialist in Rice-style guitar” and Billy Strings saying, “Whoa…this guy just taught me how I play.” His content has helped to bring bluegrass instruction to a younger generation in the online space and has helped to build the bluegrass community across borders, most notably through projects like the Bluegrass Coalition, a virtual worldwide performance project that brings fans and well-known players together.

He frequently collaborates with many of today’s best contemporary flatpickers, including Trey Hensley, Jake Workman, Jake Eddy, Bryan Sutton, Andy Hatfield, Roy Curry, Mickey Abraham, Zeb Snyder, Jon Stickley, and Stash Wyslouch.

Marcel has a decade of private teaching under his belt and has taught numerous workshops focusing on improvisation, jam skills, and practical music theory. He has left thousands of satisfied students in his wake and just as many transcriptions, many of which he makes available for free to the community. The accuracy of his transcription work has led to professional contracts transcribing for other educators and publications such as Premier Guitar Magazine. He is also well known for transcribing user suggestions live, he will sometimes finish these live challenges in a matter of minutes.

Not only will Marcel and his team administer the Martin Guitar Flatpicking Guitar Contest and Giveaway, but you will also see him onsite during World of Bluegrass® week gathering video content, serving as a panel moderator, picking tunes (of course), and more. Subscribe to his YouTube channel and follow him on social media to be in the know!

 Website •  YouTube •  InstagramFacebook 

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