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 once again feature our partner by hosting the Picking for the Prize Guitar contest and Martin Guitar giveaway at IBMA World of Bluegrass® 2024.

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 IBMA World of Bluegrass® in Raleigh, North Carolina, Friday morning, September 27. See below for full details and Official Contest Rules.

This year, Elderly Instruments is donating a Martin Custom Herringbone 28-style Dreadnought acoustic guitar to the winner of the contest. This beautiful guitar is one of many fabulous prizes the contest winner will receive. See below for a full list of prizes!

IBMA is also teaming up with musician, teacher, and YouTube personality Hayes Griffin who is this year’s IBMA World of Bluegrass® Artist in Residence. Hayes and his top secret team of flatpickers will be reviewing submissions from guitar players from all around the world and serving on the judging panel!

Official Contest Rules

Enter Now! Picking for the Prize Flatpicking Guitar Contest

Sponsored by Martin Guitar, Elderly Instruments, and the Walnut Valley Association

Entrants must be at least 18 years old to enter and compete. For more information and complete contest rules, visit www.pickingfortheprize.com. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]. Good luck!


Contest Prizes

Grand Prize:
• Martin Custom Herringbone 28-style Dreadnought acoustic guitar from Elderly Instruments
• one (1) guaranteed entry and one (1) festival pass to the Walnut Valley Association National Flat Pick Guitar Championship 2025 in Winfield, Kansas
• one (1) custom Calton case
• one (1) PaigePro Capo
• one (1) guitar lesson and social media video with Hayes Griffin
• one (1) year subscription one (1) year ToneSlab sponsorship
• one (1) complimentary three-year Strum Machine subscription ($147 value)
• one (1) Conference pass for IBMA World of Bluegrass® 2025 with a merch prize pack

First Runner Up Prize Package:
• A Martin merch pack
• one (1) Calton gear case
• one (1) Paige Retro capo
• three (3) ToneSlab guitar picks
• one-year Strum Machine subscription ($49 value)
• one (1) Conference pass for IBMA World of Bluegrass® 2025 with a merch prize pack

Third, Fourth, and Fifth-Place Prize Packages:
• The three remaining Finalists will receive a Martin swag bag and a Paige Clik 6-string Guitar Capo.
• An IBMA World of Bluegrass® merch prize pack.
• From ToneSlab: The second runner-up will receive three picks, the third runner-up will receive two picks, and the fourth runner-up will receive one pick.
• One-year Strum Machine subscription ($49 value)

Thank You to our 2024 Picking for the Prize Guitar Contest Sponsors!

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®.

2023 Picking for the Prize Finalists:

(in no particular order)

Ken Marut
Daniel Watkins
Tyler Rennix
Danielle Yother
Mike Johnson

2023 Picking for the Prize champion: Ken Marut! 

From left to right: Jim Lauderdale, Ken Marut, Marcel Ardans, Martin Guitar CEO Thomas Ripsam

Marut’s Winner’s Prize Package included 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).

Marut also got to play a brief set right after the contest.

The Walnut Valley Festival held each year on the 3rd weekend of September at Winfield, Kansas for 52 years is proud to be a partner in support of the Picking for the Prize Flatpicking Guitar Championship sponsored by Martin Guitar and hosted at IBMA World of Bluegrass.

Picking for the Prize Flatpicking Guitar Contest sponsored by Martin Guitar is included on the Walnut Valley Association’s list of accredited guitar contests and generously guarantees the winner a spot to compete at next year’s National Flatpick Guitar Championship.

IBMA World of Bluegrass® Artist in Residence 2024

Hayes Griffin

Hayes Griffin is a musician, teacher, and YouTuber from central Ohio. Fueled by a steady diet of bluegrass, classic rock, country, and metal as a child, Hayes decided early on to pursue music as a profession.

After earning a degree in music from Denison University, Hayes headed to Boston to earn his Master’s in Contemporary Improvisation at New England Conservatory. Hayes quickly became an active member of the local bluegrass community, studying with the great John McGann and recording the Trimountain Sessions EP with bluegrass phenoms Maddie Witler, Gabe Hirshfeld, John Mailander, and Josh Dayton.

After school, Hayes spent over a decade touring internationally with acts like Canadian fiddler April Verch and progressive bluegrass band Newtown. Featuring Hayes on guitar, Newtown’s 2016 album Harlan Road debuted at #8 on the Billboard Bluegrass Charts.

In 2020, Hayes released his first solo project, Midwestern Swing, an album dedicated to the sounds of American country and Western Swing music from the 1930’s, 40s, and 50s. The album snagged the #1 spot on the Local Spins Hot Top 5  for 2020, charting in the Top 5 for 3 months straight.

That same year, Hayes began a weekly YouTube series on the playing of electric mandolinist Tiny Moore. Since then, Hayes’ channel has evolved to include weekly videos on bluegrass guitar, Western Swing, music theory, and mindfulness. His videos have been viewed over 600,000 times on YouTube alone!

These days, Hayes spends his time teaching lessons, recording YouTube videos, and serving his growing community of online students in his Guitar Club.

Hayes is proud to endorse GHS Strings and Belmuse Electric Mandolins.

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