The Six String Theory Music Competition is the inspiration of  legendary Grammy® award-winning guitarist/composer and producer, Lee Ritenour, who debuted the International competition in 2010 with the release of his all-star guitar CD, 6 String Theory. The CD has been named Guitar International’s “Best Album of the Year,” Jazziz’ “Publisher’s Album of the Year” – and culminated in Ritenour receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from Guitar Player Magazine.  The CD featured 20 world-class guitarists including George Benson, BB King, Slash, Vince Gill, Robert Cray, and the winner of the 2010 competition Shon Boublil.

With the success of the first competition, Ritenour enlisted additional sponsorships in order to keep it going. Bringing in Berklee College of Music scholarships, Yamaha instruments/endorsements, Monster, D’Addario, Premier Guitar, Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation scholarships, professional recording on Lee Ritenour albums plus more (totaling over $600,000 and priceless opportunities), the competition continued to flourish with hundreds of applicants from 45 countries. In 2012,  it was decided to expand the competition to include piano, bass and drums as well as guitar.  Academy Award & Grammy winning Dave Grusin came on board as the Head of the Advisory Board as well as a team of legendary musicians as judges.

In 2012, Ritenour released an album entitled “Rhythm Sessions”  featuring a track recorded with the 2012 rhythm section winners. The album also included a vertible ‘who’s who’ of all-star rhythm players including Chick Corea, Nathan East, Will Kennedy, Dave Weckl, George Duke, John Beasley, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Grusin, George Duke, Stanley Clarke and more.

Ritenour explains the history and progression of the competition in a Guitar World 2012 interview:

“It actually started a few years ago with my album, 6 String Theory. In 2010, I had been playing guitar for 50 years. It was an anniversary, and since the guitar has been such a great gift for me, I wanted to do something to celebrate that. So I made an album with a lot of guitar greats like B.B. King, George Benson, Slash and Steve Lukather, along with some younger talent like Andy Mckee and Guthrie Govan. Then I thought it would be cool if we could get some really new talent and round it out. We would have someone like B.B. King (who’s in his 80s) all the way down to someone who was just starting their career. That started the ball rolling for the 6 String Theory Competition. We got Berklee College of Music involved, and they ended up giving a full four-year scholarship to the winner. Yamaha sponsored the competition and D’Adarrio Strings and Monster Cables were also a big part of it. This year, I wanted to focus on all-star rhythm sections, so we expanded the contest to include winners of piano, bass and drums and have them join us for a track. The scholarships have gotten bigger, there are now four of them.”

In 2014, the competition received applicants from 48 countries making it the largest and most global thus far. The 4 winners performed at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival as the opening concert for Lee Ritenour’s show, July 8, 2014 giving them a huge career opportunity.  The guitar winner will also record a track on Ritenour’s 2014 album to be released by Concord Records in 2015.  Berklee College of Music will continue to award their esteemed scholarships to qualified winners.  The 2010 SST guitar winner, Shon Boublil, just graduated from Berklee with a scholarship he won in the first year competition.

As Lee Ritenour’s Six String Theory Competition continues to grow, there is hope to expand to include more instrumentalists.  The competition is held every other year and the next one will open for registration early January 2016.

Mission Statement of the Six String Theory Music Competition:

“Supporting aspiring musicians towards a professional music career through scholarships, recording, performing, mentoring and prizes”

Partnering with Yamaha, Berklee College of Music, Montreux Jazz Festival, Blue Note Tokyo, Premier Guitar, Crown of the Continents Guitar Workshop & Festival, Monster,  Jazziz and D’Addario, we aim to expand the reach of the competition even further giving aspiring musicians incredible professional and educational opportunities.

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the competition over the years- from sponsors to contestants- and helped in its success!

Contact Us:

Lee Ritenour and the office of the Six String Theory Competition are based in Los Angeles, CA



Six String Theory Official Sponsors

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