With the launch of the fifth annual "Guitarmageddon" competition, musical instrument/pro audio retailer Guitar Center has begun a four-month search for the best unsigned guitarist in the United States

With the launch of the fifth annual "Guitarmageddon" competition, musical instrument/pro audio retailer Guitar Center has begun a four-month search for the best unsigned guitarist in the United States.

Guitarmageddon allows guitarists to perform before a panel of judges who will select a winner based on musicality in song context, technique, dynamics, stage presence and originality. The event is open to anyone not currently signed to a national distribution deal or endorsement and who has not been a previous Guitarmageddon regional and/or grand prize winner.

The grand prize winner will receive a 2004 Honda Element automobile, a Gibson Custom Shop guitar and a $2,500 Guitar Center shopping spree.

The competition began on March 16 with four weeks of in-store competitions at Guitar Center's 124 locations. Store finalists will be selected on April 6. Winners will then compete on April 27 in 14 district finals. District champions will compete May 10-14 at East, Central and West regional finals.

The Grand Finals will take place at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival, held June 4-6 at Fair Park and Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.

Guitarists compete by playing to one of 18 backing tracks created by instrument/amplifier manufacturer Line 6, followed by a two-minute solo. Contestants can perform with their choice of amplifier, from a selection of five by manufacturers Crate, Fender, Line and Marshall, or play directly through a Bose Personal Amplification System.