What is Guitar Center Drum-Off?

Guitar Center’s Drum-Off is the world’s largest drum competition with the goal of finding the top undiscovered drummer. Now in its 25th year, Drum-Off was developed to inspire and support drummers in the pursuit of their musical aspirations. Guitar Center Drum-Off is an annual program committed to providing a launching pad for a professional career as a drummer.

How do I sign up?

In order to compete you must sign up at a Guitar Center store. You cannot sign up online or over the phone. When you go into the store tell any sales associate that you’d like to compete in Drum-Off and they will sign you up.

How long do I have to sign up?

Sign ups start August 1 and run until the 10 contestant spots and 2 alternate spots are filled at each store, for each of the 3 store preliminaries. There are a total of 30 spots and 6 alternate spots available for each store holding a competition. You can sign up for any of the 3 store preliminary competitions so long as the spots aren’t already full. Even if the first prelim has already happened, check with your store to see if they have openings for prelim 2 or 3. They do fill up quickly though so don’t wait, Sign up now.


What are the requirements?

You must be 16 years of age or older to compete and must be a legal resident of the United States.

This contest is for qualified amateurs. A “qualified amateur” is defined as one who does not earn more than $20,000 adjusted gross income per year as a professional musician, based on the previous tax year. If you make it to the semi-finals you will be required to submit your W2 tax form as proof of your eligibility.

Former employees of Guitar Center can compete as long as their last day of employment was prior to January 1, 2012.

By competing in Guitar Center’s Drum-Off and signing the official rules you are stating that you meet all of our eligibly requirements. If at any time it is determined that you don’t meet the eligibility requirements you will be disqualified.


What do I win?

The Grand prize is $25,000 cash plus:

•A Roland TD-30 Electronic Drum Kit, PM-30, SPD-SX, BT-1 Triggers

•Feature in Modern Drummer Magazine

•Custom Drum Kit by DW, Tama, Pearl, Gretsch or OCDP

•Complete Set of Sabian, Meinl, or Zildjian Cymbals

•Drum, Stick, Cymbal and Drum Head Endorsement Deals (subject to the vendors terms)

•VIP Experience at NAMM 2014

For a complete list of prizing including the store finals, quarterfinals and semi-finals, view our prize page.



How does the competition work?

You will sign up to compete in 1 of the 3 preliminary competitions. There are 10 slots in each prelim per store. you can only compete in one prelim. Do not try to compete in a different prelim at a different store if you don’t advance. If you do this, you will be disqualified.

The competition is broken down into 3 preliminary competitions per store; 1 store final (store prelims and store finals take place in 250 Guitar Center stores); 30 quarter finals; 5 semi-finals and 1 grand final. All stages of the competition take place at a Guitar Center store with the exception of the grand finals. Grand finals will take place in Los Angeles at the Club Nokia on January 18.

The top 2 contestants from each of the 3 store prelims (those with the highest and second highest score) will advance to the store finals. So that means there will be 6 competitors at each of the 250 store finals. There will be only 1 winner of the store finals. (250 store winners total.) This store winner will go on to compete at 1 of 30 quarter finals. (30 quarter finals winners total.) From there the 30 quarter finalists will compete at 1 of 5 semi-finals. (5 semi-final winners total). The semi-finalists will then go on to compete at the grand finals.

When do I need to be present to compete?

This is very important.Please give yourself enough time to get to the store on your competition date at the designated start time. We don’t want to have to disqualify someone just because they’re late but it’s not fair to everyone who arrives on time. Each competitor must arrive at least thirty (30) minutes prior to the start of the competition on the day they have signed up for. We highly suggest arriving extra early to ensure you aren’t late. Check with the store you signed up at to confirm what time the competition starts.

How much time do I have for my performance?

You will get 5 minutes to set up and 3 minutes to play. If you make it to the semi-finals and or grand finals you will have 5 minutes to play.

In the event of a tie, you will be required to play an additional 2 minutes so be sure to have some extra tricks up your sleeve.

What will the store be providing for me to play on?

The store will have a 5-piece drum kit complete with heads, cymbals, hardware, a cowbell, tambourine, blast block, a drum throne and a Roland SPD-30 set up for your performance. The brand and model of the drum set, drum heads, hardware, and cymbals will vary by region. See stores for details.

Incorporation of the Roland SPD-30 into your performance is optional. You are not required to use this in your performance. You are only allowed to use this in patch mode, to be played as an instrument. Phrase loop recording and background loops are not allowed. If you attempt to use it in anything other than patch mode you will be disqualified.

Will I be able to bring my own gear for my performance?

You are allowed to use your own snare drum, drum sticks, bass pedal, and drum throne. If you plan on using the Roland SPD-30 you are allowed to bring in a USB flash drive with only mapped out patches saved to it; no background or phase loops. These are the only personal pieces of gear you may use during your performance. Do not attempt to bring anything other than what is listed above.

What are the judges looking for?

A panel of judges will be evaluating your performance on skills, technique, groove, originality, stage presence and overall performance.

If you still have questions, please see the official rules or email us.