With the inaugural AP Music Awards taking place July 21, 2014, at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum at North Coast Harbor, we thought we would use the weeks leading up to the historic event to give you a category-by-category breakdown of the nominees so you can be an informed voter. Read on to learn about the Best Guitarist nominees, and cast your vote!

JB Brubaker, August Burns Red

When we spoke to JB Brubaker last March, he said, “We're definitely trying to broaden the spectrum of what is possible in this music.” The band—and Brubaker, the lead guitarist/principal songwriter, especially—accomplish just that on their latest album, Rescue & Restore. Whether he’s cranking his distortion pedal or whipping through upper-register runs, Brubaker proves that a band can create aggressive metalcore without sacrificing impressive instrumentation.


Synyster Gates, Avenged Sevenfold

This past March Guitar World named Synyster Gates one of the 50 fastest guitarists of all time, but Avenged Sevenfold fans have been well aware of Gates’ whiplash-inducing playing for years now. Even more impressive is Gates has never sacrificed precision for speed, instead finding the sweet spot that combines all three. Seven albums in and Gates shows no signs of slowing down—literally.


Phil Manansala, Of Mice & Men

On Of Mice & Men’s latest album, Restoring Force, guitarist Phil Manansala blends the crushing metalcore breakdowns OM&M are known for with nü-metal riffs and alt-rock-inspired solos, creating an album that would be at home on Warped Tour and rock radio.

Jack O'Shea, Bayside

Jack O’Shea’s blistering guitar playing has been the backbone of Bayside’s music since the band’s 2003 debut album. On the band’s latest release, Cult, O’Shea’s guitar work pushes each song along, from the booming, in-your-face “Big Cheese” to the lovelorn rock ballad “Transitive Property.” The self-taught guitarist will be giving guitar lessons all summer long on Warped Tour at the BANDHAPPY tent.


Chris Rubey, the Devil Wears Prada

In an interview last January, vocalist Mike Hranica described the material guitarist Chris Rubey was working on for the band’s fifth album as “absolutely relentless.” Fans understood what Hrancia meant when 8:18 was released last September. Rubey transitions seamlessly between thrashing hardcore, melodic metalcore and sweeping rock.


Jacky Vincent, Falling In Reverse

The 25-year-old super-shredder (and contributor to Guitar World magazine) has a playing style that’s heavily influenced by ’80s metal, but his technique and precision are all his own, honed after more than a decade of playing. Last October, Vincent released Star X Speed Story, his first solo album of his guitar work.