Official rules of competition

US Air Guitar obeys the rules set forth by the Air Guitar World Championships:

  • Each performance is played to 1 minute (60 sec.) of a song
  • The 60 seconds can start anywhere in the song
  • The instrument must be invisible & must be a guitar
  • Air roadies are allowed, but must leave the stage before the performance
  • Back-up bands (air or real) are not allowed

US Air Guitar contests each consist of two rounds:

  • Round 1 (freestyle): each competitor performs to a song of their choice
  • Round 2 (compulsory): top competitors from round 1 perform surprise song


Competition order


Stages of competition


  • City-level competitions that are new or relatively smaller-scale
  • Anyone can enter
  • One winner from each advances to the Wild Card Semifinals held during Finals Weekend


  • City-level competitions that are established or larger-scale
  • Anyone can enter
  • One winner from each advances to the National Finals


  • Held during Finals Weekend, usually 2 days before the National Finals
  • Winers from Wild Card Qualifiers compete, along with a handful of Wild Card Nominees
  • Top 5 advance to the National Finals


  • Defending national champ, Regional champs, and top 5 Wild Cards compete for the title
  • Winner advances to the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu

Judging criteria

In each city, the jury is a panel of independent judges. The results of the jury cannot be protested. All performances are scored on a scale from 4.0 to 6.0 – 6.0 being the highest possible. Scores are given to one decimal point (e.g. 5.4, not 5.48). A single score is given to each air guitarist based on their overall performance in that round.

The score reflects the quality of the performance based on three key criteria:

1. Technical merit
You don’t have to know what notes you’re playing, but the more your invisible fretwork corresponds to the music that’s playing, the better the performance.

2. Stage presence
Anyone can do it in the privacy of their bedroom. Few have what it takes to rock a crowd of hundreds or even thousands – all without an instrument.

3 “Airness”
The last criteria is the most difficult to define yet often the most decisive of all. Airness is defined as the extent to which a performance transcends the imitation of a real guitar and becomes an art form in and of itself.

Please note: the scores from BOTH ROUNDS are added to determine the contestants’ final scores. This combined score determines the winner. Confusion over this detail was the cause of a controversy in the 2006 Finals that tore at the very fabric of competitive air guitar.


The winner of each Qualifying or Regional contest will receive a cash prize towards travel to the Wild Card Semifinals or National Finals. The winner of the National Finals will be the US Air Guitar champion, and will receive a free trip (airfare and 2 nights lodging) to the Oulu Finland to represent Team USA at the Air Guitar World Championships.

The winner will also take possession of the US Air Guitar title belt until a new US Champion is crowned, and the belt is passed to the new champ.