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 & be a guitar, i.e. air drums not allowed
- 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
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.
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 regional city or online competition will receive a cash voucher towards their travel to the US Finals, where he or she will compete against the other regional champions.
The winner of the US Air Guitar Championships will receive a free trip (airfare and 2 nights lodging) to the World Championships, held in Oulu, Finland.
Official seeding system
US Air Guitar employs a seeding system to help determine contestant order in round 1. Any contestants that have previously won a Regional contest are allowed to pick their order first. The remaining first-time competitors must pick their performance order randomly.
The US Air Guitar ranking system is calculated as follows:
- Regional contest victory = 1,000 points
- US Finals victory = 2,000 points
- World Championships victory = 3,000 points