Before signing up to compete, we recommend reading the latest rules and guidelines.

FAQ | Signups, Winners & Benefits | Picking Order



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
  • 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.


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.





  • Qualifiers are licensed to local hosts who have signed on to produce a contest to find the best local talent in their city
  • They range in style from backyard BBQs to major rock venues, depending on the ambitions of the local host
  • Anyone can enter, no prior qualifications required
  • The top 2 scorers from each Qualifier advance to one of the Semifinals



    • Semifinals are held in major rock venues in a select set of cities each year
    • In each Semifinal, around 20 performers will compete for a slot in the US Finals, including:
      • The top 2 competitors from Qualifiers that feed into that Semifinal
      • Defending city champs from the year before
      • Organizers of Qualifiers who have competed in the past
      • If spaces remain, we may invite Wild Cards who have competed in multiple events in the past



    • The National Finals are held in a different city each year
    • The Finalists that compete for the national air guitar title include:
      • The top 3 scorers from each Semifinal competition
      • The defending national champ
      • The “Dark Horses,” who advance based on their performance in the invitational Dark Horse Wild Card Playoffs, traditionally held at a secret location before the National Finals



The top 2 finishers of each official Qualifier will receive a cash prize towards their travel to one of the Semifinals, based on budget availability of the Qualifier organizer. The top 3 finishers of each Semifinals event will receive a cash prize towards their travel to the National Finals, based on budget availability from US Air Guitar. 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 Air Guitar World Championships, held in Oulu, Finland.