Making pretend guitar motions with your hands, placed as though you are holding an invisible guitar. Leaning is optional. Popular in The '80s, but still done. There are championships for this. People have sold air guitars on eBay for a sizeable amount of money. Some argue that the idea has since been replaced with the plastic hit, Guitar Hero.
No one's watching. Go ahead, rock along to that song that won't leave your head. We won't tell anyone.
Twin brother of the Air Drums. Less common versions are Air Violin and Air Piano; orchestral works usually elicit Air Conducting instead. Compare to That Syncing Feeling. A variant is the "substitute guitar". Tennis racquets and (in the UK and Australia) cricket bats are commonly used for this. See Instrumental Weapon when this is done with weapons.
- Madame Tussauds once ran a poster campaign in the Underground which showed an empty guitar case and promised a free air guitar with each visit.*
- In the second ending of ×××HOLiC Maru, Moro and Mokona play air guitar, air bass and air drums.
- Yui from K-On! played this during the Chrismas Episode.
- The video accompanying the ending theme for Light Novel/Haganai has Yozora doing this...next to Sena, who's playing an actual electric guitar.
- Seen in an episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Done by Aoba, one of the bridge bunnies, during a moment of leisure.
- Prussia from Hetalia: Axis Powers plays the guitar on a broom in one story.
- In the ending of K Return of Kings, Ren Goto dorkily "air-guitars" on his sword.
- Kars does this in the anime adaptation of Battle Tendency— using an unconscious Lisa Lisa's leg.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Friendship Games:
- In the short "A Banner Day", Flash Sentry briefly moves his hands over an imaginary guitar while thinking about his song.
- Lemon Zest, on exiting the bus with her headphones on blaring music, makes some slick rock-star moves.
- The Rescuers Down Under: When Bernard and Bianca go to Wilbur to take them to Australia, they find him singing along to the radio, including an air guitar solo.
- Happy Feet Two: Lovelace learned how to do this after he was picked up by a research ship and saw one of the crew playing an electric guitar. Later in the movie he does it to attract the same crew's attention so they can try and help free the Empire Penguin colony that's trapped by an iceberg.
- In the Inside Out short Riley's First Date?, Riley's Dad ends up playing, with Jordan on air bass, after finding common ground in their music choices. Dad's Anger also ends up playing following...
- The title characters of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure do it whenever they're happy. Their Evil Twins in the sequel develop a "stealth" version (subtly twiddling their fingers as if picking guitar strings) because their boss despises air guitaring. The ending of the sequel has a newspaper headline announcing "Air Guitar cures air pollution".
- Woody Allen's Bananas has a scene with an air chamber band. Woody eventually asks them to keep it quieter. (Originally, there were supposed to be instruments, but they never arrived and Woody decided to roll with it.)
- In a deleted scene in The Original Kings of Comedy, Bernie Mac entertains the audience after he has broken his mic and is waiting for a new one by picking up the mic stand and pretending to play the bass guitar with it.
- Killer Diller (2004): While the halfway house band is playing at a school, Wesley sees Vernon playing air piano on a table. Frustrated with his bandmates' apparent lack of talent, he wanders over and starts air guitaring next to him.
- In Miracle Run, Corrine's love interest plays air guitar on a shovel.
- Voyage of the Rock Aliens: During Dee Dee and The Pack's musical number on the beach, a line of backup dancers plays air guitar.
- The book Thinning the Herd tells us how this can go horribly awry — a 16-year-old fell out the window while jumping on the bed and playing air guitar. He was three stories up.
- In Tricky Business, Wally's girlfriend gets him a job at her boss' company. Said boss is a perfectly detestable yuppie who claims to have been a good guitarist in college "making an air guitar move that instantly told Wally he had been bad".
- Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: The sixth book has Cynthia doing it on the cover, although, more likely, Air Lute, given that that's what her character plays.
- When Xandri Corelel first meets her love interest Diver, he's singing along to music and occasionally pausing his work to play air guitar.
- A MADtv skit had an air guitar emporium. Guest star Joe Walsh used one to smack down a thief who tried to steal Jimi Hendrix's air guitar.
- In the old Knight Rider, Michael does air guitar whilst posing as a "bona fide" rock star. Do real rock stars do this?
- Scrubs. The Janitor forms an air guitar band with Ted and Lloyd the delivery guy. Turk joins, slights Kelso and to get back at him Kelso bans air guitaring in the hospital.
- An episode of the Canadian kids' show The Latest Buzz has Wilder and his father entering an air guitar championship.
- A 6th season NCIS episode has Tony participating in an air guitar contest online, while Ziva gives him grief about doing something so childish. It ends with her making sure she's alone, air-rocking out, and laughing.
- An episode of Boomtown had an ex-convict whose hands had been broken by his cell-mate. He used to play air-guitar and imagine his favourite song to deal with confinement. The cell-mate, however, did not appreciate this habit.
- House has a Patient of the Week whose corpus callosum was cut, thus his left and right hemispheres work independently and he has an alien hand syndrome. His left hand doesn't let 13 make an autopsy so they put on some rock and the patient's left hand starts playing air guitar.
- Just Shoot Me! had an episode where Nina found out the guy she was dating that week was lead guitar in an 'Air Band' with Finch and Kevin.
- The J-Pop band Arashi formed an airband for their late night TV show with someone on air vocals, two air guitarists, air keyboard and air drums.
- Frasier and Niles on Frasier play "air violin" in one episode.
- In one episode of Flight of the Conchords Bret sells his guitar and is forced to play air guitar. Murray, the band's manager, begins to write bad reviews of the band since he "can hardly hear it. No, you'd have to be deaf to hear that".
- In one of Supernatural's DVD extras, Jensen Ackles does an epically funny mime to "Eye of the Tiger", including the percussion in the intro, and using his leg as an impromptu replacement for a guitar. Musically experienced viewers have noted that his air-drumming and air-guitaring are spot-on, and that he even strums an E-chord on his leg.
- The Colbert Report: In the beginning of every 'Sport Report' segment Stephen rocks out on the air guitar. At one point he points out that he can play air guitar even with a broken wrist.
- On Green Wing, a guy tells Karen she looks like a queen... specifically, Brian May. He illustrates this with an air guitar riff. She responds by smashing his air guitar.
- How I Met Your Mother: Barney does that a few times.
- Boy Meets World: When the normally uncultured Shawn takes an interest in classical music, he starts playing "air violin":
Shawn: This is the part where the violin rocks!
- Dexter: Rudy Cooper plays the air guitar when he helps Dexter to clean the house after Dexter's biological father died. He tries to make it more fun and plays his old records and starts dancing.
- In Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, Kyoryu Silver's Transformation Sequence includes air-guitaring on his Transformation Trinket; this fits with the Arena Rock theme possessed by both Silver and his partner, Bragigas, as well as the general music theme of the series.
- In the first episode of Father Ted, Ted catches Dougall performing a bit of air guitar to "Simply the Best". In a wonderfully subtle continuation of the joke, Dougall actually holds on to the "guitar" throughout the scene, and even replaces it carefully in its invisible "stand"!
- Mentioned in Emily Osment's "All The Way Up" as one of the things she likes to do, including biting nails, waking her friends up at 3AM and playing Rock & Roll loud enough to make the windows shake.
- The Republic Tigers have a song called "Air Guitar" which incites the listener to do exactly this, for which they even provide the requisite guitar solos.
- Joe Cocker, anyone?! Gloriously captured during his Woodstock performance.
- An interesting example: Danny Marino of The Agonist plays air guitar whenever he's thinking up new riffs.
- The (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) "Air Guitar" by McBusted is about how much the singer enjoys playing air guitar and how cool he feels inside his mind (he knows full well his friends all think it's pathetic, but doesn't care).
- By contrast, "Air Guitar" by Tripod demands to know how winning an award for air guitar is a thing.
There's no guitar, it's only air!
I never won an award for real guitar!
They're just jumping around in tight pants!
There's already a job where you do that,
it's called the lead singer!
- Horribly invoked in the music video for Journey's "Separate Ways" ... in some shots, the members of the band are shown playing air guitar, air keyboard, and air drums. Yes, real musicians are pretending to play the instruments they actually know how to play.
- Slightly less badly, "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" starts off with an air... cello?
- Awesomely invoked in Meshuggah's video for "New Millenium Cyanide Christ." The video features the band headbanging in their tour bus, with the guitarists air guitaring (featuring the lead guitarist's accurate air soloing), the drummer hitting air drums with his real drumsticks, and the lead singer lip-syncing into a ballpoint pen. Your mind will be blown.
- The music video for "Chunky Chunky Air Guitar" by The Whitlams is a mockumentary about the 9th Annual Air Guitar World Championships.
- The music video for Area 7's "Nobody Likes A Bogan" features the tennis racquet/cricket bat substitute variant.
- "Air Guitar" by comedy band Tripod and The Umbilical Brothers, a miming comedy duo, is all about how ridiculous it is for somebody to win an award for air guitar. Then the Umbilical Brothers interrupt and they duel between a real guitar and an air guitar.
They're just jumping around in tight pants.
There's already a job where you do that.
It's called a lead singer.
- Hulk Hogan was known for doing this before and after matches in the 1980s, though he was in a rock band prior to becoming a wrestler.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi plays an air guitar before matches and puts on an entire concert if he wins.
- Billy Blade played air guitar on his title belt while he was the champion of Vendetta Pro Wrestling.
- While 3MB claim to be musicians, air guitars were the only instruments anyone ever saw them play, at least until Jinder Mahal produced a flute.
- Madison Eagles has gone so far as to dress as a guitar, this coming into play was pretty much inevitable.
- The Young Bucks are prone to playing air-guitar with their championship belts during their entrances.
- The Worldwide Underground will frequently air-guitar when things are going their way. In Bill & Ted fashion, there will often be actual guitar riffs accompanying it!
- Kyle O'Reilly has taken up a habit of playing air guitar with his NXT Tag Team Championship belt.
- BBC Radio DJ Mark Radcliffe often admits to air drumming. Guests often "play" other instruments. Someone once claimed they did air lighting rig.
- There is an Air Guitar emote in RuneScape, earned when you unlock 500 songs in the game.
- Some of the Guitar Hero games have an "air guitar" cheat, that makes the characters play air guitar.
- There is a product on the market with the Guitar Hero license that will play a guitar riff if you move your hands in front of it to facilitate air-guitaring. It's a popular Internet joke. That said, while you can't learn guitar from Guitar Hero, it does help one's air guitar skills.
- For pre-orders of Guitar Hero World Tour, Gamestop is offering free air guitars.
- One of Nero's more extreme taunts in Devil May Cry 4 is to strum an air guitar in front of his enemies. And if you stop and listen, It's actually making real music.
- The Pyro in Team Fortress 2 plays air-guitar with almost all of his melee loadout items when you taunt with the melee item out.
- Medic also pretends to play violin with two of his bonesaws. One of them can grant healing effects.
- The Magic monster from the first Monster Rancher game has an attack called Diversion, which is a psychic air guitar attack.
- The male Forsaken in World of Warcraft play an air guitar when they use the /dance emote.
- Spoofed in Wario Land: Shake It! There's a treasure called the Air Guitar which is just an empty outline of a guitar.
Rock out anywhere and anytime with this nonexistent axe. WHOOOOO!
- Backyard Skateboarding has the Big Air Guitar Solo.
- A few routines in Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2-3 have the dancers air-guitar to some songs. They're insanely adorable when they do this!
- Played straight in the first Fable but subverted in the sequel, where you use a lyre instead.
- At least one song in the Just Dance series of games feature this...and then some!
- Both Modern and Classic Sonic will do this at some point in Sonic Generations.
- Asagi does this in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice.
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: Soma Cruz's crouching animation, when spammed rapidly, makes it look like he's rocking a wicked air guitar solo.
- Brain Dead 13: After defeating Dr. Neurosis and seeing his lair explode, Lance says, "Cool! Back to work!" then does a strumming air guitar before leaving on a truck.
- In Double Dragon Neon, the Lees do this after beating a level.
- Artyom rocks a riff in both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light as an Idle Animation... with an assault rifle.
- Guild Wars not only has an emote for playing an air guitar, it also air drums, flutes, and violins. If that weren't enough, each class/gender combination has its own unique animation set for these emotes.
- The AI-controlled Heroes react to various emotes by players. When an instrument emote is made, the heroes begin playing their own instruments as well.
- Overwatch has an air guitar emote for Pharah, dubbed Rocket Guitar. She uses her rocket launcher as a guitar, and uses her Barrage rockets to create fireworks. Somehow this makes guitar sounds.
- Your character in Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout can do this with the "Guitar Solo" emote, complete with an awesome electric guitar riff to accompany it. Appropriately enough, the season in which this emote is first introduced (Season 4) is themed after the '80s, among other things.
- Klavier does a very convincing one in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, up to and including actually sounding like a real guitar.
- In the introduction to Kid Radd, it's mentioned he's real cool, but by mid-'80s standards, and Radd does air guitar just to make that clear.
- Shredded Moose: Here.
- Parodied in an Ozy and Millie strip, here. Note: Ozy is, technically, cheating.
- John of Homestuck plays air guitar when recreating the final scene of Con Air, completing with the soundtrack having someone vocally imitate a guitar.
- Rusty and Co.: Roxanne indulges in "Air Lute!" to celebrate victory.
Alt Text: Air-Luting is only slightly les annoying than Air-Accordioning.
- Motor Ed from Kim Possible enjoys air guitar and "Woaaaah!" noises. Seriously. So does Dr. Drakken.
- Beavis And Butthead do this for most everything that's amazingly cool.
- An episode of Doug has Skeeter playing air guitar because his parents couldn't afford a real one. He and Doug take turns playing it and passing it to each other.
- Most of the Family Guy official art will have Chris Griffin play the air guitar, although he doesn't do it at all in the show.
- The Weekenders: Tino plays air guitar when he fantasizes of playing "Extreme Jacks" when looking for a sport he can participate. He had an agreement from Tish to never air guitar again. He does it again in the end of the episode.
- During The Secret Show episode "World Anthem", Victor Volt tries to play the show's theme on a real electric guitar...but fails miserably. Then he shouts, "Throw me an air guitar!" and immediately plays much better. This skill comes in handy when trying to counter Doctor Doctor's own song which would literally "hypnotize the world" if successful.
- Total Drama:
- Total Drama Island: "Up the Creek" features Cody doing this in the confession outhouse to celebrate partnering up with Gwen for a challenge; halfway through his solo the camera cuts to Gwen talking about how she thinks Cody is childish and annoying, then it cuts back to Cody (who is still playing) to prove her point.
- Rock & Spud, The Rockers from the Ridonculous Race Spin-Off air guitar regularly, and Rock almost always does so after finishing a task. Their air guitar skills even won them the leg in Finland.
- The end of an episode of American Dad! features Steve and Snot playing air guitar to Joe Satriani's "Always With Me, Always With You."
- Episode 72 of Kaeloo had Stumpy and Olaf play air guitar to Jimi Hendrix's music.
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures has Bill & Ted (like in the live action movie) do this. The medieval maidens even do it in an episode where they are reunited with the boys.
- There have been, and still are, several championships, whether national or global, for this. Which was mocked by the comedy band Tripod. The singers/guitar players are upset that despite the fact that they actually went and learnt guitar, they get less awards and accolades than air guitarists. When they performed the song on The Sideshow, The Umbilical Brothers came on and had a guitar-off with them, with the Brothers playing an air-guitar and making awesome and realistic guitar noises with their mouths, overshadowing Tripod, who were playing actual guitars. Go figure.
- The Musical Instrument Museum in Arizona has an exhibit full of guitars. The last display case contains an empty guitar case, complete with impressions in the felt. The plaque beside it reads, "Air Guitar. Materials: Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide, and Dreams." Also contains trace amounts of noble gasses and self-delusion.
- Some clever people have created software that allows you to actually play an air guitar.
- Before the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, American swimmer Gary Hall, Jr. wrote in an online diary for Sports Illustrated regarding the men's 4x100m freestyle relay, "My biased opinion says that we will smash them like guitars." In the final, Hall and Australia's Ian Thorpe battled throughout the anchor leg until Thorpe pulled away to claim gold for Australia. As Thorpe exited the pool, his three teammates played air guitar on the deck in a classic Take That!.