Best Guitar Playing in Movies

I wrote this almost 6 months ago and never published it because these are the obvious answers that everyone picks for these kind of posts… but I thought it would be fun to post it anyway.

Guitar playing is in all sorts of Hollywood productions. Usually it’s a completely trivial part of the plot, so somebody pretending to strum while kinda holding the neck properly is just fine. Other times, it’s a major moment in the film and doubles and shoddy editing will cause headaches to a musician.

Exhibit 1:

Spinal Tap

So the actual playing is rather horrible, but it’s technically proficient and thoughtful horrible.  This scene captures so many of the things that are obnoxious about live guitar solos.  Christopher Guest straddles a line of not being so sloppy it doesn’t resemble actual guitar playing, but never coming close to something you’d ever be in awe of.

School of Rock

Jack Black is not a terribly good guitarist, but he knows his limits.  Joey Gaydos Jr steals the scene though.  Everyone loves a younger kid playing guitar solos, but what’s even better is when that kid is playing a V that makes him look like Mick Jagger after a 6 month diet of cocaine and groupies.  I think that’s a good thing.

Crossroads

Almost unfair since Steve Vai is an actual guitar god and not an actor.  But I give them props for including a legit guitarist rather than some long haired actor pretending to play.  And Ralph Macchio, even though he wasn’t actually playing, did a respectable job of learning the parts.