Back To The Future’s iconic Johnny B. Goode performance was actually recorded on a Valley Arts Strat copy with a Floyd Rose

Nevermind the error in timelines, because the song wasn’t even recorded on an ES-345 at all…

Everyone knows that the most iconic scene in Back To The Future is when Marty McFly hits the stage at a high school dance to play Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode.

Those of you who know your guitar trivia will know that scene has been a large talking point across our community for sometime. McFly’s Gibson ES-345 used for the scene wasn’t actually launched until 1958, and the scene is supposed to be set in 1955.

But what you may not have realised is that behind the scenes, the iconic track was actually performed by Tim May – a session and jazz guitarist – and he actually played the track using a Valley Arts S-style guitar, fitted with a Floyd Rose. The guitar was built by Mike McGuire, and was number 25 out of the run.

The folks over at the Vertex Effects YouTube channel have treated us to a chat with May himself, who has reflected on why his choice of guitar felt so important for that scene, and he even gives us a short play through too.

“One of the most important scenes in the entire movie is at the end when Michael J. Fox, Marty McFly, has an ES-345 that he’s playing – a red one – and he’s playing the song Johnny B. Goode to this group of high school students at like a prom,” says Vertex CEO Mason Marangella. “It turns out, it was not actually Michael J. Fox who was playing that, it was actually you playing Johnny B. Goode, and on this very guitar.”

May weighs in, “This was the guitar, and the reason I chose this guitar was because I had a choice of my Les Paul or my 335, and the direction I was given was ‘okay, we want to go in this performance from Chuck Berry ‘50s style to the current’, which was like Van Halen and that sort of thing. ‘And we want to accomplish the history of the guitar, from there to there’. So we played a few takes and I just did whatever I did and it seemed to work.”

He later adds, “I chose this [guitar] because I was doing the hammer-ons…”

“You do almost like an Eruption [by Van Halen] sort of tapping thing at the end,” adds Marangella.

“Yeah, yeah! And I needed the Floyd for that, the Floyd Rose. It worked out good. It covered all the bases for me.” May also later reveals that the guitar was played through a Fender Blackface VibroLux from the ‘80s.

You can watch the full video, where May also recalls his time working for artists such as Lionel Richie, Blondie and more:

Check out the latest products from Vertex Effects via its official website.

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