The Gibson ES-345 Marty McFly played in Back to the Future was actually from the future

Marty McFly in Back to the Future
(Image credit: Universal Pictures/YouTube)

In the hit 1985 film, Back to the Future, 1980s teen Marty McFly, played by Michael J Fox, fills in on electric guitar at the high school dance.

As we all know by now, he blows the minds of the '50-era kids and musicians in attendance by incorporating powerchords, feedback and tapping into Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode.

“I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet,” he tells the bewildered crowd. “But your kids are gonna love it.” True. Very true.

Something that wasn't very “true” about the scene, however, is the guitar McFly is using. He is, in fact, playing a Gibson ES-345, which wouldn't be introduced until 1958. The scene is set in 1955. 

Apparently on his way back to '55, McFly must've made a pit stop in '58 to pick up the guitar. Or maybe Marvin Berry – who was already playing the guitar before handing it off to Marty – made a quick trip to 1958, and then back to 1955. OK, we think you get the idea.

The biggest difference between Gibson ES-345s available today and Marty's guitar is that Marty's was retrofitted with a Bigsby, as many good guitars are.

McFly was emulating Chuck Berry and playing Johnny B. Goode before it was even released, thus insinuating that Berry got the idea for the song from McFly. Hey, anything's possible!

Above, check out the Gibson ES-345 scene from the film, and below, watch Fox performing the song with Coldplay in 2016. Sadly, he's playing a Les Paul rather than an ES-345 in the latter, though it's a killer performance nonetheless.

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.