Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at Balmoral on 8th September 2022 aged 96. She was always there for all 48 years of my life, a colossus of a human being who embodied all the best British values including politeness, tolerance and respect for others and good humour. God Save The Queen. Long Live The King. https://www.royal.uk/
The 2022 gathering of Brian May Red Special enthusiasts in the U.K. is imminent. Jon Underhill, host of The Red Special Podcast will welcome us once more to Theale Village Hall near Reading on Saturday, 8th October from 10 am to 5.30 pm. A number of participants will be flying in from the USA this year and we are sure to have the usual representatives from the U.K. and Europe (the continent, not the rock band) including Sweden and The Netherlands. No matter whether your interest is primarily in Brian’s music, building or playing his guitars, amplifiers and other equipment, there will be something of interest to see, hear and chat to other knowledgeable people about.
The schedule is not promulgated to avoid the disappointment of broken promises and dashed expectations in case guests or equipment are unavailable at the last minute but I can tell you that Jon has lined up some interesting people to interview and demonstrate a variety of Brian May related gear. I will be attending and staying at the Hilton Reading on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th October. I will bring my Red Special replica, at least one KAT Studio-One amplifier and my purple Guyton RS Transporter if Andy Guyton has fitted its new carbon fibre pickguard. I might also bring a copy of The Red Special book and some metallic Sharpie markers on the off-chance that I can get it signed by one or both of the authors.
In 1963, because they could not afford to buy a suitable instrument, Brian May and his father Harold took an innovative and practical approach to designing a new type of electric guitar. Later dubbed “The Red Special”, neither of them could have predicted that ten years later it would become as famous as Brian himself. In this video, I explore an urban myth in the Brian May Red Special enthusiast community that they drew around various household objects to form the basic outline and features of the guitar. Like all good urban myths, it might have an element of truth to it so watch the video and decide for yourself.
I made the embedded video below in June 2022 to accompany the FAQ on Tri-Sonic pickups. It is 22 minutes long and covers Tri-Sonic pickups in depth. I take a look inside an early 1960s vintage pot magnet style Burns Tri-Sonic pickup and compare and contrast vintage and modern variants. I discuss the characteristics of the specific set fitted to Brian May’s Red Special guitar with reference to a replica set made by Ade Turner of Adeson Pickups.
I demonstrate two methods for engraving the chrome plated brass cover then wind a bobbinless Tri-Sonic style coil on my Stepcraft 2/840 CNC machine using a custom made former to my own unique design. Finally, I assemble all the component parts of a Tri-Sonic pickup and measure its DC resistance and inductance using a Peak Atlas LCR45 meter.
Before he fitted the three Burns Tri-Sonic pickups to his Red Special guitar which feature in all Queen recordings and live concerts, Brian made his own pickups with his father Harold’s guidance. He discussed them in an interview with Simon Bradley for the Red Special book in which they featured in Chapter 6: Revisiting The Past. You can read the transcript on the official Red Special website which is maintained by Simon:
I recently completed a project to make a replica set of these pickups following Brian’s original design sketch but winding them to try to achieve similar DC resistance (7.0-7.4 kOhm) and inductance (2.0-2.3 H) to a typical vintage Tri-Sonic pickup. I made a 17 minute video covering the project in which I discuss the pickups and wind one using my Stepcraft 2/840 CNC machine and small AC industrial milling spindle. The only additional piece of equipment I bought was a magnetic wire tensioner.
There is more information and some images in the article in my FAQ section here:
Another party’s over, so let’s take a relaxing look inside my Brian May Red Special spare parts box accompanied by one of my favourite Queen songs: My Melancholy Blues. I can show you some good merchandise including Adeson Brian May specification pickups and some replicas of the original pickups that Brian made from Eclipse button magnets. I’ve also got a number of vintage items including Bulgin jack sockets and TCC Metalmite capacitors. There are numerous items of custom made hardware including bakelite nuts, aluminium ‘top hat’ style control knobs, tremolo springs and a tremolo arm.
The second US Brian May Red Special Enthusiast meet-up took place at the Linger Longer Lounge, 6522 N 16th Street in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday, 26 March 2022. As in 2020, the event was again arranged by Luke Holwerda, supported by Jon Underhill of The Red Special Guitar Podcast. The video below is a ten minute compilation video of some of the highlights of the day and includes demonstrations by Ricky Peraza of his CQ Red Special, a modified BMG Special owned by Andrek Hernandez and a 1994 Guild Brian May owned by Gonzalo Plaza. Check out the story in the Events section.
Two years after the original Seiko 5 Red Special themed wristwatch offered 9,000 Brian May enthusiasts a chance to own a timepiece of history, a new limited edition version has been released. The dial has the same red and black color scheme as the Red Special and features a delicate wood-like pattern like the body of the guitar. Special markings on the case back.
The watch is offered as a limited edition with Brian’s signature on the case back alongside “LIMITED EDITION” and the serial number 00001/12500 – 12500/12500. As with the first collaboration model, the dial recreates the fine details of the legendary guitar with a pressed pattern reminiscent of the texture of the wood, its glossy finish and graduated colouring.
The case is a special gold colour, requested by Brian himself, inspired by the newly released ‘Gold Series’ reissues of his solo albums. The presentation box is reminiscent of a guitar case and comes with a replica of the sixpence coins which Brian uses instead of a guitar plectrum.
Seiko Watch Corporation will donate a proportion of the sales proceeds from this wristwatch to The Mercury Phoenix Trust with Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations in mind. The MPT is a charity organization founded by Brian May, Roger Taylor and Queen manager Jim Beach, in memory of Freddie Mercury, to help fund the fight against HIV/AIDS worldwide.
Please check out episode 15 of Jon Underhill’s Red Special Guitar Podcast which we recorded back in July 2021 at his home in Newton Abbot, Devon. We spent around two and a half hours discussing various topics including how Curiosity Killed The Cat helped steer me into Queen, the day I met Brian May and the challenges of building a Red Special replica. If you watch/listen via his YouTube channel, the podcast video shows a montage of most of my own Red Special project YouTube videos up to and including the aluminium roller bridge I uploaded on 10th January 2022.
Please support Jon in his quest to record the personal experiences of Queen and Brian May enthusiasts and the professionals who work with Brian such as Simon Bradley, Andy Guyton, Pete Malandrone and Nigel Knight by liking, commenting and subscribing to his social media presence on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.