Luke Holwerda’s Brian May Red Special Replica Build Project

Some visitors might already be familiar with Red Special enthusiast community member Luke Holwerda from Phoenix, Arizona in the USA and will have seen his Facebook blog page ( Having first interacted via forums, Luke messaged me some time ago with a view to using my CAD design to CNC cut the guitar body sections and neck himself in a community workshop (‘makerspace’) in Phoenix. Although initially reluctant, I was excited by the prospect of seeing somebody independently reproduce my design and build work halfway round the world, albeit with some personalisation to his preference. The other reason I agreed to help him on his quest was that it was clear from the outset that Luke is an intelligent, witty guy and that he had the necessary handicraft skill, attention to detail and determination to see the project through to completion. Yet again, the guitar Brian May built with his father Harold so many years ago which has rocked millions of people around the world has proved a catalyst for bringing like-minded people together and forging new friendships.

Luke has a day job of course and you might be interested in his audiovisual production work with his brother Gus. The Lovecraftian sci-fi movie “Intersect” they have worked on for the previous ten years was released on 15th September 2020. If you like this genre of film and want to support independent filmmakers, please download it from iTunes, Amazon Prime or Google Play.

In 2019, they recorded and produced the Origins podcast series ( hosted by internationally-renowned theoretical physicist and best-selling author Professor Lawrence Krauss. Luke and Gus visited the U.K. in spring and autumn 2019 to record podcasts with prominent public figures in the fields of science and culture including Ricky Gervais and Brian May. Please support their work by downloading and listening to the podcasts which are entertaining and thought-provoking. Luke was the guest in the first Red Special Guitar Podcast on December 22, 2020, hosted by Jon Underhill. You can listen to them discuss various topics here:

I enjoyed collaborating with Luke over the year or so that he took to complete his Red Special replica; the end result looks very professional and authentic and his artistic photographic and video illustrations have been a pleasure to behold. As far as I know, nobody else has illustrated their DIY Red Special Build project this way. His series of thirteen videos embedded below this text are all mesmerising and entertaining with a touch of humour and well worth a watch for general interest whether you are a builder or a player, or both. Luke manages to illustrate all the key processes and techniques with only visual information and no spoken narrative. The videos are all set to original tracks written and recorded by his former band, Smokescreen. His observations and intelligent challenges to some of the assumptions I made on my build have undoubtedly improved my approach. Thanks buddy!

Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 1 – Blockboard Sandwich
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 2 – CNC Body Cuts
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 3 – CNC Neck
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 4 – Body Glue Up
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 5 – Repairs – Router Bearing Marks
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 6 – Applying Veneers
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 7 – Binding and Stain
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 8 – Repair – Veneer Sand Through
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 9 – Neck and fingerboard
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 10 Neck Finishing
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 11 – Frets
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 12 – Assembly
Luke’s Red Special Build – Part 13 – Demonstration

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