The 2018 Red Special meetup was attended by some 25 enthusiasts, amateur luthiers and amateur and professional guitar players from the U.K. and Europe. Brian May’s support team was represented by Nigel Knight of Knight Audio Technologies (KAT) and Pete Malandrone, his equipment technician. Luthier Andrew Guyton was absent this year because he was celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary. Apart from the enjoyable social aspect at The Calcot Hotel, the activities and equipment on display built on last year’s event and included around fourteen guitars and over ten amplifiers including Vox AC30s and Deacy amplifier replicas.
Highlights of the day included guitar demonstrations by Luke Timmins, a fun blind test of fourteen guitars by Luke, a comparison test of four Deacy amplifier replicas by Martin Pitcher using his Guyton RS Transporter, an impromptu question and answer session by Nigel and Pete Malandrone lasting nearly an hour (three part videos included below) and some live instrumental music from the house band.
Many thanks to Jon Underhill for organising another thoroughly enjoyable meetup and to all the guitar players and knowledgeable enthusiasts who have supported the Red Special community for years for making me feel welcome once again. I very much look forward to next year’s event, meeting more people and seeing different guitars and equipment.
The next embedded video is an edited recording of an approximately 50 minute question and answer session given by Pete Malandrone (Brian May’s guitar and equipment technician) and Nigel Knight (Knight Audio Technologies) who builds custom components for Brian’s live rig and carries out electronic maintenance of his Red Special guitar. They answer impromptu questions candidly on a variety of topics accompanied by banter and occasional profanity.
The next video is a blind demonstration of fourteen Red Special guitars, both commercial and DIY built, variants such as the Guyton RS Transporter and my converted Fender Stratocaster and a Gibson Les Paul 1958 reissue. The objective was a fun way to prove that with the same guitar player and the same signal chain/rig, even knowledgeable enthusiasts would not be able to discern differences in the guitar. The test was performed by Luke Timmins from TVH kitchen and recorded by Dan Thomas. The video was not recorded on professional equipment therefore please take this into consideration when judging tone and general audio quality.
If you don’t want to take the test yourself, here are the fourteen instruments Luke played:
00m 13s. Burns Signature upgraded (Matt Netherwood).
02m 15s. Peter Cole’s home made Red Special.
04m 07s. Dansan RS red (Jonathan Planner).
05m 32s. Gibson Les Paul 1958 Reissue (Dan Thomas).
06m 47s. Guyton RS Transporter (Jon Underhill).
08m 03s. Dansan RS green (Jonathan Planner).
09m 07s. BMG Super Mk2 (Jonathan Planner).
10m 14s. KZ/Fryer Super Mk1 (Luke Timmins).
11m 35s. Julian Hemingway’s home made 1984 Guild replica.
13m 59s. Marcus Hunger’s home made Red Special.
15m 07s. Guyton Red Special Replica RSR-002 (Colin Bowell).
16m 30s. Julian Hemingway’s home made Red Special.
17m 36s. Converted Fender Stratocaster (Doug Short).
18m 44s. Ian Angell’s home made Red Special.
19m 44s. KZ Red Special Final Edition (Dan Thomas).
Please check out Dan’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQFggPe5mbR9ikiHW1wBRFQ
Here are some additional photographs of the event taken by Ulrich (Ully) Hunger from Stuttgart, Germany. These mainly candid portrait shots are some of my favourites out of the 350-400 he took because they capture both the friendly and fun atmosphere and the personalities and characters in the Red Special community. His son, Marcus Hunger has built two Red Special replicas to exacting quality standards and is currently developing his own Deacy amplifier replica. Marcus was fortunate to meet Brian personally and show him his first replica.
The people featured in these pictures include event organiser Jon Underhill, Julian Hemingway, Luke Timmins (lead guitarist from U.K. Queen tribute band, Supreme Queen), Martin Pitcher, Peter Michalowski (lead guitarist from Swedish Queen tribute band “Queer”), Andrew Morgan from AStrings (South Wales’ leading independent music shop), Iain Angell, Pete Malandrone and Nigel Knight. Photographs credits: Ulrich Hunger.
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