Another successful Red Special meetup, held for the third consecutive year at Theale Village Hall (TVH) near Reading in Berkshire, U.K., was attended by twenty five enthusiasts of Queen legend Brian May’s guitar, equipment and music. Organised once again by Jon Underhill, the 2019 event had a palpably relaxed, friendly ambience borne out of mutual respect from friendships and understanding built up over many years. Against this backdrop, newcomers could feel welcome. The individual characters and personalities that constitute this community are as significant as the thousands of pounds of specialist musical equipment on display, comprising hand built guitars and bespoke effects pedals, processors and amplifiers.
Highlights this year included two equipment comparison demonstrations facilitated by Mark Reynolds with Martin Pitcher on guitar. The first of these was a comparison of two phaser and twin treble booster pedalboard configurations built by Mark and Martin. Mark’s setup comprised a genuine first issue Foxx phaser and replica BC149 boosters (single treble booster and treble booster Duplex), Martin’s a bespoke, simplified Foxx style phaser unit built by Nigel Knight (KAT) which was designed to replicate Brian’s own unit as closely as possible also with replica BC149 treble boosters (single treble booster and treble booster Duplex). A third modern re-issue Foxx phaser (which was based on the original late 1970’s 2nd issue Foxx phaser design) and finally a budget, enthusiast-built Foxx style phaser mini pedal owned by Dan Thomas was also demonstrated. Mark and Martin A/B tested their two phasers and illustrated Brian May’s use of two treble boosters (the second booster level set at approx. 9 o’clock) to shape the tonal dynamics of the signal chain to ensure the guitar output cuts through a live performance mix.
Mark and Martin’s second demonstration involved comparing six Deacy style amplifiers in a similar shootout to last year: Iain Angell’s Vox VBM-1 with KAT Dai Ichi DC65-30 speaker modification, Dan Thomas’s KAT Deacy, a Supersonic Doxy pedal made by Manuel Angelini driving a hi-fi speaker cabinet, and lastly a very special DIY Deacy amplifier made by Mark Reynolds using exactly the same speaker cabinet, exactly the same ELAC speakers and exactly the same circuit board repurposed from a period Supersonic PR80 transistor radio as Brian’s own legendary Deacy amp built by John Deacon! This truly awesome labour of love was recently completed by Mark after many years of dedicated research; we were privileged indeed to see and hear it.
A third comparison demonstration of various treble boosters was facilitated by Steve McCulla with Matt Hutchison (basix4) on guitar. The other components in this signal chain were a KAT Brian May style rig and Jonathan Planner’s three Vox AC30C2 amplifiers used by his band, Just Kidding. Jonathan appeared in episode 2 of The Red Special Guitar Podcast on January 15, 2021, hosted by Jon Underhill. Listen here:
My Brian May travel rig (purple Guyton RS Transporter, iRig HD 2 and AmpliTube iPad software) also proved popular. Hopefully this was helped by the two boxes of Cadbury’s chocolates.
Jon read out an exciting announcement from Andy Guyton of Guyton Guitars which you can find on his website blog at the link below:
The house band section later in the afternoon sounded great thanks to the skillful guitar playing of Ben König and his Dansan Red Special replica. He travelled all the way from Frankfurt to attend. Marcus Hunger and his father Ulrich (Ulli) from Stuttgart also returned this year; Ulli reinforced his position as the unofficial meetup photographer.
The videos embedded below illustrate some of the demonstrations mentioned earlier.
Please also check out Matt Hutchison’s YouTube channel where you will find a large number of very informative tutorials on how to play Queen songs. Matt has been a respected member of the Brian May enthusiast community for many years and his precise technique, keen ear, analytical approach and unique sense of humour make his instructional videos without question the best on the internet. It doesn’t really matter (to me) whether you want to nail your tie your mother down, attack a dragon, touch up your sweet lady, or dim the lights and gently play on the heart strings until you have perfected all eight guitar parts of Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy, he’s got it all covered:
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