Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Can I download a copy of your Red Special plans and/or CAD files?
A1. Although I will make plans and 3D CAD files for some of my guitar modification projects available, I will not do this for my Brian May Red Special build project. I have provided a detailed explanation here

Q2. Do you make guitar parts to sell?
A2. I do not make any guitar parts to sell on a commercial basis, I do not sell any branded guitar parts or equipment and I do not trade or sell my own equipment. I have a full time job, I am married with two children and make and modify guitars only as a hobby. It generally takes me a great deal longer to carry out work than a professional luthier since I do not spend all of my leisure time carrying out guitar project work. I try to plan and execute my work to a high quality standard which is itself very time consuming. As you can see in the “Collaborate” section of this website, I have worked on a limited basis with other Brian May enthusiasts who I trusted to complete a collaborative project to a quality both parties could be proud of.

Q3. What are the differences between Tri-Sonic pickup variants and which ones are better?
A3. It would be possible to write a short book on the development history, physical characteristics, sonic nuances and deployment in guitars of Burns Tri-Sonic pickups but I have condensed the salient points into a sub-1,500 word general interest article illustrated with my original photographs and CAD renders at the link below. Although it has a deliberate Brian May bias, it is presently more comprehensive than the Wikipedia entry on the topic.

Q4. What type of pickups were originally fitted to Brian’s Red Special before he fitted the three Burns Tri-Sonics?
A4. Brian originally made his own pickups from Eclipse button magnets, paxolin, melamine and plasticard. Their DC resistance and inductance was much lower than vintage Tri-Sonics. I have written a brief article and recorded a video on these pickups:

Q5. Which treble boosters are most appropriate for achieving Brian May tones?
A5. Although many treble booster effects pedals are available to buy because the basic circuit is relatively straightforward to produce by both professional/commercial and amateur pedal builders, Brian May has only ever used a small selection of treble boosters during his time with Queen and in his solo work. I have written an illustrated article about these with some background information, embedded demonstration videos and further reading links here:

Q6. Where can I get some professional tips on how to play like Brian May?
A6. The page below links to the Lick Library “Learn to Play Queen” instructional videos by Michael Casswell and an article by Simon Bradley for Total Guitar in which Bohemian Rhapsody film coach Dave Colquhoun describes twelve of Brian May’s playing techniques:

Q7. What are the differences in specification between the original Red Special guitar and the BMG Super, KZ Super and BMG Special replicas?
A7. I have compiled a table comparing 45 pieces of information and presented some trivia and two YouTube videos in which Brian talks about the Red Special and its unique design, construction and features at the page below:

Q8. How much is Brian May’s Red Special worth?
A8. In the article below, I address this provocative question from several angles by contrasting quantified estimates with some subjective thoughts:

Further FAQs and answers will appear here in due course and will cover perennial discussion topics of interest to Brian May enthusiasts such as:
Q. What are the different ways of achieving the Brian May tone at home?

The tone is in the signal chain

The playing style is in the fingers and involves at least three elementary motor control functions: timing, sequencing and spatial organisation of motor responses and auditory-motor interactions

Musical ability is in the primary and secondary auditory cortexes except rhythm processing which involves the belt and parabelt regions of the right hemisphere

So you need fast fingers, a musical brain and a suitable signal chain. I hope we cleared up the irritating cliché that “it’s all in the fingers”