The 2023 US Brian May Red Special enthusiast meet-up is happening on Saturday, 29 April at the Linger Longer Lounge, 6522 N 16th Street #6, Phoenix, AZ 85016. Organized once more by Luke Holwerda, it will build on the success of the 2022 event with more space at the venue and more equipment to see, hear and test out. The entry fee is US$25 which includes a unique commemorative sixpence coin, name badge and meal.
Launched in April 2023, Brian May and Vox amplification have collaborated to make his iconic tone accessible to all with a new amPlug guitar headphone amplifier at £54.99 and MV50 portable amplifier head unit at £259.
Two special edition sets are available consisting of the amPlug set at £149 and MV50 set at £419.
The amPlug Brian May weighs in at only 40 grams and features a range of Queen backing rhythms, including the We Will Rock You stomps and claps. A Brighton Rock setting with tap tempo recreates Brian’s distinctive twin delay canon effect while the phaser accesses the tone heard on Keep Yourself Alive. Finally, there is a stereo chorus for lush go-to Brian May tones.
The amPlug and accompanying speaker (itself weighing only 260 grams) form a mini half-stack if the guitar is plugged in via a standard jack cable. Alternatively the amPlug can be used as a headphone amplifier, compatible with any set of standard headphones with a 3.5 mm jack. Using two AAA batteries, the amPlug Brian May has up to 15 hours of battery life (accompanying cabinet up to 12 hours with 9V battery).
MV50 Amplifier Head and Cabinet Set
With a combined weight of less than 5 kg (head 540 g, cabinet 3.9 kg), the MV50 Brian May is based on the MV50 circuitry and AC30 tone, but with the addition of a KAT (Knight Audio Technologies) treble booster which can be switched in or out of circuit. The control panel features gain, tone and volume controls and an EQ switch that can be switched between “flat” for larger speaker cabinets and “deep” for smaller cabinets. When combined with its matching speaker cabinet, the MV50 produces a 25 W output at 8 Ohms. The MV50 Brian May’s headphone/line out also features speaker emulation, offering the option of recording directly from the amp head without needing to mic up the cabinet.
“It’s perfect for any smaller show, and if you want to put a mic in front of it, it’ll do for your big gigs as well. I wouldn’t mind going on some future stadium gig and seeing how this shapes up.”
As the year comes to a close, we learn that Dr Brian Harold May, C.B.E., musician, songwriter and animal welfare advocate has received a richly deserved knighthood in the New Year honours list for services to music and charity and becomes Dr Sir Brian Harold May C.B.E. The full citation is included below.
I would like to thank you for supporting Doug Short Guitar Blog by visting this website, watching my YouTube videos and subscribing to my YouTube channel. I have produced 17 videos this year to augment the traditional words and pictures style of dsgb.net and present Brian May guitar and equipment related content via a more engaging medium. Most of these have been technically challenging to produce and some (BHMOHM and Tri-Sonic pick-ups, Deacy amp for example) have required investment amounting to a few hundred pounds on top of the US$100 per annum cost of keeping dsgb.net on line so please help me sustain this endeavour by liking and subscribing. I will consider an equipment giveaway if you can help me reach and maintain the 1,000 subscriber/4,000 watch hours milestone to join the YouTube Partner Programme (YPP). I have also populated my Pinterest and Instagram accounts with photographs from project activities and events I attended so please check them out too.
Looking at the year in numbers, dsgb.net has been on line for two years and had 16,650 visitors and 95,500 views in 2022 representing 48% and 92% increases respectively over calendar year 2021. I am very pleased with this growth for what is a niche interest website. My YouTube channel has grown from 360 to 791 subscribers enjoying 125,227 views and 4,319 watch hours. After a much-needed seasonal break from my main line of work developing and delivering simulator training at EDF Energy’s Torness nuclear power plant, the main challenges for 2023 are to first complete the series of three videos on building a Deacy amp replica and then realise other ideas to give fresh insights into, and inspire others to start their own Brian May related guitar and equipment projects.
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.