Launched in 2003 and retailing at US$199/£149, the Vox VBM-1 Brian May Special amplifier remains a popular choice for guitarists seeking to replicate Brian May’s signature tones at low volumes and on a limited budget despite being discontinued in 2005. It was designed to fulfil a specific purpose: to replicate the distinctive sounds of the legendary Deacy amp. Check out my latest musical equipment section article on this unit:
I cover some background information and restrict the discussion to three treble booster variants related to Brian May and Queen, the current 3-in-1 BMG Treble Booster Classic unit developed by Nigel Knight of Knight Audio Technologies for retail by Brian May Guitars, Brian’s KAT RED-18 strap-mounted treble booster and the Fryer Sound colour series (TB Touring, TB Plus, TB Super and TB Deluxe). There are embedded videos from Jamie Humphries demonstrating the Fryer treble boosters for Guitar Interactive and Frank Campese demonstrating the 70s setting of the BMG TB Classic.
The fourth article for my musical equipment section covers the DigiTech Brian May Red Special pedal. It contains original photographs and PDF user manuals of this, and the other two DigiTech Artist’s Series pedals (Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton Crossroads), some additional photographs of the rack mounted version of this pedal that Nigel Knight built into Brian May’s back-up, touring and guesting rig, and an embedded demonstration video by Frank Campese.
The second article on the musical equipment section of this website contains some information on the replica Foxx phaser unit made by U.K. effects pedal builder, Nick James. It includes embedded links to two review videos, one from the U.K. 2019 enthusiast meet and one from Italian Queen tribute band guitarist, Marco G. di Marco. Check it out here:
Thanks to Dan at http://www.mybadges.co.uk/ in Southampton, U.K. for these lovely purple celluloid metallic hot foil printed custom guitar picks. I have had a passing interest in graphic design since school, having studied art at GCSE level so launching this website offered the perfect opportunity to design a distinctive and meaningful logotype for myself. This is not as straightforward as it seems but it was the first activity I engaged in after registering the domain name with WordPress in October 2020.
My original idea was to use a simple circular theme to suggest an acoustic guitar sound hole and the decorative ring that usually adorns it. I also wanted to suggest guitar strings somehow so I selected a rounded, bold sans serif typeface that would work well with the circular theme and lend itself well to the filled double outline style. I realised that if I used the lower case four letter abbreviation for Doug Short Guitar Blog, the letters “d” and “b” would confer some symmetry on the logotype. Given that the letters “g” and “b” also represent Great Britain (U.K.) where I am based, I hoped that the overall appearance would evoke the roundel style thematic element used on the most iconic urban transportation system in the world, the London Underground.
I chose the colour simply because I find a wide range of hues on the purple part of the visible spectrum to be the most appealing. I actually prefer lilacs but not many objects (including clothes, cars, guitars, walls in your home) look tasteful in those hues!
The initial scoping was done using the excellent software utility Logo Design Studio Pro from SummitSoft. I then transferred to TurboCAD to design simplified and negative variants of the logotype for scaled down applications such as printing onto small items and for internet avatars. Although the simplified “white-on-purple” design loses the double-outlined suggestion of guitar strings element, I now prefer the boldness and simplicity of it to the original.
I recently completed assembly and wiring of a replacement pickguard for my 2012 Fender American Standard Stratocaster pending arrival of an EMG DG20 loaded pickguard in early February when new stock arrives. I converted it in 2018 to Brian May specification and you can read about that project here: https://dsgb.net/projects/maycaster/
I recorded some parts of the process and compiled the embedded video below which has sections speeded up either 4x or 8x. It is intended for curiosity value only and not instructional purposes because there are many detailed videos with commentary on Youtube to show you the various methods of wiring a Strat pickguard. The components I used are as follows:
genuine Fender 11 hole modern style White Moto pickguard for three single coil pickups
Oak Grigsby 5-way blade switch
Three Fender supplied CTS 250 kOhm log/audio taper potentiometers measuring 202, 220 and 259 kOhm
Vintage specification single coil pickups hand made by Ade Turner of Adeson Fenton Weill in Burbage, Wiltshire, U.K. DC resistances 6.29, 6.30 and 6.31 kOhm, inductances 2.20, 2.34 and 2.26 H
22 nF tone capacitor supplied with the pots instead of the standard 47 nF variant.
What did you all get for Christmas? I got a number of genuine Fender parts, Adeson vintage single coil pickups and a Jamie Humphries instructional DVD from the excellent Lick Library series. I intend to return my red Strat to original Fender specification as I prepare to put Brian May guitars and gear on the shelf and move in a new direction in 2021. I got into Pink Floyd in my first year at Durham University in 1992 when my then room-mate Phil Malone at Grey College played The Wall constantly. I listened to Brit Floyd and The Australian Pink Floyd Show (TAPFS) a lot recently while developing this web site.
It goes without saying that David Gilmour is revered amongst guitar players for his unique sounds which, unlike Brian May tones, are surprisingly challenging to nail down at home. I have ordered an EMG DG20 loaded pickguard from Andertons which is due back in stock at the end of January 2021 but this standard Fender Stratocaster outfit will do the job along with RAT 2 and Big Muff Pi distortion pedals and a TC Electronic G-Major 2 effects unit. Nigel Knight has built himself a custom KAT-DG HiWatt 50 Special amplifier with Fane Crescendo speakers and is willing to explore a lower-powered custom HiWatt project for chasing Gilmour tones at home… unless I splash out on a HiWatt Little Rig DR20/0.5 first! Check out the details on his website:
The 2020 Brian May Red Special collectable sixpences were available on the Queen online store at £9.99 each but have already sold out. While browsing eBay recently I found the new ones already being offered for sale at highly inflated prices. Thankfully they were still in stock on the Queen online store at that point. I hope you managed to get one if you are a genuine fan and collect them. I’ve bought a few of each at RRP from the official store since the anniversary 2014 edition was released but I had to pay eBay prices for a 2015 Queen + Adam Lambert tour sixpence. The 2015 tour was the first time that I saw Queen live but I now regret not buying a collectable sixpence from the merchandise store.