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.”
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 have created a new website section to cover musical equipment, including amplifiers and effects. The first article for it covers the story of how I acquired a classic JMI era copper top Vox AC30/6 with some history and provenance. I have included a review of the top three publications on the subject including the bible for Vox Amplifiers compiled by Jim Elyea who runs the History For Hire prop rental company in Hollywood.
Knight Audio Technologies (KAT) has developed a “drop-in” speaker upgrade for the popular, discontinued Vox VBM-1 Brian May Special amplifier. It costs £35.00 + shipping direct. An alternative upgrade option which some people have carried out involves buying a Dai Ichi brand DC65-30 speaker (still available from Wagner Online in Australia at the time of writing) and fitting a 390 microH 1.3A ELC16B radial inductor (choke), RS part no. 6755576 and a 2.2 microF capacitor, RS part no. 7270473.
However, this original option is ultimately more expensive and involves soldering. Check out the product on the KAT website and view the straightforward installation video on Nigel’s YouTube channel.
“This is a brand new speaker/filter combination enabling VBM-1 users and Deacy Amplifier-style project builders to get their amps closer in tone to the real Deacy Amp.
The KAT DSP 6.5 TC has been developed primarily as a replacement for the Celestion G6 unit that is sadly no longer in production. It has an on-board filter network that tailors the frequency response to give the full-bodied mid range tones of the real Deacy but without the HF ‘fizz’ that seems to dominate most 6.5″ twin-cone drivers.
A by-product of this development was the realisation that this unit could be dropped straight into the Vox VBM-1 giving immediate results. The Vox VBM-1 is a great amplifier, but, it is a little let-down by its stock speaker unit that tends to suck-out the precious mid range tones and enhance the unwanted high frequency ‘fizz’. The KAT DSP 6.5 TC is a straight swap-out with the stock VBM-1 unit with no soldering required to undertake the works. Just 11 screws and 6 minutes will have the works completed and the tone of the amplifier improved many-fold!
The KAT DSP 6.5 TC can also be used in your own Deacy amplifier-style projects to give your amplifier that great Deacy ‘honk’!”