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#1
I'm fascinated by the Brian May tone, and I want to upgrade my pickups to come closer to that sound. I want go upgrade to Seymour Duncan pickups, so here's my question: What Seymour Duncan (bridge humbucker) pickup do you recommend for the BM tone?

I use an esp ltd EC-10 mith a basswood body, a maple neck and a rosewood fretboard
my budget is around 130 dollars
Last edited by jackswift321 at May 20, 2014,
#2
umm.. Brian May uses single coil pickups for starters. much of brian's sound is in his amps and fx. smooth trebly distortion from Vox AC series amps and a chorus sound.
#3
That tone is way more about an AC30 style amp and a treble boost than the pickups. What amp and pedals are you using?
#4
What amp do you have?

That is the first thing to think about when trying to perfect your tone. Changing pickups comes last.
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#5
A little bit of phaser never goes amiss either
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#7
Brian May's famous "Red Special" was fitted with Burns Tri-Sonic single coil pickups, which are no longer made. A few companies have made pretty good knock-offs of the original Burns, with Adeson Fenton Weill being one of the better ones:

http://www.adeson.co.uk/Classic.html

DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan both made a "Brian May" pickup, though I do not know if either is still being made.

As others have said, May's signature tone is very much due to his use of Vox AC30 amps (with those fantastic Celestion Blue speakers) and a treble booster. May is also legendary for his use of multiple layering of his guitar tracks in the studio. In short; there is a lot going on with May's signature guitar tone. The man definitely knows what he is doing, and he is a tough act to follow.
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#8
Brian May owns a guitar company that sells replicas of his guitars. Save up and buy one of those. That and an AC-30.
#9
Quote by jackswift321
I'm fascinated by the Brian May tone, and I want to upgrade my pickups to come closer to that sound. I want go upgrade to Seymour Duncan pickups, so here's my question: What Seymour Duncan (bridge humbucker) pickup do you recommend for the BM tone?

I use an esp ltd EC-10 mith a basswood body, a maple neck and a rosewood fretboard
my budget is around 130 dollars


Brian is also working with phasing (throwing pickups out of phase) in the switching he has on that guitar. Here's a look at the phase switching, the amp setup, the treble boost:

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#10
I use a vox ac30 replica and a treblebooster but I just can't afford a BM guitar atm. building one is not going to be an option. but what humbucker pup do you recommend? perhaps a brighter sounding one because Brian uses singlecoils?
#11
Honestly, if you're serious about chasing his tone, trying to do so with HBs is going to be about as successful as the charge of the Light Brigade.

A new Brian May costs @$800. A pair of new pickups- depending on which you buy- can cost between 1/10 to 1/3 of that.

But spending that lesser amount NOW won't really get you that tone, even with a good coil split. Instead, you'll probably wind up unsatisfied with the results and wind up buying a guitar with singlecoils after experimenting with the HBs.

I say this as a huge Brian May fan with a bunch of guitars, including ones that sound good with coil splitting and actual singlecoils: just be patient, save your money, and buy a Brian May or other singlecoil guitar.
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz at May 21, 2014,
#12
How about getting hold of a S S S guitar, some kind of super strat... wander down the local electrical parts store and get a soldering iron and some solder, a couple of feet of wire, 6 dpdt on/on toggle switchs, borrow a cordless drill to make the holes for the switches and have a go at the Brian May mod. The results, although not exactly the same as the original, are halfway similar. One other thing that hasnt come up here is that Brian dimes his AC30's. Theyre not at 12 oclock or anything silly like that, theyre set at 11. Also he has been using modified ac30's as well, I think there may be some standard ones as spare (he usually has 9 amps, in 3 rows of 3... one row is working, the others are spare). There is a very good rig rundown video on youtube with Pete Malandrone, Id recommend that you watch that as well to get a better idea of the signal path etc. Its nowhere near as complicated as the rest of these guys will tell you it is. One last comment is that I seriously doubt you will get close to the sound using a humbucker. You might get lucky and jag something somewhere within the realm but you for sure won't nail it. Good luck.
#13
well if you have a vox and a treble booster, then get your humbucker guitar wired for coil splitting and out of phase. that can help get you closer for not a lot of money.

then, learn to play like him. thats a lot harder. with your setup, new wiring, and good playing you will pull it off respectably. your not going to duplicate it exactly. dont try.
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#14
if you insist on sticking with your guitar then try SD P-rails they do humbucking, single coils and P-90 sounds. there is also a Brian May in a pedal that was made by Dunlop I believe.
#15
I know the signal chain of the BM rig. buying that pedal is not an option because I live in the Netherlands. so they won't ship to my country
#16
also if I would instal a phase switch or something like that i would have to drill a hole in my guitar. i don't want to damage my guitar's finish
#17
Quote by jackswift321
also if I would instal a phase switch or something like that i would have to drill a hole in my guitar. i don't want to damage my guitar's finish


Oferpetesake.

You have an under-$200 guitar.
How much, exactly, do you think you will devalue your guitar's resale by putting a miniswitch on it? Put a dollar value on it. You're willing to spend WAY more than that to put a set of pickups on it that won't get the job done!

That finish is not sacrosanct.
A good tech can put in miniswitches and they'll look factory.


The guitar below is a Carvin. It's a 1989 model and it's *still* worth way more than your guitar will ever be. It's routine to see this configuration on a Carvin; it includes a pair of miniswitches that select single coil mode for the humbucking pickups (do this on a push-pull if you're squeamish) and one that puts the two pickups out of phase. You can also put this on a push-pull if you need to. Same deal with the steenkeeng treble boost.

Last edited by dspellman at May 21, 2014,
#18
Also worth noting: a fair few of the recorded tones for Queen come from him using the "Deacy" amp that John Deacon built. Good luck replicating that.
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#19
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Also worth noting: a fair few of the recorded tones for Queen come from him using the "Deacy" amp that John Deacon built. Good luck replicating that.


You can buy those: http://www.deacyamp.com
#20
Don't forget to use an old 6 pence coin(or any similar size coin) instead of a pick!That plays a huge part in his attack.
#21
Quote by jpnyc
You can buy those: http://www.deacyamp.com


Huh, did not know that... well TS isn't going to be shelling out for that either anyway so that makes bugger all difference
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#24
If I were to put a switch on my guitar I would have little to no wiring space to work with
#25
no you wouldnt. you would need to replace your volume knob / pot with a push pull pot. you would just pop it out for the phase it would be entirely clean with no perminent modifications or visible changes.

...my carvin CT series is in the shop having that done right now. the CT series doesnt have the mini switches standard (unless a custom work, non re fundable order)...so i kinda had to do it on my own accord.

long story short, no man is drilling into the top of that sexy carved flame maple top. solution is a push pull pot.
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#27
no not like that the cavity the wiring is fitted in is extremely small. the standard controls barely fit in
#28
about the chorus brian may tone. what settings do you guys recommend on a boss ce-5 pedal?
#29
Quote by ikey_


long story short, no man is drilling into the top of that sexy carved flame maple top. solution is a push pull pot.


I understand the sentiment. In general, I don't care for push-pulls.

It's difficult to tell at a glance (or a touch) if it's activated or not
I've lost a knob into the audience (it was returned to me) on a vigorous "pull"
It's easy to accidentally change the setting when you pull
It's easy to miss making the switch when you're sweaty and the knob is smooth
#30
Very similar, but they also make a push-push pot. I have one on a custom guitar, and it solves all those issues, except maybe whether you notice it's activated.
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Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#31
Quote by jackswift321
no not like that the cavity the wiring is fitted in is extremely small. the standard controls barely fit in


Depending on what you want to add to your guitar, you may want to have your local friendly guitar tweaker enlarge the space or rout you a new one.

I added a lot of electronics to a couple of my guitars (including one $4K Gibson Axcess Custom) that required some serious cutting and chopping. The back of the guitar looks like a checkerboard with all the coverplates. The difference in the front of the guitar is much more subtle.





What's apparent on the front of the guitar are the two switches to the right of the Floyd in that bottom picture, and the black dot above them.

The "black dot" is a Buckethead-style kill switch. There's a Fernandes Sustainer (those two switches are controls) and a battery box for it installed in the back. The controls (well, one of them) have been moved and changed. There's now a master volume, master tone, a Sustainer Intensity pot and a Chandler Tone-X on a push-pull (the battery for that is in the control cavity). If you look carefully, there's a sustainer driver in the neck pickup spot, alongside a DiMarzio Fast Track II, and a standard hot (9.2kohm) '57 in the bridge position. Since the photo was taken, the Floyd was swapped for an OFR (German) with a larger brass sustain block, the pickup selector switch tip was swapped for an amber version, and the "poker chip" switch plate is now black and says "Bitch/Moan."
#32
Quote by jackswift321
about the chorus brian may tone. what settings do you guys recommend on a boss ce-5 pedal?


your best bet is to experiment with it. realistically you would need 2 amps to really get the sound as that is also a big part of brains sound. in the old days he used 3-4 amps all slightly delayed to get his sound. since that is not an option I'd pick a song with an overall all tone you like and try to find the delay time that works best for it.
#33
ok. i want to wire my humbuckers like brian has wired them on his guitar what wiring diagram should i use?
#34
i don't want any new switches on my guitar i just want to have the pups wired in series and I want to use a push pull pot for phasing
#35
this might be a little off topic but I'm gonna buy a tc electronic flashback mini because I want to do the delay thing Brian May does. what settings do you recommend for the delay pedal?
#36
Quote by jackswift321
this might be a little off topic but I'm gonna buy a tc electronic flashback mini because I want to do the delay thing Brian May does. what settings do you recommend for the delay pedal?

the delay thing that brian does requires more than one amp. if you just have one amp I'd try a chorus pedal. keep in mind that while you may get something similar to brains tone without a bunch of gear it will be very hard to replicate it.
#37
Quote by dannyalcatraz
Very similar, but they also make a push-push pot. I have one on a custom guitar, and it solves all those issues, except maybe whether you notice it's activated.


I've got push-push pots on the SG2000. They need to stick up farther than a standard pot in order to have room for them to be pushed to activate, and over the years they've been a bit fragile, depending on their year of manufacture (even within the same company). Mine have worked flawlessly, but there are owners of the same guitar who've asked if I've ever actually used them, given THEIR issues with the pots.

I'm not sure when miniswitches started showing up on guitars (though I'll bet that the boys from Alembic were early to that party), but I've got them on guitars dating back to the mid-70's, and they've been dead reliable.
#38
I haven't had any issues with my push-push pots, so far.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
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