Brian May Special Review

manufacturer: Brian May Guitars date: 05/20/2015 category: Electric Guitars
Brian May Guitars: Brian May Special
This is a 2009 made in Korea Brian May Guitar Special. It as 24 frets with a zero fret, 24" scale neck, ebony fingerboard.
 Sound: 9.5
 Overall Impression: 9.5
 Reliability & Durability: 8.8
 Action, Fit & Finish: 8.5
 Features: 9.5
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (4) pictures (7) 22 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.4
Brian May Special Reviewed by: Stuart90, on december 17, 2009
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 465

Purchased from:

Features: This is a 2009 made in Korea Brian May Guitar Red Special in Antique Cherry. It as 24 frets with a zero fret, 24" scale neck, ebony fingerboard. I think its a laminated top, it has a mahogany body with Acoustic chamber and a mahogany neck. The finish is transparent and you can see the wood underneath which is always pretty to look at to me. The body type is kind of a thinner and lighter Les Paul but its built after Brian May's guitar so you should know how that looks. It is fitted with a Wilkinson tremolo bridge with a Brian May custom tremolo arm which works really well. The guitar is fitted with 3 Burns Tri Sonic pick ups with the original Brian May switching system, individual pickup IN/OUT phase plus individual pickup ON/OFF. Master volume and tone, this is my personal favorite on this guitar, you can go from Brian Mays tones, to a Strat to a Les Paul and even to a Tele. The guitar comes with Grover GH305 locking tuners and they work really well, real easy to change strings quick and keeps it in tune, just what you want! I was told by some shops that they don't give a gig bag with the guitar but from dolphinmusic they gave me one for nothing so result! // 10

Sound: This guitar suits my music style great, has I said above it can get you any sound you want. It can cover pop, Indie, classic rock, rock, hard rock, metal at a stretch. Just with metal, some guitars could be better suited for it but this guitar can handle it if need be. I'm using a Vox VT15 but I've owned a number of guitars with this amp from a Peavey Wolfgang, Ibanez RG350, Epiphone Les Paul Standard and Custom, Parker P42 and so far this Brian May guitar as got to be my favorite. People say these guitars don't work well with Marshall amps but I just think they were only after Brian May's sound as these guitars sound beautiful through a Marshall. Only effect I use through this is a Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi, I'm not that big on effects really. The guitar can get noisy if you have 2 pick ups on and 1 of them out of phase but I think thats just the nature of the guitar as it makes the notes really scream. The guitar can give you rich, full, bright and any other sound you want. You really have to try one out and play with the pick up switches to believe it. Theres so much variety, especially for the money I paid for it. It is now my number 1 guitar thanks to this. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was set up really well when it arrived here, had no problems with pick ups so far but only flaw I have found is on the back of the guitar where the binding looks to have been knocked in and the guitar is left exposed abit thanks to it being pushed in but that is the only problem with it. // 8

Reliability & Durability: I haven't played Live with it yet but I am hoping to soon. I am guessing it will withstand playing live though. The hardware will last for years and years, no problems with that. The strap buttons are solid but alot of people will get them replaced anyway though. I would depend on this guitar and use it without a back up but then again its best to be on the safe side and have a back up. The finish is really nice and I think over the years the finish will wear thin but I think its meant to have that look abit. // 9

Overall Impression: I play rock mainly like The Darkness, Queen, Stone Gods, CKY, HIM, anything in between and this guitar suits that music very well. I've been playing for about 5 years or so now and I own a Parker P42, Peavey Wolfgang Special, Ibanez RG350, Epiphone Les Paul Standard, BC Rich Flying V (unknown model) and this guitar, I really am thinking of selling some of my guitars now because I no longer have no use for them. Really am thinking of buying another Red Special but in a different colour. Best thing with this guitar is try to get a case/gig bag thrown in with it. Otherwise your have to buy one online. If it was stolen then I would definatly buy another one. I just love the feel of the guitar, the weight, the neck, etc. One thing I do hate is the Wilkinson Strat style tremolo unit as I'm not a big fan of the Strat style tremolos but then again it works well so can't complain really. My favorite thing as to be the pick ups and pick up system and the neck of the guitar. I tried a number of Strats and Teles in the guitar shop near me but I decided to get this guitar over them because I'm a fan of the Les Paul and Strats, this guitar could get me a sound thats close to them and have its own to experiment with. I played it in the shop then shopped online to see if I could get it cheaper, abit of a gamble but this time it paid off really haha. // 10

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overall: 10
Brian May Special Reviewed by: lespaul1963, on january 11, 2011
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 549

Purchased from: House Music London

Features: I recently purchased a 2010 Brian May Red Special guitar. I was fond of the Trans Green color and could not find one here in the States, so I contacted the distributor, House Music in London, and purchased one directly from them. The guitar is of Korean manufacture. Here are the specs. Specifications: > Mahogany body (with Acoustic chamber) with Pinstripe binding > New two-piece scratch plate > Mahogany neck > 24" scale (Depth: 22mm at 1st fret ... 24mm at 12th fret) > 24 fret - ebony fingerboard (width 45mm at 0 fret ... 57mm at 24th fret) > Grover GH305 locking tuners > Dual truss rod > Graphite nut > New bridge & Brass saddles > BM Custom tremolo arm > 3 x Burns Tri-Sonic pickups (series wired) > Master Volume & Tone controls > Original BM switching system > Individual pickup IN/OUT phase plus Individual pickup ON/OFF The finish is a transparent forest green. The instrument has white body binding and a black pickguard. The body shape is sort of an asymmetrical Les Paul DC, although larger than the Gibson model. It is chambered, well balanced and very comfortable to wear either sitting or standing. The guitar shipped with a cable, tool kit, a really nice gig bag and received a Stellar set-up prior to shipping. In fact, it arrived at my home still in tune and gig-ready right out of the box. The guitar has a zero nut and a wider neck than any Fender or Gibson that I have played and the neck thick enough to grab a hold of and really dig in with the fretting hand. Single note bends, arpeggios, double and triple stops and chording are a breeze. I would characterize the frets as of a Vintage style. The fret work was amazing...very comfortable with no sharp ends, rough or high spots. The nut was cut and filed to perfection. The tonal options are manifold. For reference, I played through my Fender Super Champ, my Mesa Trans-Atlantic, my Marshall Vintage Modern and my Eleven Rack/Pro Tools recording set-up. The entire gamut from Strat and Les Paul tones as well as something I can only describe as reminiscent of a Rick 360 are available. There are a few tones that I would characterize as peculiar to this model alone also. A few of the tones are on the dark side but still usable. But hey, there are so many to choose from, I believe most any guitar player, minimally, will find at least four or five to their liking. Very versatile. Just for giggles, I put a treble booster in the signal path and Wow! I can see why Mr. May uses one in his rig. The guitar doesn't need it, but it was like putting a blower on a small block Chevy engine. The Wilkinson bridge, graphite nut and the Grover locking tuners add up to a very stable non-locking trem system. In fact the stability is only beat by my Ibanez JS2400. The older Guild-made version of this guitar is a mere shadow in comparison. This guitar is a quality piece of workmanship and all for about $900 USD. I realize that this is more than buying it from someone like Musician's Friend, but realize that I had to pay to have this shipped and imported into the States; plus the instrument received a Stellar set-up prior to shipping. The vendor, House Music, is the worldwide distributor. They are also an independent shop and so there are little niceties (tangible and intangible) that I would never expect from a big box store. For me, the price difference is worth it. I'm a middle-aged old fart who has been playing for about 30 years. Stylistically, I play rock from the 50's to current, blues, blues-based rock, country, some jazz and metal/hard rock (mostly the older stuff from the 70's and 80's). I can do all of the above with this guitar. If EMG pickup equipped, drop tuning with gobs of gain is your forte, then get an ESP or a Dean. My criteria for any guitar is based on (in this order) how it sounds acoustically and amplified, how it plays/feels and is it aesthetically pleasing. The Brian May Red Special (and yes, I know mine is green...get yourself a red one if that is what makes it for you) is a Stellar instrument in all respects. I would put it as good if not better than what Fender, Gibson and PRS are putting out in the two to three thousand dollar range, plus it is more versatile than anything offered by the aforementioned three in the $2k-3k range. This will be my go-to guitar for recording and most gigs in the foreseeable future. // 10

Sound: As I stated in the body of my review, the guitar fits my style(s) to a T. I have run it through my Fender Super Champ, my Mesa Trans-Atlantic, my Marshall Vintage Modern and my Eleven Rack/Pro Tools recording set-up. I have used a Treble Booster and an Eleven Rack, effects wise. The single coil pickups are reasonably quiet for what they are and using the phase switches appropriately eliminates the noise. Please see my comments in the body for the various tomes available. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: Set-up, fit and finish are essentially perfect. Again, see the body of my review. The bookmatching is flawless. The hardware is solid and clean. I have no idea what the factory set-up was like. The set-up that the guitar arrived with was done at House Music. That's one of the reasons why I bought it from them as opposed to a big box store. Nothing beats the quality of things like a well-executed set-up that an independent musical instrument seller can offer. // 10

Reliability & Durability: The guitar is solidly built. It fell of the stand at the last gig and was still in tune with no damage as far as I can tell. As a matter of habit, I put a set of Dunlop strap locks on it, although the stock buttons were more than adequate. The finish appears to be quite durable. I've gigged long enough to know better than to go without a back-up. You never know what might happen in some of the places I've played. I'd have to bring at least two back-ups to cover the tonal range of this guitar. From a durability standpoint, however, I would not expect the guitar to fail. // 10

Overall Impression: Please see the body of the review. I currently own Fenders, Gibsons, Epiphones, Rickenbackers, Ibnezes, a Dean and a 12-string Danelectro. I have no regrets from my pre-purchase research and if this guitar went away, of course I would replace it. See the body of the review for my comments of what I hate/love. My favorite feature are the tones available from the stock pick-ups with the versatile switching system. I only compared this with an older, used Guild version vs. The Current Red Special. This guitar is in a class of it's own. There's really nothing else out there like it. I can't think if anything else that I wish it had. // 10

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overall: 7.8
Brian May Special Reviewed by: BillyFrenzy, on may 04, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 549

Purchased from: Guitar Guitar, UK

Features: 2012 Korean copy of the great man's guitar, with a few mods to make it affordable. Mine is in white (well, more of a cream colour actually), as I couldn't bring myself to front it up with the full colour copy. Scratchplate and truss-rod cover in Tortoise-shell. Burns Tri-sonic pickups in chrome finish, Wilkinson trem and Grover tuners make up a pretty good hardware pack. It's also got the Brian May on/off in/out phase switching system. I'll be changing the switches and control knobs as soon as poss, as they are cheap-looking and let the finish down a bit on an otherwise great looking piece of kit. // 8

Sound: I'm using it with a Vox AD50VT on basic settings, with all the effects backed off, and letting the guitar do the work. The only effects I've used so far are a little chorus and delay, and that really ups the ante. The switching system gives you access to a really wide range of sounds, from twangy and bright to gutsy humbucker. You can also find lots of the signature sounds from Queen songs, too. And lets face it - that's why you're buying it! Yes you are - you know you are! // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: It hadn't been set up at all when it arrived, which was particularly disappointing as it took the Brian May people 8 MONTHS to deliver it (due to the colour), and the setup took me bloody ages to get right! However, now that the action is sorted, the guitar plays beautifully. The neck profile is nice and thin, but the fretboard itself is a clean, wide comfortable place to be. The nut is far from the best I've seen, which leads to a "ping" at the zero fret when bending the G string, but I plan to replace that soon, too. // 7

Reliability & Durability: The hardware is good quality for the price and I have no concerns at all in terms of durability. As with my other guitars, I'll be fitting Schaller Strap-locks. The standard strap buttons are a bit small to give me any degree of confidence. And as already mentioned, the switches, control knobs and nut will be going too. // 8

Overall Impression: Overall, setting aside the nonsensical delivery time (seems that they have trouble with anything other than the antique red finish) and the very poor service from House Music, this is a really nice guitar. It ticks all the boxes in terms of playability and tone. I found my style changing a little to get the best out of it, but hey, that not a bad thing. The switching system is a great feature and you have to admit that it's a real looker! // 8

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overall: 9.4
Brian May Special Reviewed by: EthanCowley, on may 20, 2015
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: eBay

Features: If you didn't buy this guitar because you're a massive Queen fan, you brought it for the "famous" three pickup selection phase thing. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a massive Queen fan but after buying this guitar I've been getting into way more music than Queen and classic rock stuff. You really need to sit down with this guitar and play with the different sounds for like an hour to see what fits you and your style of playing. There are tons of pickup and phase selection combinations, meaning there are some great sounds. I'm going to eventually make a video on it for YouTube but you can make it sound like a Strat (just neck pickup), Les Paul (bottom two pickups in phase), 335 (top pickup with tone knob rolled all the way off) and more. Other stuff would be the lovely padded gig bag, the Grover locking tuners, the semi hollow body (nice and light) and the 24 frets with very easy access. // 10

Sound: Like discussed above, it can sound like many guitars and of course, Brian May's Red Special. If you have the right gear (a Vox amp or similar and a treble booster) you can really get the rich sound Brian May gets from his Old Lady. I'll list some sound combinations for those who have one: strat - neck pickup out of phase; Les Paul - bottom two pickups in phase; 335/hollow body - neck pickup in phase with tone rolled all the way down; lovely creamy clean - all pickups on and in phase; scream distortion - top two pickups, one in phase and one not // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: The setup could have been better. The strap buttons where lose (easily fixed) and the action was to high (another easy fix). Funny story actually, when me and my mate un-boxed it (after a month of waiting for the delivery) it was very badly tuned, so when I got up to bust out some Queen licks it sounded awful. It also came with some strings on it (obviously) and a spare set of 9s. I quickly chucked some Ernie Ball Super Slinky's on it but still free strings. The pickups where also too high up to the strings but theirs two screws on the side of the pickups to fix that. // 9

Reliability & Durability: This guitar is one solid mofo. I've smashed the head-stock several times and haven't gotten anything in return. Yes it will survive a gig and the finish hasn't had any problems (I live near the ocean so you'd think the salt would damage it). The screws and bridge have some rust but that's just my sweat and wear. Now a big problem is with the zero fret. My guitar strings have bad groves into it and it tings when it comes in and out of the groves. I'm going to sandpaper it next time I change the strings and the pickups don't seem to pick it up (but hey the original Red Special has a zero fret and it is a replica). // 8

Overall Impression: No matter what you play this guitar is for you. With the variety of sounds from this its fit to suit anyone. I've been playing for about 3 years and play a large variety of music, ranging from grunge to pop to hard rock and classic rock. I run it through a Vox (of course) but also own a Epiphone Les Paul, a Fender Amp and a Fender Acoustic (plus my pedals). And on top of all this it looks like a dream lol. If it where stolen I wouldn't be able to afford a new one but if I could I would definitely but a new one. Thanks for reading :) // 10

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