Brian May Signature Review

manufacturer: Burns USA date: 01/25/2007 category: Electric Guitars
Burns USA: Brian May Signature
The Brian May Signature guitar delivers incredible replication of the Red Special's resonance and sound quality. The three Burns Tri-sonic pickups wired in series, handmade to the original design, deliver the punch, bite, and clarity you've always wanted.
 Sound: 9.5
 Overall Impression: 8.5
 Reliability & Durability: 9
 Action, Fit & Finish: 6
 Features: 9
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reviews (2) 12 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8
Brian May Signature Reviewed by: The Great Stonk, on july 04, 2005
6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 823.5

Purchased from: Fair Deal

Features: The Burns Brian May is basically a mass produced version of the infamous Red Special, with an all mahogony construction, ebony fingerboard, 24 medium frets, grover locking tuners, 3 trisonic single coils - each with on off switches and phase reversal switches, volume and tone. The bridge is a basic Strat style dual pivot unit, unlike the red specials unit which is unique. The guitar also features an internal acoustic chamber of similar dimensions to the original. The neck is also fitted with a bi-directional truss rod, this is due to the unusual neck construction (hardwood fretboard over softwood neck) which can cause problems with the neck bowing into the strings, a very wise feature. No case came with it either might I add, although you can get a specific case with the burns brian may logo on it, it is only a semi hard case and I've heard a lot of base things about them. I was told that hiscox make a specific case for it to order for 90, so I decided to invest in one, well worth the money. The trem unit is worth a mention too, a standard 2 pivot Strat unit on the body, grover locking tuners and a zero fret, the nut only serves to space the strings the open strings are actually fretted over the zero fret by the tuners, when set up properly its almost as effective as a floyd rose, I can trem dive all I like and it will reliably return to pitch, its also very sensitive, every little tap on the bar is heard, great for vibrato. // 8

Sound: The switching system on the brian may allows for a very vast range of sounds, with the freedom to turn pickups on and off and Switch phases individually gives you (I think) 16 different pickup/phase combinations. I use the brian may through a Marshall MG100DFX, this is not a good choice of amp for this guitar, and I often struggle to get a good sound, although I can get a large range of sounds, non of them are particulary good through this Marshall. However I have had many oportunities to play through other amps and I have to say it does sound good and can pull off almost any sound/style, your choice of amp is very imortant when considering this guitar (be sure to try it out through your amp, or a similar amp to yours before you buy). As for specific settings - there are too many to go into in detail, your basic middle and bridge in phase will cover most things, very harsh sounds can be achieved through various out of phase combinations, and silky smooth bell like tones are easily atainable via the neck pickup. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: When the guitar came to me it was somwhat setup, strung with 9's, the action was nice and low, but the intonation was way way out, and the trem was in no way set up (lifting towards the neck, not enough tension) a little work myself, and then after a seeing to by a proper guitar tech it plays sweet as a nut. One thing of note is that although it's a 24 fret neck, it's also a very short neck, with a short (24") scale length which in my case took alot of getting used to having come from only playing strats strung with 10's. I'm planning on upping the guage to 10's since currently with 9's the instrument feels too lose, without enough string tension to feel what the guitar is doing while your playing (at least for my taste, Brian only uses 08's) The neck is also wide, closer to acoustic then your average electric which is another thing that takes getting used to, but if like me, you have a habit of fouling other strings when finger picking or bending then this extra width and spacing can help a great deal. Although those with stubbier hands may find it very awkward to play. The finish I selected is a glossy white number with a tortoise shell scratch plate (think a white SRV Strat without the initials), and it looks damn good, the build quality is of a rather high standard no nicks or swirls in the body, with the neck and headstock sharing the same finish as the body. The only belmish on the whole guitar was on the bridge pickup, where the chrome cover is slightly tarnished on the top end, but isn't really noticable unless your looking for it. // 6

Reliability & Durability: Overall the guitar is well built, solid as a rock, it comes standard with strap locks. I'd fully expect it to last over the years, the finish to, as with most, will last for the instuments full life as long as it's taken care of. I've played live with it a few times now, its very dependable so far, I would happily play it live without a backup, due to the light guage and low string tension, breaking a string is rare unless you happen to play overly hard. // 8

Overall Impression: Overall I'd say this axe is worth the money I paid, it doesn't quite compare to 1000 plus instruments, but its not really that far off as far as refinment goes. Personally I play classic heavy rock (but I will still happily use the may for punk, metal, and whatever else gets thrown at me). I have only been playing 3 years now, and I'm the 1st to admit I'm not exactly proficient in my playing, but this guitar does bring out the best of my abilities. My only other guitar is my 1st guitar, a Squire Srat, and I have to say ill always feel more at home playing the Strat the the Brian May, and if the may were broken/lost/stolen I would probably invest in a Mexican Strat instead, main reason being for my own benefit. I can't warn you enoguh though to try this guitar through your setup before you buy, the amp has to suit the guitar, it definatly doesnt seem to like Marshall's, however it takes to bright tonful amps like a duck to water. Loves: trem unit nut and tuner combination, switching options. Acoustic chamber adds a lot of resonance. Hates: light string + short scale combo. // 8

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overall: 8.8
Brian May Signature Reviewed by: unregistered, on january 25, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 686.25

Purchased from: eBay

Features: I baught this from eBay because they are difficult to aquire anywhere else. Made in Korea or somewhere like that. It's got 24 large frets, a thin neck (thinner than the original), volume and tone pots with 3 on/off and 3 phase switches. The body is unique seeing as brian made it himself but I think it looks like a cross between a Strat and a Rickenbacker. Strat style burns of london trem unit with weird looking trem arm that rests comfortably in the palm. S/S/S configuration burns tri-sonic pickups. // 10

Sound: I play mostly heavy rock, stuff like Queen and the Darkness, it suits me perfectly, but, be warned, when buying this guitar try it through amps like yours or think about buying a new amp because this thing hates most marshalls. Also note that buying this guitar wont make you sound like brian amy, it gives you some of his sound but many thigns are needed to make you sound even 1/10th like him. I play throguh a Fender Frontman 15R with no added effects except echo for those Brighton Rock moments. I've been playing for a year and a half now and even though I'm not the best of guitar players. It brings out the ebst of my abbilities. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: The action was moderate (not to high or low) with no string buzz. The pickups were set up at high height but I adjusted them low into the body. The neck pickup was in the wrong way round which doesnt't really alter the sound but it bugged me huntil I changed it. Baring in mind this guitar is second hand, it was in excellent condition except for a few marks on the abck of the body. // 6

Reliability & Durability: I haven't yet had chance to play it live full blast to an audience but I'm pretty sure I could play this onstage without a backup. I've played this guitar like I've never played another and there is almost no wear on anything, the hardware still gleams and the finish still shines. // 10

Overall Impression: I play rock and it suits it perfectly, the tri-sonics have that Strat sparkle but also have that Fat Les Paul sound with none of the bad points. I also have a Stagg Les Paul Copy which compared to this is crap, This certainly will be my number 1 for a while. If this guitar was stolen I would get the guy Who stole it, kick his ass then make him lick dirt 'cause I love this guitar and would recomend it to anyone looking for a versatile, nice looking guitar. I love the fact that it's brian may, I love the colour and the way how you can coax almost any sound out of it with the right amp. I hate the Strat type trem. I wish it had the actual bridge/vibrato design which Mr. May himself designed but it had to be sacrificed to save it from costing 1000+. // 9

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