The Rock Star Who Studied Astrophysics And Built His Guitar

The true fans can connect the name of the guitarist of the English band Queen with a unique guitar. If the name Brian May comes up, one inevitably has an image of the Red Special. Because these days electric guitars were expensive, the legendary guitarist built his Red Special together with his father. The team needed nothing more than an old mantelpiece, the springs from a motorcycle and a lot of motivation. A legendary guitar that has found its place in rock history was born out of financial difficulties.

Initiative Was Required

In the 1960s, teenager Brian May would have loved to own a Stratocaster or a Gibson Les Paul. But money was tight and his father, an electrical engineer, preferred to contribute his knowledge. Together with his son, he got it into his head to build his electric guitar. An old mantelpiece served as the neck of the Red Special. Its wood was already eaten away by woodworms. Work on the musical instrument began in the summer of 1963. The story becomes even more impressive when you know that neither of them had ever built a guitar before. But the experiment succeeded. The new guitar’s thick neck later earned it the nicknames Fireplace and Old Lady. They filled the wormholes in the with matches.

18 Months Of Work

Father and son worked on the guitar for a year and a half. They test and try out numerous variants. The body contained cavities, oak and a veneer made of mahogany served as wood. The springs of the tremolo system came from a motorcycle; they also made the head of the lever of a knitting needle from Brian May’s mother. The shortage of money and materials led to unusual decisions. The neo-guitar makers built it without an F-hole, opted for 24 frets and three pickups, which they connected to various combinations with a few switches. If you want to know what this innovation sounds like, you should listen to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody again. There May plays through all the combinations on his guitar just for fun.

Still In Use

After eighteen months, the Red Special was finally ready. Since then it has been Brian May’s most influential guitar. He not only uses it on stage but also in the studio. The unique sound of May guitar play also called the professional luthiers to the scene. The Guild company has already brought a replica onto the market twice. Burns also followed suit almost twenty years ago. In the meantime, the guitarist also sells a model of his famous guitar himself. Brian May did not dare to build a second guitar. The Red Special gets plenty of maintenance, and regular services seem to be enough. Significant repairs have never been necessary. She has accompanied the legendary musician for decades. So far, the Englishman has shown no intention of ever replacing his Old Lady. He is still planning with his favourite instrument. The fans are happy to see them live in action again and again.