The Red Special, Brian may’s electric guitar

Did you know that Brian May, the guitarist of Queen, built an electric guitar from scratch with his father when he was 16 years old, and called it the Red Special. He used that same guitar for his entire career, and it is his most prized possession.

“The ultimate “legendary guitar” is that great instrument that a groundbreaking player latches onto and loves deeply throughout his or her career — devoting the vast bulk of their art to just that one guitar, a six-string with no parallel among its peers, in their estimation at least. With this in mind, Brian May’s “Red Special” has not only been his partner in the vast majority of his noteworthy work, but he himself created it to embody precisely what he was looking for from an instrument.

The sound is unmistakable: hot, searing, thickly saturated with harmonic overtones, both smooth and eviscerating at the same time. May’s tone exploded onto the world of popular rock music in the mid ’70s as something entirely different, in a world that was dominated by the Gibson Les Paul and the Marshall stack. Always a mad scientist of sorts (and now with an actual PhD in astrophysics, no less), May tweaked and modified every aspect of his rig to bend it into producing the tone he was hearing in his head. The pinnacle of this endeavor was the design and creation of his own electric guitar. Talk about extreme tweakage! This thing was a Brian May production from the ground up, with a little help from his father, Harold May.”

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