We built this copy of Brian May’s Red Special at Alex’s request and tweaked it to his liking. The original was designed and built by Brian May and his father in 1962 and is still his main guitar in Queen to this day. After spending many hours studying the construction and materials used in Brian’s guitar, my respect for this man only grew. To build such a guitar in the 60s without the information and materials available today with just a few clicks in this quality and sophistication… Chapeau Mr. May!
Above all, Alex’ requirements for >his< Red Special Custom were a comfortably playable neck with appropriately adjusted string spacing. The original has an extremely thick, but very narrow neck (supposedly because Brian was fed up with further processing and planing the hard mahogany wood from the 120-year-old crossbeam of a fireplace). From today's perspective, this neck profile is for most players extremely unusual to play. However the look, function and sound should come as close as possible to the original.
In terms of construction, we opted for a solid one-piece mahogany for the body instead of the veneered blockboard with glued-in oak wood core. A small block of oak wood was only used to accommodate the knife edge of the tremolo. After routing out the cavities, the one-piece mahogany top was glued on. The neck is also glued in for optical and structural reasons. Instead of blackened oak, the fretboard is made of solid ebony with 24 polished stainless steel frets + a zero fret.
Replicas of the old Burns Trisonic single coils were used as pickups, which are very close to the vintage specs. The electronics with the 6 slide switches were taken over 1:1 from the Red Special.
The tremolo and bridge are also very true-to-detail replicas. However, the tremolo is made of stainless steel and the roller bridge has been optimized in such a way that the rollers are firmly locked in the bridge, so they do not get lost if the strings break. In addition, the spacing has been adjusted to the wider neck. Tremolo and bridge are also very ingenious inventions by Brian and his father, which provided tuning stability that was unmatched at the time. And indeed, in combination with the Schaller locking tuners, this system is still accurate to within a few cents!
Finally, several color samples were created for the color and the paintwork in order to be able to determine the optimum >red< for the Special.
This was certainly one of the most complex "solid bodies" that have ever been created in my workshop. However, it has been my great pleasure and honor to explore and recreate one of the most iconic guitars in rock history. Thank you for the great inspiration Mr. May - in every way!
Body: Mahogany 1 piece Top: Mahogany 1 piece Neck: Mahogany Fretboard: Ebony, 24″ (610mm) Scale, 24 medium stainless steel frets + Zerofret Pickups: Burns Trisonic Singlecoil Set Electronic: 6x Switch (on/off and phase-switch for each pickup); Mastervolume + Tone Hardware: Customized Version of the Red Special Tremolo and the Rollerbridge; Schaller M6 Locking Tuner Nut: Graphtech Black Tusq Pickguard: Black acrylic Construction: Set-Neck Finish: Highgloss; Translucent Red with black pore filler on Mahogany