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NAMM Sneak Peek

Brian May “Red Special”

In the early 1960s, Queen’s future lead guitarist, Brian May, could not afford to purchase the kind of guitar he wanted, so his father (who was an electronics draftsman) cleared out a room and went to work helping his son build one. They ended up using a piece of mahogany that had once served as the mantlepiece above the family fireplace for the neck. They used pieces of oak for the fingerboard and the guitar body (along with blockboard “wings”), over which they placed a mahogany veneer. The neck and fingerboard were painted black, while the body was stained red, then finished by hand using Rustin’s Plastic Coating. The fingerboard markers were pearl buttons. For pickups, the Mays used three Burns Tri-Sonic single-coils that were wired in series rather than parallel, which is why the guitar is capable of such a fat sound.

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