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Thread: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

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    Mega Pony Rider Pink Unicorn Horsey's Avatar
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    Default Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    I have a Vox AC30 and a treble booster but there's no way I can come even close to Brian May's tone. No, I don't have a Red Special guitar, but I nonetheless would've imagined I could approximate his tone. The reality is that the tone is just too sparkly, not the creamy distortion he gets. Doesn't matter if I dime the Vox.

    Ideas?

    - Keith

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    Fuzzy. Guitars the guy who invented fire's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    the Deacey amp (or now the Vox Brian May recording amp) is a big part as is something with a set of Burns tri-Sonics in it...
    If you just read a post by The Guy Who Invented Fire please understand that opinions change, mind sets change and as players our ears mature...not to mention our needs grow and change. With that in mind, today I may or may not agree with the post you just read!

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    Mega Pony Rider Pink Unicorn Horsey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    But he didn't always use a Deacey; it used to be just the Vox AC30.

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    Mojo's Minions Imp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    burns trisonics, metal baseplate, all of them on in parallel..

    i think thats a very important part of it!

    tom

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    Fuzzy. Guitars the guy who invented fire's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    Quote Originally Posted by KGMESSIER
    But he didn't always use a Deacey; it used to be just the Vox AC30.

    I know for sure that as far back as Queen II it was the Deacey, AC-30's, the red special, tereble boosters...I am not 100% sure about "Queen" but I do know that the Deacey was on the 2nd record...I'll also tell you this, there is a Quees tribute band here in Atlanta, the guy gets very close to Brians tone (as close as I've ever heard) and he uses a Guild Brian Model, a rangemaster clone, a vox recording amp in to 2 tweed Deluxe clones split stereo with a chorus, and rund a seperate Roland Space Echo on each Deluxe...his tone is 995 there...until he switches guitars!
    If you just read a post by The Guy Who Invented Fire please understand that opinions change, mind sets change and as players our ears mature...not to mention our needs grow and change. With that in mind, today I may or may not agree with the post you just read!

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    Glossless SlyFoxx's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    That little amp that Deacon built for May is a huge part of the tone. It sounds small by itself but that's why it was so good for all the overdubs. Kept on stacking until the sound was so huge.

    May's live tone was always a bit different because then it was all Vox.

    I would imagine that the Burns pups are a big part of the tone as well along with the Red Special. IIRC old Red is a 24" scale guitar. Very uncommon scale.

    But May's tone is in his hands as well. He used a Tele on Crazy Little Thing...and he still got his signature tone.

    Let's face it...May has about the most unique rock guitar tone of anybody.

    EDIT: Almost forgot. He picks with some kind of English coin that has a rough edge. You might try using a quarter! I think the Reverand Billy G. used a quarter from time to time too. I've tried it and it's a pretty cool sound. But since it's soooo heavy when compared to a regular pick.......well you get the idea!
    Last edited by SlyFoxx; 09-01-2005 at 02:40 PM.

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    Goliath of Tone Davey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    50 overdubs of the same thing and you'll get there

    and he uses a nickel i believe

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    Buttery Toneologist Hot _Grits's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    It's a sixpence.

    Make sure you plug the treble boost into the normal channel of the vox.
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    Fuzzy. Guitars the guy who invented fire's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    yeah...the Red Special is a 24" scale, as well as a VERY fat neck which helps the tone be HUGE!
    If you just read a post by The Guy Who Invented Fire please understand that opinions change, mind sets change and as players our ears mature...not to mention our needs grow and change. With that in mind, today I may or may not agree with the post you just read!

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    Godfather of Unholy Metal Distortion Luís's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    There used to be a much better diagram describbing the his setup (it was his live setup but it had a lot more details I think were/are used in studio).

    He uses 3 amps, one dry and the other too with different settings of the same effects. True I don't know much about this but it might steer you in the right direction.

    The guitar is probably the hardest to nail as i is quite unique as you know. Don't know of many comercial instruments with student scales, with 3 single coils (the bridge is parallel in position to the other pups) and with series wiring (not to mention the out-of-phase-options). Maybe a modifiied Jaguar/Mustang (always confuse their specs).

    The sixpence AFAIK is out of production so you'll have to find out the metal and what coins use that metal (or league).

    Last edited by Luís; 09-01-2005 at 03:52 PM.
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    Mojo's Minions Brow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    Quote Originally Posted by Imp
    burns trisonics, metal baseplate, all of them on in parallel..

    i think thats a very important part of it!

    tom
    The pickups on Brian's guitar are wired in Series, not in Parallel

    He also uses the bridge + middle pickups together in Series about 90% of the time. The other main pickup selection he uses is Middle + Neck Pickups together in series but out of phase which creates his trademark screech like on the guitar solo to Bohemian Rhapsody.

    Craig

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker James Rock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    Do u have the AC30 on the normal channel and are the pickups humbuckers (or singles in series
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    Fuzzy. Guitars the guy who invented fire's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    Quote Originally Posted by Brow
    The pickups on Brian's guitar are wired in Series, not in Parallel

    He also uses the bridge + middle pickups together in Series about 90% of the time. The other main pickup selection he uses is Middle + Neck Pickups together in series but out of phase which creates his trademark screech like on the guitar solo to Bohemian Rhapsody.

    Craig

    not true...the Red Special has an off an on for each pickup and it can also be in series OR parallel at any time...

    I just ran to the store to grab some gas and say a Guitar World Lewdgens on Quees...I greabbed it and Brain said that the forst Quees album did NOT have the Deacey amp onit, but it is all over the 2nd record and every thing he's done since then...the forst record was just the Red Special, AC-30's and a Rangemaster.

    Trust me when I tell you that a Brian May guitar takes some getting used to, but alot of that sound in in that guitar
    If you just read a post by The Guy Who Invented Fire please understand that opinions change, mind sets change and as players our ears mature...not to mention our needs grow and change. With that in mind, today I may or may not agree with the post you just read!

  14. #14
    Tommyologist
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    I'm not a huge Queen fan but i love some of the early albums and some of the live bootlegs or radio broadcasts i have heard from the 1974-75 tours.. I really have to say Brian May is really something special!!!! I have been trying to make my own homemade guitar for years that i could call my number one for the next 40 years.... so far i keep building with not the exact one just right yet....

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    Gear Ho Gearjoneser's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    Ironically, I've gotten the closest to a Brian May tone using a Vox Valvetronix modeling amp, with the Vox models whacked up with gain. I think the Treble booster won't work for you, since it won't let you dial out the chimey highs. Maybe a Carl Martin Plexitone or Tonebone Hotbritish will heat up your Vox tone to Brian May levels.
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    Ultimate Tone Member APB_4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    I believe he used the deacy as the treble boost and drive into the AC30's when playing live. You could get a Burns Brian May as well and you can still get 6p's if you look hard enough. I think I might have one kicking around somewhere actually.

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    Mojo's Minions Brow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    Quote Originally Posted by the guy who invented fire
    not true...the Red Special has an off an on for each pickup and it can also be in series OR parallel at any time...

    I just ran to the store to grab some gas and say a Guitar World Lewdgens on Quees...I greabbed it and Brain said that the forst Quees album did NOT have the Deacey amp onit, but it is all over the 2nd record and every thing he's done since then...the forst record was just the Red Special, AC-30's and a Rangemaster.

    Trust me when I tell you that a Brian May guitar takes some getting used to, but alot of that sound in in that guitar
    The Red Special has 3 switches for on/off for each pickup and 3 switches for phase reversal on each pickup.

    There have been some people that have changed 1 of the phase switches into a series/parallel swith, but Brians original didn't have 1. It's wired all in series

    I know this from a guy that was involved in the Guyton renovation of Brian's guitar in the mid/late 90s.

    Craig
    Last edited by Brow; 09-02-2005 at 03:11 AM.

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    Godfather of Unholy Metal Distortion Luís's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    Quote Originally Posted by Brow
    The Red Special has 3 switches for on/off for each pickup and 3 switches for phase reversal on each pickup.

    There have been some people that have changed 1 of the phase switches into a series/parallel swith, but Brians original didn't have 1. It's wired all in series

    I know this from a guy that was involved in the Guyton renovation of Brian's guitar in the mid/late 90s.

    Craig
    I agree, the real RS is wired in series with the out-of-phase switching.

    There those who even added a industrial type switch t be able to get ALL combinations out of the RS, but thats another story.
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    Ultimate Tone Member Dirt123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    A couple of earlier posts mentioned to use the normal channel of the AC30. That helps a lot. Also, don't have the treble on the amp too high, around 3 or 4. Get your treble with the booster cranked. Volume on the amp is cranked, of course ( I didn't have to tell you that.) If you have a Strat, try it in the notch positions with the guitar tone knob rolled back a bit. I have found that if the tone cap in my quitar is more like .01 mfd, I can get that hollow/woody sound with the tone engaged. I have not used a Vox amp for a wihile, but that worked for me.

    If you want to use a scratchy pick but don't want to heft a quarter or half-dollar (if you can find one) those Hercos picks with the serated gripping surface work well if you turn them over.

    All that said, what with this being the present and all, it would probably be easier to us a Tube Screamer or Boss OD to boost the AC 30 and shape the tone, without it getting too screachy. I bet Brian would have used one if thay had been available. I seem to recall that he said his booster was modified.
    Last edited by Dirt123; 09-02-2005 at 09:02 AM.
    Dirt

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    Super Toneologist fenderiarhs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brian May's Unreachable (?) Tone

    Here is a clip where Brian May........ in person..... compares his original red special with the Burns red special:

    http://www.pharoscomputing.com/Burns...-B%20Tests.mp3

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