Brian May's Red Special
Brian May and Simon Bradley
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Buy *Brian May's Red Special: The Story of the Home-made Guitar That Rocked Queen and the World* by Brian May and Simon Bradleyo nline

Brian May's Red Special: The Story of the Home-made Guitar That Rocked Queen and the World
Brian May and Simon Bradley
Hal Leonard Books
144 pages
October 2014
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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It is sort of a strange-looking guitar. The cutaways remind you a little bit of a Les Paul, but not really. The tailpiece looks like half a heart, the knobs are big and shiny, and there are six small buttons. Oh, and a star. This is a rough description of Brian May's Red Special guitar, the instrument he and his father built from scratch. It sounds like no other guitar in the world, and from the moment the future Queen guitarist picked it up in 1963, he has been creating sounds no other musician has ever captured.

Here in this beautifully photographed book, May talks about how he and his father, Harold, designed and ultimately constructed what would become known as the Red Special. Everything you'd ever want to know about this iconic instrument is presented here:

  • The Body
  • The Colour
  • The Binding
  • The Scratchplate (pickguard)
  • The Pickups
  • The Switching System
  • The Bridge and Tremolo System
  • The Controls
  • The Truss Rod
  • The Neck
  • The Fingerboard
  • The Frets
  • The Nut
  • The Headstock

May details every process of the construction. He talks about how the instrument became part of--and then a defining element of--Queen's sound. There are astonishing photographs peppered throughout the entire book, including never-before-seen shots of the guitar, live performances, and Brian himself as a toddler and pre-Queen teen.

Brian continues to make music with this special guitar in a re-formed version of Queen that includes Adam Lambert. He even talks about that in this wonderful diary of the life of a guitar.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2015

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