The Brian May Guitar Sound Made HimThe King In Queen.
The Brian May guitar sound is in a league all by itself. Man this guy plays great rock guitar.
He was the lead guitar player for the rock band Queen.
He definitely gave that band their balls. And what a great band Queen was.
Brian was born in London,England in 1947 and was one of the main songwriters in “Queen”
alongside Vocalist Pianist Freddie Mercury....whom by the way was also one of the best dynamic front man
singers in rock history period. And Bass player John Deacon. Both Mercury and Deacon also wrote hit songs
for Queen, and the band was rounded out by drummer Roger Taylor whom maybe wrote hit love letters to his
girlfriends or perhaps hummed Queen songs over the telephone to them...just joking...Taylor is also a songwriter
and usually contributed at least one song on each Queen album.
Brian May just has such a unique style,to me his guitar riffs sound almost at times classical
in nature and yet he still has that driving rock sound in his playing.
Oh...and don't forget what great rock songs he's written...”Tie Your Mother Down”,”We Will Rock You”,
“Fat Bottomed Girls” all rock classics just to name a few. And check out the his rockabilly influenced
guitar solo on the song “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” A Really tasteful guitar solo from Brian May
the rock legend. You can really hear his use of the 2 note double stops interspersed with the single strings through
out this song.
His guitar sound over the years has encompassed a wide variety of sound and techniques including
tapping,sweep picking,slide guitar,Jimi Hendix style licks etc...Amongst his rock star guitar playing peers Brian is
considered to be a virtuoso musician.
Mr. May comes in at #39 in Rolling Stone Magazines list of “The 100 Greatest Guitar Players.” Hmm...
#39 huh...that's probably about how many times you'll have to listen to the middle solo guitar section of
“We Will Rock You” to get it. And of course the moon has to be in the right position in the sky,and you
have to be strumming your guitar behind your back...just kidding.
To achieve that Brian May guitar sound and those great rock songs by “Queen.” He uses his main electric guitar
that he built himself when he was a teenager along with help from his father. And it is called the “Red Special” and
even into present day its still his main guitar. He even has several replicas of the “Red Special” built by a gentleman
by the name of John Birch. And also the Burns Guitar Company which Brian took over and is now called “Brian May
And of course Brian has also played various other guitars,Fenders,Gibsons, Guild,etc...and for his acoustic guitar work
he has used Martin,Ovation,and Tokai among others.
The amplification to get that classic Queen guitar sound comes from his love of the “Vox AC30” and he
uses stacks of them on stage along with his delay,chorus,and flange effects.
Mr. May also has an instructional guitar video out from quite a few years ago.
I don't know if its still around or if you can still get a copy you'll have to check on the internet.
I've seen bits and pieces of it over the years but have never seen the whole video,but I liked
what I saw.
The Brian May guitar sound took its influence from numerous guitar players. And among
his favourites are Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck,Jimi Hendrix, and he also has a fondness for the playing
of Hank Marvin of “Cliff Richards And The Shadows.”
If you really want to copy the Brian May guitar sound also be aware that he uses coins instead of a
plastic guitar pick to achieve his sound. So get a hold of a Red Special copy, a Vox AC30,and the effects pedals,
and all the Queen Cds and lock yourself in a room and start practising....oh and be prepared to put in many years
of guitar work to sound like Brian May...by the time you're finished you'll probably have a big belly and a grey beard.
But seriously if you want to sound like Brian May on the guitar I would start off with some of the easier Queen
songs. Simple rock songs like “Tie Your Mother Down” in the key of “A.” The intro starts off with an A bar chord
on the 2nd fret with the 1st finger and then hammer on and pull off the C note 3rd fret 5th string with the 2nd finger.
And if you copy his guitar solo also realize that he's also playing slide guitar as well.
I wouldn't start off trying to learn “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “We Are The Champions” just yet because those are
pretty complicated .I would really listen closely to Brian May his feel,the scales he uses,his technique,and then I
would get out my 2-speed tape recorder and start working on some of his simple rock licks. He is a very smooth,
melodic,fluid player and that is the Brian May guitar sound. So listen to as much of him as you can until his sound
becomes embedded in your brain.
As a guitar player you can't just immediately sound like a famous rocker unless you've put in tons of work,
and really analyzed his playing style. And this is not going to happen in a week...it can take years
so be prepared to be in it for the long haul. And its also a total immersion in listening to all the guitar work
he has ever done. To do this is quite an undertaking and daunting task.
So I would start by going to youtube and doing a search of all the Brian May guitar recordings with Queen
and other guys he worked with like Eddy Van Halen,Hank Marvin etc...you're working like a guitar detective
and uncovering everything that he has ever recorded. Remember you're searching for that Brian May tone.
And these are the steps I would take to copy that Brian May sound.May Brian and I wrap this discussion up now?...I know its a bad pun on words.
Brian also plays piano,bass,bangolele and is also a very good singer. He's also a guitar playing Astrophysicist
which means he's very good with numbers and calculations.....hmmm...that makes sense because its very
calculating the way he made millions of dollars playing guitar with Queen.
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