Brian May's Guitar Gear

Queen - Queen II (1974)

Queen's second album, Queen II, was released in 1974. On it, you can hear Brian May's unique guitar tone as it begins to develop into the huge stadium rock of the British band's subsequent albums.

Perhaps May's most famous part of his guitar rig is the 'Red Special' guitar he built with his father in 1963, and which has used throughout his career. The neck is made from part of a 100-year-old mahogany fireplace, while the body is semi-hollow with solid oak centre inserts and a mahogany veneer. The customised switching provides plenty of tonal options - including phase-switching - from the three Burns Tri-Sonic pickups.

For the band's first two albums, May used a Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster pedal in front of the Normal channel of a cranked Vox AC30, with the Cut control on the amp turned all the way down for maximum treble attack.

The result is a slightly hollow, mid-range heavy sound with plenty of speaker grit and delicious harmonic overtones. 

Brian May's Guitar Gear:

  • Red Special Guitar
  • Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster
  • Vox AC30

If you want to replicate this setup, you can purchase a Red Special signature model, and either a Brian May signature model AC30 or the AC30HW (I had the AC15 version and it is incredible!).

In terms of pedals, you could substitute the Rangemaster for the STOMPNORTH Midgie Booster Overdrivedriven by a MOSFET transistor and with switchable silicon or germanium circuits.