Brian May PU and WIring Info

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by wavey63, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. wavey63

    wavey63 Member

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    I really have been a fan of queen for over 30 years now and have always loved Brian Mays tone and playing. I know all about the amp and such but really would like info on his ickups that he built. Are they more similar to P90's, regular SC's or what? Also, does the Red Special have a boost built into the guitar itself? And lastly, what boost kits are out theresimilar to what he has used? Thansk for leeting me bend our ear with all of the inquiries!!!:confused::confused::confused::confused:
     
  2. Bill Brasky

    Bill Brasky Senior Member

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    He didn't build his pickups. He bought Burns Trisonics. The only thing he did to them was dip them in something like epoxy to pot them to stop microphonic feedback. They're often compared to p-90's or halfway between a p-90 and a Strat SC. There's no boost in the guitar itself. There's tons of boost kits out there. Go to generalguitargadgets.com . You can probably build one yourself easily for $20-$30 . It's supposedly a VERY simple circuit and inexpensive to build.

    http://www.brianmaycentral.net/main.html
     
  3. Chikn

    Chikn Supporting Member

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    The Red Special's pickups are very bright, and are all wired in series.
     
  4. wavey63

    wavey63 Member

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    I actually found the Burns trisonics AFTER I osted. Google is your friend!!! I also don't think that May's PU''s are very bright. I mean, brighter that a HB of course but compared to all of the single coils I have ever heard they have much more balls. I know the amp adds a lot but ther is still that growl. I just wanted something in that range but not to sound like him. Just reaal have been going for that tone for 20 years or so...
     
  5. dk123123dk

    dk123123dk Member

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    he plays with a six pence (coin) as well.

    a good treble booster


    three on off switches, three phase switches i think

    good luck

    dk
     
  6. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    Bright? Not really. At least not the ones I've used.

    There's some different ones.

    A long, long time ago (mid 80s), DiMarzio made & marketed a set of Brian May pickups. They were sold as a pair (neck & middle) and single (bridge) instead of a complete set, no idea why. They sucked. A lot.*

    When Guild commissioned a 2nd variation of the Red Special, they went with Seymour Duncan, who did a much more true-to-the-original recreation of the pickups Brian uses. They did not make these pickups available to the general public, however. They sound very good, imagine a single coil with huge balls and you kind of get the idea. Not quite P-90, but not really single coil either.

    If you want a boost similar to what Brian uses/used, start by looking for a Rangemaster clone, one with a germanium chip if you can find somebody that makes them that way. There are a bunch of RM clones on the market, some are good and some are not. You could spend a lifetime (and a fortune) trying to find the one that's right for you.

    --chiba

    * This is not meant as a bash to DiMarzio in general. I have their pickups in several of my guitars and like them quite a bit. I am only bashing these specific pickups.
     
  7. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    don't overlook the wiring scheme itself. those pickups are rather thin and weak individually, and would be pretty wimpy in a parallel strat or tele circuit. brian wired them all so that each pickup is added in series as it's switched in, so the guitar is louder with two pickups on, and louder still with all three. it's also progressively darker and muddier, which brian compensated for with the out-of-phase option. by turning all three pickups on, with one of them out of phase with the others, some "cut" is added back into the otherwise thick, wooly sound. i've found from playing with the recent red special copies that "all three on, neck reversed" or "all three on, bridge reversed" through a high gain amp goes a long way towards getting "that" sound.
     
  8. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I read in an article that he did at one time have a treble booster built into his guitar. Mainly because the Vox amp he was playing was one of the early ones which sounded particularly dark. Also his bridge and middle pickups were wired together for series humbucking. Anyway like someone said a rangemaster or rangemaster clone should get you there.
     
  9. Treble booster

    Treble booster Member

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    Yes, he did use the trisonics, but the ones in my Brian May signature Guild don't sound like regular trisonics. Brian May supposedly let Seymour Duncan take his pickups apart to make exact copies for the 93 Guild Brian May signature guitar. The first BM Guilds (1980s) had the terrible dimarzio's in them and it was a solid body guitar with a kahler trem unit. Supposedly Brian never really was 100% happy with them. The 93 guilds got it right, from exact copy of the trem bar, hollow body guitar, and the Duncan copies of the pickups. Very thick sounding instrument.
    Brian also changed from the range master Treble booster to a pete cornish unit, which I believe is silicon based. His tone improved greatly. There is a noticeable difference in tone from the first two albums (rangemaster TB), to every Queen album since using Pete's Treble booster.
    Here is a copy of the owner's manual that came with this guitar:

    http://www.pemcom.demon.co.uk/queen/guild/manual.html

    I hope this helps.
     

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