What Guitar does Brian May Play?

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Brian May is one of the legendary guitarists and a co-founder and member of the rock band Queen. He has contributed a lot to the development of rock and metal, and other subgenres of music. If you are a fan of rock and metal music, you must be interested to know about his guitar as he is the lead guitarist of the band and has contributed to making his band one of the most popular and successful bands in history.

Over the years we have seen him use various kinds of unique and cool guitars while performing. One of the most iconic guitars that he uses is his Red Special. However, there are various other guitars that he has used over the years. Let’s look at some of the most popular guitars that he has used throughout his career.

The guitars that Brian May Plays

There are various kinds of guitars that you might be familiar with at the present such as classical, bass, electronic, acoustic, archtop, resonator, etc. Certainly, Brian has also used various kinds of guitars over the years. However, we will be talking about only the popular and iconic guitars that he used throughout his career in this section. Let’s start with his most popular and main guitar that he has used many times while performing in live concerts.

Main Guitar

Throughout Brian’s career, he has got only one special guitar that can be considered his main guitar. He has been using this guitar for the longest time. It is truly one of the most iconic and his favorite guitars that have played a valuable part in his life.

  • Red Special (aka Old Lady or Fireplace)

Red Special is the main guitar of Brian that he had made together with his father back in the early 1960s. It is his most used guitar and he even takes his guitars on roads and enjoys playing them. The body of the guitar is made out of an old oak table whereas the neck is made out of an old mahogany fireplace mantle. The father-son duo used Rustin’s plastic coating for the finish.

Talking about its features, there are three Burns Trisonic single-coil pickups, and the pickups can be turned on and off individually. It has 24 frets which were 24 inches long. Brian has used this guitar many times while performing for his bands and to this day he uses this guitar as a backup. At the present, there are many replicas of the Red Special which is produced by the company that is owned by Brian himself. One of the most iconic songs that he performed with his Red Special is the “Crazy little thing called love.”

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Electric Guitars

Electric Guitars are quite essential for performing rock and metal. Brian used multiple electric guitars throughout his career. You can know the electric guitars that he used and some information about the guitars as well down below.

  • Red Special Replica (by John Birch and John Diggins)

In the 1970s, John Birch and John Diggins made a replica of Brian’s Red Special which came to popularity when he used the guitar on the Queen’s music video titled “We Will Rock You”. The guitar was almost identical to the original version but Brian wasn’t satisfied with how it sounded.

Initially, Brian had thought that if he used the original guitar extensively then it could get damaged so for that reason he wanted to make a replica of his original Red Lady. However, the replica didn’t sound pleasing to him and he even smashed the replica into three pieces while performing in 1982. Fortunately, the replica has been repaired and Brian still has this guitar with him.

  • Guyton guitars BM Green

Guyton guitars BM Green is one of the proper replicas of Brian ay’s original Red Special. It was made by Andrew Guyton and this one sounded better than other replicas.  Once again in the early 200s, Brian and his tech Pete Malandrone contacted the luthier and made two new replicas. One of the replicas is completely painted green which is quite unique and it is still called the Red Special. Brian was satisfied with his new replicas and has been using this guitar ever since. Furthermore, this unique colored guitar has inspired many boutique guitars.

  • BMG Super

BMG Super is another replica of Brian’s original Red Special guitar. It was manufactured by the Queen’s guitarist’s own company. This guitar was designed by Brian himself and this version is slightly improved as the guitar is able to produce more bulkier sounds as the lower part of the body is made larger. Also, it has a modern tremolo system.

It is one of the iconic guitars that Brian used due to its “Super” graphics logo embedded on the front side of the guitar’s body. Whenever he is required to use a tremolo-powered six-string guitar, he uses this replica and has been seen using this guitar many times throughout his career.

  • BMG “Face” Guitar

The BMG “Face” Guitar is quite unique and special guitar that is used by Brian. It has got Brian’s face on the front part of the guitar’s body which was created by the artist Paul Karslake. Talking about its history, it is believed that it was a gift from Barry Moorhouse for his 60th birthday. Brian has used this guitar on the “Rock The Cosmos” tour after slightly modifying it.

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Acoustic Guitars

Brian is also known for using acoustic guitars as well. Over the years he has used guitars such as Guild  F-512, Martin D-18, and Ovation Pacemaker 1615. He had been using Guild F-512 since 2003 but it hasn’t been confirmed whether he still owns or uses this guitar. Martin D-18 was the main choice of Brain for an acoustic guitar. It is a quite rare and very valuable guitar and he still owns and uses this guitar to this day. Another acoustic guitar that Brian uses for studio recording and live performance is the Ovation Pacemaker 1615. Over the years he has used this guitar many times while performing and he owns multiple versions of this guitar currently.


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