BMG Switch Settings

The concept of the iconic Red Special original has become so much a part of the Brian May legend that it has perhaps becomes hard to separate the guitar from the man but we're certainly not alone in believing that the instrument deserves way more credit for its potential to achieve... well, pretty much ANYTHING you could desire from an electric guitar!

As so many reviewers, players and customers already know, the unique combination of pickups, wiring scheme and switching system chosen by Brian, faithfully recreated on the BMG Special and Super models, make these inspired instruments devastatingly versatile.

To help illustrate the wide range of tonal variation available from Brian May Guitars, we are indebted to LUCAS VIANNA for sharing this superb video and audio demo.

An amazing young guitarist, Lucas is fast becoming a We Will Rock You veteran, having performed in the 2016 Brazilian and 2017 Danish productions of the Queen-inspired hit musical.

Here, he presents a in-depth video tour of the BMG Special that, along with audio performances of the different switch settings and digital modelling presets, will help you to become intimate with the instrument's idiosyncratic set-up and quickly get you on track creating your very own #BMGstyle.

 

Bridge & Middle Pickups

In Phase

One of Brian May's favoured settings, this is an extremely versatile configuration for both rhythm and lead parts.

Using the volume to control the amount of gain, you can dial in a bright, clean sound ("Under Pressure", "Save Me") or, by bringing the volume up to around halfway and digging in - preferably with a sixpence - the distinctive crunch of "Tie Your Mother Down". 

Winding the volume full up and the powerhouse riffs of "Hammer To Fall", "One Vision" and "I Want It All" ring out loud and proud.

 

We Will Rock You Solo

 

More In-Phase Settings

Switching from Vox to a brace of different Marshall driven patches with the same pickup configuration also yields devastatingly accurate takes on the iconic sounds of Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen.

 

Out Of Phase

By stark contrast to the "bread and butter" humbucking response of bridge and middle pickups combined, switching the two out of phase to one other produces a characteristic sharp and funky percussive tone.

 

 

Neck Pickup

A perfect setting for the first staccato section of Brian's "Brighton Rock" solo as well as the crisp lead breaks on "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Killer Queen".

 

Killer Queen

 

 

Middle & Neck Pickups

In Phase

This set-up is used - at full volume, naturally - for the bass-heavy, breakout rock section of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and, with the tone control turned down, for Brian's cello-like orchestrations. And, as Lucas demonstrates here, it's a tone equally well suited to balls-out, rootsy rock 'n' roll from an entirely different era.

 

Out Of Phase

Brian's classic "out-of-phase" sound. Played hard, with a tube amplifier cranked up and full volume on the guitar, the phase cancellation between the two series wired pickups creates the distinctive, creamy, screaming tone of the solos on "Somebody To Love" and - of course - "Bohemian Rhapsody".

 

Bohemian Rhapsody Solo

Lucas with his WWRY São Paulo partner-in crime Fábio Stamato.

 

 

Bridge & Neck Pickups

In Phase

 

Out Of Phase

As used on classic Queen riffs like the corrosive, palm-muted, 16th note opening to debut single "Keep Yourself Alive" and the proto-speed metal of "Stone Cold Crazy", the former utilising a distinctive phasing effect with the volume at 50%, the latter with the on-board volume full-up.

 

 

Bridge, Middle & Neck Pickups

In Phase

Producing a rich, full. yet controllable sound at lower volumes, Brian has used this setting for the delicate arpeggios on live performances of "These Are The Days Of Our Lives"

 

Out Of Phase

A great setting for the strident funk-rock of "Dragon Attack", with the volume wound down to 50% - 75%. Alternatively, crank it up, full-tilt boogie style for corrosive Angus Young style stadium-filling riffs, Metallica's ominous powerhouse attack on "Enter Sandman" or a neat version of Mark Knopler's Billy Gibbons inspired, cocked-wah driven sound from "Money For Nothing".

 

 

Bridge Pickup

Sweet Home Alabama to Sub Pop Rock City

Proving beyond all doubt what an amazingly versatile instrument the BMG Special truly is, Lucas Vianna ably demonstrates the insane breadth of styles and tones that this instrument is suited to.

Very few guitars will provide the means to travel all the way from Ed King's breezy, southern fried picking, through David Gilmour's spacious, progressive blues-phrasings and Ritchie Blackmore's hard rock fireworks to Kurt Cobain's savage garage punk call to consciousness.... all on just one pickup!!

 

Sound settings

Lucas recorded the parts for his video performance using his BMG Special through AMPLITUBE - IK Multimedia's popular virtual amplifier modelling/multi-effects processor (available as a multi-platform standalone app and plug-in) and he has kindly shared the various settings as presets for you to download to use for your own home recording or performance projects.

  << AmpliTube 4 (.zip file)      << AmpliTube 3 (.zip file)

He has also prepared the track settings as a text file which may be useful for users of other software amp simulators (Native Instruments Guitar Rig, Line 6 POD Farm and Mobile POD, Agile Partners AmpKit, Positive Grid BIAS FX, Overloud TH3, Peavey ReValver, Waves GTR, Avid Eleven, Apple MainStage etc.) to adapt and experiment with, as well as for players with access to real world equipment to develop their own new and exciting #BMGstyle.

  << AmpliTube track settings (PDF file)

 

More Resources

More information about individual Queen song settings can be found HERE at Mike Ryde's excellent site dedicated to all things Brian May equipment related.