The BMG Special ē Antique Cherry

The BMG Special ē Antique Cherry
 The BMG Special ē Antique CherryThe BMG Special ē Antique Cherry 
List Price :  £845.00Worldwide Price : £620.83
UK Price :  £745.00 Inc. 20% VAT

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"The variety and uniqueness on offer here make this an outstanding recording guitar when you've run out of options on your usual guitar collection... it's easy to justify how special this Red Special really is!"
Jason Sidwell • Guitar Techniques

The result of a unique collaboration between Dr. Brian May, his long-standing guitar tech Pete Malandrone, and House Music, the best-selling BMG Special combines the distinctive aesthetics and sound of the legendary Red Special with a wealth of modern appointments and superb quality, production-line craftsmanship.

All the foundations of the trademark BM sound are present and correct, with construction, pickups and electronics faithfully reproducing the original's unique character and tonal versatility. But this is so much more than just a replica... with a price-tag and a range of new colours driven by Brian's concept of a guitar "for the people", the Special is designed to provide modern players of all musical persuasions with an affordable pro-grade instrument that is the perfect "go-to" guitar for any performance environment.

Acoustic Chambered Mahogany Body

True to the look and spirit of the "Old Lady", the instantly recognisable pinstripe-bound, double cutaway mahogany body features an acoustic chamber modelled on Brian's original design that enhances the Special's natural resonance and decreases weight.

24" Scale Mahogany Neck

Engineered with a decidedly contemporary feel, and considerably less deeply contoured than the somewhat gargantuan proportions of the iconic original, the glued-in mahogany neck sports a generous 45mm nut width, comfortably spacious "D" profile, and wonderfully smooth 24 fret ebony fingerboard. 

Tri-Sonic Style Pickups

Modern replicas of the vintage '60s Burns design units that are so fundamental to the Red Special's powerful sonic character, the three series-wired, single-coil pickups feature the same retro-styling and magnet alignment as the originals.

Original BM Switching System

As per the original BM design, the Special is equipped with six white-capped slider switches controlling individual pickup on/off and phase reversal, providing a vast range of tonal variations.

Wilkinson Knife-Edge Tremolo

Trevor Wilkinson's "Wave" tremolo-bridge provides a strikingly modern look to the BMG Special as well as delivering smooth, comfortable performance with exceptional stability and sustain.

Grover Locking Tuners

Featuring Grover's innovative Rotomatic® internal "Locking Cam", these superb machine heads automatically lock your strings as you tune, allowing for super-fast string changes and ensuring rock-solid tuning stability, even with heavy tremolo use.

Complete with Padded Gig Bag

A premium quality, padded gig-bag, made from durable showerproof material, with twin rucksack-style shoulder straps, side and front grab handles, dual front pockets and stitched BMG logo, is supplied as standard with all Special models. 

An optional BMG Custom Fitted Hard Case is also available

Body Acoustic Chambered Mahogany with Bookmatched Mahogany Top
Binding 6-Ply Pinstripe, Front + Back
Neck 1-Piece Mahogany
Finish Gloss
Truss Rod Dual Action (440mm)
Fingerboard Macassar Ebony
Frets 24 x Medium Jumbo 18% Nickel/Silver Vintage size Frets + Zero Fret
Fret Wire Crown Height : 0.914mm (0.036")  • Crown Width : 2.7mm (0.106") • Radius : 230mm (9.0")
Inlays White Front + Side Dots (Φ 6mm / Φ 1.5mm)
Neck Join Set Neck Construction
Pickups 3 x BM Brand Custom Tri-Sonic Style Series Wired Single Coil
Switches White Slider Switches • 3 x Pickup On/Off • 3 x Pickup Phase In/Out
Controls Master Volume + Tone (500k) with BM Replica, Lathe-Turned, Billet Stock, Aluminium Control Knobs
Bridge Wilkinson WVP "Wave" 2-Point Knife Edge Tremolo (36mm Block) with Brass Saddles
Tremolo Arm Custom BMG Trem Arm with Plastic Tip
Machineheads 3-A-Side Grover 406 Mini Locking Rotomatic® Tuners
Nut PPS (45mm x 6mm)
Scratchplates Plastic Main Control Plate • Half-Moon Tail Plate • Matching Truss Rod Cover • Tremolo Cavity Cover
Overall Length 98.8cm (38.9")
Body Length 40.63cm (16")
Body Width 35.67cm (14")
Body Depth 40mm (1.57")
Fingerboard Radius 250mm (9.8")
Scale 610mm (24")
Neck Width @ Nut 45mm (1.77")
Neck Width @ 12th Fret 53mm (2.09")
Neck Width @ 24th Fret 57mm (2.24")
Neck Depth @ 1st Fret 22mm (0.87")
Neck Depth @ 12th Fret 24mm (0.94")
String Spacing @ Nut 36mm (1.42")
String Spacing @ 12th Fret 45mm (1.77")
String Spacing @ Bridge 54mm (2.13")
Weight (Approximate) 3.2kg (7lb)
Strings D'Addario EXL120 Nickel Wound Super Light • Plain Steel .009 - .011 - .016 • Wound .024 - .032 - .042
Included Extras Premium Quality Gig Bag with Stitched BMG Logo • Length 108cm (42.5") • Width : 42cm (16.5") 
Options (additional cost) Moulded, Impact Resistant, Plush Lined Hiscox "Liteflite" BMG Custom Fitted Hard Case
Country Of Origin World Musical Instruments Co. Ltd. • South Korea

Brian May

An exclusive demonstration of the first iteration of the BMG Special by the good Doctor himself.


Lucas Vianna

A superb demo of the Brian May Guitars SPECIAL from young, Brazilian guitar ace Lucas Vianna, a performer in the 2016 São Paulo and 2017 Danish touring productions of the smash hit Queen musical "We Will Rock You".

Lucas uses the Special to demonstrate some of Brian May's favourite switch settings : 

Here, Lucas shows off the Special's unique, genre-busting tonal dexterity :

"Great price, attention to build quality, and an obvious visual appeal tick the important boxes... an outstanding recording guitar when you've run out of options on your usual guitar collection"

Jason Sidwell • August • 2013

Originally launched in 2001 by Burns, this version of Brian May's Red Special guitar was released in 2006 by Brian May Guitars, a company headed up by Barry Moorhouse of House Music, Pete Malandrone (Brian May's tech) and Brian May himself. 

As you'd expect, this guitar is available in red (Antique Cherry) just like Brian's own guitar but there are other options if you hanker for the design and tones but not this colour. Natural, Blue, Black/Gold, White, Green, 3-Tone Sunburst... there's much on offer.

While the design brief was for a guitar that offered 'best product at an affordable price', there's not a huge apparent difference between this model and Brian's own. Certainly from a distance, they look very similar as regards body shape, pickups, controls and dot arrangement for the 24 frets. Up close, the main differences are bridge type (here it's a Wilkinson bridge), the whammy bar (this one has a unique curve where it connects to the bridge), the type of volume/tone dials, no pickup surrounds and the headstock décor. The mahogany body (the original is oak with a mahogany veneer) also features an acoustic chamber that aids resonance at louder volumes as well as making for a lighter weight guitar.

For a guitar in this price range, there are some noticeable bonuses too; the Grover tuning lockers, combined with the graphite nut (a zero fret is present, just as on the original), helped tuning stability even when going for the bigger whammy bar dives that Brian favoured during the late '80s. There's also the workmanship on show; joints, frets and paintwork are pretty much faultless. For the more discerning, we liked the fact that the nut width of 45mm at the 1st fret is a little more than other guitars that typically favour 42-43mm. The neck isn't as deeply contoured as Brian's own but it is more substantial than many modern rock axes; with the nut width and neck contour we found it very comfortable to play. If you've found open string chords like A major a bit of a squeeze on a standard electric, you'll love the room two extra millimetres affords here. Talking of playability, each guitar comes strung with a .009 gauge set of strings enabling easy bend strings and smooth finger vibrato.


Having used this guitar over a period of several months - most extensively during show work for We Will Rock You - we're happy to report that the tones available are not only unique but also very reminiscent of Brian's own. This is down to the three retro single coil pickups that ape Brian's own Burns Tri-Sonic pickups. These are wired in series (instead of the more common wired in parallel) which means that each pickup turned on increases output volume. Three pickups may not be that unusual but two sets of switches certainly are (white here, same colour as on Brian's red special); the higher placed set turns the pickup on/off and the lower set is for in/out phase reversal. If two pickups are on and one is reverse phased, the resulting tone is minus the sonic elements that are shared by both pickups. This can result in some very unique sounds, from round humbucker based tones (in phase) through to thinner, almost vocal sounding tones that can help a solo cut through a band mix (out of phase).

From Bohemian Rhapsody and Fat Bottom Girls through to One Vision and I Want It All, this guitar undoubtedly gets you much closer to Brian's tone than any typical Strat or Les Paul. Of course, to get even closer you'll want to factor in choice of pick (Brian favours old sixpence coins, sometimes fingers) effects (treble boost, delay, phaser, chorus) and amplifier (Vox AC30 with top boost, the Deacy amp) but this guitar is a substantial aspect to May's magic. With over 20 pickup setting options, it's certainly one of the most tonally versatile guitars on the market!

In Use

While the amount of pickup options can seem overwhelming, some are favoured more than others by Brian. So we spent much time on his favourite tone; the bridge and middle pickups in phase. Used for various solos (check out his lead licks on Brighton Rock), it's a thick sound with a specific bite that's great for soloing (eg the scalic runs in It's A Kind Of Magic proved great for this) as well as low string playing (eg Ogre Battle's busy 16th note riffing). Certainly, it's the closest option if you're chasing a typical bridge humbucker tone but with an appealing raspy edge if you dig in on the lower wound strings. 

Combining neck and bridge pickups (out of phase) has a thinner, almost honky, tone that paired with amp distortion (ideally a Vox AC30) is pleasingly unique. Check out the solo on Liar (from "Queen 1") for reference. 

Another favourite tone of Brian's combines the neck and middle pickups for a warmer option than bridge and middle; listen to the solo on Roger's Rocket (from "Queen 2"). A variation of this, features the middle pickup set out of phase which is vital if you want to duplicate the harmonically rich lead tone for the solos on "Somebody To Love" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" (add a little phaser effect to the latter song for extra authenticity). With the light string gauge and easy playability high up the fretboard, playing the Bo' Rhap solo was a very joyous experience!


Brian May fans will love this guitar; great price, attention to build quality and an obvious visual appeal tick the important boxes. The tonal options also make it a must have but not only for those that hanker to emulate him. The variety and uniqueness on offer here make this an outstanding recording guitar when you've run out of options on your usual guitar collection. Based on these factors, it's easy to justify how special this Red Special really is!

Average Rating (339 Reviews):  
Write a Review and share your opinions!

Thursday, 22 April 2021  | 

Everything was fantastic, from early delivery to beautiful product! It arrived a handful of days early which was a surprise because I live in the USA! Nothing was damaged, everything was beautiful!

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Monday, 12 April 2021  | 

The guitar arrived well-packaged and on time in a nicely padded, and well protected, Brian May Guitars bag. Once out of the bag the guitar is stunning - an affordable alternative to the BMG Super that still more than excels when plugged into an amp. It sounds great, especially when you start experimenting with the pickup and phase combinations which give it that iconic Brian May tone. While it sounds amazing plugged straight into the amp, an additional treble booster pedal will help you get that classic 'scream' that the "Old Lady" is known for. It is not difficult to play, with the strings being easy to bend, yet still staying in tune, and the 24 frets give it a slightly larger range than most guitars which usually have 21/22 frets.

While I have not needed to change the strings yet, the tuners DO lock, meaning string changes are substantially quicker and easier. I would recommend getting a set of Brian May strings (Optima Golds, Gauge .009-.042) in order to enhance that sound and playability that little bit more.

Overall I am extremely impressed with the quality, looks and sound of the guitar. It is well worth it for the price you pay and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a Red Special inspired guitar.

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Great guitar accompanied by world class service
Friday, 9 April 2021  | 

The Red Special is a beautiful guitar and plays wonderfully. The overall care in trim is wonderful and the components are magnificent. I was impressed by the great communication, fast shipping, and great packaging. This was a wonderful experience.

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Wednesday, 7 April 2021  | 

I have been delighted with the BMG Special. I bought this as a second guitar to my expensive Ibanez but it has become my first. It is like no other guitar Ė I'm not going to do a comparison, that would be like saying I think salt is better than pepper. You have to appreciate how this guitar was conceived back in 1963 and how it had evolved. I believe this guitar plays and feels pretty close to how it is supposed to. It would have been great to have the original design of tremolo but the guitar is built to a budget and well built it is. I have bought an Vox AC10 to play it through hoping to be able to play at a reasonably low volume but even set on quarter watt its pretty loud. Having said that, the amp has had upgraded valves and stuff and is probably louder than it originally was. I don't know if there is a way of playing it at a low volume without the use of earphones (?) but the guitar was never designed to be quiet, so I will cherish those rare moments I get an empty house.

Thank you, Brian May for sharing your guitar and the story behind it

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Affordable perfection
Monday, 22 March 2021  | 

I absolutely love the BMG Special. It stays in tune like nothing I've ever owned, the phase shifting is a lot of fun to play around with, and the fact that you can have all three pickups on at the same time gives such an unreal sound.

This guitar is definitely a must-have for any guitarist who loves Brian and his sound.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

It's stone cold crazy... I'm in love with my guitar
Tuesday, 16 March 2021  | 

Love the Red Special. I've always loved the story behind it and got the book about the guitar as a gift a couple years ago. Years ago I heard a company was making replica Red Specials and in the back of my mind I've always wanted one. In the book it mentioned Brian May was starting a company and putting out his own copies of the Red Special, so it was on my wish list of guitars and I finally got around to seriously looking at it and now I'm extremely happy I've ordered my very own Red Special.

It's comfy amd fun to play, sounds great, and I love the sweet black with red stripe strap it came with. I sprung for the bar stool, hard case (very nice), and a tee shirt and hoodie, too.

I ordered it and, in less than a week, it all showed up at my door. I'm very happy with it and it was worth every cent.

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An inspiring, quality product and a painless, professional transaction
Saturday, 6 March 2021  | 

Full disclosure: I am first and foremost a violinist. This is my first guitar, so take my perception and opinions with a grain of salt.

Ordering/delivery: Super easy to place my order. Every screen during the order process warns international buyers of a likely import/duty tax, depending on your country. They are as transparent as possible about this.

Yet I still see many reviews complaining about having to pay an import tax!

Thatís not... thatís not BMGís fault. Thatís your governmentís doing. Complain to your legislators!

Putting ďI had to pay an import tax!Ē in your review would be like me complaining, ďI played a D chord on my new BMG Special, but my hair didnít transform into majestic curls like Dr. Brian Mayís.Ē

What BMG can control is the packaging. The single box is environmentally friendly and deceptively protective. The supports inside the box protect the neck and headstock. My guitar arrived in perfect condition.

Out of the box: It was 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 degrees Celsius) in Chicago when my BMG arrived. I let the box acclimate for 2 hours before opening. The guitar was completely playable right out of the box; I was able to tune it and play right away. Thereís minor fret buzz on the low E, but I havenít been able to take it for a proper setup since weíre in the middle of a pandemic. The fact that the action is okay and the guitar is playable out of the box after a transatlantic flight and travel through a deep freeze across the US is a testament to the quality and care with which the BMGs are made.

Tremolo: The instructions on the product support page were easy to follow. Iíve never added or removed a tremolo arm before and had no issues selecting the smallest Allen key from the provided bag of bits and bobs and pressing down on the trem arm to screw it in.

Itís worth noting that I was able to use the same smallest Allen key to unscrew and remove the tone knob. Donít know if this is recommended or not, but some of the plastic film from the pick guard was stuck underneath, so I removed and reattached the knob without issue.

Tuners: Like I mentioned in my disclaimer, this is my first guitar and my frame of reference is violin. I canít get over how easily the tuners adjust compared to the tuning pegs of a violin. I donít experience any frustration while tuning my BMG, and I know I could tune all 6 guitar strings faster than the 4 strings on my violin. Itís the little things in life, you know?

Neck: Iím not used to frets and I have nothing with which to compare the frets on my BMG. However, there are no sharp fret edges on the neck, which is wonderful. The neck is glossy, not matte - however my hand has never gotten ďstuckĒ shifting up and down the neck!

The 45mm nut width is a lot for me to get used to, but again, Iím used to a violin so any guitar neck would feel mammoth to me. 45mm seems like a fair compromise - wider than a Fender or Gibson to appeal to the enthusiasts of Brianís original specs, but not so wide as to be unplayable.

Yes, the neck shape itself on the BMG Special is thinner than the BMG Super... which I think is a great thing! I never met Dr. May, but I can say with certainty that my hands are much smaller, since Iím only 5í 3Ē tall. If the neck was as thick as Dr. May prefers, I donít know if I would be able to play it!

I think the arguments Iíve seen over specs prove you canít please everyone, so itís in BMGís best interest to sell what would please the largest amount of customers. In that aspect, I think Iím the target demographic: I wanted a nice guitar under $1,000 thatís inspired, designed, and endorsed by my favorite guitar player that I could actually learn to play on. Thatís exactly what the BMG Special does.

Free strap promotion: The promotions change, but when I purchased my BMG Special, it came with a free Brian May-licensed vegan strap in my color of choice. I loved this promotion so much because I didnít have a guitar strap, and I didnít need to research and buy one separately. A $63 strap with my guitar? Very much appreciated.

Thank you to everyone at World Musical Instruments Co. in South Korea for building such a gorgeous instrument and to everyone at Brian May Guitars for the easy transaction, fast shipping (literally the morning of the next business day; WOW), and thoughtful packaging that ensured my guitarís safe arrival in Chicago. And of course, thank you to Dr. Brian May for inspiring me to practice and play and use lockdown to learn a new skill.

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Love this guitar
Monday, 1 March 2021  | 

The BMG Special joins my current collection of 6 other electrics. It is a stand out for sure. The build quality is excellent and the sound is incredible. It plays well, I love the neck. A really great guitar.

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Exceeds all expectations
Friday, 26 February 2021  | 

In a world where nothing lives up the hype, this is the exception - in fact, it exceeded my expectations and is one of the most awesome guitars I've had.

I was nervous about buying a guitar I couldnít play, thought I could have been stuck with a flashy looking guitar with a big name and low grade neck, fretboard and components, but it couldnít be further from the truth - the neck is great, the action is great, the electronics are amazing, the machineheads state of the art... the only complaint is I thought I would magically start being able to play like Brian May. The guitar sounds like one of his, but for some reason it didnít magically make my fingers move faster... !!

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Plays wonderfully
Monday, 22 February 2021  | 

What can I say? The guitar is everything I thought it would be and more, plays wonderfully.

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Tuesday, 16 February 2021  | 

Iím really pleased with my BMG Special. It arrived well wrapped and packaged and the courier was very good. Iíve only had a couple of weeks now so Iím still learning what it can do but so far very pleased with it.

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Worth the wait
Sunday, 7 February 2021  | 

I have been tempted to buy a BMG for 3 years and never quite pressed the buy button. I could just get a Strat or a Gibson style and play the chords and the solos. I bought the Brian May pack on AmpliTube to get the tone and noodled away contentedly.

Iíll never play well enough to pass myself off as May or Knopfler, so no point in splashing out. But I did. I have gone through lots of guitars setting them up, levelling and polishing frets, adjusting neck angles, rewiring electrics and building from kits so I know my way around now. Out of the box this was set with a fairly straight neck and comfortable first fret and last fret string height. The intonation was near perfect and the electrics smooth (the jack socket has such a positive lock). The range of tones you can achieve with the switches and rolling the tone is a revelation and the variety can be increased controlling that volume dial when playing through an amp. The shorter string length makes bending notes so much easier and the acoustics from the hollow body give it a great sound even before you plug it in. Nice locking tuners that barely need tweaked as it stays in tune and the Wilkinson Tremolo just slides back into place with no effect on tuning.

My quibble? Fret buzz on the E string and A strings. A bit of a level and some adjustment on the saddles removed most of it and itís not noticeable plugged in, but acoustically it rankles me. It is a guitar I am happy to pick up and play just for the sound it can generate while it feels (to me) comfortable and natural.

Worth the wait? Yes.

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Absolutely Phenomenal! Amazing staff & customer experience! Would give a thousand stars if I could!
Wednesday, 20 January 2021  | 

Always wanted to learn the guitar, and always loved Queen, and I looked up to Brian May for, not just his incredible guitar skills, but his ideals and dedication to what he believes in! And since watching 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and my brother getting me the Red Special book for Christmas, and me and him non stop talking about the Red Special, and learning Queen songs on my other guitars, I just knew I had to get one!

After a brief chat with customer service over Facebook I dove straight in and ordered my BMG Special. Already the customer service were very helpful and friendly and I couldn't wait to get hold of my Red Special. It was delivered very quickly and after a quick tuning I was off and playing, and it's an absolute beauty, first and foremost. looks spot on to the original, the light strings and low action makes it an absolute breeze to play! There is so much variation with the switching system, turning pick ups on and off and putting them in and out of phase! I'm still experimenting and trying to match them to the original songs, I honestly haven't put this guitar down.

The limited edition gift package was amazing too!

If you are a fan of Dr. Brian May and Queen (let's be real, you wouldn't be here is you wasn't), then you have absolutely got to pick one up! Worth every penny!

Thank you once again, Brian May Guitars! Just need to convince my brother to pick one up now, haha!

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Great guitar!!
Tuesday, 19 January 2021  | 

As a great fan of Brian May, the purchase of this guitar is a dream come true. The instrument came in perfect condition and well set-up.

Really happy!!

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The Old Lady
Wednesday, 13 January 2021  | 

What can I say that hasn't been said?! When I saw Queen back in the seventies, in my early '20s, I thought I'd love to get that guitar Brian had. Hi sound of playing and the other guys in thr band had their own identity. For me it was like The Beatles all over again, if you know what I mean, they had their own sound.

Forward some forty years later, I finally brought the GUITAR I always wanted. WOW! And what a beautiful guitar. It is the best guitar I have ever owned. It plays like no other.

So Dr. Brian May, I thank you so much for putting this guitar into production, love to you and the rest of the Guys.

The World needs more People like you. Cheers, Adrian.

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What are you waiting for? Go buy this guitar!
Thursday, 7 January 2021  | 

Amazing service and a great product. I can't believe the price for something of this quality. Came in record time for the holidays as well, so I have had some very fine days of playing this beautiful instrument.

Go ahead and purchase, you won't be disappointed. Also the T-shirt, coin, and pack of extras were a fantastic bonus that you won't get if you buy it anywhere else.

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Best online shopping experience Iíve had
Wednesday, 6 January 2021  | 

Absolutely outstanding customer service. The team were very helpful with any questions I had and after ordering the item it only too 7 days to get from the UK to Australia. Even with COVID restrictions.

Would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a brilliant and iconic guitar. Thank you, Brian May Guitars!

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful.

Playing my hero's guitar
Friday, 1 January 2021  | 

My wife bought this Brian May Guitars Red Special for me for Christmas and I have spent the last few days getting used to all the various sounds/tones available from this wonderful instrument.

It is beautifully crafted and so easy to play. I can't play like Brian but at least I can experience his guitar at close hand. Best thing to come out of 2020 !!

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

She loves her BMG
Wednesday, 30 December 2020  | 

We purchased the BMG Red Special for our daughter for Christmas. She is 13 years old and a huge Queen, and of course Brian May fan. The quality of the guitar is excellent and the sound is certainly that of Brian May's.

The purchase, shipping, etc. all went smoothly and was very timely. Definitely recommend a BMG for anybody interested in a great sounding, quality guitar.

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Versatile Instrument, Excellent Value, Great Customer Service
Wednesday, 30 December 2020  | 

I've wanted one of these guitars for a long time, and decided to treat myself this year; I wish I'd done so long ago.

The instrument is outstanding : comfortable neck, very low action, versatile range of sounds from the pickup switching, beautiful sustain. I sincerely believe a gigging musician could use this one guitar for a broad range of music. The build quality is phenomenal. I've tried out a lot of guitars this fall, including a handful of multi-thousand dollar instruments, and the the BMG feels as well made as any of them, making it an excellent value for both quality and usefulness.

I also commend Brian May Guitars for a speedy ordering and shipping process and excellent response to customer inquiries. My instrument arrived from the UK to the U.S. mid-Atlantic region in 5 days from time of order, well packed and in excellent condition. Both the instrument and the company are deserving of having Brian May's name associated with them.

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