The BMG Special • Art Series • Frank

The BMG Special • Art Series • Frank
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The BMG Frank Special is here!

Marking the launch of our brand new BMG Art Series range, this exclusive, limited edition guitar celebrates Queen's 1977 masterpiece, "News Of The World" with a stunning original image of Frank, the child-like robot with murderous tendencies from the classic album's cover, his piercing, blood-red eyes staring ominously from an all-black, Special style instrument, with matching black hardware.

NOTW's famed artwork, painted by American artist Frank Kelly Freas, was a reimagining of his cover for the October 1953 issue of pulp sci-fi magazine Astounding Science Fiction, a favourite of (Queen dummer) Roger Taylor's. Used to illustrate the short story “The Gulf Between" by Tom Godwin, the original work depicted a giant robot, a man’s lifeless body help limply in one hand, its finger dripping with blood and eyes pleading "Please... fix it, Daddy?”.

At the band’s request, Freas agreed to alter the design, replacing the fatally wounded figure with the apparently dead likenesses of all four band members; Brian May and Freddie Mercury lying in the automaton’s monstrous metal hand, with John Deacon and Roger Taylor falling to earth. The visionary illustrator was also commissioned to create a new work for the album’s inner gatefold with the cooly emotionless robot extending its hand through the shattered roof of a vast auditorium to grasp at a panicked, fleeing crowd.

A classical music fan, Freas admitted to not knowing of Queen in advance, and avoided their music until after the cover was completed "because I thought I might just hate them, and it would ruin my ideas”. Thankfully, upon listening to the album after submitting his contribution to what would eventually become part of rock history, the artist approved of what he heard.

Despite receiving mixed reviews upon its release, "News Of The World" was certified double platinum in the UK and 4 x platinum in the United States, going on to become the band’s best-selling long player to date, with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. Christened in honour of his creator, Frank has assumed iconic status in his own right and was finally brought spectacularly to life for Queen + Adam Lambert's 2017 + 2018 concert performances, both as an animated visual and an animatronic character.

The striking design of the Frank Special - taken from a rendering of the 3D model created by Mark Hough for the Q+AL stage show and originally used for the 2017 Record Store Day 12" vinyl re-release of "We Are The Champions/We Will Rock You" - was created by the Brian May Guitars art department exclusively for this project.

   

This is the same instrument played by Dr. Brian May himself during Queen's "Crown Jewels" residency at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in September 2018 for his "Killer Queen" solo - with the "real" Frank looking on with what we sincerely hope is approval!

The BMG Special

The result of a unique collaboration between 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 decidely contemporary feel, and considerably less deeply contoured than the somewhat gargantuan proportions of the "Old Lady", 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 classic '60's 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, winding and magnet alignment as the originals.

Original BM Switching System

As per the original BM design, The Special is equipped with 6 white-capped slider switches controlling individual pickup on/off and phase reversal and providing a vast range of tonal variations.

Wilkinson Knife-Edge Tremolo

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

Wilkinson Knife-Edge Tremolo

Trevor Wilkinson's "Wave" tremolo-bridge provides a strikingly modern look to The Special as well as delivering smooth, comfortable performance and 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.

Body Acoustic Chambered Mahogany with Bookmatched Mahogany Top
Binding 6-Ply Pinstripe, Front + Back
Neck 1-Piece Mahogany
Finish Black Polyurethane Gloss with Exclusive "Frank the Robot" Graphic
Truss Rod Dual Action (440mm)
Fingerboard Ebony
Frets 24 Medium Jumbo 18% Nickel Frets + Zero Fret
Fret Wire Crown Height : 2.7mm (0.106") • Crown Width : 0.914mm (0.036") • 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 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 Graphite/PPS Black (45mm x 6mm)
Scratchplates Plastic Main Control Plate • 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 Approx 3.2kg (7lbs)
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.

Tone

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!

Conclusion

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 (10 Reviews):  
Write a Review and share your opinions!

Rating:  
Very nice
Friday, 14 August 2020  | 

Looks great - sounds great

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This review has not been appraised.


Rating:  
Stop looking... and purchase one!
Monday, 20 July 2020  | 

After looking for weeks, I decided to order "Frank". The ordering process was quick and easy-plus the guitar arrived sooner than expected. Decades ago, I purchased one of the last US made Red Specials and enjoyed it-but never really bonded with the guitar. I have also played a few BMG models and liked them, but never compelled enough to purchase. After some time with my BMG Frank-I can honestly say...WOW! The guitar is simply excellent! I had some trouble removing the protective film from the pickups, but aside from that minor inconvenience-could not be happier. The attention to detail, playability and sound are beyond most instruments in this price range. And of course, it simply nails "the sound".

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.


Rating:  
Nice guitar, nice shop
Monday, 1 June 2020  | 

Only five days to receive this guitar (to France during Covid crisis). Tried on a Vox AC30 (in studio), what a sound. Recommended.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.


Rating:  
Love It
Friday, 31 January 2020  | 

So happy, absolutely wonderful guitar, cool picture. can really recommend this guitar to everyone who loves Queen.
(Helt underbar gitarr, så häftig bild. Kan verkligen rekommendera denna till alla Som älskar Queen)

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.


Rating:  
Perfect Service!
Thursday, 26 December 2019  | 

Thank God it's Frank-Mas! Here’s Franky - I got the best Christmas present ever.

Wow! What can I say? I speechless - I´m over the moon with my signed Frank guitar. A true treasure and the highlight of my huge Queen and News Of The World collection.

A big thanks again to the entire BMG team and of course to the one and only Dr. Brian May!

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Rating:  
Amazing guitar at ANY price
Monday, 9 September 2019  | 

Used it in a recording the day it arrived. (Also used the new official Brian May setting in the Amplitude guitar amp simulator software BTW) - sounded amazing straight away.

Super happy with the purchase and can't wait to use it again.

Listen to a clip HERE.

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Rating:  
Very good guitar !
Tuesday, 6 August 2019  | 

Hope I get the BMG SUPER as soon as possible. I`m on the waiting List since 11.8.2018.

Greetings from AUSTRIA, Günter

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Rating:  
A real work of art
Tuesday, 6 August 2019  | 

Over the years I keep buying BMG specials, selling them, then regretting it. Started with the Burns version in fact.

Clearly they are working hard on the quality; each one I have had is incrementally better than the last. This one is near perfect in finish, beautifully made in fact. Trademark tone is there, very playable and not just a "one trick pony" either; very versatile.

I only scored it as 4 because it came with a slight rattle on the lower strings. The response when I reported this was a bit slow, in fact I never got an answer so eventually I just loosened the truss rod and the problem was solved.

"Frank" is going to be a keeper this time!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.


Rating:  
Magnificent guitar
Tuesday, 9 July 2019  | 

Superb, the best, delivered in a couple of days, sounds awesome!!

I can’t say enough about the quality of the build. The Frank picture kicks.

This is my dream guitar!

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Rating:  
Stunning
Tuesday, 18 June 2019  | 

I was lucky enough to be one of the first recipients of this beautiful guitar and the very first customer to play one on stage with my Queen tribute band, ‘Forever Queen’, at the Isle of Wight Festival. BMG kindly let me buy mine ahead of its official release due to me being a featured artist.

The finish on this guitar is stunning. The perception of 3D and depth in Frank's face is superb and his eyes follow you around the room! I love the black hardware on the guitar and colour all over is perfect. It came perfectly set up out of the box, and was ready to hit the stage with instantly.

Here’s a taste of how it sounds :

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful.