The BMG Special • Art Series • News Of The World

The BMG Special • Art Series • News Of The World
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The BMG Special • Art Series • News Of The WorldThe BMG Special • Art Series • News Of The WorldThe BMG Special • Art Series • News Of The WorldThe BMG Special • Art Series • News Of The World
Worldwide Price : £2,458.33
UK Price :  £2,950.00 Inc. 20% VAT
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Limited Stock Available  

Limited Stock Available

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Available to special order only, this exclusive BMG collectors item pays tribute to Queen's magnum opus, "News Of The World", with the album's iconic gatefold sleeve reproduced in all its glory across the body and pickguard of a very limited edition instrument.

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 altered the haunting imagery, 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 - “They are firmly grounded in classical music, but they are inventive,” he raved. “It’s like these guys have absorbed all the quality music they can and then put it all in a bucket and stirred it up.”

Released on October 28th 1977 (the same day as the Sex Pistols unleashed "Never Mind the Bollocks..."), Queen’s sixth studio platter saw the band respond to the threat of punk rock by delivering the most stripped-down and straightforward collection of their career, focusing on a leaner, more spontaneous sound and feel, while still retaining the multi-layered flamboyance and hard-rock heft of their earlier work. Opening in epic fashion with the almighty one-two punch of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions”, the album celebrates the quartet’s astonishing creative diversity, deftly genre-hopping between proto-punk (“Sheer Heart Attack”), salacious psych-funk (“Get Down, Make Love”), lush calypso-pop (“Who Needs You”), acoustic balladry (“Spread Your Wings”), blues (""Sleeping on the Sidewalk"), theatrical rock and roll (“It’s Late”) and jazzy romanticism (“My Melancholy Blues”).

Despite receiving mixed reviews upon its release, with many critics commenting negatively on the band's stylistic change, "News Of The World" has subsequently been certified double platinum in the UK and 4 x platinum in the United States and remains the band’s most successful long player to sate, with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. Album openers "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You" have also of course become enduring arena-rock anthems that are a staple of Queen live shows, as well as sporting events around the world, to this day.

Christened in honour of his creator, the album's cover star, Frank the robot, has assumed iconic status in his own right, brought spectacularly to life for Queen + Adam Lambert's 2017 + 2018 concert performances, both as an animated visual and an animatronic character, and immortalised in his very own BMG's Art Series model.

The striking artwork that adorns this wonderful instrument was adapted from Frank Kelly Freas' original painting by the Brian May Guitars art department exclusively for this project and will be rendered to order in full-frontal splendour by world-renowned British custom paint specialist Martin Sims of Sims Guitar Works.

Body Acoustic Chambered Mahogany with Mahogany Top
Binding 6-Ply Pinstripe, Front + Back
Neck 1-Piece Mahogany
Finish Exclusive Custom "News of The World" Album Cover Artwork by Sims Guitar Works • Ashford • UK
Truss Rod Dual Action (440mm)
Fingerboard Macassar Ebony
Frets 24 x 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, with Chrome Covers
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 PPS (45mm x 6mm)
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

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 (1 Review):  
Write a Review and share your opinions!

Rating:  
It's Freas-ing up in here!
Thursday, 28 October 2021  | 

I'm coming from a history of owning Brian May guitars since the first efforts. A lifelong fan, I was working at a guitar shop when the first Guild came out and I ordered one for myself. Loved it, though we now know it wasn't the best effort. But for a scrappy guitar player - it was what was available. I sold it to pre-order the next Guild edition some years later. This was a much better rendition and I ordered it in green. I am KICKING myself for ever selling that one because regardless of how Red Special accurate it was - it was truly a fine instrument. But you know how guitarists are. The ones that got away...

I have now been pining for a "Super" and hope to make it on to any new waiting list when production is commenced. And maybe, just maybe I'll get to go green again.

But I digress. The ultimate Queen album art (for me) is "News of the World". I brought home the cassette, My dad saw the album art and said "That's from a magazine cover." To which I replied (probably) "No, it's from this brand new Queen album" and some kind of derisive grunt. He then proceeded to go down to the basement, root around and FOUND the original 1953 issue of Astounding Science Fiction with Kelly Freas' original painting on it and it blew my mind. Here was the coolest band in the world borrowing a painting that was already 24 years old, and somehow my dad recognized it! I still have the copy he gave me. I was really tentative when it came to ordering this edition. It's purely a collector move, and I felt very guilty about ordering a guitar that was mainly going to be a wall-mount piece of art. But I did. And here we are.

So we had some issues with Customs. I don't think this was typical, and everyone was incredibly helpful and polite about it, but it was a bit frustrating for a few days. Then it arrived. The first thing I did when it arrived was tune it and play it through an amp. I've got a custom EL84 Vox clone that has an overdrive in front of the pre-amp that is just the best, and immediately, the Queen tones were right there. I didn't expect as much out of what is actually the base model with a nice, custom finish, but let me tell you - the May-sound is there. The pick-up switching selections along with the chambering of the body immediately let me find multiple Queen tones instantly.

The transformation of the album art to the front of this instrument is also incredibly commendable. I guess if I am wishing for something, I wish that they had included the bridge/tremolo scratch plate and had it be part of the art as well. I get why it's a continuous image, but since they did it with the main pickguard, they could have certainly added the bottom plate and continued the artwork there as well. But that's a nit-pick. None of the ones in these special series have that lower scratch plate either.

Nit-picking aside, it's a beautiful guitar with a great homage to my favorite Queen album art. And it sounds amazing. What more could you ask for? The price seems a bit on the steep side to me. I don't know why the other similar one with Frank as he was reimagined for the newest tour is almost half as much, and I'm not clear on anything else being that different between the two?

Anyway - the gentlemen at House Music in Britain were exceptionally helpful, and the process was relatively quick and pain free, apart from the Customs hiccups. I love it and am working on a way to display my dad's old copy of Astounding Science Fiction along with the instrument on the wall. Five stars! Now, can someone sneak me onto the waiting list for a Super?

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Response:

The price for this remarkable, limited edition, collector's piece reflects the fact that it features an entirely exclusive reproduction of Frank Kelly Freas' original album artwork, lovingly augmented by the BMG art department, and rendered in all its full frontal glory by Martin Sims at Sims Custom Guitars, one of the world's most renowned custom paint specialists. Using a unique, proprietary process, the iconic image is applied seamlessly and faultlessly across the entire face of the instrument – pickguard and all – with the body and neck colour-matched and finished to a similarly impeccable standard.