The BMG Special LE - Jubilee Gold

The BMG Special LE - Jubilee Gold
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The BMG Special LE - Jubilee GoldThe BMG Special LE - Jubilee GoldThe BMG Special LE - Jubilee GoldThe BMG Special LE - Jubilee Gold
List Price :  £995.00Worldwide Price : £745.83
UK Price :  £895.00 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" 
Jason Sidwell • Guitar Techniques

The result of a unique collaboration between Sir 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 shape 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 striking modern look to the BMG Special as well as smooth, comfortable performance with exceptional stability and sustain.

Locking Tuners

The distinctive BM style headstock sports 3-a-side locking chrome tuners with an 18:1 gear ratio for precise tuning and a thumbwheel locking mechanism that clamps the string securely. These superb quality machine heads allow for quick and easy string change with fewer string wraps and will maintain rock-solid tuning stability and more accurate return-to-pitch, even with lots of vibrato and string bends.

The BMG 2024 Sixpence

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the completion of the Red Special and 20 glorious years since the launch of the Brian May Guitars brand, every BMG Special now comes complete with a FREE 2024 Sir Brian May "Official Queen Pick" in a perspex collector's case.

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 mahogany top
FINISH Gloss polyurethane
Binding 6-ply pinstripe, front and back
Neck 1-piece mahogany
NECK JOIN Set neck construction
Truss Rod Dual action / 440mm
Fingerboard Coromandel 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 BM pattern white front + side dots (Φ 6mm / Φ 1.5mm)
StriNG GUIDE PPS (45mm x 6mm)
Pickups 3 x BM brand custom Tri-Sonic style series wired single coil pickups
Switches White slider switches – 3 x pickup on/off / 3 x pickup phase in/out
Controls Master volume / Master Tone (A500K / B500K) with BM replica aluminium control knobs
Bridge Wilkinson WVP 2-point, knife edge tremolo (36mm block) with brass saddles
Tremolo Arm Custom BMG arm with plastic tip
Machineheads 3-a-side chrome thumbwheel locking tuners with 18:1 gear ratio
Pickguards Plastic main control plate and half-moon tail plate with matching truss rod cover, black tremolo cavity cover
Overall Length 98.8cm (38.9")
Body Length 40.63cm (16")
Body Width 35.67cm (14")
Body Depth 40mm (1.57")
WEIGHT Approx. 3.2kg (7lb)
Scale 610mm (24")
FINGERBOARD RADIUS 250mm (9.8")
Neck Width at Nut 45mm (1.77")
Neck Width at 12th Fret 53mm (2.09")
Neck Width at 24th Fret 57mm (2.24")
Neck Depth at 1st Fret 22mm (0.87")
Neck Depth at 12th Fret 24mm (0.94")
String Spacing at Nut 36mm (1.42")
String Spacing at 12th Fret 45mm (1.77")
String Spacing at Bridge 54mm (2.13")
Strings D'Addario EXL120 Nickel Wound Super Light – Plain Steel .009 - .011 - .016 / Wound .024 - .032 - .042
INCLUDED GIG BAG Premium quality BMG gig bag with twin shoulder straps, side/front grab handles, dual zipped front pockets and stitched logo
INCLUDED EXTRAS FREE 2024 Sir Brian May "Official Queen Pick" / sixpence coin in perspex collector's 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.

 

Jason Sidwell » August 2013

"Great price, attention to build quality, and an obvious visual appeal tick the important boxes... 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"

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. the busy 16th note riffing from "Ogre Battle"). 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):  
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Rating:  
Highly recommended
04 August 2020  | 

Really pleased with the build quality, play-ability and tone from my purchase. Plays straight out of the box, supplied with great care and when stated. Would highly recommend.

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