The BMG Special LE • Metal May

The BMG Special LE • Metal May
The BMG Special LE • Metal MayThe BMG Special LE • Metal MayThe BMG Special LE • Metal MayThe BMG Special LE • Metal May
List Price :  £945.00Worldwide Price : £704.17
UK Price :  £845.00 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

Brian May Special LE - Metal May

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

Thursday, 13 August 2020  | 

I ordered a Metal May guitar and have been really impressed with the service from Brian May Guitars. The delivery of the guitar (I live in New Zealand) was quicker than expected and the thorough packaging ensured the guitar arrived in a perfect condition.

I have played on a Burns Brian May guitar for the past 18 years and it has been an excellent guitar. The Metal May is another superb guitar. I prefer the tremolo system on the Metal May and also find it slightly more playable due to its neck. While I wanted another BM guitar, it was an added bonus that it plays slightly differently to my Burns. It also looks fantastic in black and sounds great. The free guitar strap is top quality and gig bag is as well. Thanks again.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

Love it !!!
Thursday, 6 August 2020  | 

I’m a big Queen fan and I’ve been since “Killer Queen” was released. I’d played guitar a few years at the time and went from John Fogerty to Brian May. “Brighton Rock” became my guitar school.

This Metal May is simply fantastic. I love the fact that the all black colour turns it into something different than the other BMGs. They’re all beautiful but this version stands out. Ordered in on a Friday and got it next Tuesday !!! Tuned it up and it had a perfectly setup. A big neck and wide fretboard and that might take a little time to get used to for some. For me? No problem cause it’s a lot like one of my Firebird’s (2006).

Anyway ! I’m really really happy with this guitar and I guess there’s room for one more... maybe in gold or blue or red. Thanks BMG and keep up the good work 👍🏻

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This review has not been appraised.

Awesome guitar + awesome service + delivery!
Tuesday, 4 August 2020  | 

Wow! I absolutely love this guitar! I was very fortunate to secure a signed (By Dr. Brian May) BMG Special guitar a couple of months earlier. I loved it so much, but being signed, which I treasure, I don’t want to play this live @ gigs... so, solution... buy another! This time, the BMG LE Metal May.

I’m so happy with this guitar, too. It’s set up well, with a beautiful feel, and looks and sounds awesome! Both times, the guitars arrived from England and on my doorstop in NZ within 10 days (in actual, probably less). Communication was great from the time I placed my order, to dispatch and all delivery steps on the way. And this is through COVID-19 times.

Thank you so much BMG Guitars! You rock! The BMG special Guitar Rocks! Just like Legend Brian May Rocks! 😊 5 Stars PLUS! One extremely happy customer. Thank you.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

Super pleased!
Wednesday, 19 December 2018  | 

I don't know what to say so I'll say it all...

I'm not a great guitarist, not a performer. I jam at home for stress relief and to make myself happy.

I was looking at finally getting myself a Strat. A co-worker caught wind of this and being a huge Queen fan pointed out this site to me. Pointed out that Brian May has a doctorate in Astrophysics and had deisgned his own axe. Then I saw the switch setup and learned more. I ordered one, hoping it would be everything I wanted.

Given that the guitar is purely analog I paired it with a full tube 40 watt Marshall and an Orange Micro Terror as well for headphones.

I'm delighted.

I just can't find a limit yet. My only problem so far has been that the tremolo bar seems to rise a bit high under my palm but really, I'm no expert and I may be able to remedy that with another whammy bar and just cutting down the length where it engages the bridge a little. Maybe. Dunno, I might need some time to adjust my technique instead.

I'm one very happy strumming, picking guitar player these days.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

BMG Special Signature Edition... Metal May!
Thursday, 30 August 2018  | 

Fantastic and beautiful!! It was worth to wait for it!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

Pure black beauty
Sunday, 12 August 2018  | 

I have been playing my 25th anniv. silver Strat since 1978 and needless to say it was May's playing, even my Mum loved the sound of Queen, that influenced me to play. The BMG MM (Metal May) is a guitar of pure black beauty. Believe it or not but when Brian May took over production I wrote and asked his factory in England to build something similar. They were not able to do it then but now they have it! OMG, talk about the stars lining up with that.

With that being said it did take a bit of getting used to in two major areas:

1. The neck - There is room to play on this bad boy of a fret board! I have long fingers so I only noticed a minor difference on the thickness of the neck but it does have a feel all its own. I also had to adjust to the spaces between the strings as they are wider but for some reason made bending easier.

2. The switches - Unlike my Strat the Metal May has so many variables it takes more than just a week or so to get a grip on some of the variations. I suggest to vary the switches and your amp settings to get your OWN sound, one that feels good to you then map it out on paper so you don't forget. And folks, my review is based on NO effects.

The Metal May does a great job on sustains, bending strings (I am sure that bending is more difficult with my Strat due to the width of the neck and pick ups (the MM seems to offer a board designed with bending in mind), feedback is fun to play with as well.

My Strat is made with a heavy wood body of which I have grown accustomed to. Upon receiving the MM I noticed it to be lighter than mine but keep in mind this is the more affordable axe as compared to BMG Super. And for some folks too heavy of a guitar can be a strain on the neck/shoulders.

The unique sound is routed through the Tri Sonic pickups which are incredible to hear. And again, with the array of switches the sounds are endless from bright to crunch. I like crunch!

Overall a well thought out guitar at a price that is competitive in today's market. I never thought as a 16 year old kid seeing Queen in Las Vegas at the Aladdin Theater that I would even come close to holding my hero's guitar.

My bucket list is the BMG Super but this will abide my time quite well my dear!


Jim Dale

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful.

Metal May - The Most Cool Looking of The May Collection
Sunday, 25 October 2015  | 

I love this guitar... This was my first Brian May Guitar so I was expecting big things. I was not disappointed, this guitar is amazing.

Firstly, very accurate to the original and the sound is hauntingly near. With the black one, the in and out phase switches really show up bright and once you get some retro silver switches on there (which you can get from the site) the whole guitar looks really futuristic. I think with the black one the shape is accentuated with its white glowing edges. The black pickups really look 'Rocky' and I can't think of a cooler looking guitar.

This is a limited edition so grab it while it's available. I am very very happy with my purchase and will continue to check the site for updates and new editions.

The team were professional and friendly and full of advice and amused me with tales of Brian himself propping and requesting guitars. Which brings you back to why you're here in the first place, Brian May, the man, the legend. Himself and his father created this guitar and now you have the choice to enjoy it too, in many flavors.

If you like Brian's sound and are fan of cool looking guitars, I recommend you will not be disappointed with this. Love it, and always will!

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful.