The BMG Special LE • Natural

The BMG Special LE • Natural
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The BMG Special LE • NaturalThe BMG Special LE • NaturalThe BMG Special LE • Natural
List Price :  £875.00UK/EU Discount Price :  £775.00 Inc. 20% VATSave :  £100.00Export Price - USA • Australia • Worldwide : £645.83

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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 • August 2013

Brian May Guitars Special - Natural

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.

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 Gloss
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 • 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 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 (13 Reviews):  
Write a Review and share your opinions!

Rating:  
Just fun to play
Thursday, 29 October 2020  | 

Coming from a Strat style guitar, a MusicMan Silhouette, the BMG with its small scaling is so much fun to play, so easy. I found myself grabbing the BMG more and more and now it has become MY GUITAR. For those of you who like playing lots of soulful bendings (and hate blisters on the fingers)... try it out

P.S. Im using the BMG together with 008 Pyramid String (one of the softest strings) and need only two spring of the tremolo, which pushes the softness even further.

Cheers, Andy!

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Rating:  
Amazing
Friday, 16 October 2020  | 

This is an amazing guitar, and I’m so happy that I purchased it. The different tones you can get on this guitar make you want to play it for hours. It is beautiful in every aspect, and the attention to detail is flawless.

I was hesitant for years on buying a guitar that I would not be able to play prior to purchasing, and I live in the USA. This is the easiest guitar I have ever played. The shipping was great as it only took four days.

This guitar gets rave reviews. Now I know why

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Rating:  
Wonderful
Tuesday, 13 October 2020  | 

Thank you, Brian, for making these wonderful guitars, I have played Strats, PRS, Ibanez and Jacksons and the minute I picked this up, I knew it was right. Thank you for your build quality, for your quality control, for your amazing price point – bearing in mind the quality of the instrument, you and your father sure designed a great guitar, love and peace.

 

This review has not been appraised.


Rating:  
Nice guitar, nice job, nice website
Monday, 28 September 2020  | 

The guitar has arrived perfectly to my home. The finish is a little bit more bright than image in the website but it's okay anyway, the Antique Cherry finish (that I have) is too dark. Anyway, I changed the pickups with a set wound by me with right isotropic ferrite magnets (as with Antique Cherry) and now it sounds perfectly.

Nice guitar, nice job, nice website. Greetings from Southern Italy!!

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Rating:  
The real deal - from service to product - delivered
Monday, 13 July 2020  | 

Where to start with this review? I originally bought a 'standard' Red Special for my son's Christmas and was mightily impressed to the point of buying myself one too. I bought the LE Natural one and it's such a versatile guitar.

I love Brian May (who doesn't?) but I play all styles of music and went for this guitar because it really covers all the bases. You won't be disappointed with this instrument. It joins another 14 guitars and since it arrived, they haven't been out of the cases.

A quick word on the service from BMG / House Music. I had emailed asking a question re. the finish on the natural guitar and rather than an email response, received a phone call to explain the answer to me from Barry Moorhouse himself, who promptly asked how my son was getting on with his RS and had we received the pick guard screw I had requested. The service and attention to detail is fabulous and was the deciding factor for me when I bought my own.

Thanks again folks - Great product & experience!

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Rating:  
Wonderful
Friday, 26 June 2020  | 

First off, what a beautiful piece of craftsmanship this is!

While a natural finish like this can be considered easier to produce, the final product is just spectacular to look at. As far as the instrument plays, the fretboard and associated action feels very comfortable under the fingers. Though it is a bit wider than I'm personally used to, that will just take a little time to become accustomed. The slightly shorter than typical Gibson and Fender scale length certainly allows for easier bending, I definitely appreciate the locking tuners in conjunction with the tremolo system - pitch doesn't seem to go out very easily, even when you really crank on the bar! The use of a "0 fret" instead of a traditional nut is an interesting design choice as well - this may only be my experience, but when bending the G string, the upper part of the string past the nut vibrates, creating a very high pitch. You don't really hear it when the instrument is plugged in, and it in no way effects the playability. It's just a funny quirk.

Now for the way it sounds, I couldn't say enough good things! I love the simplicity of one volume and one tone knob to control everything. Simplicity in performance settings is really crucial, and despite having three pickups, managing everything with so little makes for a smoother experience (at least for me!). Not to mention, the wide variety of tones you can get by rolling on or off either of the knobs. That, in addition to what this guitar is so famous for - its ability to pair unusual pickups and switch their phasing - make for a truly versatile color palette. When paired with a treble boosting pedal, the instrument shines like no other! It's also pretty lightweight which is nice on the shoulder.

Bravo, BMG. You've really got a wonderful product to showcase!

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Rating:  
The best
Thursday, 11 June 2020  | 

I only started playing 2 years ago and I've had many guitars trying to find the right one. I have three now after buying and selling some - A Strat, a Gibson SG copy, and now the Brian May Special. It is without a doubt the best of them and the one I play most. I seem to be able to get any tone out of it. It’s a beautiful guitar, so well made.

I always dreamed of a guitar that could do everything, I even thought of putting a humbucker onto my strat with 3 single coils but couldn’t find a place for it. I could go on here for ages about everything that’s great about this guitar, but let me just say that everything is great on this guitar. The pickups designed by Brian May are just perfect, you can use the neck on its own and it sounds as good, maybe even better, then a custom shop Strat pickup (I had a set before), but this guitar has so much more tone than that from the other pickups and selections. It can be a chill out clean tone, beautiful guitar tone, or an absolute snarling beast with the best and most distinctive voice ever heard.

I got the natural LE one and I love it. JUST GET IT! You will not regret it

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Rating:  
Amazing Guitar
Wednesday, 27 May 2020  | 

These guitars are the best I've ever played and have the amazing Brian May tone, these are totally worth every penny!

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Rating:  
As good as a solid body electric gets
Tuesday, 28 January 2020  | 

The Special is the nicest guitar I have played, full stop. Without plugging it in, the neck, the fretboard and action are superb. Amplified, a really wide range of tones is available. I can't recommend these guitars highly enough.

This is not the only Special I own. I bought a new, old-stock Burns Red Special a few years ago and since then have rarely picked up another guitar. I don't have time for the narrow neck, nasty frets and high tension of my Stat any more. I love the ability of a single coil pickup to cut through in a band and for decades, the Strat was my main guitar. But once you get used to playing on a wider neck with smoother frets, it's hard to go back. The Strat is really a guitar designed for cheap mass production and though it sounds great, the Special is a far more modern approach to a guitar - which is odd since the Red Special appeared a long time ago.

Since getting a Red Special, my style of playing has changed a lot. I play far higher up the neck and bend a lot more - the 600mm scale length makes big bends easy and painless. The action and neck are as fast as a Maton and they're hard to beat but perhaps a little too thin...

Well, I worried a lot about my Burns getting knocked off or broken and at some stage put my name down for a Super. Now here's the difficult bit - I slightly prefer the Special. This isn't so much because of the daunting size of the neck on the Super, you get used to that fairly soon and it appears to make things like hammering on a little more accurate. It's mostly to do with the tremolo. The one fitted to Burns and the BMG Specials can be used with the palm of your hand to give a really nice vibrato. Because the Super has a different style and position of tremolo, this can't be done.

By mistake, I played a current spec BMG Special in a shop and found it had all the good features of the Burns version, and a bit more all around. The neck and string alignment is a bit better and strings don't fall off the side or get caught under a fret end and the Wilkinson tremolo works the same way. The other thing is that the Super is a bit too nice to play all the time (sorry, it's my problem!) so I decided to get the BMG Special, and it had to be the LE so I didn't get them mixed up, even though that ran the risk that "the authorities" might say that one had to go!

What puzzles me a bit is how the great man himself (with a little help from his dad) came up with a guitar so good all those years ago, and no manufacturer from the other side of the pond thought to copy it. I see people playing Les Pauls and Stratocasters (mine's actually a "The Strat") and wonder if they have tried a Special. Why would you play anything else? (Unless it's that nice, very special, green Guyton semi-accoustic).

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful.


Rating:  
Can you ever have too many tones?!
Saturday, 7 September 2019  | 

This guitar is very nicely finished and well built. Out of the box it was very well set up and the frets were well polished making bending strings and vibrato almost effortless.

It has a very comfortable neck profile even for my large hands, it is well balanced and comfortable when sitting down or standing. The tremolo system stays in tune far better than similar units I have used - I assume this is down to the combination of the straight pull through the nut, 2 point tremolo, locking tuners and shorter scale length.

As for the sound, even without any effects you can hear these pickups have their own tone and once you start experimenting with the switches you start to realise the extent of the tonal pallete, but to get the most out of it and try to sound like Brian you definitely need the treble booster, chorus etc.

So if you need upgrade your guitar or are looking for inspiration, try a RS or one of the LE's as you can never have too many tones.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful.


Rating:  
Really amazing
Sunday, 17 June 2018  | 

This guitar looks great, the finish is very well done and the sonic possibilities are endless. The sounds you can get out of this guitar are really amazing and It surely has that Brian May tone to It. Marvelous instrument!!!

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful.


Rating:  
Brian May Red Special
Sunday, 15 May 2016  | 

Outstanding guitar beautifully built and fantastic sound and tones.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful.


Rating:  
Looks & Plays Superb
Sunday, 1 May 2016  | 

Ordered this guitar from House Music and it arrived quickly and set up to perfection for me.

It's my second Brian May guitar as I bought one about 4 years ago and I can tell you the quality was good then, but the new example I got has shown me the quality is even better now.

I got the extras for free as well (Replica Control Knobs/BMG Microfibre Cloth/Elites Strings/Brian May Sixpence/BMG T-Shirt)which is a bonus.

This guitar looks and plays superb.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful.