How did Vic get that Brian May Tone?

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How did Vic get that Brian May Tone?

Postby mixohoytian on Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:05 pm

I was there at Chubtone's shop when Vic demo'd the coyote I think, w/ the brian may model guitar.
I've never researched brian may's tone til recently....cause I got so much time to waste at work :?
I just remember it sounding realy freaking cool. I would never copy brian may's tone, but just wondering if the coyote does that without any treble booster?

Oh and a coyote came down the hill behind our apt/condo yesterday
and I'm pretty sure I heard a voice saying "thou shalt buy a coyote"
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Re: How did Vic get that Brian May Tone?

Postby plexi on Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:50 am

The Brian May guitar ( which has a great deal to do with it) into a treble booster, take your pick, I used a replica of the range master at the time. I'm sure nearly a dozen pedals will get that same effect. Drove the booster into the coyote, I think both channels were turned up. I May be mistaken and only sued the bass channel but If memory serves me, its both treble and bass. That's it.
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Re: How did Vic get that Brian May Tone?

Postby Mayhawk on Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:43 pm

Major first step is the pickups, the trisonics. Actually a rather primitive pu; I think simply a pair of magnets scatterwound. Used to be a single bar magnet but my memory may be failing. :old:

BTW, those are not polepieces you see on a trisonic......the magnets and windings are stuffed into a metal cover; the 6 holes are just that. With some black vinyl like paper or cloth that is visible through the 6 holes. Again, rather primitive affair, but back in early 60's England, it's what was available to the public. And remember, this was less than 20 years after WWII, England was still recovering, there were still embargos, the people still relatively poor and doing without, etc.

I think Brian potted his pu's but again I forget much. All in all makes for a rather non focused, more midrange-y pu; I used to describe is as like a P90, but without the power, sting, or <POP> (creamier, maybe?)

Beyond that, you get further into the guitar construction. The guitar body is blockboard with an oak piece to anchor the neck, and all covered with a mahogany looking veneer. Blockboard is strips or pieces of wood, usually pine or something cheaper, that is laid down with grains going in opposite directions and then glued. Kinda like those butcher/cutting boards. Anyway, much cheaper than using solid wood. And lighter than plywood. Used in dinette sets, etc. Hardly a tonewood!!!

I am thinking the neck is mahogany...? Either mahogany or oak. (From an old fireplace mantle, hence the nickname 'Fireplace' used in conjunction with the Brian May Red Special.) The fingerboard is oak that has been stained black. With regard to the guitar construction, there are ‘tone chambers’ or rather hollow areas in the body, both above and below the pickup/bridge area. I am not sure of the original reason for the chambers………I doubt ‘tone’ was the priority for the young Brian and Harold May at that time. IMO, it was either to lighten the weight (less likely IMO) or to accommodate the wiring (more probable IMO.) The wiring scheme makes for what looks like a rat’s nest in the lower cavity….plus the 6 switches and pair of (crappy) pots. PLUS, the guitar originally had a built in OD or distortion device (made for an extra red switch on the pickguard, then removed and extra hole covered with tape, then finally hole filled with the star inlay) making for even more havoc in the lower bout. So we have this big chamber to accommodate all that…..the chamber in the upper half I guess was to make it all ‘even.’

Oh yeah, and the whole guitar was then covered with Rustins Plastic Coating. I think this is a marine grade poly like stuff. Hard, slick, and very durable. Hardly the stuff you’d use on a 300 year old Strad or a prewar Martin.

All in all, IMO, makes for what should be a very VERY dull/lifeless midrange-y guitar. Ok, the scale of 24” should brighten it up a tad, but this scale is not that much different from the Gretsch 24.5” or Gibson 24.75”. BTW, the reason BM chose 24” scale was because he thought it would be ‘even’ and seemed right….after all 24 frets, 24 inches. (I got this from an interview many years ago.)

Having said that, the guitar is actually quite lively………at least that is what people have said who have played the real deal. I have had Red Special inspired guitars and currently own a very nice clone, ie as close as you can get to the real thing given what is available now, materials wise. I think the only difference is the finish……… builder used nitro based shellac. Anyway, it is quite lively (does have some volume when played acoustically,) but with a pronounced midrange emphasis.

Dunno if the pots change too much……all I know is the Omeg pots are bottom of the barrel (but as per the various Red Special posting boards, you gotta have them.) I have been meaning to change these but……….

After the guitar, I think the next thing of importance is the amp and speakers. Not sure why BM chooses the ‘normal’ (ie, not top boosted) channel of his AC30’s but there you go. Maybe he likes the overall tone and timbre, but this channel sounds kinda dull and lifeless to me. (I think AC50 here has said he prefers the ‘normal’ channel.) Anyway, the AC 30 is pretty mid/high mid dominant to my ears…..I guess this makes for a ‘thicker’ sound, esp with that guitar and pu’s. And we cannot overlook the speakers…….Celestion G12 alnicos. Given that BM pretty much plays on ‘10’ at all times, the speaker is quite important to tame the rough edges……I think the G12’s do this quite well. Greenbacks are fine as well IMHO, but G12’s cost more, er…., do it better.

As far as the treble boost goes, I have always assumed this was necessary to bring up the top end. Certainly makes the guitar ‘quite lively’ to say the least. I think these things add at least 30-35 db’s of boost to the upper frequencies. (BTW, not recommended for use with a strat and SFDR….take it from me.)

Last but not least, and we don’t wanna hear this……you have to consider Brian May himself. His fingers/brain mean quite a lot in this equation, but let’s not go there! After all, we can buy the gear!!!

Never heard a Coyote………..but it looks incredible on the website. Maybe when I sell a few things……?

Hope I didn’t bore you, but I type fast and I used to be into this BM stuff. Memory a bit foggy now and I am too lazy to research it. Oh, and I do love my Red Special clone! I just have to change the pots. Maybe in January.
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Re: How did Vic get that Brian May Tone?

Postby Mayhawk on Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:29 pm

Okay, just for giggles, here is my old Brian May 'inspired' guitar. Made by Bruce Clay/Rarebird Guitars. Bruce took quite a few liberties, and more than I agreed to. I'll say no more. However, it is a VERY good guitar. And is as quiet as an humbucker'ed guitar. I think Bruce made this back in 2000 or 2001. Back then there were no Burns Red Specials.....only KZ ($$$$$) and old Guilds, also pricey and rare. The case is a Protek....recommended. Looks like a gig bag, but reinforced with something (ABS? Plywood?) You can stand on it. Has a nice big pocket on the side that will hold a lot, even up to a small pedal board. :thumbsup:

Here is my clone, a Chris Maloney Imperial prototype. Pretty good for a prototype. I got it for peanuts off one else was bidding, and Chris didn't set much of a minimum. I have since talked with Chris about it, and he was quite taken aback at what I got it for. Few issues, namely was not grounded (had to run a wire up to the bridge beneath the pickguard....check my avatar for a 'before' shot) and some wiring got bunged up (bridge pu wouldn't work), but all straightened out. Oh, yeah, the lousy Omeg pots. I hope to get a pair of custom pots from Everett Wood soon.

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