Premier Guitar caught up with guitar tech Pete Malandrone who takes care of Brian May's guitars and rig.
Brian May’s entire career has been almost exclusively spent with the guitar that he and his father built in 1964. “Red Special” is a three-pickup, double-cutaway guitar with Burns pickups and a very unique (at the time) switching system that allows May to cover a huge range of tones. According to May, everything on the guitar is still original from when it was built except for the tuning pegs and the rollers on the bridge.
During a typical show, May switches guitars during two songs. "Fat Bottomed Girls," which is in dropped-D tuning, is played with a Red Special replica that's green and was built by British luthier Andrew Guyton.
For "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," he uses another Guyton Red Special replica with the addition of an f-hole—which was featured on May's original designs for the guitar— a non-trem bridge, and an internal piezo pickup that is utilized during the opening parts of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." All his guitars are strung with Optima 24 Carat Gold .009--.042 strings.
(thru Andee Blacksugar)