Brian May’s guitar tech explains why his Red Special has a unique marking
The guitar has gone through a few changes ahead of Queen’s upcoming US tour with Adam Lambert on vocals.
Image: Jordi Vidal / Getty
May’s Red Special has undergone limited changes over the years, but there have been a few key adjustments made to his iconic axe to make life on the road easier.
In an appearance on the Red Special Guitar Podcast, Malandrone was asked if any particular changes have been made to May’s set up for the tour.
“Not a lot, to be honest. We try not to fix things unless they’re broken,” he begins (via Ultimate Guitar). “There is one bit of equipment that we’ve added, which doesn’t enhance the sound, it doesn’t change the sound.
“But hopefully, it’ll help me get rid of spurious horrible RF noise, which is the scourge of every radio system in the world, because of the amount of digital stuff that’s floating around in the world these days.”
He adds, “You think of all the TV channels, or the radio channels, all that digital stuff, or the mobile phone signal… And most arenas will have repeaters on their roofs or transmitters on their roofs. And obviously, that emanates everywhere around the arena. Some are worse than others, the ones that might have metal… Like, the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam is particularly bad.
“And it’s not the same every time, and it’s not the same frequency every time of the noise you get. And sometimes, you just can’t get rid of it. So we have a bit of equipment now, which hopefully will help me with that.”
Malandrone later explained why there is also a specific marking on the guitar’s volume knob, “This mark here and this mark here is the sweet spot for the start of Under Pressure. So Brian can see in the dark, so he doesn’t have to fiddle about,” he explains. “He knows exactly where it is to make that really clean, glassy sound at the start of Under Pressure.”
May is also now playing through a digital system as opposed to analogue, and Malandrome explained why they had chosen to make the switch: “We spent a lot of work on the last tour making it sound as close as we could to the analogue system, because Brian liked the sound of the analogue system. Which, I think, we’ve nailed now, really. It gives us a lot more freedom to… If we’re in a particularly busy place, frequency-wise, there’s a lot more frequencies that we can try. It’s just upgrading, really.”
Watch the full episode below:
Get tickets to see Queen live via their official website.