The Red Special Relic

The first guitar I ever made……

Back in 2018, I had the mad idea that I wanted to build myself a replica of Brian May’s Red Special guitar.
Using materials as close as I could to those of the original (Blockboard, mahogany, oak, Bakelite, Perspex and Rustin’s Plastic Coating), I set about recreating this legendary instrument.

Bridge, Tremolo and Pickups

The tremolo rocker is made from stainless steel, but has been painted to resemble the worn and oxidised look of the original’s mild steel unit.

The Bridge is an aluminium unit in six blocks, each with a roller. They are mounted on brass shims using screws, into 6BA brass hank nut rivets mounted into the body.

The pickups are shortly to be replaced by a relic’d set of my own Sovereigns

Knobs and Tremelo Arm Nut

Turned and knurled aluminium knobs, aged and relic’d to match the condition of the originals.

The tone knob has since been replaced with a new one (Following the loss of the original’s tone knob whilst on tour in Texas).

Headstock & Tuners

Schaller M6 135 back-locking tuners have been fitted with modified pearloid buttons, aged to match the cracking of the buttons on the original.

The headstock itself has been relic’d to match the dents and damage of the original, along with filled-in screw holes on the back where earlier machineheads were fitted.

A 2018 Brian May sixpence has been mounted to the headstock for the year it was built, in place of the original’s 1993 Back To The Light sixpence.

Underneath the Pickups

Hank nut rivets and small pieces of wire have been fitted under the pickups to replicate the connection system of the original pickups made by Brian May, which were then replaced with Burns Tri-Sonics.

The bridge pickups sits on a piece of rubber, which fills the recess for the original (larger) pickups, with a small plastic shim underneath the neck pickup.

Rear of Body

The rear of the body has the small half-moon shaped repair on the back (Fitted on the original due to a car accident damaging the veneer)

It has also been stained and relic’d to mimic the repairs performed by Greg Fryer on the original in 1998, together with some dark ‘water staining’ areas found on the guitar in the mid 2010’s.

Switchplate & Switches

A hand-made aluminium switchplate, fitted with a set of modified Switchcraft switches, with my own “Jean Renaud Hybrid” actuators to mimic the look of the original’s switches when the scratchplate is in place.

I have retained the original two-pot volume and tone layout, rather than fit the ‘Superpot’ which is now fitted to the original Red Special.

Behind the Pickguard

The back of the pickguard is lined with copper tape to reduce electronic interference.

It’s then been painted to mimic the general grime and dirt found on the original, using photos from Simon Bradley’s excellent book as reference.

Electronics Cavity

Lined with copper tape, and soldered to provide continuity, again using photos of the original as reference.

The polarity posts for connecting the pickups and the sixpence underneath the copper (which the tone post sits on top of) can be seen here also.

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