Brian May’s Homemade Guitar, Made From Old Tables, Bike and Motorcycle Parts & More

It’s called “The Red Special.” Or sometimes “The Fireplace.” That’s the guitar that Brian May (guitarist of Queen and physics researcher) began building with his father circa 1963, when Brian was about 16 years old. Lacking money but not ingenuity, the father-son team built the guitar using materials found around the home. The neck of the guitar was fashioned from an 18th-century fireplace mantel, the inlays on the neck from a mother-of-pearl button. For the body, they used wood from an old oak table. Then the bricoleurs combined a bike saddlebag holder, a plastic knitting needle tip, and motorbike valve springs to create a tremolo arm. It’s a kind of magic! But here’s perhaps the most amazing part of the story. The resulting guitar wasn’t a rickety novelty. May used The Red Special during Queen’s recording sessions and live performances, and he still apparently plays a restored version today. If you find yourself inspired by this DIY story, you can head over to BrianMayGuitars and buy your own Red Special replica.

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