Quantcast
"Killer Queen" guitar sound! - Gearspace.com
The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
"Killer Queen" guitar sound!
Old 14th May 2006
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Blast9's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
"Killer Queen" guitar sound!

Wow--- Awesome tones!

I love those stacke harmony guitars that start around 1.34.

But wait.... rewind! Can you hear the harmony vox blended in with the guitars, at the tail end of the notes? Ahh-ahh-aah! Sheer Genius!
Old 14th May 2006
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Brian May is one of my heros.

That Red Special guitar was handmade in the 1960's by Brian and his dad. The pickups are epoxied into place, to avoid the microphonics of ordinary solid body guitars. This style requires extreme gain, on the verge of feedback.

Brian plays with a british sixpence coin as a pick - but he has a light touch.

The wall of Vox AC30 amps are heavily modified (by Pete Cornish I believe) and bear little resemblance to a stock AC30. The power supplies are gutted and replaced with clean, quiet solid state units. There is an extensive transformer interface board designed by Pete Cornish to eliminate grounds loops and hum between them. For live use (long after the classic records were recorded) Brian uses Eventide digital effects, and sends the stereo effects to the outside AC30s, and the central AC30s are for the direct clean sound. I guess the stack of 6 AC30's is basically like a 3 amp setup, with redundancy.

In the studio - he didn't always use the AC30's. He had the famous "Deacy amp" which was basically a hifi bookshelf speaker, with a solid state car radio amp built into it by his bass player. Allegedly they found this amp at the dump. It had no volume control, and Brian controlled the volume by dampening it with his coat.

It is less well known that Pete Cornish was contracted to build him other small battery powered amps. Aparantly the first one he build was rejected, because it was too clean.

Low wattage battery amps have zero hum, and are great for getting controlled feedback at safe volumes for the player (who obviously has to be in the room).

Something that always impressed me about the early Queen guitar tones is the phasey sound (in a good way). I understand they experimented with placing mics inside concrete pipes and stuff like that. Brians guitar also had elaborate pickup phase wiring.

There's more to it than it would appear. I bought the Vox Brian May recording amp, and sold it again. It's little more than a cheap Vox practice amp. The big sellout is that they made it 10 watts (not half a watt) and AC (not batteries). So it's actually nothing like the amp that was used on the records - but I guess they sold thousands of them to gullible people. Not a bad little amp anyway, but you aren't going to get those tones that way.
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #3
mds
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Oh man that tone is killer. Some of the best rock tones ever, especially for single note stuff. Definitely sounds I have not been able to duplicate (not that I've tried very hard, but still)...

Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
max cooper's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I just watched the "Classic Albums" DVD about "A Night at the Opera". Good stuff, although there are fewer insights than some of the other shows in the series. It's still a must if you're a Queen fan. It's mostly Brian May and Roger Taylor, with a bit of Roy Thomas Baker at the console. Also some bits with Freddie from the archives.

I would have loved to have seen a documentary about "News of the World" since I've always considered it to be their best LP, but the world doesn't seem to agree with me on that matter.

The layering is always great, Killer Queen is no exception.

Here's a website about Brian's guitar, the Red Special:

http://www.brianmayworld.com/redspecial.htm
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
max cooper's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger

In the studio - he didn't always use the AC30's. He had the famous "Deacy amp" which was basically a hifi bookshelf speaker, with a solid state car radio amp built into it by his bass player.
IIRC, the speaker was an LS35a, no?
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger
There's more to it than it would appear. I bought the Vox Brian May recording amp, and sold it again. It's little more than a cheap Vox practice amp. The big sellout is that they made it 10 watts (not half a watt) and AC (not batteries). So it's actually nothing like the amp that was used on the records - but I guess they sold thousands of them to gullible people. Not a bad little amp anyway, but you aren't going to get those tones that way.
I here ya, that amp is a piece of crap. I loved it in the store for what must of been wishful thinking-induced reasons, but returned it after hearing it at home for a couple days.
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Jose Mrochek's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
speaking of queen..

Theres a song I never payed to much attention to.. ¨good old fashioned loverboy¨ talk about arrangements and harmonys. man, it blew my mind.
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Sqye's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger
Brian May is one of my heros.

That Red Special guitar was handmade in the 1960's by Brian and his dad. The pickups are epoxied into place, to avoid the microphonics of ordinary solid body guitars. This style requires extreme gain, on the verge of feedback.

Brian plays with a british sixpence coin as a pick - but he has a light touch.

The wall of Vox AC30 amps are heavily modified (by Pete Cornish I believe) and bear little resemblance to a stock AC30. The power supplies are gutted and replaced with clean, quiet solid state units. There is an extensive transformer interface board designed by Pete Cornish to eliminate grounds loops and hum between them. For live use (long after the classic records were recorded) Brian uses Eventide digital effects, and sends the stereo effects to the outside AC30s, and the central AC30s are for the direct clean sound. I guess the stack of 6 AC30's is basically like a 3 amp setup, with redundancy.

In the studio - he didn't always use the AC30's. He had the famous "Deacy amp" which was basically a hifi bookshelf speaker, with a solid state car radio amp built into it by his bass player. Allegedly they found this amp at the dump. It had no volume control, and Brian controlled the volume by dampening it with his coat.

It is less well known that Pete Cornish was contracted to build him other small battery powered amps. Aparantly the first one he build was rejected, because it was too clean.

Low wattage battery amps have zero hum, and are great for getting controlled feedback at safe volumes for the player (who obviously has to be in the room).

Something that always impressed me about the early Queen guitar tones is the phasey sound (in a good way). I understand they experimented with placing mics inside concrete pipes and stuff like that. Brians guitar also had elaborate pickup phase wiring.

There's more to it than it would appear. I bought the Vox Brian May recording amp, and sold it again. It's little more than a cheap Vox practice amp. The big sellout is that they made it 10 watts (not half a watt) and AC (not batteries). So it's actually nothing like the amp that was used on the records - but I guess they sold thousands of them to gullible people. Not a bad little amp anyway, but you aren't going to get those tones that way.
wow - thanks for all the details.

yes - one of the all-time greats, no doubt.

Brian May kicks SERIOUS ass, as both a guitarist and over-all musician.

his tone and playing really have not been duplicated well, by anyone i know,
(or anyone i know of) regardless of the various amps and BM signature models available.
most people have NO IDEA how he did what he did
(even some of the most seasoned guitarists), so most of them end up giving up,
and returning the signature guitar models, after a while.

obviously, one would need to kNOW HOW to, and be CAPABLE of using BMs gear,
(assuming it's AT ALL similar to the ACTUAL gear he used)
not to mention be incredibly musical, and have truly unique hands.

BMs playing is so incredibly well-controlled - it defies comprehension,
his knowlege and adventure with melody, harmony and textures
have not, IMO, yet been matched by anyone.

his control and extremely musical and unique use of vibrato and harmonic overdrive are stunning.

the combination of near feedback, bending and vibrato at the end of the "we are the champions" track is AWESOME.

his textural, melodic and harmonic experimentation with guitar tones on "good company" is unbelievable.

a truly unique guitarist.

and, yes, that Killer Queen solo is EXACTLY THAT!! - KILLLLLLLER QUEEN, at their best.
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I worked with Mike Stone (engineer up till "News") ..he said Brian had several small amps ..around 4 or 5 watts.
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
paterno's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Don't forget about the Rangemaster-style treble boost pedal that he used in front of the amp...

JP
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
paterno's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger
There's more to it than it would appear. I bought the Vox Brian May recording amp, and sold it again. It's little more than a cheap Vox practice amp. The big sellout is that they made it 10 watts (not half a watt) and AC (not batteries). So it's actually nothing like the amp that was used on the records - but I guess they sold thousands of them to gullible people. Not a bad little amp anyway, but you aren't going to get those tones that way.
I don't know about gullible, because i've used that amp on quite a few things since I've owned it, including one record that has done quite well. Although it is obviously not for everything I think it is a pretty cool sounding amp -- taking booster out and running it into a different amp adds even more possibilites.

With all due repect, your not going to get 'those tones' unless you ARE Brian May...

Cheers,
JP
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
AlexLakis's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye
BMs playing is so incredibly well-controlled - it defies comprehension,
his knowlege and adventure with melody, harmony and textures
have not, IMO, yet been matched by anyone.
I always thought Tom Scholtz was a similar player. Both guys are amazing.

Killer Queen is an awesome song, and yes, that tone is BEAST! The phasey-ness is also a good note. "'39" comes to mind...
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Addict
 
Eide's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Amazing guitar player!!!

I've got the Vox Brian May little white combo and I must say I've actually had some great fun with that little bastard from time to time in the past. It doesn't really cost anything either so I would say it's worth to have lying around. And it doesn't sound like the original, but hey - who else on this planet sounds like Brian May anyway? Besides, as been said here before me, the construction is totally different so why would it sound like the one John Deacon made 30 years ago? Here's a little recording I did with it a few years back - not nearly as good as the old queen sound, but somewhat in the same ballpark sound-wise.
Attached Files

Lord Of The Fools brian may vox.mp3 (946.5 KB, 2733 views)

Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Jamz's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
It is the month of May

Might find this interesting. I kept the vocal down a little.
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper
I would have loved to have seen a documentary about "News of the World" since I've always considered it to be their best LP, but the world doesn't seem to agree with me on that matter.
News of the World is my favorite too.

Brian May is one of the most unique musicians. Queen as a whole was pretty amazing. I believe each member wrote a charting single.
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #16
Led
Lives for gear
 
Led's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've always thought there was a bit of a common thread between Brain May and Tom Scholtz's guitar work.
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
doorknocker's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by paterno
Don't forget about the Rangemaster-style treble boost pedal that he used in front of the amp...
AnalogMan makes a great and compact version of this called 'Beano Boost', the name obviously being a tribute to Clapton's work on the Bluesbreakers album where a Rangemaster was used too. http://www.analogman.com/beano.htm

The AnalogMan version has 3 settings, the original Treble setting can be too piercing on Fender guitars (though that's how Rory Gallagher did it) so the 2 additional Mid and Bass settings are great.

My problem is that my 1971 Marshall Super Lead is already louder than hell on its own so adding the Beano is almost too much, I still use it once in a while on sessions though....
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
StuartMac's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper
I would have loved to have seen a documentary about "News of the World" since I've always considered it to be their best LP, but the world doesn't seem to agree with me on that matter.
http://www.brianmayworld.com/redspecial.htm
I do.
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Blast9's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I recently saw B.M. on telly playing God Save The queen on th etop of Bukingham Palace, and the tone was SOOOO compressed and sustainy (in a good way!) he was literally using his finger-tip to play the melody lines... Not a pick in sight.

The sound was coming through a pair of monitors, so I don't know if he was using an amp or not!
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
max cooper's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by paterno
Don't forget about the Rangemaster-style treble boost pedal that he used in front of the amp...

JP
Here's a link to the Crispy Cream Germanium Treble Booster.

http://www.treblebooster.com/vitamin_g.htm

"Also, if you want a pedal with the Dallas Rangemaster circuit, but one that also doesn't have excessive hiss and won't pick up radio stations, then look no further. If you absolutely must duplicate Eric Clapton's "Beano" tone...THIS IS THE ONE!"
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamz
Might find this interesting. I kept the vocal down a little.
sweet stuff!!
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Blast9's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Anyone know how they got the flanging/phasing sound on the stacked vox? Is this the 2 tape machines trick?

PS Jamz... What a treat! Sounds amazing.

PPS Eide... Nice tones and phasing!

To me the stacked tracks sound like they bounced together after being radically Eq'd. Lovely sound!
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
paterno's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper
Here's a link to the Crispy Cream Germanium Treble Booster.

http://www.treblebooster.com/vitamin_g.htm

"Also, if you want a pedal with the Dallas Rangemaster circuit, but one that also doesn't have excessive hiss and won't pick up radio stations, then look no further. If you absolutely must duplicate Eric Clapton's "Beano" tone...THIS IS THE ONE!"
I've got a great sounding one that Dave Hecht, who moderates the PSW tech board, built for me. And as I said earlier, the boost out of that little Brian May amp is not too bad either...

JP
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Sqye's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis
I always thought Tom Scholtz was a similar player. Both guys are amazing.

Killer Queen is an awesome song, and yes, that tone is BEAST! The phasey-ness is also a good note. "'39" comes to mind...

yes, indeedy doo -

TS kicks some serious ass, too - another fantastic all around musician,
with impeccable control, and great melodic & harmonic ideas.

i gotta give it up to the man - also one of my fav's.

for that matter, barry goudreau was no slacker, either.

sholtz's over-all music production ideas and arrangements
are SOOOOO tasteful and slick.

gotta love that drop out w/delay on foreplay/ longtime heh - GREAT track.
that acoustic guitar recording, handclaps, SUPAH tight rhythm section,
GREAT bass sound, GREAT rhythm guitar sounds,
all the vox & guitar harmonies - AND NO AUTO TUNE!!!
(i guess those folks just DIDN'T NEED IT - WOW.)

ok i'll shut up and stop my 'back in my day - dana carvey grumpy old man' rhetoric heh
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Actually no ...Brain May and Tom Scholz are in two different universes. Each had infinite sustain and stacked harmonies, but thats were the similarities end.
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Guru
 
Sqye's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier
Actually no ...Brain May and Tom Scholz are in two different universes. Each had infinate sustain and stacked harmonies, but thats were the similarities end.
ok, mr. music fascist policeman fuuck
Old 15th May 2006 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I find it interesting that both May and Scholz were using solid state gear in a tube-besotted guitar world.
Old 16th May 2006 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger
I find it interesting that both May and Scholz were using solid state gear in a tube-besotted guitar world.
they both seem to love a very focused and small/controlled/compressed type of gain...so solid state seems a viable option for sure. reminds me of a transistor radio or something. that's why the low end of the band stands out so much..the guitars are doing nothing down there. they are also very dry so the harmonies sound tight as hell.

not lots of full range organic qualities. almost like an analog synth more than a stringed instrument. very eq'd and manipulated and almost "flat" sounding. not what i ever try to get out of my own guitar but it sure does sound cool on queen records.
Old 16th May 2006 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
May was a tube guy. Deacon too. And they used lots of tube outboard on the albums. Brian had several small vintage amps (tube) ..and of course, the AC-30's. As for Sholz, no comparison can be made ..except that he played guitar.
Old 16th May 2006 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
James Guitar's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blast9
To me the stacked tracks sound like they bounced together after being radically Eq'd. Lovely sound!
that is correct. those stacked guitar tracks are bounced together on one track and were radically eq'd prior to bouncing. i know that because i have heard the individual guitar tracks and each one features a lot of bounces.
-J
πŸ“ Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 70 views: 20612
Avatar for lungboi
lungboi 8th October 2012
replies: 37 views: 19479
Avatar for bizzle
bizzle 15th March 2014
replies: 53 views: 19706
Avatar for heraldo_jones
heraldo_jones 8th June 2016
replies: 135 views: 11896
Avatar for sparqee
sparqee 21st February 2017
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump