Grestch, Vox and Brian May

BatmansGretsch

Gretschie
Dec 3, 2019
205
Earth
I was playing some Queen, Don't stop me now, through an AC30 cranked rig. I had my Streamliner, Broad'trons, and was playing along. It was sort of there, but it wasn't. Obviously, May's tone requires other gear, so I picked up my Fender SSS Strat and got closer to the tone than the Streamliner. However, it's still the wrong tone. :) Now, I am not expecting a Gretsch to really be going beyond the mid to late 1960s type of Vox tones. The most Vox rock sound I have gone with my Gretsch before turning to another guitar is with playing The Beatles. Queen is 70s and 80s. So I sort of put the notion aside that Gretsch can get there. However, I should really ask that here. Is Gretsch the wrong direction of guitar for that type of Vox rock tone? Normally I am not that fussy about guitars for the job but Gretsch, semi-hollow, those pickups, it's just a totally different type of guitar. Or is there a line of Gretsch that deals with this sort of thing?
 

pmac11

Country Gent
Mar 4, 2018
3,526
Toronto, Ontario
I was playing some Queen, Don't stop me now, through an AC30 cranked rig. I had my Streamliner, Broad'trons, and was playing along. It was sort of there, but it wasn't. Obviously, May's tone requires other gear, so I picked up my Fender SSS Strat and got closer to the tone than the Streamliner. However, it's still the wrong tone. :) Now, I am not expecting a Gretsch to really be going beyond the mid to late 1960s type of Vox tones. The most Vox rock sound I have gone with my Gretsch before turning to another guitar is with playing The Beatles. Queen is 70s and 80s. So I sort of put the notion aside that Gretsch can get there. However, I should really ask that here. Is Gretsch the wrong direction of guitar for that type of Vox rock tone? Normally I am not that fussy about guitars for the job but Gretsch, semi-hollow, those pickups, it's just a totally different type of guitar. Or is there a line of Gretsch that deals with this sort of thing?
Brian May made his guitar from the mantle of a fireplace, and wound the pickups himself. You may have trouble replicating that sound.
 

ZackyDog

Friend of Fred
Feb 6, 2015
7,443
In the USA
May uses a sixpence coin for a pick. You may be pleasantly surprised by using it or, something like it.

s-l1600.jpg
 

Waxhead

Friend of Fred
Aug 30, 2014
5,186
Australia
I was playing some Queen, Don't stop me now, through an AC30 cranked rig. I had my Streamliner, Broad'trons, and was playing along. It was sort of there, but it wasn't. Obviously, May's tone requires other gear, so I picked up my Fender SSS Strat and got closer to the tone than the Streamliner. However, it's still the wrong tone. :) Now, I am not expecting a Gretsch to really be going beyond the mid to late 1960s type of Vox tones. The most Vox rock sound I have gone with my Gretsch before turning to another guitar is with playing The Beatles. Queen is 70s and 80s. So I sort of put the notion aside that Gretsch can get there. However, I should really ask that here. Is Gretsch the wrong direction of guitar for that type of Vox rock tone? Normally I am not that fussy about guitars for the job but Gretsch, semi-hollow, those pickups, it's just a totally different type of guitar. Or is there a line of Gretsch that deals with this sort of thing?

Yes I agree that filtertron Gretsch won't produce BMs Queen tone.
Without his Special closest I've got is with a Tele on bridge pup and an EQ pedal.

But essential for BMs gain tones is a good Treble Booster or EQ pedal.
There's several good youtube videos with Brian himself going thru his rig.
Suggest you study those and use as close as possible to what Brian used - including a sixpence :)
 

englishman

Gretschified
Apr 5, 2014
12,974
Detroit
The SSS strat would be close, you do need the treble booster that Dr. May uses.

The Burns Trisonics are a little duller than a typical Strat. They use a ceramic magnet (kinda like the Squier pickups) but there are no polepieces per se, the black dots are just holes in the cover. They are a tad larger in area than the strat but not so much that it gets into P90 territory.

https://shop.brianmayguitars.co.uk/bmg-electronics/bmg-tb-classic.html
Screen Shot 2021-12-04 at 5.35.04 PM.png
 

BatmansGretsch

Gretschie
Dec 3, 2019
205
Earth
15451716709_54c78e4a16_b.jpg

Harley Benton BM70 is maybe the cheapest May guitar of the lot.

I have a Naga Vyper treble booster.

So reading through everybody so far, it seems May's tone is something of a few choice pieces coming together for his tone. Also, I think his Vox AC30 is modified from what I remember? The Edge was the same. When amp techs opened up their amps they saw all sorts of mods people had done over time and had to photograph the lot to document it for repairs or making signature gear.
 

Waxhead

Friend of Fred
Aug 30, 2014
5,186
Australia
15451716709_54c78e4a16_b.jpg

Harley Benton BM70 is maybe the cheapest May guitar of the lot.

I have a Naga Vyper treble booster.

So reading through everybody so far, it seems May's tone is something of a few choice pieces coming together for his tone. Also, I think his Vox AC30 is modified from what I remember? The Edge was the same. When amp techs opened up their amps they saw all sorts of mods people had done over time and had to photograph the lot to document it for repairs or making signature gear.

Yes and also consider that the AC30s used by Brian and Edge are vintage models which are considerably different sounding (and better) than the Vox re-issues :)
 

ramjac

Synchromatic
Aug 14, 2011
983
Wisconsin
Gretsch Jet with T-Armonds that can be switched in series and out of phase might get you “close enough”. That’s what I did with my G 5220. The fireplace mantle wood in the Red Special is in the neck, but the body is more hollow than it appears. Like the Jet, it’s not a true slab.
 

englishman

Gretschified
Apr 5, 2014
12,974
Detroit
I built this one a while ago using Brian May Signature TriSonics. I used the tone push/pull to put 1+2 and 2+3 in series, that's for sure where some of the magic lies. Without that, as I said, it was like a darker version of a Strat. The output is pretty low.

27858025_2039649746251201_3724408729312632139_n.jpg

For what it's worth, they do make mini Trisonics that will fit in a Strat.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 6.03.35 AM.png
 


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