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Pickups for Brian May sound

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Golem, Jun 12, 2014.

  1. Golem

    Golem Strat-Talker

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    I have a strat pickguard set up to give me series wiring options. I was wondering whaet kind of strat set pups I should get to get in the ballpark of the sounds he gets out of the burns tri sonics in his red special. For example, the creamery sells 42awg pickups with about 6.9k output. I have another custom winder and was thinking of having him wind a set with similar output perhaps using a2 magnets. Would it have to be rwrp in the middle? I think so but would appreciate feedback.
     
  2. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I think GFS pickups sells a strat style pickup that chases that sound - I believe they are called the Brighton Rock set.
     
  3. fumbler

    fumbler PhD-Stratology

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  4. metale

    metale Strat-Talker

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    I've found that the switching options get you more than half way there.

    Also, the guitar by itself will always sound muddy without a treble booster.

    I've got a BM inspired strat wiring, and may try those Creamery pickups in the future, probably with alnico 5.
     
  5. davidKOS

    davidKOS still at it Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Not to be a smart-ass ( I can't help it) but why not just load a pickguard up with Burns pickups and wire it like the Red Special?

    https://www.google.com/search?q=str...v&sa=X&ei=HNKcU5f9BcSPyAS3hoDgCA&ved=0CBwQsAQ

    It seems to have been done already.

    [​IMG]

    wiring

    example

    [​IMG]
     
  6. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    You're on one of my pet topics! A few things I'd like to mention that I've learned from experience, which might save you from too many dead ends.

    1) The Burns Tri-Sonic pickups in Brian May's guitars are undoubtedly part of the sonic recipe, but they are also physically much larger than Strat pickups. I'm currently working on a Mayocaster for my own use and it has seriously big routs. Burns offers a smaller set of Tri-Sonics specifically for Fender retrofit. I haven't tried them, so I can't tell you how close they are.

    2) Another part of the May sonic signature seems to be the spacing between each pickup. If you are interested, I have calculated what the spacings would be for a 25.5in scale length. This would enable the pickups to combine in a more authentic way that with standard Strat spacing. However, when you see how darn wrong it looks, you probably won't want to do it!

    3) The wiring diagram David has posted is correct, but it's a bit of a monster to wire and to use. Because the three pickups are in series, most of the solder points are in circuit all of the time. For test purposes, I made up a loom using those micro DP/DT switches people used to use for coil taps. It was a pig to wire and trouble shoot, but even worse to use! (IMHO)

    Again, if you're interested I have a wiring diagram that gives you most of the traditional Strat combinations, plus most of the useful Brian May combinations – but without messing up the traditional Strat control layout. I should redraw it before I post it though, because my working out looks a bit messy.
     
  7. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    The construction of the Tri-Sonics is very different to a Strat pickup. The magnetic material is a bar in the middle, and the coil is loaded separately into the casing, with no former or bobbin in the pickup. (What look like six magnet slugs on the Tri-Sonic are just holes in the casing with a black plastic film behind. Presumably, Jim Burns was trying to make them look more Strat-like, back in the day when almost no-one in Europe owned a Fender guitar.)

    On an original Tri-Sonic set, there was never any need for RW/RP because the metal casings make the pickups highly resistant to interference, even at high gain settings. However, if you are ordering a set of custom wound pickups - perhaps based on the Fender style of construction - you may find RW/RP an advantage. In the 1+2 and 2+3 combinations in parallel, they would form true humbuckers.
     
  8. JP Lace Master

    JP Lace Master Strat-O-Master

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    I asked the guys at Lace this the other day and they suggested a Lace Sensor Rainbow Plus set (Purple, RWRP Silver and Emerald for the bridge, middle and neck respectively), but they did point out that a lot of Brian's sound comes form his Vox Amp.
     
  9. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    While I think the observation about the amps being an important part of Brian's sound (as well as his treble booster), I have real doubts about the pickups they are recommending. For one thing, the product descriptions on the Lace web site make no mention of Brian May on any of the three pickups. Also, given that Brian May uses three identical Tri-Sonics, how is that three apparently dissimilar Lace pickup are going to sound like them? I don't see how that works.

    Please don't think I'm 'anti Lace'. I have a Strat with a set of Laces of various colours but I must say they have more in common with each other tonally than any of the reference points named in their promotional material. If you are going to spend money on pickups with a specific goal, I'd think almost any of those mentioned so far in this thread would take you closer than the Lace units.

    In case your're interested, here's a video I did a while back using Brian May wiring on my test-bed Modocaster with Tri-Somic and Fender Strat pickups for comparison. (Alas the Playmusic web site is no longer active, so the PDFs mentioned aren't on line at present.)

    Hot-Mod Your Guitar: Brian May wiring - YouTube
     
  10. nungesser

    nungesser but I just must be sensitive to light-ah! Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Is Brian still using a coin as a pick? That must be an important part of his sound in the early days
     
  11. davidKOS

    davidKOS still at it Strat-Talk Supporter

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    So were the Vox amps and delay units! and the Deacey....

    Thanks Simon for all the info!
     
  12. Robins

    Robins Dr. von Loudster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Hi Simon,

    thanks alot for the very usefull information about the pickups and wiring/switching and how to put it into a Stratocaster. Tons of information and insides.
    Thanks for sharing.

    All the best,
    Robin
     
  13. metale

    metale Strat-Talker

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    Even if one is to route a strat for real Burns Tri-sonics, the guitar itself still won't be a mahogany/oak/etc, semi-hollow, short scale guitar, so I personally didn't crave for the real, vintage correct, pickups.

    The coin is important, but Brian himself (IIRC) has stated that he only uses it on the harder hitting parts, and plays with only his fingers alot.

    You don't even need real AC30s: amp modelling is good enough these days to get you in the ballpark, and there is also a 'BM' type pedal by Wampler that is supposed to be very good.
     
  14. Swampash

    Swampash Senior Stratmaster

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    IMHO the main May tone is pretty simple. Low-output single coil pickups, bridge and middle pups in parallel, treble rolled off a bit on the guitar and boosted back on the amp, amp overdrive, 24" scale guitar. It's the last bit that's the killer.
     
  15. Uncle Fiesta

    Uncle Fiesta Senior Stratmaster

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    Don't forget to buy yourself a Harmonizer pedal for the authentic 3-part harmonies.
     
  16. Rastus

    Rastus Senior Stratmaster

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    Hi people,

    Since you're all QUEEN fans, I thought that you should know that I just received word that there's a new official multi-format live album being released in September this year....

    QUEEN Live at the Rainbow 1974.

    Apparently there will be many guises as to what you may be able to get for yourselves, but CD's, DVD's, Records etc plus countless & many varied Limited Edition offers will be made available.

    This really interests me a lot as I think that their 1st-3 albums are by far their strongest & most enduring, & this live-set features tunes from the 1st 2-albums & a couple of tunes from the soon to be released Sheer heart Attack.

    Enjoy folks,

    Rastus

    PS Recorded by Roy Thomas Baker, so it "should" be pretty good......
     
  17. davidKOS

    davidKOS still at it Strat-Talk Supporter

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  18. OLDGREYGIT

    OLDGREYGIT Senior Stratmaster

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  19. Dont_Fret_None

    Dont_Fret_None Strange Stringer Strat-Talk Supporter

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  20. merseymale

    merseymale Strat-Talk Member

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    Red (not too)Special(!) ;-p

    I like Strats and am currently putting one together BUT I don't really need a clone! So I got hold of a set of TriSonics(goodness knows how I am gonna find/modify the PickGuard!). I don't really like the strat mid pup on its own (but maybe I would if it was a TriSonic..?) & so am not too reluctant in losing it and I notice that Brian May himself does not love ALL the selections his Red Special offers so I am searching for a layout that would be easy to use in a not too modify Strat scratchplate.

    I think this would be easy enough as I quite like push/pull pots & rotary switches and when ya consider that a few positions on Brian's guitar are repeated AND single pickup selections don't actually need a phase switch then there must already be a simplified wiring diagram out here but I can't seem to find one!

    I can wire up guitars well with a diagram or, with patience(!), a schematic but I'm not too good at inventing them from scratch! I don't mind having no tone controls at all, by the way;-)

    Thank to any of you who can help & cheers to the rest of ya 4 your time!
     
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