VH-1 (29 Oct 2015) featured 10 great guitar players and their much revered instruments of choice….
10. Zakk Wylde
9. Rick Nielsen
8. B. B. King
7 Stevie Ray Vaughan
6. Yngwie Malmsteen
5. Brian May
4. Keith Richards
3. Tony Iommi
2. Eric Clapton
1. Eddie Van Halen
GUITAR: “Red Special” aka “Fireplace,” “Old Lady”
Brian May’s guitar playing is so monumental and unique, and the instrument he designed and built—with his father Harold!—to be able to perfectly channel his genius into the music of Queen is so extraordinary that, in 2014, he wrote a book about it: Brian May’s Red Special: The Story of the Home-Made Guitar that Rocked Queen and the World.
Brian and Harold first constructed Red Special in 1963 out of wood taken from an old fireplace mantel (thus prompting its other nickname, “Fireplace”).
In keeping with Brian’s music, Red Special is intricately complex and idiosyncratic while also being a model of exquisitely direct and effective delivery. For example, Red Special appears to be solid bodied but is actually semi-acoustic, and it boasts on/off switches for each of its three pickups.