How to play guitar like Brian May


Total Guitar explores Brian May’s licks in this article:

11 Mar 16 by Total Guitar

Steal soloing riches from the Queen guitarist

Brian May


Brian May is one of the more nimble-fingered guitarists to emerge from the 70s, and he has a razor-sharp understanding of harmony and melody.

Here, we’re looking at his lead style, which draws from blues, metal, classical and even trad-jazz. TG’s licks cover a bunch of different techniques. The first reveals Brian’s metal side, with single-string tapping similar to that used in One Vision. His accurate and focused alternate picking is all the more impressive considering he uses a coin as a pick.

Brian is also well known for his scalar picking approach, as heard in tracks such as A Kind Of Magic, and for his soulful melodic sense, as in Bijou and Who Wants To Live Forever, all delivered with emotive vibrato and pitch-perfect string-bending. Finally… Brian’s use of delay and his amazing trad-jazz and Dixieland-inspired arrangements.

Licks covered:

1. Tapped lick
2. Alternate-picked scale lick
3. Pre-bend lick
4. Delay effect lick
5. Sequenced rock lick
6. Melodic lick