Brian May's John Birch Guitar
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From John Page:


I don’t remember the year exactly, but sometime in the early eighties I met Brian May. I had been working with the CARS, especially Elliot Easton since about ’78-’79, and their latest album was being produced by Roy Thomas Baker. Roy also produced some of the Queen albums, so I think that’s how I first hooked up with the band. I worked with the bass player first, came to a few rehearsals and shows, etc., and ultimately starting talking with Brian about his guitar. He told me the famous story about how he and his dad designed and built his guitar, and for years he couldn't get anybody to “nail it” with a copy. He told me the people who did build them didn’t come close, and there were even more builders that said they would build it, and then never followed through. To this day, I hate the fact that I became one of the latter.


Brian and I met several times discussing his guitar. He explained how he and his dad did each bit. He also gave me some pretty good drawings of the guitar and a smashed copy version of it built by John Birch. He told me to use whatever parts I wanted to from the Birch guitar. He had hoped that Fender (my employer at the time) would be interested in manufacturing his guitar. Unfortunately, the guitar was nothing like what Fender built at the time, and they weren’t interested. I told Brian that I would continue to build him the guitar on my own time, and when it was done maybe I could propose it to Fender again and they would be up for it. Either way he would at least get a cool guitar out of it.


I took his drawings and what he told me and started to build the instrument. I had built the templates, interior core, rough neck, and bridge bits by the next (and last) time I saw him. He invited my family and I to his home in Los Angeles for a barbeque. He had just bought the barbeque and had never cooked on one before, so it was kind of a cool day. I helped him cook, the kids played and the wives chatted. He told me that what I had done so far made him totally flash back on when he and his dad were building the original. He said that I was nailing it and couldn’t wait to get the completed instrument. Unfortunately, after that day, a couple of pretty major things happened in my life that kept the guitar from ever being completed.


CBS, the parent company of Fender Guitars, decided to sell us. None of us knew if we would have a job from day to day, so there were some really stressful months. Every Friday dozens upon dozens of people were being laid off. We went from 850 employees to 125. I was freakin’. To add to that, my personal life took a major dump… my wife and I got divorced. So I kind of lost focus for a while, and unfortunately Brian’s guitar project was one of the victims. Shortly after the sale, I resigned to pursue my personal music career.


In 1986, I decided to get back into the industry so I called Fender. They offered me two choices, go back into Research and Development or start up the Custom Shop. I decided on the latter. Even during the early days of the Custom Shop I still had hope that I could get back to Brian’s guitar. It never happened. The years flew by and now here we are. I never was able to build the guitar for Brian… I feel really bad about it because he was so disappointed with all of the builders that promised him they would do it, and they didn’t. I wanted to come though for him, but I didn’t. Well that’s the story. Hopefully I’ll be able to contact Brian someday, apologize and return the Birch guitar. Until then, it’s just one of those “ghosts” that’s still hanging around.


Printed with kind permission of Mr John Page.

Check out original letter bringing this to Brian's attention, and his reaction on


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