Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brian May's Red Special Wiring Diagram

Brian May's Red Special has got some great futures as a 3-pickup guitar. All p-up configurations are possible, you can reverse the phase of every coil, and there is also a classic volume+tone control. It means a lot of cool tones to reach. All of them can be useful, there's no mambo-jumbo waste of space.

The original May's RS guitar wiring was made from quite „vintage” parts. Fortunately, today you can also build something similar, with modern electronics.

This is my Red Special wiring diagram:

It can be just a little bit different than the original, but it's got all RS functions.


The diagram is based on Burns Tri-Sonic pickups. They've got three wires. The green goes probably from the metal cover and should be connected to the ground. The black goes from pickup's „-”. The red, the blue and the white are the pickup's „+”.

If you want to use common/Fender-style single-coil pickups
... you need to wire them like Tri-Sonics without green wires.

Tone control

All switches, pickup on-off and in-out of phase, are based on the same type of connections (pin-out). If you don't want to use slides (like in the original Red Special), you can use DPDT on-on toggle switches. Toggle SW's are also much easier to install, because they need only simple holes in a pickguard or a guitar body – like pots.

The potentiometer and capacitor values are based on the Burns version of Brian May's Red Special guitar. I hope that the original one got the same.