Brian May’s Greg Fryer Red Special Replica “John”

Greg Fryer made this guitar for Brian in 1997, and ever since then, Brian has been using it as a backup for his original Red Special.

I wrote to Brian’s management with the objective of making for him the most accurate replica of his guitar to date, a guitar that he would consider worthy of using as a spare. After meeting with Brian in July 1996 to discuss the project, I then spent a very intense eighteen months thoroughly researching the parts materials components building techniques needed, obtaining everything I needed, and then building the three replicas at my workshop in Sydney.

Red Special restoration 1998

This is one of three replicas that Greg made for May, the other two being “Paul” and “George Burns” (all three guitars have nicknames). According to Greg, “John” and “George Burns” remained with Bryan, while he got the keep the “Paul”.

Brian playing the replica nicknamed
Brian playing the replica nicknamed “John”. Notice how “fresh” the pickup covers and the finish looks.

All three guitars were built to be exact replicas of the original Red Special, and feature the exact same pickups that Brian used on the Red Special – the Burns Tri-Sonics. The only thing that separates them is the body color – “John” is finished in the exact same shade of red as the Red Special, while the “George Burns” features more of a yellowish finish.


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