Brian May’s Hallfredh Acoustic Guitar

Brian received this guitar from Dave Dilloway in exchange for his Egmond parlor guitar. Dave was Brian’s friend and bandmate – he played bass guitar in their band called “1984” from 1964 to 1968.

At some point after receiving the guitar, Brian modified it so it would sound more like a sitar. He did so by adding some fretwire before the bridge saddle, which the strings would vibrate against when played.

Yeah, I have a very old, cheap Hairfred which makes that buzzy sound that’s on “Jealousy” [Jazz] and “White Queen” [Queen II]. I’ve never seen another one like it.

I made it sound like a sitar by taking off the original bridge and putting a hardwood bridge on. I chiseled away at it until it was flat and stuck little piece of fretwire material underneath. The strings just very gently lay on the fretwire, and it makes that sitar-like sound.

Guitar Player magazine – January 1983, Interview by Jas Obrecht

Aside from the songs mentioned above, the guitar was also photographed among the band’s instruments during the Ridge Farm Studio rehearsals session in the summer of 1975. These rehearsals were of course in preparation for the “A Night at the Opera” studio sessions. However, it’s unknown whether Brian ended up using the guitar on any of the songs or not.

Hairfred or Hallfredh?

Even though Brian himself most often referred to the guitar as “Hairfred”, based on excellent research by Phil Chapman, it was discovered that the brand name is actually Hallfredth. We won’t post any of Phil’s research here out of respect, so if you want to learn more about it please visit – Hairfred guitar: a tale of torn labels.


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7 months ago

The recent Sotheby’s auction includes a photo of Brian with it at De Lane Lea Music Centre in autumn 1971. John can also be seen playing it in one of the photos in the debut album back-cover. Brian’s confirmed to have used it to record ‘The Night Comes Down’, ‘White Queen’ and ‘Jealousy’. I also strongly suspect he may have used it on ‘Sail Away Sweet Sister’.