Brian May’s Ovation Pacemaker 1615 12-String

This is the guitar that Brian used to record Love of my Life, ’39, and the intro part on Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Since two of these three songs came from the same album, A Night at the Opera, that means that Brian likely acquired his first Ovation 12-string sometime just prior to the studio sessions, so around early to mid-1975.

As is his usual practice, he used the same guitar when performing the songs live with the Queen. However, in more recent years and tours, he switched to a Guild 12-string instead.

Freddie and Brian singing/playing Love of my Life, Montreal 1981.
Freddie and Brian singing/playing Love of my Life, Montreal 1981.


The guitar features a Sitka spruce top, the famous Ovation bowl body type, an ebony fretboard, and a walnut bridge. It’s an “electrified” model, equipped with a FET preamp and a Piezoelectric Steel String pickup, which obviously meant that it could be plugged directly into an amp.

Brian likely owned more than just one of these guitars – so in case something went wrong with one of the Ovations mid-tour, he would have a quick backup.

Brian’s way of Stringing it

According to Brian, he strings this guitar upside down. This doesn’t mean that the guitar is strung for left-hand use, but that he simply swaps the heavy and the light strings that go in pairs on 12-string guitars.

I string it upside down, with the lighter strings on the treble side.That means that when I’m picking with my fingers rather than the thumb, I’m picking the high strings, so you can play tunes on it a bit more easily.

Brian May on 9 Queen guitars that aren’t his Red Special


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6 months ago

Actually, none of those songs had a twelve-string acoustic. Brian used the Ovation for those tracks *live*, but not in the studio: ‘Love of My Life’ was done with a Tokai F–120, ”39′ with a Martin D–35 (attached) and ‘Crazy Little Thing’ with another Martin D–35 (a 1975 model, owned and played by Mercury).

The earliest confirmed instance of Brian playing the Ovation on stage is January 1977, and the earliest confirmed use of it in the studio may well be 1981 (‘Las Palabras de Amor’).