Brian May’s Guitar Has Parts of a Fireplace, an Oak Tree, and a Piece of His Mom’s Knitting Needle

Brian May is considered to be one of the all-time great classic rock guitarists. A music icon who is partially responsible for such incredible songs as “We Will Rock You,” “Hammer to Fall,” and “Who Wants to Live Forever,” May has been a mainstay in the entertainment industry since the early ’70s.

May is best known as an original member of the rock band Queen, and to this day, he’s still going strong, playing shows to sold-out crowds everywhere. May is an open book when it comes to his life and career, and in an August 2021 interview, the rock legend answered some of Google’s most-asked questions, revealing all the bits and pieces that went into crafting his very unique guitar.

Brian May performing on stage
Brian May | Sven Hoogerhuis/Getty Images

Brian May is a guitar virtuoso

Born in 1947, May displayed a multitude of talents from a very early age. He excelled in school and went on to study physics at Imperial College London. May also loved music, and even as he was attending school, he was playing the guitar and dabbling in songwriting.

With Queen, alongside original bandmates Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon, May became a worldwide superstar, helping Queen to become one of the most successful rock bands of all time.

Many music critics believe that May is one of the greatest rock and roll guitarists of all time. According to Guitar Player, he has even been voted by fans as the greatest, with his unique sound and power riffs setting him apart from other contemporaries. While May has played many different guitars over the course of his career, one particular instrument has gone down in music history as a complete original.

What did Brian May say that his guitar is made of?

In an August 2021 interview with Radio X, May sat down to answer some of the web’s most-asked questions – and in the process, he addressed the question, “What is Brian May’s guitar made of?” The iconic singer revealed that his legendary handcrafted guitar is made of:

” … bits and pieces, which some people would call junk. It’s got a piece of an old fireplace, which is the neck. It’s a piece of oak which came from a very old oak table which was in my dad’s spare room … [a] support from a saddle bag on a push bike and a piece from my mum’s knitting needle on the end. It’s just, it was made out of bits because I couldn’t afford a guitar. It’s still what it was and it still works, and it still exists.”

Brian May is still actively playing shows around the world

May’s guitar has become a part of rock history, and many fans who follow his career know that it plays an important part in the mythology of Queen. Often referred to as the “Red Special” or “The Fireplace,” since it was made with a part from a fireplace, the guitar is still played by May in his stage shows.

According to Guitarreigo, it originally took May a year and a half to build the instrument, with assistance from his father, who was an electronic engineer and craftsman.

Built entirely to May’s specifications, the guitar has been featured on all of Queen’s iconic albums. While May did eventually earn the money that he needed to buy any expensive instrument that caught his eye, the handcrafted guitar that his father helped him build still has a special place in his heart.

RELATED: Brian May Says Queen’s Spirit Died With Freddie Mercury — How They Carried on ‘by Accident’