How to Play Guitar Like Brian May (Queen)

In 1970, one of the greatest bands of all time was born. The London-originating Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Queen had humble beginnings that made for a slow start in terms of mainstream attention. Things changed for the band in 1974 following the global success of their single, “Killer Queen.” Marked by dark piano riffs, evocative vocals, and a toe-tapping-worthy groove, the song is nothing short of infectious. But for guitar players worldwide, another part of the song shone brightly: Brian May‘s dark, yet angelic guitar solo. Today, we won’t be covering how to play that solo… or any particular solo for that matter. Instead, JamPlay educator, Chris Liepe is going to show us how to achieve Brian May’s playing style and legendary electric guitar tone. Let’s dive in!

Brian May Guitar Lesson:

Brian May‘s musical legacy includes contributing to all of Queen’s studio and live albums, collaborating with some of modern music’s biggest stars, and (to us, most importantly) forging one of the most legendary guitar tones in history. This guitar tone is a product of a couple ingredients. One of them is his custom guitar, the ‘Red Special,’ which he and his father designed and crafted together when Brian was an adolescent. Other factors, of course, include effects pedals, guitar amps, and other sonic-shaping tools.

In this lesson with Chris Liepe, you’ll learn how you can recreate a similar tone using an electric guitar and some amp and pedal modeling software. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have software like Positive Grid’s Bias FX, though. Since these virtual tools are just emulations of real gear, you can still follow along if you’ve got physical effects effects pedals and an amplifier!

After you’ve dialed in your Brian May guitar tone, Chris teaches you how to play a short lick that mimics Brian’s style. Notice how all of the notes are picked instead of played legato. And don’t forget: no Brian May guitar solo would be complete without some vibrato and a whole step bend!


For more Chris Liepe guitar lessons and an ever-growing library of Song Lessons, check out! JamPlay has over 450 guitar courses from 120+ instructors, and online guitar lessons tailored to every skill level, music genre, and playing style. Click here to learn more.

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