Burns / Brian May Guitars

burns logo
BHMBurns Brian May

Burns London ran their Brian May Signature guitar from October 2001 to July 2004. After this point, Brian’s organisation took control of the manufacture and distribution of the guitar, using essentially the same design. This Guitar took over two years to come to fruition, with considerable input from Brian himself. The development process involved 22 prototype models (of which there were 6 major steps), with additional pre-production prototypes once the design was finalised. The construction of the guitar has been compromised a little to keep costs down – the choice of wood and the tremolo unit are the most obvious differences from the original Red Special. However, the guitar does feature the excellent Burns Tri-Sonic pickups. These guitars feature a mahogany body and neck – some early prototypes were made from basswood and this was erroneously reported in some magazines as being used for the production models, which are in fact mahogany.

sunburst model

Several colours are currently available. Vintage Cherry Red is obviously the most popular choice, but Three-tone sunburst, Green, Blue and Black models are all available. Gold and ‘honeyburst’ custom models with gold hardware are also available in limited numbers. A major difference between this guitar and the previous Guild signature models is that it is priced much lower at £499 (UK pounds) with a custom fitted case available for a small additonal cost, making it excellent value for money. Uniquely, left-handed versions are also available for a small premium.

green burns

In summer 2004, Burns announced that they would stop production of the Brian May signature. The split from Brian was apparently amicable and Brian’s organisation took over the production of the guitars, which feature new branding as “Brian May guitars”. Burns have previously suggested that they would produce a new higher spec version of the Brian May guitar, which would have been a super-accurate copy. Given the split from Brian and the production of the Guyton guitars, this now looks very unlikely to happen, although Brian’s organisation may decide to make improvements to the current design.

Magazine reviews of the Burns Brian May Signature

Comparison between the Burns Brian May and the 1984 Guild BHM1

Burns Brian May Signature guitars owners list

blue Burns

Burns prototype

This is an early prototype of the Burns guitar – fortunately the final version looks a lot better…