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Featuring the SGL "Burns Red Special" Trem' Conversion


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Red Special
Burns Red Special Trem Conversion



If you have a Burns Brian May Red Special guitar and are not happy with the tremolo system, this may be the answer! The conversion is not a cheap one... but is considered almost imposible and is considerably cheaper than a custom built replica!

This is the Red Special trem/roller bridge kit, custom made by SGL Guitars for fitment into custom built guitars. The same unit can be installed into the Burns Red Special replica with some modied parts. The result is an almost authentic tremolo system, virtually indistinguishable from the prototype!
This is the Burns Model Red Special as it is supplied from the factory. A fine guitar but let down by the tremolo system which is VERY un-authentic (I made that word up) in tuning stability, appearance and feel.
The body is stripped of all hardware and marked out ready for the conversion work
The body is routed, the pickup cavities positions routed to be closer to the tremolo and the original tremolo cavity is filled. The tremolo conversion is then installed and tested.
Finally, the spring cover plate and a replacement pick-guard are custom made incorporating the pickups in their new locations.... complete with the obligatory pickup surrounds!
Voila! One considerably improved Red Special copy!

This is the review sent to me by the customer I performed this conversion for.....

(He is happy to answer any questions on the Brian May World Forum if asked!)


Burns Brian May Signature – SGL Custom Number 1

The Burns Brian May Signature guitar was nirvana for me when it came onto the market. Although no diehard Queen fan (other than the very early stuff), I have worshipped The Man and the mythical Red Special for 30-odd years – but I never thought the time would come when I would own my very own Red Special.

An added bonus turned out to be the neck – my Epiphone Les Paul Standard was too narrow at the nut for my fairly large mitts, but the Burns proved to be perfect. So, flogging the Les Paul and rushing off to buy a Burns was a complete no-brainer! By January 2002 I had one.

By August 2002 I both loved and hated it – loved the shape, loved the sounds, loved the neck, loved the quality, BUT disliked the fact that it looked out of proportion compared to the ‘real deal’ and absolutely HATED the bridge/trem. No matter how much I fiddled, the intonation was always out, and bending a string made the adjacent one flat. Something had to be done!

I emailed a number of guitar techs and got some truly cretinous replies, bar one – enter Simon Jones of SGL Guitars. I liked Simon’s ‘can do’ attitude from the start (and he’s a biker, too, which is always a good sign…). He was just starting work on the replica Red Special and had already commissioned the roller bridge and trem for that, so I biked over to Swansea to see him. Based on that meeting, and having seen the bridge and trem components, I took a leap of faith and shipped my guitar to him. I wasn’t to know at that point that he would ‘own’ BHM0509 for longer than I had!

The road to the final solution was tortuous and sorely tested my patience but, fifteen months after taking that leap of faith with Mr Jones, I at last have my hands on the first – in fact, the one and only (so far) – Burns BHM SGL Custom guitar.

Was it worth the time, the sacrifice and the money? Emphatically YES!

Check out the pictures on the SGL website - she looks fabulous, doesn’t she? Simon has excelled himself, and the workmanship and quality are superb. The guitar plays beautifully, the trem is very light, ultra smooth and silent – and with more range than you’d expect, that roller bridge is a work of art in itself and the intonation is spot on. To top the lot, it even sounds better than it used to – thanks partly, I guess, to the repositioned pick-ups – and it’s much more comfortable to play, thanks to that superb bridge. Palm muting is especially easy. All I need now are the white switches and replica knobs – that’s our next project!

This custom job comes with my strongest recommendation – especially as none of you guys will have to go through the pain of being without your favourite guitar for fifteen months, as I did! I expect my personal sacrifice will never be truly appreciated…

It ain’t cheap - nothing of true quality ever is – but, certainly for those of us this side of the pond, it’s the ONLY affordable way to get an authentic copy of the Red Special. And don’t forget that signature.

Finally, I have had the privilege of being in very close proximity to The Man himself on several occasions, when my son and his daughter attended the same school for a while. Sadly, I never plucked up the courage to speak to him, and my lad – I’ll never forgive the little beast - resisted all my efforts to get him to date Brian’s daughter!

However, I do know that Brian is a giant, with hands to match – and that’s important. You may covet a KZ or an RS, assuming you can afford one, but it’s important to point out that the dimensions of the original Red Special’s neck are enough to defeat lesser mortals like me. Don’t forget that Brian scaled down the Burns neck a tad, to enable ordinary blokes like you and me to play it.


Ian Guthrie
4 February 2004


Sorry! Burns trem conversion is no longer available due to cost of production.

Please do not send e-mails for parts and info!!!

Orders are currently being taken for custom built replica guitars. The current specifications are considerably closer to the original than the guitar shown and are available with any modifications or variations specified by the customer.

Complete Custom Replica guitars - £4,950

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