Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Mini-May: Alternate tuning?

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Daniel Nester user not visiting Queenzone.com
Daniel Nester
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Posted: 01 Aug 08, 10:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I have a Mini-May, and always thought it could not keep a tune. The other day I was plunking around the Musician's Friend website, and noticed other people who have bought the Mini-May, and other people were saying the same.

And came across a very helpful review post; apparently the Mini-May doesn't use standard tuning.

you can't tune the mini May to "standard" tuning like you would on a 25.5 scale length guitar. You have to tune it: (low to high) G C F Bb D G. Everything is now tuned a third up. What used to be an Emajor chord is now Gmajor. I'll say it again; the mini May is an awesome guitar for next to no money. The build quality is the same as my full size Red Special. The pickup isn't labeled as a Burns Trisonic, but it sure sounds exactly like the neck Trisonic on my full size Red Special. This isn't a "kid's" guitar... this is a pro instrument; if you know how to play it and how to tune it. You won't be able to get the same low notes and chords as a regular scale length guitar, but then again you can get high notes and chords a regular scale length guitar can't get. If you tune the mini May correctly, you won't have any intonation problems.

Source:
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Brian-May-MiniMay-Electric-Guitar?sku=512639

Has this been discussed on the QZ boards? I am a total hobbyist guitar player, but after trying this tuning, the guitar seems to work!



God Save My Queen and God Save My Queen II | Soft Skull Press | http://www.danielnester.com
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Posted: 01 Aug 08, 16:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

When I bought mine, I was advised to tune it to A, ie as if a full size one was capo'd at the fifth fret.

Tried it, didn't like it.

Tried standard, liked it, use it.

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Posted: 24 Aug 09, 20:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I've owned a Mini-May for about a year and a half now - and have since purchased a full-size Burns guitar as well.

I really believe that you have to give this guitar two trains of thought, depending on what you want to get out of this guitar.

On one hand, you have to appreciate that this guitar has a shorter scale (17" I believe compared to the 24" Red Special scale). As a result, the string tension will not be as high compared to a full sized instrument if tuned to standard. What this means is that (from my experience) you have to play with a lighter touch...basically.

On the other hand, if you tune this guitar to 'A standard' (or similar) then it will hold its tune alot better - the tension on the strings will be higher so you can play harder (and grip harder.) However I don't think it will be as versatile of an instrument but will turn into another 'novelty' to eventually gather dust in the corner of your basement.

With that being said, tonight I decided to tune this guitar back down to standard (E A D G B E) tuning tonight and I must admit, I was pleasantly SHOCKED.

I think that if you can get past the 'lighter touch' aspect, then the guitar can AND SHOULD be tuned and played in standard tuning. With that said, this guitar is a hell of alot of guitar for the price, and a HELL of alot of fun to play.

It really does work. Personally, I think if you can overcome the 'light touch' hurdle, this really does present alot more versatility to this underrated instrument.

As far as sound -- it's THERE. I have it piped through a Fryer 'Deluxe' booster, and AC30CC2 and the sound really is in the same general area. Not bad at all.

I still have to experiment with different string gagues, but my eyes have been opened and it's a hell of alot of fun to play.

I Love it ! Everyone should buy one of these !

The key -- a lighter touch.

A.

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Posted: 24 Aug 09, 22:11 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Reid_Special_98 wrote:

I've owned a Mini-May for about a year and a half now - and have since purchased a full-size Burns guitar as well.

I really believe that you have to give this guitar two trains of thought, depending on what you want to get out of this guitar.

On one hand, you have to appreciate that this guitar has a shorter scale (17" I believe compared to the 24" Red Special scale). As a result, the string tension will not be as high compared to a full sized instrument if tuned to standard. What this means is that (from my experience) you have to play with a lighter touch...basically.

On the other hand, if you tune this guitar to 'A standard' (or similar) then it will hold its tune alot better - the tension on the strings will be higher so you can play harder (and grip harder.) However I don't think it will be as versatile of an instrument but will turn into another 'novelty' to eventually gather dust in the corner of your basement.

With that being said, tonight I decided to tune this guitar back down to standard (E A D G B E) tuning tonight and I must admit, I was pleasantly SHOCKED.

I think that if you can get past the 'lighter touch' aspect, then the guitar can AND SHOULD be tuned and played in standard tuning. With that said, this guitar is a hell of alot of guitar for the price, and a HELL of alot of fun to play.

It really does work. Personally, I think if you can overcome the 'light touch' hurdle, this really does present alot more versatility to this underrated instrument.

As far as sound -- it's THERE. I have it piped through a Fryer 'Deluxe' booster, and AC30CC2 and the sound really is in the same general area. Not bad at all.

I still have to experiment with different string gagues, but my eyes have been opened and it's a hell of alot of fun to play.

I Love it ! Everyone should buy one of these !

The key -- a lighter touch.

A.

Very good topic, Daniel. Thanks for sharing your experience. And, of course, thanks a lot Reid_Special_98 for the excellent answer. It was a delight to read and very helpful. Thank you both for the patience!








Yara
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Posted: 27 Aug 09, 15:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Good topic, indeed. Too bad it gets less replies than the newest troll-of-the-day or QPR bashing topic but I guess not a lot of people hve Mini Mays.



I don't own a Mini May replica but I have a Burns BHM model, although I don't have the gear to make justice to said instrument, hehe :).



I remember playing it for the first time and thinking the strings were loose or 'soft' compared to other friends' or my previous guitar.



How much is a Mini May? Where can I buy one?



 



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Posted: 27 Aug 09, 15:49 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote







I too own  Burns BHM, but not a mini-May.







I do want to get one tho, not to play it  just to have it as I don't think they will always be around and it will some day be a 'collector's item'. I would also like a black Rhapsody for the same reason.















I do of course play by Burns, and I do not have any other Brian related equipment because I do not try or want to recreate the sound exactly. I find that the Burns has a much more beautiful tone all of it's own than any other guitar I have owned, and that is all I want - a 'partial' Brian sound - besides, it is in the fingering as much as anything else :).








If you're searching out for something,

Don't try do hard.
Yara user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 27 Aug 09, 16:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Beautiful topic, isn't it? I didn't know about the existence of this "Mini-May". For people who are interested in buying it or starting to play around a bit just for fun, hey, here's some great advice on tuning given by Queenzoner Reid_Special. This is really great.

Thank you again.

I play a lousy acoustic guitar but I have to change this soon - either my lousy playing or my lousy guitar. Hopefully both at the same time - and soon! :op


Yara
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Posted: 27 Aug 09, 23:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yes, here here!!  Great topic.

I bought the Mini-May for decorative purposes, I have the Guild.  But I started tinkering with the Mini-May, kinda like when you see a Ukelele, you want to start playing it and singing Don Ho.

Dang thing would never stay in tune, so back on the wall it went.  Well, now it's coming down again.  I must try this, both the G and A tunings... just to see.  Thanks for giving me a reason to grab the MM again.

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Posted: 28 Aug 09, 08:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

This is cool. I'm glad there is some optimism about this - a new audience (I've been frequenting the 'brianmayworld.com' (and similar) forums and this sort of topic brings with it a different mood...) very refreshing.

What I find about the Minimay is that when tuned to standard (as mentioned before) the tension is VERY loose, and the frets (relatively) are very high - especially around the first 5 frets...so you can very easily squeeze the chords sharp...just play a D chord and you will see what I mean.

Having said that, this may seem odd, but it actually CAN be useful if you're looking to play with a slight vibrato on such chords. Further up the neck, I don't find this to be as serious of an issue (not that it's serious anyway).

It takes some getting used to but playing lighter and NOT squeezing really does help - I'm not 100% convinved yet that it works for all chords and stuff. It might be more personal taste. BUT it does make it work...or at least it seems to.

One thing I don't know if I mentioned previously, but I think the strings play a factor - and using a heavier gague string will make a MAJOR difference. Those thinking that the Brian May sort of gague (9's or 8's) will work, are going to be completely out of luck (in standard tuning). I'm currently using 11's and while it does help, I think slightly higher would work even better.    

I'm going to be modifying my minimay - adding a 2nd Burns (stock) Tri-Sonic pickup and switches. I had my Burns pickups replaced with Adeson 'Classic British' pickups...WHAT a difference.

Which brings me to my next point...

For those who own the Burns guitars (and similar) - I also own a 2005 Burns guitar. The popular modification to do to these guitars is to add Adeson 'Classic British' pickups to them.

http://www.adeson.co.uk/

For those unaware, Adeson is a British company that make the Burns Tri-Sonic pickups, in the same style as found in the 60's. The stock Burns pickups in the Brian May guitars are in fact made in Korea and use different methods...So while the sound is in the same general ballpark, there are some very slight elements missing. 

I bought a set of these pickups last year and actually wasn't convinced about them (had a sort of 'ho-hum' attitude.) BUT HOLY SMOKES I was blown away when I installed them and adjusted the height of them accordingly...WOW...they just sparkle and make the Burns (and similar) guitar come alive ! Overtones, shimmer - purely delicious. 

Adeson is also the company (along with cooperation from Greg Fryer) that makes the pickups for the Brian May 'super'). 
 
They are great...and they aren't too expensive either.



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Posted: 20 Aug 12, 10:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hi.

I am an amateur guitar player and have recently bought a Mini May for me to toy around with and for my son to learn to play on. My main guitar is an Ovation Special Balladeer electro acoustic. I have experienced the same frustrations articulated here in that it was not shipped set up in any way, or even with suitable gauge strings to allow it to be set up to open E or open G tuning, nor any guidance as to what to do. I booked the guitar in to a local guitar shop and they charged me £65.99 pounds sterling to set it up. This was nearly half as much again as the guitar cost retail.

I am generally very satisfied with the quality of the instrument (taking into account that it is a mass-produced 3/4 size guitar) and it looks great. However, I thought it was worth sharing what the guitar technician had to do to get the guitar to sound satisfactory and the issues he discussed with me:

1. The most significant issue was that the technician felt that the entire bridge mechanism is located too far forward by up to 5 mm (presumably by default of design) which necessitated the lower string individual bridge pieces to be at or near their limit with satisfactory intonation/harmonic lengths. This was something I also suspected during my unsuccessful attempts to set it up to open E tuning. Three individual bridge piece adjusting screws had to be shortened using a hacksaw to avoid fouling the strings.

2. Some frets were too high. This was a minor issue which was not corrected and was considered to be probably not unreasonable for a budget, mass-produced guitar.

3. Reaming was required on three individual bridge pieces to alleviate the acute angle (as low as 90°) of string bend.

4. The machine head quality was considered to be unsuitable/substandard for retaining a tight tune, but again, this was a minor point and probably not unreasonable on a budget, mass-produced guitar.

5. Lastly, from my perspective, I consider that the instrument should be shipped with some basic information to explain that smaller scale guitars may require a non-standard set-up, and to recommend suitable string gauge and tuning combinations to obtain satisfactory intonation/harmonic lengths. The options I discussed with the guitar technician and borne out by doing some research on the internet (including reading this thread) are:

(i) Open A tuning (5 semitones higher) with lighter (9 or 10) gauge strings for a younger player.

(ii) Open G tuning (3 semitones higher) with 11 gauge strings (the actual set-up the technician selected for my guitar).

(iii) Open E tuning would have required heavier (12) gauge strings which would be difficult for a child/beginner and possibly still not have achieved a satisfactory intonation.

I have written to the U.K. importer, House Music to let them know of my concerns. Hopefully in so doing, they can feed the information back into the design/manufacturing quality control process to improve the customer experience.

Hopefully, this post will be of some use to people who are considering buying, or who already own a BMG 'Mini May'.

Doug

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Posted: 06 Sep 12, 13:22 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I received a nice telephone call from Barry Moorhouse this evening (04 Sep 2012) regarding the Mini May design/build issues I wrote to him about.

He apologised, thanked me for taking the time to write and explain the problems and acknowledged the issues, no arguments at all.

Potential customers can be reassured that House Music will be dealing with the matters described.

A signed photo of Brian May will be winging its way to me by way of a gesture of goodwill. You can't say fairer than that.

Thanks very much for listening to, and taking on board my comments, Barry. Even when a product isn't up to scratch, it's so satisfying to be able to deal directly with the organ grinder, not a bunch of faceless telephone operators in a large corporation. That's got to count for something.

Doug

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Posted: 28 Oct 15, 19:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yes. I'm resurrecting an old topic. I'm thinking of buying myself a mini may for giftmess this year.

I have a question however.

Does anybody know if this newer crop of mini mays is excellent or sub par?

It was near impossible to acquire one after their initial run. Yet as of this past month I've seen them billed back on QOL.

It's a cheat as I really need a reduced scale acoustic to keep my fingers nimble on break times at work. (Live guitar for a while. .. breathe music for a while)


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Posted: 01 Nov 15, 11:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Apparently the new one has a longer scale length, so most of the above is moot