Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Acoustic Guitars & Strings - The Ultimate List (so to speak)

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Posted: 03 Dec 09, 11:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Again, year by year and probably ignoring over half of them:

1969-1972: Brian used mostly (or exclusively) an old and cheap guitar given to him by Dave Dilloway in exchange for his Egmond Student (the one he learnt on). On an '83 magazine its make's printed as 'Hairfred', a brand I haven't been able to track down on-line (but it could be that the company broke). I'd be very happy if I found another documented source for the brand name, since you know how mags often misprint or misspell things, especially when regarding obscure stuff. If that's the guitar in the back of a '75 pic featuring John, the Fender Natural and a Ricken, then one can really tell it's a cheap odd instrument.

1973: Martin D-18 on Funny How Love Is and Ovation Pacemaker 12-String on Some Day One Day. From then on, Freddie, John and Brian would often use both makes and models.

1974: Double-bass (unknown brand) for Leroy Brown and genuine George Formby ukelele-banjo for that same song. But for the live rendition he'd play something else, less luxurious.

1975: Brian bought a Gibson Hummingbird in Japan and used it for Love of My Life and Prophet's Song; he'd probably use it for some recordings from then on. For Good Company he tried the GF ukelele-banjo BUT, in spite of what's suggested in the 'Making of...' documentary and what's been claimed in Wikipedia, the song was recorded using a regular baritone Ukelele (not ukelele-banjo), a genuine Aloha from Hawaii (as stated in the liner notes). Again, double-bass of unknown brand, and of course the harp and koto...

1976: For the Japanese tour the band had an Ovation 12-String backstage, suggesting they may have been already thinking of adding '39 to the set during 'Opera' tour (there was also a Fretless bass), but that plan had to wait until summer. For Hyde Park, strangely, neither the fretless nor the 12-string were played and instead John used his regular Precision and Brian played a Martin 6-String. Maybe (just a theory) a truck got delayed or something.

1977-1978: Ovation 12-String live for the acoustic set from then on, and an unknown Spanish guitar for Who Needs You. For Spread Your Wings and In Only Seven Days John probably used a Martin, so did Dr May for Leaving Home. The old Hairfred for Jealousy.

1979: Fred, reportedly, wrote Crazy Little Thing on a Martin and used it for the recording sessions. Live, he'd play an Ovation 12-String. Educated guess for Brian's tracks: Hummingbird on Save Me (sounds similar to the acoustic in Prophet's Song) and Hairfred on Sail Away Sweet Sister (sounds a bit sitarised, doesn't it?).

1980: An equipment list provided by the crew in a Fan Club mag claims John had a Martin D-18 at the time, which was probably what was used for Need Your Loving and Don't Try Suicide in the studio.

1981: Roger could've used virtually anything for his solo album. He's actually a pretty good acoustic player!

1982: I suspect a Martin for Life Is Real and the somehow brighter Gibson (although it could be Ovation) for Calling All Girls. Pacemaker for Las Palabras... but of course it's all educated guess right now.

1983-1985: Is This the World was recorded on a 12-String Ovation, but live Brian used a classical electric instead. At Musicland Studios (during OV sessions) there's a 6-String Ovation Elite, which probably belonged to Roger (he'd use one for Happiness many years later).

1986 onwards: No more acoustic guitars on Queen records (IWIA, HoiT and Innuendo have the CE, which looks and sounds like an acoustic classical guitar but is actually electric). Brian probably kept using Ovation Pacemaker for his 'BttL' album (except Too Much Love which could be anything from the Hairfred to something new).



John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 04 Dec 09, 04:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Great work, as usual. Though, as usual, I'm always curious to know what your sources are for some of the more obscure information.

A few points:

I'm certain I've seen Brian himself name Hairfred as the make of that early acoustic, on two or three occasions. So there's more source material than just that 83 magazine to go on for that. In fact, didn't he have a piece on his soapbox about somebody restoring it for him? Or was that the Egmond?

You've omitted a couple of songs/guitars: the acoustics on A Human Body and I Want To Break Free. Presumably the former was the Martin, but the latter I'm not sure about. I even have a bit of a hard time myself trying to establish if it's steel or nylon-strung!




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Posted: 04 Dec 09, 04:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Just noticed that you admitted to omitting half of the songs...I figured the obvious ones you left out were covered by your statement about F B and J using the Ovation or Martin for most songs, and AHB and IWTBF don't seem to be covered by that statement.



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Posted: 04 Dec 09, 11:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Nice List Seb , also:

1973: Ogre Battle was written on acoustic guitar by Freddie, confirmed by Brian May on AG CD 2.

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Posted: 04 Dec 09, 15:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



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Posted: 04 Dec 09, 15:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



An Extremely Nice Chap wrote:

Gibson 'The V' (Flying Vee) - (tobacco sunburst) 1984

I'd change that to 1982, as he was seen on the Hot Space tour with it.   He even once spoke about the concert in New Jersey when he threw his Birch copy in frustration and ended up using the Flying V.



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Posted: 04 Dec 09, 17:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

True, in fact he also used the V in Oakland, Ca., September 7, 1982. It was discussed on Brianmay.com in August 2007.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattgranz/407592780/
http://www.queenzone.com/pictures/brian-may/183/with-a-flying-v.aspx
http://www.queenconcerts.com/detail/live/611/queen-live-07-09-1982-coliseum-oakland-california-usa.html

About the guitar-info. On the internet everybody copys everybody's lists. Like I did in my previous post.
If I Google-search for 'Hairfred acoustic guitar' I find 800 sites, all writing the same stories about Brian an Queen.
None of them mentions any other musician using this brand....

And what makes a (internet)source reliable and an original source?
I mean, saying  'I read it in a magazine' or 'Brian said it in an interview' or referring to a web-site is easy to do.

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Posted: 04 Dec 09, 17:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



An Extremely Nice Chap wrote:

True, in fact he also used the V in Oakland, Ca., September 7, 1982.

Yep, I know.  I've got those pics up on my website as well. :-)



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Posted: 04 Dec 09, 18:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

> Great work, as usual. Though, as usual, I'm always curious to know what your sources are for some of the more obscure information.

Feel free to ask, as I've got no secret or exclusive access to anything beyond what's more or less (ethically or not) easy to find on-line or by listening to the records.

> I'm certain I've seen Brian himself name Hairfred as the make of that early acoustic, on two or three occasions. So there's more source material than just that 83 magazine to go on for that. In fact, didn't he have a piece on his soapbox about somebody restoring it for him? Or was that the Egmond?

I've honestly only seen him mentioning 'Hairfred' once, in the printed '83 interview (which again could've been a misprint, for all we know). In a 1973 article he said he'd used an old acoustic he'd modified but didn't say any brand; the Egmond's the one that got restored and while speaking about it he said he'd used Dave Dilloway's acoustic (no brand was named) for Jealousy and The Night Comes Down. Later on he again confirmed having used it for White Queen too but, again, he didn't say any brand name.

> the acoustics on A Human Body and I Want To Break Free. Presumably the former was the Martin, but the latter I'm not sure about. I even have a bit of a hard time myself trying to establish if it's steel or nylon-strung!

I think it's the Chet Atkins. Again, it's only an educated guess so far.

> 1973: Ogre Battle was written on acoustic guitar by Freddie, confirmed by Brian May on AG CD 2.

It'd been confirmed by him long before at least twice.

> Source: http://www.brianmaycentral.net/guitars.html

I remember contributing to that some years ago ;)

> Hairfred acoustic - used for early acoustic work, e.g. White Queen, Jealousy and The Prophet's Song

I remember writing to the owner of that site and telling them that. But I was wrong: for Prophet's Song it was something else.

> I'd change that to 1982, as he was seen on the Hot Space tour with it.   He even once spoke about the concert in New Jersey when he threw his Birch copy in frustration and ended up using the Flying V.

However, I think (but am not sure) he had it as backup in Japan 1985, as it was seen around the corner together with the Ovation. It's not very logical considering he'd already got the Guild, but anyway that discussion belongs to the 'Electric Guitar' thread, not this one.

> True, in fact he also used the V in Oakland, Ca., September 7, 1982. It was discussed on Brianmay.com in August 2007.

And BTW, Dr Memory first claimed he'd never used it on stage, until he faced the proofs (deja vu).

> If I Google-search for 'Hairfred acoustic guitar' I find 800 sites, all writing the same stories about Brian an Queen.  None of them mentions any other musician using this brand....

Which is why I'm suspicious about the whole thing. Maybe we'd all spent 27 years (all right, 26 years and 11 months) saying the wrong make... another deja vu.

> I mean, saying  'I read it in a magazine' or 'Brian said it in an interview' or referring to a web-site is easy to do.

I think, personally, that the order of sources goes like this:

1. Things that are filmed (e.g. Brian playing the DX-7 on One Vision).
2. Things seen on pix (e.g. Fred playing a black piano, not the white Bechstein, in several 'Opera tour' dates).
3. Things available on audio (e.g. Roger claiming Break Free was done in LA).
4. QueenCuttings (it's not impossible to doctor an actual scan, but it's way harder and pointless).
5. Brian's Soapbox (for certain things it's the best, for others not too reliable).
6. Transcripts found on-line in prestigious webs (e.g. QueenArchives).
7. Things only passed through via 'common knowledge' (e.g. Bijou being the combination of two songs) or reported to have been learnt via exclusive sources.

So, for instance, if we've got a QZer saying they got in touch with John Deacon and he told them he'd played the Who Needs You solo, it could easily be true and it could easily be false. Let's say that person claims they can't provide further evidence since John doesn't want to be annoyed by fans asking him all sorts of things. In that case, as I said, I can't believe them right away, but I wouldn't discard that info right away either.

Another case: Roger, unlike us, was at the Hammersmith gig in '75. However, he said it was on New Year's Eve. As counterevidence we can provide newspaper articles or even old TV guides to confirm it was Xmas Eve. Same if, for instance, Mike Grose said Queen never played Liar after his departure (there are loasd of audio and video files to prove they did), or if Brian said My Fairy King is on 'Queen II' (there's physical evidence to prove it's not that way).

Normally, for a research like mine (and I dare to say, like other webmasters' such as Bob and Martin, though they probably have a different strategy) you're better off when you get hold of several evidence 'items' in several categories. For instance, there's no footage of Brian recording the synthesiser of Who Wants to Live Forever. There are however, several bits of evidence to be 99% sure he played it on the record:

* He does it live (source: Wembley, Tribute, Budapest...).
* He said it at least twice in his website.
* It's totally his style (compare it with the live version, for instance, and there's a 99% chance it's the same player).
* He does it in the video.
* He's credited for keyboards in the 'Magic' album, meaning he did play for at least one song.

So, no counterevidence in that case. But let's see a different case: John plays the piano for the Spread Your Wings video (only the beginning). That would suggest he did it for the record. But there are also several things to suggest he didn't:

* According to what's been claimed many times by all of them, they used to record live backing tracks, with piano, bass and drums at the same time. So, unless we're willing to create a far-fetched laughable theory of Fred or Bri playing bass for a song John wrote, it's more logical to realise the video thing was just a prop.

* There's no mention of John playing piano in the album liner notes.
* Freddie, who played it live (source: loads of audio and a few video things), plays it virtually the same way as it's on the record.
* Fred, after all, was the band's pianist, meaning that in most (not all) cases he'd be the one to play. There are some exceptions, but certainly Spread Your Wings wasn't one of them.

So, as you can see, sometimes evidence's not too clear, sometimes it is. Every case is different.

> Yep, I know.  I've got those pics up on my website as well. :-)

BTW I'd never 'surfed' in your website until a couple of days ago. After reading it carefully, I absobloodylutely love it!


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 05 Dec 09, 03:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thank you for yor explanations Sebastian.
My question about sources was meant 'in general', I was not trying to sound sceptic about your story.
I'm not an expert on musical instruments. Still this is very interesting information to read!

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Posted: 05 Dec 09, 04:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hmmmm...I'm starting to wonder about the Hairfred thing now, and question how certain I am that I've seen Bri mention it multiple times.

As Seb and Nice Chap say, there's really nothing out there about Hairfred, except regurgitated info in the Queen context. Indeed, if you Google it, omitting any pages that include 'Queen', 'Brian' and 'May', you only get 10 results, none of which are related to music or guitars in any way.

Curious.



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Posted: 05 Dec 09, 08:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Nice Chap: I never read your message as offensive in any way. Still, it's nice to add my two pence on the sources thing.

Bohardy: I've asked the doctor about the guitar a couple of times during these last few years, but never gotten a reply. I've gotta be patient...



John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 16 Jan 10, 15:24 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'll commit the capital sin of replying to, and correcting, my own post:

Something that's always been more or less undiscloses is the whole 'who-played-what' deal, especially in a band like this, where all four could play well (at least well enough to accompany Tenement Funster or Need Your Loving Tonight). So, I think it'd be nice to compile a list of who played the acoustic on each instance (of course, there'll be loads of educated guesses and loads of unanswered bits).

But first:

- Regarding whether the doctor played a ukelele or ukelele-banjo on GC: he confirmed in his Soapbox that he'd used a ukelele (not a ukelele-banjo) and the track-sheet also says 'ukelele'.

- Listening to the Edinburgh gig, I think Bri also used a Martin 6-string for '39 there.

- Brian didn't buy the Hummingbird in Japan (he made a bit of a mistake there in his SB), as he already had it in the 1973 photo session at Fred's flat, long before the band's first trip to the Far East.

Now:

Keep Yourself Alive (demo): Brian (EG).
Liar: Brian - the fingerpicked pattern is totally him.
Great King Rat: Brian - as a recently surfaced backing track shows, the four of them recorded it, which means John couldn't do both at the same time.
Mad the Swine: Brian (EG).
Jesus: Brian - acoustic guitar's basically doubling the electric rhythm.
Night Comes Down: Brian - similar pattern to Dreamer's Ball (live).

Loser in the End: Brian - same reason as in Jesus.
Funny How Love Is: Brian - live backing track was bass, drums, piano and acoustic, which rules John out.
Father to Son: I suspect Brian based on the strumming pattern which is similar to FHLI.
Some Day One Day: Brian - similar strumming to '39 and others.

White Queen: That's the one I've got the most doubts about. I've got the theory about John being the one who plays the solo considering he doubles it on bass (hence he learnt it anyway), and considering he'd actually got a more proper classical technique. Brian's surely doing the arpeggios, but the actual solo could be either one of them. But since John's credited in the album and the other ones are not him, then it's a logical conclusion, unless of course he did play on FtS and/or LitE...

Tenement Funster: It could be either one. Since Brian was ill it'd make more sense to have John doing it but who knows...
Lap of the Gods: I think it's Brian - similar pattern to FHLI.
She Makes Me: Brian - same reason.
Misfire: John, of course. But I wonder: did he play more acoustic bits or just this one?

You and I: John, as credited.
Drowse: The doctor, as evidenced in the strumming pattern. Probably the backing track was done that way and the rest of guitars were added later.

Spread Your Wings: John, even if not credited (Brian's not mentioned for the ADAD piano either but he did play it).

Who Needs You: They both play, but who does what? I suspect (though haven't got any way to prove it) the backing track was recorded with two acoustic rhythm (one by each) and maracas were overdubbed later. Regarding the solos: the short one (after the first verse) doesn't sound like Brian's fingerpicked technique, which makes me suspect of the composer. But the long one's totally May-esque with the AA' formula at the beginning (Don't Stop Me Now, Black Queen, You and I, Spread Your Wings) and the semi-ostinato ending (Rock You, Best Friend, Black Queen). Harmonics... could be either.

In Only Seven Days: Judging by the YAI and SYW precedent, I'd say John.
Dreamer's Ball: Brian - same as live.
Leaving Home: Brian - probably part of the backing track.
Jealousy: Brian - ditto.

Sail Away Sweet Sister: Brian, and a very good solo that one!
Save Me: Totally Brian's picking technique.
Crazy Little Thing: Fred, as it's been long documented.
Need Your Loving: John, judging by the YAI, SYW, IOSD precedent.
Don't Try Suicide: It could be any of them, including Fred (reportedly, CLTCL was not the only one).
A Human Body: Ditto.

Calling All Girls: I suspect Brian, similar pattern as Drowse.
Las Palabras de Amor: The doctor, of course.

Is This the World We Created: Brian on a 12-string.
I Want to Break Free: I suspect a classical electric rather than an acoustic for that one.

Stealin': I need to listen to it again, haven't done so for years...
Hang on in There: Ditto.
I Want It All: Same as IWTBF.

Innuendo: It hasn't actually got acoustic guitars - Steve plays a Gibson Chet-Atkins, which looks and sounds acoustic but is electric.

Listening to Roger's solo albums will definitely give me a much better knowledge of his style and maybe his gear. I've definitely got to add solo albums to my website some day... one day.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 29 May 10, 08:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Correcting my own correction: the Hummingbird is a Tokai, not a Gibson, bought in Japan in '75.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 16 Dec 14, 03:11 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The book about the Red Special has a close up of the acoustic guitar used on 'White Queen', and it seems the make was Hallfred (single or double 'l', I'm not sure). It also says 'guitarre', which would suggest it's a Catalan brand.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 16 Dec 14, 07:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hairfried?


Martin
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Posted: 16 Dec 14, 11:02 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

No, not Hairfried, but Hallfred.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 16 Dec 14, 21:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Great post man love reading about these sort of subjects, find them so very interesting!!

Any chance of a in depth write up and look into John Deacons strings and musical Instruments that he played live/records... ? and especially in regards to him on the 6 stings... Be cool to have a break down on what he used and what song he used that particular 6 string on... Oh and according to wiki (a site you take with a grain of salt...) he played 6 strings on the album Queen I.. Any info you got to comfirm/deny that

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Posted: 17 Dec 14, 00:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Anyone can add any kind of nonsense to Wikipedia.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 18 Dec 14, 06:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

A question/comment on 'Dreamer's Ball' - but the early version that was a bonus track on the 2011 remasters.

From memory (and I haven't got it to hand right now), I recall it sounding as if there is no bass guitar on it, but very possibly two acoustic guitars. Bearing in mind that it sounds like a 'live take' (and so eliminating the option that Brian might have overdubbed a second guitar afterwards), I would assume that it is John (and at a guess not Freddie) playing the second acoustic. I have no comment on what guitar he may have been playing, but thought that it might be helpful to the topic.

Is there anything on the 'Jazz' sleevenotes to intimate that John playing acoustic may have also made the final album cut of 'Dreamer's Ball'?