Forums > Personal > guitar tone on "A kind of magic"

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czerni4k user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 02 Sep 11, 04:03 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hello.

Anyone knows on what gear Brian recorded this killer riff in "A kind of magic" (it shows up about 2:05 and in the end of song)? I`ve been trying a lot of combinations and it still seems to be impossible to sound like that...

Thanks, peter


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Posted: 02 Sep 11, 04:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

You've posted the same question in 3 separate places.  Someone is fucking annoyed!


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thomasquinn 32989 user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 02 Sep 11, 07:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Anyone trying to imitate the exact sound of another musician is a candidate for psychotherapy to begin with, as far as I'm concerned.


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Posted: 09 Sep 11, 16:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

he recorded it thru the amp of a dansette home turntable, with a portable mic inside a biscuit tin (this saved on expensive echo equipment).....alsohe actually didn't play guitar on the track....he had Fozzie Bear from the muppets do it  as stand-in...to give the track an authentic funky-sound...created by ramming the machinedeads up Miss Piggy's chuff


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Posted: 04 Oct 11, 07:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Dear ThomasQuinn and brENsKi... To duplicate sound of any other player on any recording you would need to use the same guitar, pickups, amp, tubes,speaker cabinets and cables... They all have to be made in the same year as gear used in source record. But it would be still impossible unless you have his hands, ears and heart... Then you only need to record it  in the same studio room with exactly the same recording equipment.

I`m a Queen fan since 1990. Beside LP`s and singles, I collect rare songs, rare info and anything about classic recording techniques. I`m also a HI-END and tube-freak who builds and mods amps and guitars, I also have home recording studio. I`m a guitar player in a rock/metal band, but I never even tried to reproduce May`s or anyone`s tone... I`m just curious about gear used in AKOM because it sounds different from any other Queen recording.

So if my question was so annoying for you, maybe you should go to Britney Spears` forum? All of her songs are made by using simple synths and AutoTune :)


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The Real Wizard user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 04 Oct 11, 11:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I wish I could help you out..  But this is indeed one of the most unique tones Brian ever achieved.

Great list of all the base requirements.  Even if you have all the gear, the room itself could be a major deciding factor.  Just ask Jimmy Page about the When The Levee Breaks drum sound..

There's nothing wrong with trying to mimic someone's sound.  Many musicians make careers out of it - everything from playing on karaoke albums to tribute acts.  It's no different from a chef trying to replicate a recipe or an historian trying to work out how the Egyptian pyramids were constructed.


"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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Posted: 04 Oct 11, 12:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Right on.  People who bitch excessively about not copying others should all have built their own instruments and written their own languages to sing in, as far as I'm concerned.  Occasionally dissecting other people's production techniques is at least good for a laugh, and at best often illuminating.

I guess the Magic guitar sound is a little strange because the Brian I typically hear in my head is the 70's one - by no means an unprocessed sound, but a lot of the 'processing' had a lot to do with mic positions, phase, room sounds, and - most important of all if you ask me - the volume knob on his guitar.  Outside of the Foxx Phaser and his tape delays, I don't really think he got heavy into effects until later.

Listening to the Magic stuff, there's some pretty clever changes in the sound.  One setting would not suit the whole song, put it that way.  A couple of things sound like drop-ins; not because he couldn't play it all in one take, but a stylistic thing (sort of the way Freddie's lines overlap in the verse of Keep Yourself Alive).  As each phrase in the guitar solo goes past, the panning shifts and the general EQ of the thing seems to change.  It's pretty sublime, I reckon.  I'd forgotten how effective his playing on this track was, as I've been listening to live cuts a lot lately.  Pretty different feeling going on.


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Posted: 04 Oct 11, 14:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Zebonka12 wrote:

Right on.  People who bitch excessively about not copying others should all have built their own instruments and written their own languages to sing in, as far as I'm concerned.

=====================

Yeah, that's another thing I just don't get ... millions of guitarists have plugged Les Pauls and SGs into Marshalls, and nobody jumps on them for trying to copy Page or Angus.  But when one guy even slightly resembles Brian May's rig, suddenly he's a copycat with no originality.  Bullocks to that..


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Posted: 04 Oct 11, 17:54 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sir GH wrote:

Yeah, that's another thing I just don't get ... millions of guitarists have plugged Les Pauls and SGs into Marshalls, and nobody jumps on them for trying to copy Page or Angus.  But when one guy even slightly resembles Brian May's rig, suddenly he's a copycat with no originality.  Bullocks to that..

AMEN to that, brother! Gibsons and Fenders are all over the fucking market, yet plenty of other guitars like the Red Special are sorely under-represented (in my view anyways). Not to sound overly generalizing, but technically speaking a lot of these guitar and amp combos tend to sound very similar if not the same to me. It is of course the player however that really MAKES the sound in the end, but if you take the player out of the mixture, it's virtually all the same!

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Posted: 04 Oct 11, 22:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I don't see any harm in it, either way you go.  I bought myself a Red Special, and the first thing I did was change the pickup heights from what everyone was recommending for that ideal Brian sound.  Don't get me wrong, it's cool being able to play Queen on a Queen guitar, but I like tinkering.  The Red Special (whichever flavour you've bought, or made yourself) has a metric asstonne of sonic possibilities.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 05 Oct 11, 09:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sir GH wrote: Zebonka12 wrote:

Right on.  People who bitch excessively about not copying others should all have built their own instruments and written their own languages to sing in, as far as I'm concerned.

=====================

Yeah, that's another thing I just don't get ... millions of guitarists have plugged Les Pauls and SGs into Marshalls, and nobody jumps on them for trying to copy Page or Angus.  But when one guy even slightly resembles Brian May's rig, suddenly he's a copycat with no originality.  Bullocks to that.. =======

As often happens, you completely fail to see my point. First off, I find the Gibson-Marshall set-up banal to the extreme, so your argument doesn't apply to me. My point is that a vast majority of musicians is not interested in finding/developing their own sound, but trying to match somebody else's. That's the very reason that so much (pop) music sounds so much alike. This is not limited to the set-up, but also includes things like "I always play a G major chord as a barré on the third fret because that's how [...] does it" and "I want to play a solo that sounds just like Van Halen". Trying to approximate someone else's sound as closely as possible is detrimental to originality in music. Without originality, music is a dying art form.


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Posted: 05 Oct 11, 11:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

There's tonnes of originality.  Thousands of artists in this world are trying to further the evolution of music.  Not everyone is required to.  Jumping all over that group of musicians isn't going to accomplish anything.


"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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czerni4k user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 05 Oct 11, 13:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

We all know at least 3 guys who were BANAL TO EXTREME:

John Deacon: STOCK Fender Precission bass (the most popular bass guitar at all), STOCK Accoustic amps, STOCK Sunn cabinets

Roger Taylor: Ludwig drums, no different from any other drummer`s gear

Freddie Mercury: STOCK Stainway piano, STOCK microphones, STOCK Fender Telecaster, STOCK Ovation guitar

THE MUSIC IS BEIN` MADE BY PEOPLE, NOT BY GEAR THEY`RE USING, the tone is in player`s hands, not in the instrument.

I`m using a custom made for me by luther SG copy, modded Mesa Mark IV (`91) with made by myself custom switcher and another preamp built by myself too. I have another DIY guitar...  And I know many players who are using stock gear and... Many of them are better musicians than I am.

FOR ME, way to make a good music is to really feel it, to work on you compositions a lot, to practice you technique... 

IT IS OFF COURSE TRUE that inveting new sounds can be really cool, but FOR ME composition and feel is just more important than revolutional guitar tone.

Oh, by the way... As I remember, Brian always wanted to buy FENDER STRATOCASTER - THE MOST POPULAR GUITAR IN THE WORLD, but he simply couldn`t afford it. :)


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Posted: 05 Oct 11, 18:22 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

ThomasQuinn wrote: Sir GH wrote: Zebonka12 wrote:

As often happens, you completely fail to see my point. First off, I find the Gibson-Marshall set-up banal to the extreme, so your argument doesn't apply to me. My point is that a vast majority of musicians is not interested in finding/developing their own sound, but trying to match somebody else's. That's the very reason that so much (pop) music sounds so much alike. This is not limited to the set-up, but also includes things like "I always play a G major chord as a barré on the third fret because that's how [...] does it" and "I want to play a solo that sounds just like Van Halen". Trying to approximate someone else's sound as closely as possible is detrimental to originality in music. Without originality, music is a dying art form. Hi TQ, i believe you are correct to say that most musicians are trying to copy  others they admire or for that matter whatever is selling in the present day. But this has probably been the reality of musicians, painters, authors etc. over history. Everyone does not have the guts our the creativity to whip up a Bohemian Rhapsody now do they.

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Posted: 05 Oct 11, 22:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"Without originality, music is a dying art form"

Every piece you've ever played in your life has been composed by yourself, then?

No one's 'missing your point'.  You're missing ours - we're not defending people who blatantly steal other people's sounds, or techniques, or whatever.  We're talking about disseminating other people's methods for the purposes of learning more about your craft.  First couple of years that I had my Red Special, I had a grand old time trying to figure out old Brian May sounds, but at the moment 'his' sound couldn't be further from my mind (at least, in relation to playing original music.  I do occasionally fill in for a Queen tribute, but that's a different story).  The point is, I learned a lot from the process.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 05 Oct 11, 22:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"THE MUSIC IS BEIN` MADE BY PEOPLE, NOT BY GEAR THEY`RE USING, the tone is in player`s hands, not in the instrument"

Right on.  Copying someone's sound is a forlorn hope 99% of the time, because unless you're fortuitously possessed of some similarity to the artist you're aiming to emulate, it's going to sound different.  You can't guarantee that you'll nail the human element.  There's some great videos of some guys playing on Brian's guitar at a Red Special meetup, and most of it sounds utterly awful.  Nothing wrong with the gear - but put a different person there, and you will get a different sound.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 06 Oct 11, 09:29 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sir GH wrote: There's tonnes of originality.  Thousands of artists in this world are trying to further the evolution of music.  Not everyone is required to.  Jumping all over that group of musicians isn't going to accomplish anything.
=========

I'm not denying that there's originality. What I'm saying is that 1) it is not coming from those who are trying to copy someone else's sound, in any technical sense of the word, and 2) it is not often a factor in popular music, which tends to be a reflection of original, innovative music that came before. I don't see it as "jumping all over" a group of musicians, I see it as pointing out a fallacy in one's playing: the only thing you need to do to turn a sound into a cliché is hear it often. In an age where recorded music exists, plentifully, for the first time in human history (and let's not forget that most people by far didn't have access to more than a precious few records before the 1950s (US & Canada) and 1960s (Europe)), the risk of becoming a cliché by too close a reliance on another player's style is far greater than it used to be.


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Posted: 28 Dec 11, 02:24 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

You can't build up your own tone and playing style without direct influence from other significant musicians, it's the same with everything. And who better to learn from than May?

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Posted: 12 May 12, 13:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Ok, so I'm new here as well...

Going back to czerni4k 's original post, maybe I can help you out/offer my thoughts on the guitar tone in 'A Kind of Magic' (I've always wondered about this tone as well -the reason for me finding this post!)
I had a go at recreating the sound and, although it's not exactly like it, it's more or less in the ball park. Here's the link...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6WpiDyBtnY&feature=youtu.be

To try and get this guitar sound, I just used what's available to me atm - fender strat + guitar rig 4 software. (I do have a red special/vox/treble booster, just not with me!)
Guitar settings - neck p/up, tone about 50% volume backed off a little bit.
Amp settings - marshall simulation w/very light overdrive and the treble rolled off a bit, little bit of chorus and delay and quite a bit of reverb.
I played the chords with fingers rather than a pick - sounds less harsh and there is no pick raking across strings, just sounds altogether smoother.
My strat trem is floating, so some slight upward vibrato with the bar, gets it sounding more May-like!
Pulling the strings fairly hard, gets the initial attack on the chords more overdriven, just for a moment - the main sound remains pretty clean/smooth though.
The chord changes also sound really subtle - I used to think Brian was somehow bending the whole chord shape up from the A to D chord!..or that it was a multitracked 3-part harmony. It's just really hard to hear the transition between the 2 chords.
Can't really think of anything else to add. All of this is just an opinion and I could be wayy off! Basically just try using fingers instead of a pick/sixpence and carefully adjust the tone/volume on the guitar, and dont use too much overdrive. Should get you kind of close.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6WpiDyBtnY&feature=youtu.be

Oh, here's a cover of Killer Queen I did, again not using any authentic Brian May-type equipment, but guitars are kind of close enough!

http://soundcloud.com/toby-barnett/killer-queen-cover

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Posted: 13 May 12, 21:54 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

You're a great musician. Glad to have you here.

Nice job at getting the AKOM tone VERY close with a Strat. Proves that it's almost entirely in the fingers and not the gear.


"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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