The Guitar Wiring Blog Diagrams and Tips: Brian May’s Red Special Wiring Diagram from The Guitar Wiring Blog

Last Updated on August 29, 2020 by Hervé Senni

The Guitar Wiring Blog is an old established site where I picked lots of diagram when I started modifying guitars.

Brian May’s Red Special has a great future as a 3-pickup guitar. All P-Up configurations are possible, you can reverse the phase of each coil and there is also a classic volume control. It means achieving a lot of cool tones. All can be useful, there is no mambo jumbo waste of space.

The original RS guitar wiring from May was made from pretty “vintage” parts. Fortunately, you can build something similar today with modern electronics.

This is my Red Special schematic:

It may be a little different from the original, but it has all of the RS functionality.


The diagram is based on Burns Tri-Sonic pickups. You have three wires. The green is likely going from the metal cover and should be connected to the earth. The black comes from pickups “-“. The red, the blue and the white are the “+” of the pickup.

When you want to use ordinary Fender style single coil pickups

… you need to wire them up like Tri-Sonics with no green wires.

Sound control

All switches, on-off and on-off phases, are based on the same type of connections (pin-out). If you don’t want to use foils (like in the original Red Special), you can use DPDT on / off toggle switches. Toggle SWs are also much easier to install, as they only require simple holes in a pickguard or guitar body – like pots.

The potentiometer and capacitor values ​​are based on the Burns version of Brian May’s Red Special guitar. I hope the original is the same.

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