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© Kevin Nixon/Future PLC
John Birch was a noted luthier based in Birmingham who, among other things, was responsible for the Super Yob famously used by Slade’s Dave Hill. According to the Queen Live concert listing, Brian broke the Replica into three pieces during a show in New Jersey in 1982; it was repaired by Suffolk luthier Andrew Guyton in 2006.
Brian May: “I suppose you know the story of its demise? Did I throw it over the amps in a fit of pique? Well, obviously I would never do that… [laughs]. But yes, I think that’s what happened.
“I met John through Tony Iommi – I hate to think how long ago – and at that point I had no proper spare, which was a very difficult situation to be in, because if I broke a string I’d have to pick up the Stratocaster or Les Paul, which would sound totally different from my guitar.
“So we came up with the idea of making a replica of my guitar and I had three spare pickups that I’d bought as back-ups, so he built it around those. There were problems [laughs] – it turned out that the pickups didn’t have the warmth that mine had andthe guitar was made of different materials, so it really didn’t have the sustain.
"The tremolo wasn’t as accurate and the neck was a lot thinner, because it was regarded as insane to make a neck as thick as mine.It was closer than the Gibson or the Fender to sounding like my guitar, but it didn’t really fulfil the job very well.
“I used to break a lot of strings. I suppose you get carried away with adrenaline and squeeze things further than you would otherwise. So yes, I’d pick up this guitar and it did okay, but it wasn’t quite there and that did frustrate me a bit. Having said that, it was a nice piece of work.”