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Brian May looks back on his Queen live guitar solos: "If something works great and you get a good response, the tendency is to keep doing it but it doesn't work that way"

Inventive, emotive and always enhancing the song, Brian May's approach to crafting solos in Queen is still rightly heralded as a masterclass in rock guitar playing. And he's always taken great care in delivering an extended solo spot live in the band that constantly evolves. 

You've got to take it to its natural peak and then let it go and try something else

"The guitar solo, it's half and half," said May in archive footage featured in the latest episode of Queen: The Guitar Solos you can watch above. "I've done it so many times by that time that there are certain things I know which are going to be good things to try. But basically, yes it's improvised but there are always things that will be in there because they work. 

"I had to be very careful because you can fall into a trap," May noted. "If something works great and you get a good response, the tendency is to keep doing it but it doesn't work that way. You've got to take it to its natural peak and then let it go and try something else. Because things get old; you have to keep yourself fresh and the audience fresh."

The solo spot is something May has continued with Adam Lambert on the mic with Queen and we've collected a few of our favourites from various Queen eras below. 

5 songs guitarists need to hear by… Brian May

Rob Laing
Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.