Brian May, best known for his work with Queen, has many distinctive features. He has one of the most iconic haircuts in rock, he plays a guitar made from a fireplace, has an instantly recognisable guitar tone and pushes Vox AC30s to places that no other mortal has ever pushed them. But when it comes down to chords, we don’t often spend much time talking about Brian. Until now.
In this lesson we’re going to check out four chords from some Queen classics and look at how Brian uses them, and hopefully inspire your own rhapsodies.
This chord, features during the intro of the track Hammer to Fall. Brian alternates between the A major chord and the 6sus4 extension for a Keith Richards-style swagger to the intro.
The 6sus4 chord is a very melodic variation to any chord and works great when paired with the major chord (played in an A major form) and moved back and forth.
The easiest way to approach this is to play your A major chord as a first finger barre, then use your second and third fingers to extend the chord.
A big part of the Queen guitar sound is their ability to make everything sound orchestrated. Inside this there is a sense of tension and resolve. Suspended chords are a great way to bring some tension and resolve into your own playing.
At the start of the track Crazy Little Thing Called Love, you hear a simple D chord vamp which alternates between a major and Dsus4 chord.
This movement sounds melodic, but also creates a resolved sound when the major chord is returned to.
This chord is a blink and you'll miss it moment in the track Another One Bites the Dust. It appears in the funky rhythm that underpins the verses. Brian hits this A5/E chord in passing between the Emin and Amin chords of this section.
This is an easily transposable shape so can be played anywhere on the guitar.
This is an A5 chord with the 5th (The E) added again in the bass.
In most circumstances an A major chord isn’t all that exciting, but this A major taken from the track We Will Rock You is a little different.
Instead of the notes of the chord being the Open A and the 2nd fret on the D, G and B strings, those fretted notes have been moved up an octave to the 14th fret. This gives the chord a completely new flavour.
On the track, it actually goes back and forth between A and A6sus4, so brush up on both those shapes!