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Brian May: “The Guitar Isn’t the Most Important Thing”

(Image credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Brian May has some surprising things to say about the guitar in a new interview with Music Radar.

May, who has just released Golden Days, a collaborative album with singer Kerry Ellis, offers up five tips covering on everything from surrounding yourself with inspiring people to getting yourself in the best state of mind for playing.

Two areas that the Queen guitarist touches on are soloing and the importance of the singer.

“As a guitarist, you can go so far, but I have never thought that the guitar is the most important thing on most records,” May says.

“It is the singer and the song that is important. The guitar helps, of course. I am generally much more excited about the rest of the song than I am about the guitar part. The guitar usually gets put on at the last minute and it gets done in 10 minutes quite spontaneously.”

As of one of rock’s most tasteful soloists, not to mention the creator of numerous memorable lead parts, May also has some useful advice to impart on the subject of crafting guitar solos.

“My advice for anyone writing a solo would be to sing it in your head,” he says. “You should be able to hear it in your head before you start to play.

“Don’t just pick up the guitar. Think about it and feel it first. You should visualize how you would like it to sound. That also gives you something to work towards.”

You can read the entire interview at Music Radar.

Below is the recently released music video for “Roll with You,” from May and Ellis’ new album.

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Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.