If you’re talking signature guitar tones, we’d wager there’s none more instantly recognisable than that of Brian May. Ever since Queen’s debut album five decades ago, a whole industry has grown up around ‘that sound’, with guitars, amps and effects all vying for the attention of hordes of Queen enthusiasts who want to replicate it.
Aside from the ‘Red Special’, May’s unique homemade guitar, the other main component is, of course, the Vox AC30, which May plugs into via a variety of treble boosters.
Now there’s a special Brian May signature version of Vox’s highly portable MV50 mini amp head, which includes a built-in treble booster circuit by Knight Audio Technologies, one of the most well-known Queen equipment specialists, with Sir Brian himself among its customers.
Introduced back in 2017, Vox’s typically innovative MV50 was one of the first guitar amps to capitalise on the small size and weight of Class D amplification, combined with a clever valve substitute called the Nutube 6P1.
Developed by Vox’s parent company Korg, the Nutube is a twin triode using vacuum fluorescent display tech to amplify audio just like a regular 12AX7 but in a more compact and less power-hungry package. The result is highly authentic valve‑like tone with enough power for any gig, from a head that’s no larger than many stompboxes.
The MV50-BM edition has been designed in collaboration with May himself and features an eye-catching ‘Red Special’ paint job that’s been carried over to the matching BC108 speaker cabinet, available as a Limited Edition Set, with other Brian May goodies to sweeten the deal.
The MV50-BM sounds very similar to the regular AC version until you kick the integrated KAT treble booster into action. We’ve said before that the standard MV50 AC model does an uncanny job of replicating a full-size AC30 but doesn’t quite get the heavier compressed Brian May tones.
The KAT treble boost is the missing link that makes this possible, and with everything on 10, it’s pretty much instant Queen at Wembley and nearly as loud, besides looking the part, too.
You can buy the MV50-BM signature head on its own, but we think the smart money will be heading for this Limited Edition Set, which includes the matching BC108 cab, plus postcards and a keychain. Most importantly, though, if your daily practice routine starts with We Will Rock You, this is the sound.
- PRICE: $399 / £419
- ORIGIN: Vietnam
- TYPE: Hybrid valve/solid-state preamp, Class D power amp
- OUTPUT: 50W RMS into 4ohms or 25W RMS into 8ohms
- DIMENSIONS: 135mm (w) x 100mm (d) x 75mm (h)
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 0.5/1
- CABINET: Steel
- CHANNELS: 1
- CONTROLS: Gain, tone, master volume. Treble boost on/off, standby on/off, eco mode on/off, output impedance switch and flat/deep EQ switch
- FOOTSWITCH: None
- ADDITIONAL FEATURES: Built-in Knight Audio Technologies treble booster, speaker-emulated phones/line out
- OPTIONS: Available as a head on its own for $249/£259, or as part of a Limited Edition Set with matching BC108 cab
- CONTACT: Vox Amps