Steve with RS

Well, as they often say, all good things must come to an end. After an over 10 year run building these fantastically unique guitars, I have decided to stop production and spend more time making music and with my family. I started RS many years ago, in the late 90's, because I had always been a big fan of Brian and the music of Queen, and as a guitar player and enthusiast, was always fascinated by the uniqueness of the Red Special guitar...yet I was never able to own one. At the time, there were no guitars available on the commercial market other than used Guilds, and I wanted something a little closer to the real thing. I did a lot of research, met some nice new friends on the Internet who helped me with ideas and some details on the original guitar and went on down the road. The original intent was to just make a guitar for myself, but as things progressed, I though that there might be others out there who might be interested in the same sort of guitar. One thing led to another, and RS was born. RS never had any investors or financial partners, it started with one guitar and grew from there, but it was always a very small operation. One of my goals early on was to meet Brian, and hopefully work out some sort of endorsement or licensing deal on the guitars, but there were so many production and supplier issues in the early days, that even though I did have discussions with Brian's management, things unfortunately never materialized. I still kick myself over this, but because of my limited budget and all of the delays with some of my suppliers implementing design changes, it just was not to be. I did, however, manage to achieve my goal of meeting Brian and giving him a guitar (although I had such short notice, that the building of the guitar was very rushed) at the Hollywood Bowl the night of a Queen + PR show. I was so nervous, and it was very hectic getting backstage...but there I was, my brother and I sitting there with Brian alone in his dressing room before the gig. I had assumed that since Brian agreed to meet and take a guitar, that there was some interest in the guitars or at least that it was going to be a friendly meeting. I was shocked at first when there was thoughtful awkward silence, and then Brian expressed his thoughts that I was “sort of ripping him off” by selling guitars based on his and his dad's design. I was completely caught off guard and tried to explain myself, while of course sweating profusely! The mood of the meeting shifted to a friendlier tone when I explained that I had brought him a guitar...he played and studied it briefly as we chatted. I then said goodbye, got a picture with him and left, heading straight to the bar for a stiff drink and watched the great gig.
Things were never the same after that, I came very close to closing the shop after the meeting, as I just didn't feel right about the guitars anymore. I still loved them, and it was still a passion of mine, but I could not get over the fact that my own idol resented the fact that I was building and selling the guitars. RS Guitars was always a passion of mine, it always made just enough money to keep it going, but was never a real money making venture, and it was never intended to be. The Red Special is a very unique and non-traditional guitar in terms of both the hardware and the design itself, so building these guitars is very difficult, time consuming and expensive with all of the custom machined parts involved. Sure, you could mass produce the guitar if you had the money...and bring the costs per unit down, but the market for Brian May guitars has always been a niche thing so the costs would never be recouped by the sales numbers. This was fine, and I knew this going into the project, I was in it for the passion not to get rich.
At any rate, I continued, trying to put the BM meeting behind me, but it was always still there and bubbled to the surface from time to time. As I have gotten older, my time has gotten more valuable to both myself and my family...and I still have some things I want to accomplish musically. I slowly decided over the last year or so that I was going to wind things down, so that I could simplify my life, free up more time for my music and save myself the stress of building and delivering the guitars. The time has finally come now, all of the guitars have been delivered, and we will not be taking anymore orders. The website will stay up for the foreseeable future, and I will continue to answer support emails and help with any guitar issues. It has been a long, wonderful, yet strange ride in many ways...I have met many wonderful people through these great guitars and am thankful for that. If anyone is interested in purchasing a Red Special, I will point them to Brian May Guitars, Brian's official guitar company. It's the least I can do. Heck, I may need to hit them up for a guitar, as I never managed to keep one of my own for myself! (Update: I did buy one of the new BMG Specials to use for recordings, and I have to say, I did get a very nice guitar for the money!)


Steve Turpin 

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