Monday, January 18, 2010

Top Finds of 2009 / Fryer: Brian May Treble Boosters

Anyone dedicated to reproducing the legendary gear of guitarist Brian May is ok with us. Everyone knows if there's one sound that has gone down in rock history as one of the greatest guitar tones of all time it's Brian's. It takes no more than a single chord to know you are listening to Brian's magically enormous tone. This warm, harmonically rich, and aggressive sound that was created back in the 1960's is something that many greats since then, along with studio engineers and every day players have been trying to painstakingly achieve. So how does one go about dialing in this sound? Well, before you can get started on your road to Brian May's tone there are a few components you will definitely need in order to be successful. There's the Red Special guitar, a proper AC30, and probably most important is a mighty sounding Treble Booster. This is where Fryer comes into play. Fryer Guitars is the brainchild of Greg Fryer and Nigel Night, two highly passionate cats who have made it their goal to create some of the world's most spot-on Brian May tonal tools. One of the amazing pieces of gear they have decided to take on is a stunning line of Brian May Treble Boosters. I had a chance to put a few of these products through their paces and I must say I am very very impressed. Throughout my many years of playing guitar I have come across many different treble boosting units, from vintage originals to boutique reproductions. These Fryer/ Brian May Treble Boosters really have something going for themselves, something every guitar player will absolutely fall in love with. Let's take a closer look at these bad boys shall we?

Fryer Guitars
London, UK
Crew: Greg Fryer/Nigel Night
Years in the Game: 30

The three Fryer/Brian May treble boosters are the Treble Booster Plus, Treble Booster Deluxe, and Treble Booster Touring. Each unit sports Greg Fryer selected components and is dialed in for the best possible performance. The boosters also use Switchcraft Jacks for an ultimate professional sound, Bulgin battery drawers for quick and easy battery swapping, and are housed in a heavy-duty enclosure for a lifetime of use. Just like the vintage Rangemaster the three Brian May treble boosters are also designed with a simple straight In/straight Out design, and no On/Off footswitch. There are no volume, eq, or gain control knobs of any sort on these units. Instead you get a straight, uncut, and pure blast of harmonically charged Rock and Roll goodness. According to the cats at Fryer Guitars, you set one of these boxes up with a Red Special guitar and AC30 amplifier, and you'll be seeing the light. Well I don't own a Red Special or Vox Ac30, but I will say that each and every setup I did plugged these boxes into sounded like heaven to my ears. You talk about getting a quick and easy tone? Wait till you try these little devils. We set each box up directly through a guitar and amp alone, through other effect pedals, and through a number of different wattage amps. The end result was the same each time, sounding beautiful and aggressive without absolutely NO FRILLS.


Treble Booster Touring
“Moderate Gain, a balanced sound with sweet harmonic detail and smooth treble definition.”

The Treble Booster Touring is the booster that Brian May has been using for his live and recorded work since 1998. It gives 31dB gain, has a sweet rich harmonic character to its sound and gives good defi nition and detail even at full volume distorted amp settings. The TB Touring provides balanced rhythm guitar sounds as well as soaring lead guitar sounds, and as the guitar’s volume control is wound down the TB Touring cleans up beautifully with sparkling rhythm sounds on offer. Although designed initially for the Brian May Red Special style guitar, many of our customers have found that the TB Touring works extremely well with conventional single coil and humbucking pickup guitars when used with a range of different valve amps. Recorded examples of this treble booster can be heard on Brian May’s 1998 solo album “Another World”, and on all his recorded work since 1998 including the 2008 Queen + Paul Rodgers album “The Cosmos Rocks”.


Treble Booster Deluxe
“Powerful, rich, good treble detail”

The Treble Booster Deluxe gives 35dB gain, is tonally placed between the TB Touring and TB Plus and produces richness and punch whilst retaining much defi nition too. This booster has been developed to strongly evoke Brian May’s sound from the mid 1970s Queen albums such as “Sheer Heart Attack” and “A Day At The Races”, as
well as being very similar to Brian’s well known 1980s live concert sound. The TB Deluxe has been the favorite booster choice of our customers when using a speaker attenuator with their Vox AC30 amps. Many customers have also reported that the TB Deluxe works very well with other humbucking and single coil pickup guitars into various types of valve amps.


Treble Booster Plus
“Fat, smooth and powerful”

The Treble Booster Plus gives 36dB gain and is the fattest and most powerful of our treble boosters. It is designed to evoke the rich powerful vocal-like tones of Brian May’s recorded sound from the late 1970s Queen albums “News Of The World” and “Jazz”. On the frequency response graph, the TB Plus shapes its boosted frequencies more towards mid range territory than the other boosters, with its peak at approx 2.5K Hz and its top end smoothed off more than the TB Deluxe or TB Touring pedals. For non-BM use, several of our customers have told us they like the TB Plus for producing fat overdriven rock sounds when using humbucking pickup guitars into bright sounding 6L6 or EL34 valve amps. The TB Plus is also very useful for adding punch and
richness to single coil pickup guitars.


Now for some of the tones we were able to achieve with these boosters. We'll start with the first setup which was a Les Paul, Super Lead, and two Core One Bullet Cables. I set the amp to one of our favorite recording overdrive tones and fed it with the Treble Booster Touring's 31db of gain. Before I continue here there's one thing you must understand. This Super Lead overdrive sound we use for recording is something that not only took us a good while to dial in, it's also a sound we've taken much pride in. Anyone who's spent a good amount of time in the studio environment knows how tuff it is to get those few really special guitar tones. These are the sounds we use as the lifeline to our tracks. The amount of frequency character and overall size that the Treble Booster Touring was able to add to the sound was absolutely off the hook! It almost made me sad that my special rockin' tone could be improved. This is what it's all about anyhow right? I never want to be finished seeking out the "immaculate tone". What this little box was able to hand me was another tool for shaping, creating, and polishing a new world of tones. What was already a grade A tone turned into an entire new beast of the same class. Playing chords dry without any reverb or delay sounded huge, perfectly balanced, and so damn mean'n'good it was ridiculous. Like a brick wall slamming war machine of classic rock tone heaven. Throttling back on my guitar's volume knob gave me the ability to hit ranges from semi-clean to all-out screaming leads. Next came the Treble Booster Deluxe, which we paired up with a cherry, built from scratch, custom Strat that I had put together myself. Again, like the Super Lead tone I take much pride in, this guitar is also something that is very dear to me. I spent weeks researching and trying loads of different vintage guitars, pickups, hardware, and options to make sure I put together the best possible sounding Strat. The amp of choice for the Treble Booster Deluxe was non-other than a Twin Reverb. I set the amp like I always do with the volume and eq stack at 7, and reverb at around 3. So that I could compare the amp's root tone to the boosters I used a true bypass loop pedal for switching in & out. Alone the Twin Reverb and Strat produced a thick, sparkling clean tone that lit up the room with chime and spank. Once engaged the Treble Booster Deluxe added a huge amount of fat'n'honky boost that turned the tone from sweet'n'clean to beefy'n'mean. The sheer addition of harmonic boost that these boxes add to your sound is remarkable. Many treble boosters can take your sound and make it thin and fizzy, eating away at the weight and eq value of the overall sound. That is not an issue here, not in the least. The Fryer treble boosters take everything that is holy about your hard worked tone, and bumps it up a few notches into a super hero version of itself. Last on the menu was the Treble Booster Plus, the strongest and loudest of the bunch. For this demo I broke my one and only "Lady", the candy apple red Tele that I've hot-rodded into a perfect rockin' machine. I used our 15/7 watt amp head and 2X12 combo for this session, setting the amp to 7 watts first and dialing in a nice semi-clean rhythm tone. I switched into the guitar's neck pickup first for some a warm and round tone. The neck bucker is also hooked up to a CLK push/pull knob from Rothwell Audio Products which lets you dial in single coil, P90, full humbucking, and everything in between tones. I let the Treble Booster Plus loose and BAAM! The humbucker took on an entire new face, not that I lost any of my root's character, no sir. Instead the booster gave the pickup a charge that sent it into a booming, scorching, sonic assault. The string articulation was still there only much more defined and a lot more aggressive. The lows tightened up, mids shot across the room, and highs stood their ground only with a hint of being rounded out. When one comes across a tone this good it's almost impossible to put it into words. These are the tones that hit your soul and you more feel than hear. I flipped into the amp's full 15 watts, cranked it full blast maxing out the bass, mids, and keeping the treble at noon. I stood with my back to the 2X12 cabinet and could feel the force and brilliance of the treble Booster Plus's work. For gigging situations these boxes would work perfectly for dialing in a universal tone you could work with your guitar's volume. You could use these to cut through any mix, or use them to drive your favorite overdrive and distortion pedals (which we also did and got great results from). You can set them on a switch and use them to drive your amp's natural sound, and even drive bass guitars, keys, and other fun instruments to get more size. There is no wrong way to go about using these boosters. Fryer has blown us at Analog War Cry away with these insanely simple tone tools. I mean come on, no switch or knobs! How good is that!? This is only a piece of the Fryer Guitars puzzle, there are more killer products in store and a few on the way. Along with the Brian May Treble Boosters there is also a switchable treble booster, Vari-Booster pedal, Fryer Amp Protector to keep you from frying your amp, and a 1watt amp kit for tons of fun. On the horizon for Fryer is a Brian May Deacy Amp Replica, which it's release will be announced in the next few weeks. We will continue to bring you guys more from this rockin' company and keep you all up to date on their happenings. In the meantime go and get yourself one of these Brian May Treble Boosters, for the price it can't be beaten. I'm happy to say we used them on a recent recording session and the outcome was fantabulous. Keep'em coming Fryer!

For more info on Fryer Guitars products go to or click the direct link in our sidebar. Also remember to keep an eye out for more features from Fryer in the near future. We're all about supporting the cause and ready to use their weapons for the fight. Dig it!

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