Queen covered so much stylistic ground in its history that it’s hard to think of them as a guitar band. The huge vocal harmonies, lavish production, and Freddie Mercury’s flamboyance could overshadow anyone and anything.

But, through it all, there was the 6-string majesty of Brian May. With a homemade guitar sporting three Burns Tri-Sonic pickups (with individual on/off and phase switches), a Vox AC30 backline (pummeled by a treble booster), and a sixpence for a pick, May created one of the most original guitar tones in history. The style he forged features bell-like clean arpeggios, slamming power chords, and singing lead sounds that can evoke flutes and violins as much as a guitar. Drawing on a love for Hank Marvin, the Beatles, Jeff Beck, and classical music, May has cranked out consistently brilliant guitar work for 40 years. He has released two solo records, and he continues to tour with Queen + Paul Rodgers.