Queen kicked off the 80’s with brand new equipment and an extensive tour which included several new destinations in both North and South America. It was also their first tour with synthesiser (Brian played it on Flahs's Theme, then Freddie on Vultan's Theme). The famous Queen Rock Montreal concerts are included here as they played Game-era set-list and equipment, with only one addition (the bass on Under Pressure).

The band's equipment for the Canadian/American leg in summer 1980 was listed in detail in an issue of the Fan Club magazine. For that reason, this is by far the most complete and accurate info on a tour we've been able to compile. Roger had a new drum set, nicknamed Silver Glitter. From this tour and up to 1985, John would use different basses for some songs on the concert (in the 1970s it was only for '39 and My Melancholy Blues, neither of which was played with bass in this decade).

When Queen finished their North American leg on 30th September 1980, it was a unique occurrence as Brian had to play four different guitars on Crazy Little Thing Called Love: he started the song on Ovation, changed to Fender Telecaster for the solo, then to the one he made with his father but he broke a string so his roadie quickly handed him the Birch and that's what we finished with.

Drums

Roger's Ludwig kit
Roger's Ludwig kit
Roger's Ludwig kit
Roger's Ludwig kit
Drum kit [sans snare and cymbals]
  • Ludwig 26" x 16" bass-drum.
  • Ludwig Speed-King pedal.
  • Ludwig 10" x 8", 13" x 12" and 14" x 14" rack toms.
  • Ludwig 16" x 16" and 18" x 16" floor toms.
  • Ludwig Cowbell.
  • New Era Cowbell.
  • 3 x Pollard Syndrum pads.
  • Premier C drum sticks.
  • Remo 14"and 16" rototoms.
  • Bass-drum logo: Roger's face.
Snare drums [used alternatively]
  • Ludwig 14" x 6".
  • Ludwig 14" x 7".
  • Ludwig 14" x 7.5".
  • Premier [unknown size].
  • Slingerland 14" x 5.5".
  • Tama stands.
Cymbal stock*
  • Paiste 8" splash.
  • Paiste 15" hi-hats.
  • Paiste 16", 18"and 20"crashes.
  • Paiste 20" and 24" china.
  • Wuhan 20" china.
  • Zildjian 14" hi-hats.
  • Zildjian 16", 17" and 18" crashes.
  • Zildjian 20" china.
  • Zildjian 22" ride.
  • Zildjian 22" swish
  • * Each night Roger's roadie chose, from the items above, a pair of hi-hats, one ride, one china, one splash, one swish and four or five crashes.
Timpani [Roger's Solo]
  • Ludwig Ringer 28"
  • Ludwig Ringer 30"
Gong [hit once at the end of Bohemian Rhapsody]
  • Paiste 60" symphonic.
  • Bespoke beaters.
  • Paiste stands.
Tambourines
  • New Era.
Roger's mics
  • snare: AKG c451e with "a51" in white
  • hi-hat: Shure SM81
  • overhead: AKG c451e with "a51" in white
  • toms: Sennheiser MD421-II
  • bassdrum: Beyerdynamic M500N
  • rototoms: Shure SM57 LC (sometimes used also for the toms)
  • snare (site mic): Shure SM81

Bass guitars

Fender Precision '68
Back-ups: Kramer and Musicman
Musicman Stingray
Fender Special
Electric bass guitars
  • Fender Precision 1968 [main]
  • Fender Precision 1981 [Under Pressure]
  • Music Man Stingray [Bites the Dust, Sheer Heart Attack]
  • Fender Precision 1955 [spare]
  • Kramer DMZ [spare]
Bass rig
  • Alembic F-2B pre-amplifier.
  • dbx 160 compressor-limiter.
  • Cornish power supply.
  • Cornish switching panel.
  • Klark Teknik graphic equaliser.
  • Martin Heavy plectra.
  • Peavey speaker cabinets.
  • Peterson strobe tuners.
  • Rotosound bass strings.
  • Sunn 215-BH cabinet.
  • Sunn 412-L cabinet.

Guitars

Brian's Red Special
Brian's Fender Telecaster
Brian's John Birch replica
Brian's Ovation
Freddie's Ovation
Electric six-string guitars
  • BHM bespoke [main]
  • Birch bespoke [spare]
  • Fender Telecaster 1978 [Crazy Little Thing]
Guitar rig
  • Ampeg V-4 cabinet.
  • Ampeg SVT cabinet.
  • Boss CE-1 pedal [chorus].
  • Cornish treble booster.
  • fOXX pedal [phaser]
  • JBL bass bin.
  • 2 x Maestro tape delay.
  • Peterson strobe tuners.
  • Pignose amplifiers [tuning].
  • 12 x Vox AC30 amplifiers.
  • Vox pedals [phase]
Acoustic guitars [Love of My Life, Crazy Little Thing]
  • 3 x Ovation Pacemaker 1615 twelve-string
Acoustic guitar rig
  • Heathkit Turner A-300 amplifier [Freddie].
  • Music Man 210-65 amplifier. [Brian].
  • Peterson strobe tuners.

Keyboards

Freddie's keyboards
Freddie's keyboards
Piano
  • Steinway 1972 D concert grand 8 ft 11.75 in.
Piano rig
  • Clair Brothers crossovers.
  • Clair Brothers monitors.
  • Clair Brothers piano mixer.
  • Clair Brothers power supply.
  • Cornish DI boxes.
  • Cornish piano mixer.
  • Helpinstill pick-ups.
  • Klark Teknik band equalisers.
Synthesisers
  • Oberheim OB-X [until early 1981]
  • Roland Jupiter 8 [late 1981]

What about the recording sessions?

It is unknown and a bit unlikely that John used the Kramer for the record (in fact, maybe he didn't even have it yet). On The Game album, most acoustic guitars were Martin D-18 instead of Ovation and piano was Yamaha C-7B (the one in the studios). For both that album and Flash Gordon John also played rhythm guitar, using different Fender Telecaster's and Stratocaster's but not the same one as he would play on stage for Staying Power in 1982-1984, as it hadn't been made yet (it's a 1981 model). Roger's robotic voice on A Human Body was achieved through another synth: Roland VP-330, the effect is known as vocoder and back then was as trendy as autotune is now (although they're not the same thing).

A bit of trivia: the orchestra leader on the Flash Gordon soundtrack was Sidney Sax, the same who played on several legendary Beatles masterpieces: he was second violin on Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby, part of the string section on A Day in the Life and leader on All You Need Is Love and I Am the Walrus. A nice connexion for those who like both bands.