Brian May's Guesting and Back-up Mini-Rig
So during a coffee break at Allerton Hill one day with Mr Malandrone, the conversation went along these lines: Pete: Any chance you could knock-us-up a small version of Brian's rig that I can fit in the back of my truck and lift-in on my own? Me: Sure! When do you need it by? Pete: Oh, no rush!.. Me: OK!
That's basically how the procurement and ordering system works at Allerton and it works fine with me...
So, to the drawing board (metaphorical of course as I design everything in CAD!)
For starters, Brian's normal rig weighs a ton! It's a two-man lift just to get it into Pete's truck! So, the first thing I wanted to do was work out ways to remove mass and drop the weight down to managable levels (preferably less than 25Kg). The second issue with Brian's main rig is the size! It's a big deep rack with even more equipment bolted to the top, so cumbersome to say the least! Don't get me wrong here! It's perfect for the big tours when everything is moved on wheels and lifed on lifts.. It's strong and robust and just the right height for Pete to operate whilst keeping a close eye on his boss. But, a lot of these features were not really required for a guesting rig.
Brian gets asked to play at many studios and venues around the country and that means he needs his rig with him as sometimes, a single AC30 and a treble booster don't provide everything he needs. A small versatile portable rig then seemed the obvious answer, but how to lose the bulk and weight?... Well, firstly, we decided the mains conditioner and UPS could go. As most gigs would be in the UK where power supplies are generally stable and quite permanent, we figured it was surplus to requirements. That was the easy bit done. The rest might take a bit more thought!.....
From here-on, it was more a case of, 'how can I consolidate what's required into the smallest space?'. In the main rig, there is a large box built by Mike (Hill) that handles all the signal routing. On top of that is a large enclosure that Mike built that houses all the control switches and indicators that control the router unit below. Also within that top enclosure is the 16 button Midi controller that I built a while ago. I figured all this functionality could be built into one small lightweight aluminium enclosure that could then be bolted to the top of a smalll open framed rack unit. All that was required after that was a couple of G-Majors, two radio packs, the rack Wah unit and a rack-mounted Digitech unit, so around 7U plus the top box. 7U is tiny compared to the 16U big daddy rig.
Also, designing the main control box with big enough power supplies that could also drive the radio units and others meant that I didn't need a big mains distribution system in the rack - more weight and space-saving.
I'll admit. It wasn't the easiest unit to build as everything was so condensed, but, everything we needed fitted in including a fast-charger for Pete's i-Phone.
The front has 7U of space. Enough for all the required rack units (and a special one!)...
The top unit also houses all the connections between rack gear and stage boxes. The two antennae for the radios are mounted on fold-down telescopic arms such that at the end of a gig, they just fold down either side of the top unit, still fully connected and ready for the next gig.
Here you can clearly see the size difference between the two rigs.. Such is the compactness of this rig, it now gets taken on all the major tours as a back-up to the main rig. In fact, as we speak we are developing a switching and inter-connecting system that will allow Pete to switch Brian over to the back-up rig should anything ever go wrong with big daddy! In fact, it can be switched across so seamlessly, that we doubt Brian would even notice if it happened mid-song!..