Gear Rundown: Angus Young

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Gear Rundown: Angus Young

Angus Young feature
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

While it’s reasonably common knowledge that he used a Gibson SG and a Marshall, there’s a slew of specific models to Angus’ sound.

Performing and recording almost exclusively with a Gibson SG, Angus Young is one the greatest to ever do it, whatever it is. His seemingly simple riffs serve as a starting block for a lot of players, and even as we progress, their nuance keep us coming back to refine them. While it’s reasonably common knowledge that he used a Gibson SG and a Marshall, there’s a slew of specific models to Angus’ sound.

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1970 Gibson SG Standard

The silver Vibrola tailpiece makes these ones recognisable, but the tailpiece was in production for some time. What makes these specific is the volute at the neck join – used by Gibson for a short time to strengthen the neck join that makes so many Gibsons so fragile.

Angus Young 1960 SG

There’s a few of these, and it can be unclear which is which, the inlays in one Walnut model being modified to lightning bolts to match AC/DC’s aesthetic.

Angus Young Walnut SG

Jaydee Custom SG

While on the subject of lightning bolt inlays, Angus has also played a Custom SG (not an SG Custom) from Jaydee Guitars, custom built to spec, including the inlays. This one is recognisable (despite the deep Cherry Red finish) by the “JD” logo instead of the Gibson.

1967 SG Standard

Moving on to the modern rig, Angus has favoured a 1967 SG Standard as his main axe. While the electronics and metal hardware have been replaced numerous times to remedy the nights of sweat seeping into the pots and pickups (custom wound Seymour Duncan humbuckers, 7.7-7.8Ω of resistance while we’re on the subject, dipped in wax to further protect the coils from sweat), the guitar remains largely unmodified, and plays like it would have when purchased around the Let There Be Rock era.

1970 Gibson SG

1970 SG Custom

This has remained in Angus’ live arsenal, taking over when his ‘67 is out of action. It was purchased around the recording of Back in Black, and was used extensively throughout the tour that supported the album.

This SG Custom (i.e. Gibson’s flagship model in the range with ebony fretboard and block inlays) started as a three pickup SG Custom in Walnut, complete with a vibrato. Today, it’s been refinished in black, with a white pickguard covering the empty cavity that housed the middle pickup, and the vibrato has been replaced with a hardtail design.

Gibson SG Custom

Marshall “Plexi”

Angus is synonymous with Marshall, playing a combination of 9 Marshall Super Leads into 10 cabinets on their world tour in 2017. Originally produced from 1965 onwards, the Marshall Super Lead is a 100W, single channel amplifier that was also available in a bass version, the “Super Bass”. The plexiglass panel lead the 100W Super Lead to become definitively known as a Marshall “Plexi”. Angus Young joins the likes of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, having used the Plexi for his famous tones.

Angus Young Marshall

Wizard Vintage Modern 100W

The 90s saw Angus (and vale Malcolm Young) deviate to Wizard Amplifiers, amps built by AC/DC’s amp tech at the time, Rick St. Pierre. The Wizards are based off of Marshall circuits, but with modern built quality and reliability, Angus’ vintage Marshalls struggling to keep up with the hours of intensive playing, night after night.

Solo Dallas Schaffer Replica

It’s important to note that while Angus is currently using these live, they’re a fairly recent acquisition. Famously, Angus Young used a wireless system while recording Back in Black. The rudimentary wireless systems of the 70s required a pre-amp inbuilt to account for the loss of gain. What this meant for Angus, is that he had extra gain at his disposal, and this became an essential part of his sound, and something that couldn’t be replicated without the extra push of the wireless’ preamp.

The Schaffer Replica EX Tower is a re-issue of the Schaffer Schaffer-Vega Diversity System built by Solo Dallas.

Angus Young Solo Dallas

Kikusui PCR4000M Power Supply

While we’re on the topic of recent acquisitions, Angus was more recently running a Kikusui PCR4000M Power Supply to power his wall of Marshall heads. The reason for this is an interesting one.

According to Angus’ guitar tech, Trace Foster, in a 2017 interview, he learned from Marshall amp designer Mike Hill that Marshalls run best on 234V, as opposed to the standard 240V used in the UK (where Marshall is based). The Kikusui PCR4000M Power Supply allows the Marshalls to be powered at 234V, though Trace explains that the ‘ideal’ power felt too “spongey”, so they were being run at 236V.

It’s interesting to note that for someone so iconic, his licks and riffs being instantly recognisable, that Angus has always run a fairly simple setup.

There’s a few little additions to power, push and augment his sounds, but his legacy has been built off the back of his hands and a pair of humbuckers. There’s a few Gibsons that have been with him since the beginning, shaping his playing, those Marshalls just on the edge of feeding back informing his unique, frantic solo style. Backed by his brother Malcolm, Angus has shaped rock guitar as we know it today, through decades of records, countless live shows and a history that has inspired guitar players since the get go.

Read more about the Solo Dallas Schaffer Replica here.