Angus Young's Guitars and GearPublished : - Author : Dan Kopilovic
Summary of Angus Young’s Gear
What guitar does Angus Young play?
Angus Young plays a Gibson SG guitar. He is one of those guitar players who stick to one guitar model pretty much for the entirety of their careers. Young’s first guitar was a 1970 or 1971 Gibson SG Standard finished in walnut, equipped with a Lyre Maestro tremolo bridge. He used this guitar extensively on the first few albums, and occasionally in the studio on the later ones.
As soon as his first SG began seeing less stage light, more and more new SGs found a place in his rig. In the earlier years, there was a modified 1970s Gibson SG Custom, used at the Hammersmith Odeon concert in 1979. In 1981, Angus also used a custom-made SG manufactured by Jaydee, with custom-designed pickups and lightning bolt inlays.
For the rest of the 80s and 90s, and in the more recent years, Angus continued to use various Gibson SG models. Some of them were early 60s models, some were those from the 70s with larger pickguards, and some were from Angus’ own signature line produced by Gibson.
Angus Young’s Amp rig
Angus uses the Marshall Model 1959 Super Leads guitar amp – or at least this is the amp that he is best known for. But, over the years he also used different Marshall models, as well as those from other brands. Most notably, both he and Malcolm used Wizard amps from around the mid to late 90s.
Does Angus Young use any Effects?
No, Angus does not use any effects like distortion or overdrive. His sound consists of his Gibson SG, his amp, and his Schaffer-Vega Diversity System – which is a wireless signal receiver/transmitter with a volume boost control.
Which guitar strings and picks does Angus Young use?
Angus uses the Ernie Ball Super Slinky guitar strings.
As far as guitar picks, he was often seen using Fender Extra Heavy picks. He probably used a variety of different picks throughout his career, but these seem to be something he most often goes for.
This gear list is a result of years of research and constant updates. It's a hobby project with the goal to eventually have the most complete and thorough gear list on the web - but that is only achievable with your help!
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List of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by Angus Young
Angus Young's Electric Guitars
1970/71 Gibson SG StandardContinue Reading
This was Angus’ first SG. He bought it when he was around 16 years old – circa 1971, from a music shop just down the road from the family home in Sydney. He used this guitar exclusively for the first few years – up until around 1978.
This guitar was used extensively during the AC/DC 1975 “High Voltage” Australian Tour. At this point, it seems that Angus removed the chrome pickup covers, both of which were present on the guitar in photos taken in 1974.
However, according to a Guitar World article, the pickups were actually replaced at some point with a set of brand new Gibson humbuckers. That could’ve explained the absence of the covers, but the article seems to suggest the swap was done earlier. [Angus Young of AC/DC Opens Up in His First Guitar World Interview from 1984 – By Steven Rosen]11971
1970s Gibson SG Standard (Factory Second)Continue Reading
In 1978, Angus purchased a few Gibson SGs at one of the music stores on 48th Street in New York. One that stood out was an early 1970s SG Standard, marked as a factory second.
I remember when I first went to America I bought some on that street in New York [48th Street]. There used to be a little shop on the corner there where I bought a couple of SGs. And one of them was great. The guy who sold it to me told me there was a “2” on the back of it, and apparently, that’s what they put on the rejects. So I said, “Yup, that’s me!” I used that guitar on Highway to Hell.
This guitar was very similar in looks to the Angus’ first SG, which he used exclusively up until that point, and from around 1974. The main difference between the two is that the new SG had a red finish, while the old one was finished in walnut (brownish color).21978
1970s Gibson SG CustomContinue Reading
Angus played this Gibson SG during the Highway to Hell tour circa 1979, and occasionally in 1980/81. Most likely, the guitar was one of the few that he acquired upon visiting the US in 1978.
I remember when I first went to America I bought some on that street in New York [48th Street]. There used to be a little shop on the corner there where I bought a couple of SGs.
Based purely on appearances, this SG was a 1970s Custom. This is based on the gold-plated hardware and the fact that the headstock has binding around the edges.31978
1970 Gibson SG Custom (walnut refinished to black)Continue Reading
This guitar was first used by Angus sometime during the 1980 Back in Black tour. According to his current guitar tech, Trace Foster, originally, the SG was finished in walnut color, featured three pickups, and styled a tremolo piece. [Rig Rundown – AC/DC’s Angus Young & Stevie Young]
Sometime between 1980 and 2016, the guitar completely changed its appearance. Angus removed the middle pickup and the tremolo piece and painted the guitar black. At which point this happened is unfortunately not so clear.
Now, at this point, it is important to mention that there was another black Gibson SG Custom around that time, which looked suspiciously similar to this guitar. That guitar basically looked exactly the same as this guitar looked in the 2016 Premier Guitar interview. This obviously leads to some confusion that they might be the same guitar.41980
Gibson SG Standard (lightning bolt inlays, walnut)Continue Reading
Angus was seen using this guitar extensively during the 1985/86 tours – based on the photos available. But the first time he used the guitar was sometime during the 1980/81 tour, at least if the dating on the photos available online is to be believed (search for 1980 Hammersmith Odeon or see comments below).
There are a few photos of this guitar from the 1980/81 “Back In Black” World Tour tour, showing the SG in its “stock” state. We see the original neck with trapezoid inlays, little bit of scuffs here and there.41980
1960s Gibson SG StandardContinue Reading
This is one of the early 60s SGs that Angus started using after he retired his original 1970s Gibson SG Standard.
Prior to this guitar, he mostly preferred early 1970s models with tremolo pieces and large pickguards. However, it seems that starting with this guitar, most of the guitars that he would use at least during the 80s would be early 60s style SGs. According to some sources, Angus had a deal with Gibson to play the guitars on stage (a credible source is needed on this).21981
1981 Jaydee Custom SGContinue Reading
This guitar was built around 1981 by UK guitar luthier John Diggins, and it was presented to Angus just prior to the Monsters of Rock concert in Donington that same year.
According to Diggins, Angus liked the guitar and used it for the entirety of the Donington (1981) concert. Photos and videos from that particular gig are scarce, but based on those that do exist, it does seem like Angus is playing the Jaydee SG.
It seems that Angus didn’t use the Jaydee SG much in the early 1980s. Most photos from around that period show him using a variety of Gibson SGs. Around 1985, Jaydee seems to come into the spotlight more often, but even then, Gibsons seem to be his main choice.21981
1981 Gibson SG StandardContinue Reading 1981
This guitar appears to be one of Angus’ main guitars during the Back In Black tour (1980/1981). Angus was seen using this guitar occasionally, from around 1980 to 1983. He most notably used it on December 21, 1981, for the Live at Capital Centre, Landover, MD, USA, and on October 5, 1983, during the Flick Of The Switch promo videos and band rehearsals. Angus probably got this guitar in 1981.
In the available live photos from this era, Angus appears to be using this guitar, showing the SG in its “stock” state. This guitar was equipped from the factory with Super Humbucker pickups, the output of the pickups is around 7,5 Kohm.
Gibson SG Standard (Zebra and Jaydee pickups)Continue Reading
Angus was seen using this guitar on occasions, seems from around 1983 to 1985. As noted on the page about Angus’ 1970s Gibson SG Standard, it is possible that this is that same guitar, just modified.
However, it’s probably best to keep the guitars separated for now, since that is after all just a theory.
Not much else is known about this particular guitar. Based on photos, it featured walnut finish and a large “batwing” pickguard. It was also most likely modified by John Diggins at some point since it had a Jaydee Hooligan pickup in the bridge position.11983
1960s Gibson SG Standard (black, Donington)Continue Reading 1991
This guitar was Angus’ main during the Razors Edge (1990) and Ballbreaker (1995) tours, at least based on the frequency of use. Most notably, Angus used it on August 17, 1991, for the Live at Donington aka Monsters of Rock gig, and on July 10, 1996, during No Bull.
Although it is not known for a fact that this is the same exact guitar (Donington and No Bull), based on the photos, it appears to be. Both have the same exact finish and specs, and both have the Les Paul truss rod covers – meaning that this is likely an early to mid-1960s model.
Gibson SG JuniorContinue Reading
Angus was seen playing this guitar during the Howard Stern interview recorded in 1997. The guitar seems to be just a stock Gibson SG Junior with a single P90 pickup in the bridge position.
Based on the fact that this seems to be the only time that Angus ever used it, it could mean that the guitar was provided by Stern. Maybe he had planned to ask the guys for a quick song, and seeing how Brian was unprepared, it seems to make sense.21997
Gibson SG Brian Ray ModelContinue Reading 2001
This is one of Angus’s backup guitars nowadays. Brian Ray, who is a big fan of Angus, gave it to him personally, This guitar is a Brian Ray Signature model SG, and it was made to Angus’s specs.
Angus only will use this guitar if his main guitar goes out of tune.
1960s Gibson SG Standard (Black Ice, Rock or Bust)Continue Reading
This guitar was seen occasionally during the Stiff Upper Lip live tour (2000), and more often during the Black Ice (2008-10) and Rock or Bust (2016) tours. It looks suspiciously similar to the Gibson SG that Angus used during the 90s, but for the sake of better organization, these will be treated as two separate instruments.
This SG is finished in black, which was most likely a re-finish. Fill Olivieri over at SoloDallas also suspects that this is a mid-60s model with removed Vibrola tremolo, which also has a somewhat wider neck than the early 60s model.
Angus’ guitar tech Trace Foster pretty much confirmed this in the 2016 Rig Rundown interview with Premier Guitar. According to him, the guitar is a 1967 model, with custom-wound Seymour Duncan pickups (7.7 – 7.8 kOhm resistance), both waxed, and all new Gibson electronics. [Rig Rundown – AC/DC’s Angus Young & Stevie Young]62008
Angus Young's Amps
Marshall Model 1959 Super LeadContinue Reading 1975
This is the amp that Angus used in the early days of the band. Likely, the amp was used to record the first two or three albums.
As of more recent years, according to the Premier Guitar Rig Rundown interview with Young’s guitar tech, he’s still using these amps as his main. In 2016, when the interview was conducted, he was running nine Marshall Super Leads heads on stage – a number that increased depending on the size of the venue.
Marshall JMP 2203 Master VolumeContinue Reading 1977
There are plenty of videos online showing AC/DC using these amps. They were used to record the majority of the AC/DC albums in the early days. Angus used their amps from 1977 to 1983.
A way to tell if the amp is a Master Volume or not; NMVs (NON-master volumes) have all the 4 input holes while MVs have only TWO holes.
Marshall Lead Model 1987 (50W)Continue Reading 1980
According to Malcolm Young, Angus used this amp on Back in Black album, although mainly just for solos.
In addition to the Super Leads, I think Angus went to a smaller 50-watt Marshall for his solos. Just for some extra warmth. I was still using my Marshall bass head, and I believe Cliff had a little SVT amp.
Wizard AmpsContinue Reading
These amps were used by both Angus and Malcolm Young starting from around the mid to late 90s. The amps were made by Rick St. Pierre, who at the time was AC/DC’s amp tech, and who seems to have left the position around 2015. At that same time, Angus seemed to have switched back to Marshall amps.
Based on the photos, Angus used both the ARD amp, which was an early Wizard model, as well as the Wizard Modern Classic – which is a current production model.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any information exactly why and when Rick left the band, nor when exactly the band started using his amps. So, if you happen to come across an interview from Rick talking about the subject, please leave a comment below. A lot of the stuff online is probably second or third-hand knowledge, and it’s not worth spreading more disinformation here.21995
Angus Young's Effects
Schaffer-Vega Diversity SystemContinue Reading 1977
The only “effect” that Young has ever implemented into his signal chain was the Schaffer-Vega Diversity System – a wireless unit that he would begin using in 1977 live and in the studio.
The unit is, however, not just a simple wireless receiver. The SVDS is unique in a way that it has a volume boost control which further overdrives the sound, and which Angus utilized extensively. This obviously was a factor, which most people were not aware until Fil Olivieri’s discovery.
Angus Young's Strings
Dean Markley Guitar StringsContinue Reading 1981
Around early 1980s, there was an ad published by Dean Markley that had AC/DC on the cover – clearly indicating that the band was using their strings at the time.
Unfortunately, there appears to be zero information on which exact strings Angus used. If we’re to guess, based on his current preferences, they were likely a lighter set, of around 9 – 42.
Ernie Ball Super Slinky StringsContinue Reading 2016
According to the 2016 Rig Rundown feature done by Premier Guitar magazine, in the more recent years, Angus has been using Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings. [Rig Rundown – AC/DC’s Angus Young & Stevie Young] At this point it is unknown how far back into the past he’s been using these.
Ernie Ball Super Slinky are on the lighter side, usually used by players with a lighter touch. The gauges are as follows:
- E-1st, Plain .009”
- B-2nd, Plain .011”
- G-3rd, Plain .016”
- D-4th, Wound .024”
- A-5th, Wound .032”
- E-6th, Wound .042”
If you’re looking to buy the same set for yourself, you can grab an Ernie Ball Super Slinky 6 Pack set on Amazon for quite cheap.
Angus Young's Accessories
Fender Extra Heavy Guitar PicksContinue Reading 2016
According to the 2016 Rig Rundown feature done by Premier Guitar magazine, Angus uses Fender Extra Heavy picks. [Rig Rundown – AC/DC’s Angus Young & Stevie Young]
It is important to note that these are older models with the Fender stamp burned in (the logo is indented), as opposed to it being printed on. Apparently, Angus likes the grippy feel of the older models.
In case you’re looking for similar picks, you can try out Fender 351 Shape, Tortoise Shell Extra Heavy picks, which don’t have the indented logo, but have a wave grip pattern which provides probably even more grip.