Angus Young's Guitars and Gear

📅 Published :
🧑🏼 Author : Dan Kopilovic


Angus Young, the legendary lead guitarist of the iconic rock band AC/DC, has become almost as famous for his schoolboy-uniform stage outfits as for his distinctive guitar playing style. As a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Young’s mastery of the six strings has powered some of the most thunderous anthems in rock music history. Integral to his high-voltage sound is his weapon of choice: the Gibson SG guitar. Not only has this instrument become synonymous with Young’s image, but it has also played a key role in defining the classic AC/DC sound—a relentless, hard-hitting rock that has resonated across generations.

Angus Young, guitarist of the AC/DC, playing his Gibson SG guitar - Angus Young Guitars and Gear
Angus Young playing one of his many Gibson SG guitars.

Young’s energetic stage presence and commanding guitar riffs are cornerstones of AC/DC’s enduring appeal. Though the group’s lineup has gone through changes over the years, Angus Young’s relentless lead guitar has remained a constant, propelling the band to commercial success with unforgettable tracks like “Thunderstruck” and “Back in Black”. His guitar work, characterized by potent power chords, fervid solos, and relentless riffing, has inspired countless aspiring guitarists around the world.

The association between Angus Young and his Gibson SG is legendary in rock and roll lore. Having wielded various models since the early days of AC/DC, Young’s customized Gibson SGs are tailor-made to accommodate his raw, powerful playing style, giving him the freedom to deliver blistering solos and crunchy chords with ease. It’s the perfect tool for a guitarist whose unyielding energy and dedication to pure rock have kept AC/DC as a staple on the playlists of rock fans everywhere.

List of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by Angus Young

Angus Young's Electric Guitars

  • 1970/71 Gibson SG Standard

    Angus Young’s 1970/71 Gibson SG Standard

    Angus purchased his first SG when he was around 16 years old, which was circa 1971. He bought it from a music shop close to his family home in Sydney. This guitar became his go-to instrument for the first few years, until approximately 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 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]

  • 1970s Gibson SG Standard (Factory Second)

    Angus Young’s 1970s Gibson SG Standard (Factory Second)

    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.

    AC/DC: Dirty Deeds Re-Done

    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).

  • 1970s Gibson SG Custom

    Angus Young’s 1970s Gibson SG Custom (black, white pickguard)

    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.

    AC/DC: Dirty Deeds Re-Done

    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.

  • 1960s Gibson SG Standard (Sideways Vibrola)

    Angus Young’s 1960s Gibson SG Standard (Sideways Vibrola)

    Angus was seen playing this guitar around 1980/81. Based on the looks, the guitar was an early 60s model, made before 1963 when Gibson switched to the Maestro Vibrola.

    Unfortunately, not much else is known about this guitar, so as always, if you happen to know anything, post it in the comments.

    A cover of the magazine
    A cover of the magazine “Cream” from July 1981 showing Angus with the guitar.

  • 1970 Gibson SG Custom (walnut refinished to black)

    Angus Young’s 1970 Gibson SG Custom

    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.

  • Gibson SG Standard (lightning bolt inlays, walnut)

    Angus Young’s Gibson SG (walnut, lightning inlays)

    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.

    Embed from Getty Images

  • 1960s Gibson SG Standard

    Angus Young’s 1960s Gibson SG Standard

    This is one of the early 60s SGs that Angus started using after he retired his original 1970s Gibson SG Standard.

    Embed from Getty Images

    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).

  • 1981 Jaydee Custom SG

    Angus Young’s 1981 Jaydee Custom SG

    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.

  • 1981 Gibson SG Standard

    Angus Young’s 1981 Gibson SG Standard

    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.

    AC/DC nos trae una versión de “What Do You Do for Money Honey” de 1981 |  Estación K2

    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)

    Angus Young’s Gibson SG Standard (Zebra and Jaydee pickups)

    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.

    Embed from Getty Images

    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.

  • 1960s Gibson SG Standard (black, Donington)

    Angus Young’s 1960s Gibson SG Standard (black, Donington)

    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.

    Angus with his black-colored Gibson SG during Live at Donington.

    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.

    Les Paul truss rod cover visible during No Bull concert.
  • Gibson SG Junior

    Angus Young’s Gibson SG Junior

    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.

  • Gibson SG Brian Ray Model

    Angus Young’s Gibson SG Brian Ray Model

    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)

    Angus Young’s 1960s Gibson SG Standard (Black Ice, Rock or Bust)

    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]


Angus Young's Amps

  • Marshall Model 1959 Super Lead

    Angus Young’s Marshall Model 1959 Super Lead

    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.

    Embed from Getty Images

    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 Volume

    Angus Young’s Marshall JMP 2203 Master Volume

    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)

    Angus Young’s Marshall Lead Model 1987 (50W)

    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.

    AC/DC: Dirty Deeds Re-Done

  • Wizard Amps

    Angus Young’s Wizard Amps

    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.


Angus Young's Effects

  • Schaffer-Vega Diversity System

    Angus Young’s Schaffer-Vega Diversity System

    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.

    An original Schaffer-Vega Diversity System Unit.

    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 Strings

    Angus Young’s Dean Markley Guitar Strings

    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 Strings

    Angus Young’s Ernie Ball Super Slinky Guitar Strings (.009 – .042)

    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 Picks

    Angus Young’s Fender Extra Heavy Guitar Picks

    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.


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