Angus Young’s Guitars and Gear

Angus McKinnon Young was born on March 31, 1955 in Glasgow, Scotland.  He is best known as a co-founder, lead guitarist, and songwriter of the Australian hard rock band, AC/DC. Rolling Stone magazine has ranked him as the 24th greatest guitarist of all time.

Angus’ rig is relatively simple, and he mostly relies on one single model of a guitar – a Gibson SG. The first one he ever bought was an early 70s model with the Lyre Maestro tremolo and two PAFs. Over the years he probably went through close to hundred different guitars, and finally in 2000 Gibson released a Signature Angus Young model which he nowadays uses himself.

Angus Young’s Electric Guitars:

Angus himself said that he probably owns more than a hundred Gibson SG guitars. Due to this it’s nearly impossible to track down and identify most of his guitars. In the list below we feature the guitars that are either Angus’ favorites, or they are the ones most memorable to the fans.

1970/71 Gibson SG Standard

1971 Gibson SG Standard 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 first couple years – up until around 1978. 

At that time Angus’ 1971 SG had walnut finish, Lyre Maestro tremolo bridge and two humbucking PAF pickups. Towards mid 1978 the guitar significantly changed it appearance. The tremolo piece was completely removed leaving scratch marks and screw holes all over the body, and the neck pickup cover was either removed or the original PAF was replaced with a different pickup altogether.

There are also some photos from that time showing gaffer tape covering bottom portion of the body and the guitar’s input jack. This was perhaps done to keep the cables secured, or to protect the electrics from sweat. Some photos indicate that the back of the body was routed out in order to house the Schaffer-Vega wireless box, so the tape could’ve been there just to hold the box in place.

According to a statement that Angus made in an interview with Australian Tv in November 2014, this guitar was used on all of the AC/DC records. This is obviously only true in context of studio work on the albums, meaning that the guitar was/is not being used for live gigs where it is more likely it will become damaged.

1960s Gibson SG Standard

GIbson SG Standard Red In 1978 Angus purchased a couple of more Gibson SGs at one of the music stores on 48th Street in New York. One that stood out was an early ’70s SG Standard – very similar in looks to the Angus’ first SG.

This seemed to be Angus’ main go-to guitar during the Highway to Hell tour in 1979, and it was seen on concert as late as 1981. It featured cherry red finish, Maestro tremolo, large pickguard, Mahogany body and neck, and it was supposedly a factory second – meaning it was sold for a reduced price due to minor flaw.

Similar to Angus’ first SG, this one too had the tape covering the back cavities of the body which is where all the electronics are. This can be clearly seen during a concert in Paris from 1979 (Let There Be Rock), where Angus changes guitars mid-song due to malfunction.

1970s Gibson SG Custom

Angus Young Black SG Custom This was most likely just a backup guitar used primarily in 1979, in case something goes wrong with his main SG. Most notably, the guitar was seen during the Let There Be Rock movie, during which Angus used it to play Whole Lotta Rosie. [AC/DC Let There Be Rock 1980]

The guitar was either pieced together using parts from different guitars, or it was heavily modified. White bracing on the headstock and the gold hardware indicates that this SG was a Custom, but the guitar only had two pickups, instead of three which is what you’d find on a Custom.

1970s Gibson SG

Gibson SG Standard 70s This appears to be Angus’ main guitar during the For Those About to Rock tour in 1981-82. Even though we do not have exact information, but looking at the neck we can confirm that this SG was most likely made in mid ’70s, which is also when Gibson went back to the original small pickguard instead of the big “batwing” pickguard which was used in late ’60s.

Jaydee Custom SG

Jayde SG Angus This guitar was built in 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. Angus obviously liked the guitar since he ended up using it for the gig in Donington.

The guitar featured mahogany body and neck, lightning flash inlays, white biding on neck and headstock, gold-plated hardware, and two Jaydee Hooligan pickups.

1960s Gibson SG Standard

Angus Young 60s SG Tremolo Seymour Duncan Angus used this guitar around 1983 during the ‘Flick the Switch’ tour. The guitar looks suspiciously similar to one of the guitars we’ve mentioned previously, except that it had a different set of pickups.

The neck pickup was most likely a Seymour Duncan SH-PG1 zebra, since this was the pickup that was used as a base for Angus Young Signature set released in 2000s, which means that Angus probably had some previous experience with PG pickups. The pickup in the bridge looks like the same one used in the Jaydee SG.

Following the release of “Back in Black” album in 1980, which was a great commercial success, Angus started buying more and more guitars and it becomes nearly impossible to identify them all. Based on the photos and video recordings he seemed to favor ’60s SGs with small pickguard, and ‘shallow’ neck joint, mostly in red or black colors.

Gibson SG Angus Young Signature

Angus Young Signature Gibson SG In 2000 Angus Young and Gibson Guitars worked together on the Angus Young SG. The newly made guitar was made to replicate the sound of Angus’ first SG (the 1970/71 SG mentioned first on this list).

Angus playing one of his Signature SG guitars at in Barcelona Spain, 2009. Photo by Ed Vill/Flickr

Angus playing one of his Signature SG guitars at in Barcelona Spain, 2009. Photo by Ed Vill/Flickr

The Angus Young SG Signature model features a bridge pickup which was designed by Angus himself in collaboration with Seymour Duncan, and a ’57 Classic Humbucker in the neck. The guitar design varies from model to model. Some of the guitars have Maestro tremolo, same have small and some have big “batwing” pickguards, and some guitar have ‘Devil Schoolboy’ headstock inlay, while rest have the regular Gibson inlays.

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Angus Young’s Guitar Amps:

– Marshall 1959 100W
Used in the early years, most likely to record first couple of albums. Angus went back to the amp to record “Back in Black” in 1980.

– Marshall 1987 50W
Also used in the early days and on “Back in Black” album, although mostly just for the solos.

– Marshall JMP 2203 100w and 2204 50w
Used from around 1977, although not exclusively. These were most likely original models made before 1981 when they were reintroduced as JCM800.

– Marshall JCM800
It is not known for sure Angus used JCM800s on any albums, but the amp can be seen in the Flick of The Switch rehearsal videos circa 1983.

– Marshall JTM45
Likely first used on Ballbreaker, and again on Stiff Upper Lip.

– Wizard Vintage Modern 100W
Used on Black Ice.

Angus Young’s Guitar Effects:

The only “effect” that Young has ever implemented into his signal was the Schaffer-Vega Diversity System, a wireless unit that he would begin using in 1977. Not only was it used as the intended wireless unit, but it was also used as a compressor and a booster in his signal to “fatten up” his tone. Ever since adding it to his rig, it was used on several albums in the studio, up until late 80’s.
Angus recently got his hand on a replica from SoloDallas, named Schaffer Replica Gold Tag Edition S/N 001. More about the replica can be found here: SoloDallas Meeting Angus Young.

Angus Young’s Guitar Strings:

– Ernie Ball Super Slinky guitar strings (.009-.042)

Angus Young’s Guitar Picks:

– Fender Extra Heavy Picks
Contributors: Brandon Doherty, swartguitar, Sami.o.joki