Angus Young

Summary of Young’s Equipment

Angus is one of those guitar players who stick to one guitar pretty much for the entirety of their careers. In Young’s case, his guitar choice is the Gibson SG, which he used from the start. His 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.

Angus Young playing a Gibson SG. Live at Donington 1991

As soon as Angus’ 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.

As far as the amps, Angus is best known for using Marshall Model 1959 Super Leads. But, 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.

Angus Young Gear Page

Angus Young Equipment Guide

Please note that this is just a quick basic guide for beginners. In reality, a lot of factors go into replicating someone’s sound, and it’s usually nearly impossible to achieve. To see the equipment that Angus actually used himself, and all that went into it, refer to the chronological list below.

Go for the SG

When it comes to guitars, buying something that will make you sound and feel like Angus is really a no brainer. You simply go out and buy an SG.

The best thing would, of course, be to buy one from Young’s Signature line. These guitars can, unfortunately, be somewhat pricey, as they are no longer being produced, and the people who own them are reluctant to sell them.

The second best option would be to go for basically any Gibson made SG – preferably, something like a 1961 SG Reissue. The third or budget option would be to buy an Epiphone G-400. This guitar will cost you only a few hundred dollars and for that price, it will more than good enough.

Amps

If you’re a beginner, get yourself anything with a decent sounding overdrive channel. A good budget option would be something like the Orange Crush 35RT, which is a pretty straightforward amp with only the reverb built-in as far as the effects.

The more expensive option would be to buy a tube amp. Based on price and features, it would be smart to buy something like a Marshall DSL40. This is a sort of an entry-level tube amp, with a Celestion speaker, and a decent 40W of power. It’s of course not a vintage Marshall Plexi, but it will do the job just fine.

Strings and Picks

If you wanna use what Angus uses, get yourself a set of Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings. These are basically your standard light set, starting from .009 on the high E string.

As far as picks, go for something heavy. Angus probably used more than just a few models throughout his career, but most recently, he was seen using Fender Extra Heavy picks.

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

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Electric Guitars

1970/71 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 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] Read More

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).

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1970s Gibson SG Custom

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.

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1970 Gibson SG Custom (walnut refinished to black)

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.

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Gibson SG Standard (lightning bolt inlays, walnut)

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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] Read More

Acoustic Guitars

Amps

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Effects

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.

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Strings

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.

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Ernie Ball Super Slinky Strings

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.

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Accessories

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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