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.

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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).

Highway to Hell tour

This seemed to have been Angus’ main go-to guitar during the Highway to Hell tour in 1979. Also, as Angus is quoted saying above, it was used to record the album as well.

Angus playing his ‘factory second’ SG around 1979. Note that both the pickup covers are removed here, and there’s a Gibson “Harmonica” bridge on the guitar (see comments for a better photo, thanks Stuart). Photo source; YouTube

For live performances, the guitar was used alongside at least two other SGs. One was black with a large ‘batwing’ white pickguard, while the other one was a 60s red SG with a small pickguard. Based on the frequency of use, it seemed that the 1970s Gibson SG was used the most, by a pretty large margin.

1981 and Beyond

1981 is when things become confusing as far as this guitar’s history. This is mostly due to the lack of good-quality photos and videos from around that period.

All that can be concluded is that by 1982, Angus seemed to have switched to using early 60s-style SGs basically exclusively. These all had small pickguards and no tremolo pieces on the back like Angus’ first two 1970s SGs.

One possible theory is that the red 1970 SG became the one that was seen during the 1983 Flick the Switch tour (photo below).

Embed from Getty Images

If that is indeed the case, then Angus’ old 1970 SG in red was at some point fitted with what looks like a Seymour Duncan zebra pickup in the neck position, and probably a Jaydee humbucker in the neck position. But, this is purely just a theory.


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Stuart Alderson
Stuart Alderson
2 years ago

It would appear that some time between the filming of the Highway to Hell album videos, that the guitar has been modified to having a normal tune-o-matic style bridge as found in this photo from the Highway to Hell tour

Stuart Alderson
Stuart Alderson
2 years ago

This guitar as it appears in the Highway to Hell video is also equipped with a Gibson “Harmonica” bridge