Malcolm Young’s 1963 Gretsch Jet Firebird “The Beast”

Malcolm got this 1963 Gretsch G6131 Jet Firebird from his older brother, George Young, and Harry Vanda, both of whom were at that time members of the band the Easybeats. Also, as an interesting factoid – the “Guitar George” and “Harry” who are mentioned by Mark Knopfler in the song “Sultans of Swing” are actually George Young and Harry Vanda.

At that time, when Malcolm got the guitar, it was already moded with a third pickup, a Gibson Humbucker, sitting in between two stock Filter’Tron pickups (US-Patent-Number 2892371). This, of course, means that the body needed to be carved out in order to fit the new pickup.

Pickups Removed, Paint Stripped

Sometime around 1976/77, Malcolm decided to remove this third pickup, and the neck pickup, leaving only a single Filter’Tron in the bridge position. At that point, the holes were covered with a piece of a white pickguard.

After removing the pickups, he also removed the Burns tailpiece (originally called Burns Vibrato) and replaced the white pickguard with two smaller black pieces (these were removed sometime in 1978). Instead of the Burns, he now installed a Schaller Bad Ass Bridge. In order to cover up the hole left behind by the original bridge piece, he added a custom-made black tailpiece.

In addition to this, the original red paint job was stripped off around 1977, leaving the bare wood exposed.

Malcolm’s Gretsch without the red finish. Note the holes left behind by the two removed pickups, and the custom tailpiece. Photo source: YouTube AC/DC – Jailbreak (from Live At Donington).

During the Ballbreaker Tour 1995, the black tailpiece was removed and the hole was with a white material for a short time. Sometime after the tour, he re-installed the Burns Tailpiece (probably around 2000).

Malcolm used also a second 1963 Gretsch Jet Firebird as a backup guitar during tours (same mods as on his Number 01).


GroundGuitar counts on your criticism and feedback. In case you notice anything wrong with the information posted on this page, or you have knowledge of something that you would like to share, be sure to leave a comment below.

In case you want to talk to me directly and privately, please use the Contact Form and I will get back to you as soon as possible. (Dan)

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments