AC/DC is one of the most recognizable rock bands in history. Their distinct sound makes any of their many iconic sounds identifiable within the first few notes.
And the man at the heart of that iconic sound is the one and only Angus Young. His crisp, punchy and biting sound has inspired countless guitarists and bands.
But how does he achieve his unique sound? Is it possible to recreate it and what does it take? Let me answer those burning questions by showing how you can recreate Young’s sound yourself.
First, let’s take a look at Young’s amps. His amp setup is fairly straightforward and the only way to go here is with a Marshall.
He originally used a Marshall 2203 JMP. The modern equivalent would be the JTM45. The JTM45 is a reissue of the old ‘60s version and makes it an excellent choice to recreate Angus’ old-school rock sound.
Young’s Amp Settings
With the right amp at hand, you can start to dial in the settings to recreate Angus’ classic guitar tone.
His guitar tone isn’t all that heavy or distorted, so there is no need for a lot of gain or bass. Young actually has a fairly standard tone and just by dialing in a classic rock tone, you will already be quite close to his sound.
Depending on your amp and guitar, the only thing you might need to adjust a little are the mids. Setting them a bit higher just to round out the sound, but otherwise, everything is kept at around 12 o’clock.
Volume is the biggest key here, though. AC/DC is quite a loud band. Push the volume to just before it starts to clip. Your settings should then look something like this:
- Bass: 5
- Mids: 8
- Treble: 5
- Gain: 4-5
- Volume: 7-8
For heavier songs like ‘Rock or Bust’, these settings are perfect. For a brighter sound or songs with more open chords like ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’, turn up the treble a bit while rolling back the mids.
- Bass: 5
- Mids: 6-7
- Treble: 6-7
- Gain: 4-5
- Volume: 7-8
Even with the same amps, keep in mind that you still won’t sound exactly like Angus. Play around with the settings until you feel like your sound is as close as possible.
You also don’t need the exact same amps. Any amp with good gain and volume should be more than enough to get you close to the same sound.
The ideal guitar to recreate Angus Young’s sound with is, of course, a Gibson. Specifically, a red Gibson SG.
Angus Young has never been particularly known for using pedals or elaborate pedalboards. He prefers the more tried and true method of a guitar straight into an amp.
That doesn’t mean you should completely avoid pedals. You might actually get a better tone with a pedal, especially if you’re amp doesn’t have the best distortion or you just prefer a pedal’s distorted sound.
I would recommend a using high-quality pedal like the TC Electronics Zeus. It’s a great boost/drive combo pedal that will give you great distortion sound as well as enough volume.
For true accuracy, the SoloDallas Storm is an almost exact replica of the Schaffer-Vega pedal that Young did use on occasion. It is quite expensive, but an excellent pedal if you absolutely must get his tone right.
That is all there really is to recreating one of the most iconic sounds in rock music. All you really need is a Gibson and a Marshall, turn everything to 12, turn up the volume, and you have recreated the legendary Angus Young’s guitar sound.