AC/DC’s Angus Young is best categorized as a classic rock guy, though AC/DC still sees a lot of significant mainstream success.
Young uses Marshall amplifiers and an assortment of (mostly) Gibson and Fender guitars, so his sound is fairly straightforward and easy to replicate.
If you want to imitate his sound, you should be thinking in terms of a brighter, more scratchy distortion, with higher treble and mid, going easy on the low end.
We’ll first look at a list of Young’s gear and compare to what I had at my disposal:
Angus Young's Basic Gear
Young doesn’t really use a lot of effects on AC/DC’s records, so you can make do with an amp and guitar along, assuming that amp has its own gain source.
If your amp doesn’t have a gain source, you’ll need to add a distortion pedal, where the same gain and EQ practices will apply. But aside from distortion pedals, which aren't always necessary, let’s dial in a good Angus Young EQ via the JamUp app:
I found that this setting for low gain, from our amp settings guide, seemed to produce the best results for songs like “Rock or Bust” and “Runaway Train” where Young really kicked in the heavy power chord riffs.
In some cases turning gain up higher was necessary, though I’d say around 5 is a safe bet for most amps.
Here are the numbers:
Gain: 4-5 / Low: 5 / Mid: 8 / Treble: 5
For some of his songs the treble can go a bit higher, especially if you’re using a warmer amp like a Fender Vibrolux or something solid state.
In general, Young’s tone isn’t tremendously unique or unusual.
Think classic rock and you’re all but there.
Have questions about the Angus Young amp settings we’ve covered here?
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