AC/DC Gear Guide - It's A Long Way To The Top


If you're wondering what gear AC/DC use to capture their powerhouse rock sound then read this ultimate AC/DC gear guide

AC/DC Gear Guide

There's no bigger name in the world of rock than AC/DC - from starting out touring the club circuit in the '70s through to dominating the biggest stadiums on the planet - there's no band quite on their level.

But what equipment do AC/DC use and what does that offer their sound? Here we'll take a look at AC/DC's legendary setup across guitars, amps and more. So hopefully no matter what your level of experience is - you'll be rocking out like Angus Young in no time.

What guitar does Angus Young play?

Even non-guitar playing fans of AC/DC will be aware that Angus Young plays the iconic Gibson SG. This guitar has become part of the band's identity over the years with the iconic horned double-cutaway style. These guitars look the part for any rock and roll band and they've got the sound to back it up. So if you're wondering what guitar Angus Young plays then it's the Gibson SG.

Luckily the Gibson SG model is accessible to guitarists of all levels and budgets. That's partly thanks to the Epiphone SG models which still have the quality construction and build of the Gibson brand. Below we've highlighted a few different examples of SG's which vary from those professionals would use through to beginners.




Characteristics of Angus Young's Gibson SG 

Angus is notoriously very specific about what guitars he uses and will stick with the same guitars throughout tours. On a recent tour, Angus' main guitar was a 1967 SG. This guitar has been in the possession of Angus since the Let There Be Rock album in 1977.

The pots in this model had been changed many times due to rusting from the heavy-sweat approach that Angus has when he's playing - but they're just 5ook Gibson pots, wired standard. For pickups on this guitar Angus uses custom-wound Seymour Duncans with 7.8 DC resistance. These pickups are waxed in order to keep them working throughout the show.

Angus Young goes wireless

Due to the animated nature of Angus Young's live performance he uses a wireless pack on his Gibson SG. If you're looking to go wireless with your setup we've put together a helpful Beginners's Guide To Wireless Guitar Systems. If you're looking for a place to get started we'd recommend looking at the Line 6 Relay G75 Wireless Guitar System.

Line 6 Relay G75 Wireless Guitar System

Back In Black tour SG 

For the Back In Black tour Angus used a 1970 Gibson SG custom. It used to have three pickups and it was walnut coloured. Although after a while Angus painted it black and changed it to two pickups. This was likely the guitar that appeared on some of the Back In Black album as well.

You can pick up a Black Gibson SG at a variety of price points. If you'd like to order one of these menacing guitars then contact us at PMT and we can aim to place an order for you. Below we've highlighted the Gibson SG Standard, Ebony - a solid option for those who take their guitar seriously.


What strings does Angus Young use?

The strings that Young uses are all the same across guitars and this is because AC/DC are creatures of habit when it comes to their gear. They don't change anything unless they absolutely have to. He uses Ernie Ball 9 Slinky's, 9-42 standard.

What picks does Angus Young use?

Angus used Fender Extra Heavy picks which simply say that on them. As most guitar legends seem to do these days - Angus does have picks with his character on them but these are for giveaways. He plays with a Fender Extra Heavy which aren't available with the grip as he used to.

Angus Young's playing style 

Angus' guitar tech says he roughly rides at 8 on the volume in the rhythm area and finds his sweet spot on stage. From here he can give it an extra boost if that's required. This goes back to the seventies before boost pedals were on the scene. The other important thing to know is that there's no specific guitar for specific songs - he'll play until it's out of tune - although the quality of Angus' touch means that his guitars aren't going out of tune massively often.

What amps does Angus Young use?

AC/DC go through a hell of a lot of amps and require around ten or twelve backups on the road. They even have a full-time crew member dedicated to repairing amps on the road.

They use around nine 100w Marshall Heads for the arena setup. If that's the case for arena's imagine the stadium setup! Each head is slightly different, some have been significantly modified and others haven't.

The band deliberately use reissues (1987) which gives them the freedom to modify without hacking up museum pieces.  Angus uses heads that are specifically for the studio. They also use a Marshall Master Volume for added gain.

Five Marshall cabinet stacks for arena shows which go all the way across. This is because Angus moves around an awful lot and doesn't have in-ear monitors so he has to be able to hear everything crisply while up on stage.

What guitar does Malcolm Young play?

Wondering what guitar Malcolm Young plays? The other guitar that's synonymous with AC/DC is the Gretsch Jet Firebird - which was played by the engine room of the band Malcolm Young. A massive cog in this rock and roll machine! Malcolm played a 63 Gretsch Jet Firebird.

This was also played as the main guitar by Stevie Young - his nephew who has stepped in to take over Malcolm's rhythm duties. What makes these guitars sound unique is the burns vibrato which isn't used but adds string length behind.

If you want to churn out riffs like Malcolm Young but don't have a spare few grand in the bank then the good news is there's a budget-friendly option. Take a look at the




What amp does Malcolm Young play?

Much like his brother Angus, it's a case of all things Marshall for amps. A typical live setup includes 1971 metal front marshall super bass. He also has a 1966 JTN 45 100 - of which there's very few in existence.

There's also a 1977 Marshall super bass which is pretty much stock. These would power around six running six cabinets on stage in an arena setup. Take a look at the Marshall MX412B Guitar Speaker Cabinet below as a point of reference.

Malcolm's replacement Stevie Young uses a Mooer Pure Boost pedal to thicken up the sound on TNT (due to it being a solo part) but no other effects are on show. The band are very much old school when it comes to playing with their sound and take the 'if it isn't broke don't fix it' approach.

If you're looking for a boost pedal then we'd recommend the MXR Booster Mini Guitar Effects Pedal - a versatile and robust pedal that will stand up to heavy touring as well as add an extra thickness to your sound.

What bass does Cliff Williams play? 

Throughout his career, Cliff Williams has often favoured the Fender Precision Bass in sunburst finish. Like with all Fender guitars and basses - there's usually an option that will suit your budget and style.  Ideal if you want to get your hands on one of the most iconic bass guitars ever made!

AC/DC Gear Guide - In Summary

The best way to sum up this AC/DC Gear Guide is with the fact that they're creatures of habit. In many ways, this has been the key to their success over the years as one of the most well-oiled rock and roll machines in the world. You could even argue that the Gibson SG and the Gretsch Jet are extra members of the band.

So hopefully we've answered any questions you might have about what equipment AC/DC use. If you have any further or new information then don't hesitate to let us know.

If you require more information or help on any of the guitars, drums or accessories you've seen in this gear guide then visit PMT Online or call into your nearest PMT Store and speak to one of our friendly experts.

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