The Simple Chord Technicalities That Built AC/DC’s Discography
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In the realm of rock, some say AC/DC takes the easy route, weaving entire albums with the same chords and riffs. But behind this seemingly straightforward approach lies a genius who has sculpted the very essence of rock and roll.
Angus Young, the emblematic figure of AC/DC, stands out not just for his skill with the guitar but also for his unapologetically distinctive stage presence—perpetually clad in a schoolboy outfit. With unparalleled energy, he lays bare his soul in each performance, captivating a devoted audience.
Angus’s guitars are not just instruments; they are extensions of his musical soul. The ones that steal the spotlight are often the repainted relics drenched in sweat from relentless performances, like the iconic Back in Black tour’s SG models. What’s astonishing is that Angus, the guitar virtuoso, takes only three guitars on stage, showcasing a minimalist approach that defies expectations.
However, Angus’ repertoire extends far beyond those three guitars. On global AC/DC tours, he’s been spotted wielding a diverse array, including his signature Gibson Angus Young SG, Gibson SG Standard and Standard Black, vintage Gibson SGs from 1968 and 1970, a Gibson ES-355, a ’58 Gibson Les Paul, Gibson Custom Brian Ray, and an SG Custom 3 Pickup. Not to mention the occasional appearance of a Fender Mustang, adding a different flavor to certain tracks.
The distinctive sound of Angus is intricately tied to the vintage Marshall heads and amps he employs. Dating back to 1976, 1977, and 1979, he relies on Marshall Plexi models 1959 and 2203, along with the Marshall JTM45. Technicians confess that tubes inevitably burst at each gig, requiring meticulous attention from an amp technician.
Angus’ guitar wizardry has birthed a plethora of iconic riffs, including “Thunderstruck,” “Back in Black,” “Money Talks,” “Riff Raff,” “Highway to Hell,” “Shoot to Thrill,” and “You Shook Me All Night Long.”
His distinctive style incorporates single-string picking, hard-hitting riffs in fifths and fourths, masterful bends and slides, trills, and a blend of major and minor pentatonic scales. Angus’ aggressive yet nuanced technique defines the unmistakable AC/DC sound, an eternal testament to his guitar prowess.