Angus Young

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Angus Young is the lead guitarist, songwriter, and co-founder of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, known for his wild stage energy and schoolboy uniform stage outfit.



Angus Young was born on March 31, 1955 of William and Margaret Young in Glasgow, Scotland. He was one of nine children. He and all his siblings were brought up in Syndey, Australia. Angus started playing guitar when he was five years old. A local child had one and Angus would play it during visits. He got his own guitar by taking a banjo his family had lying around and restringing it like a guitar.

Angus did not get into guitar playing seriously until his family moved from Scotland to Australia in 1963. He had been playing on an old Höfner guitar he inherited from his brother Malcolm, until he bought a Gibson SG, after seeing it in a friend's catalogue. Angus's brother George who played in the band The Easybeats gave Angus and Malcolm guitar lessons when he would come home during breaks from touring.

Prior to forming AC/DC, Young played in a local group called Kantuckee. Kantuckee's lineup consisted of Bob McGlynn, vocals, Angus Young, guitar, Jon Stevens, bass, and Trevor James, drums. This was the first band to record Demo takes for Stevie Wrights classic "Evie" at the request of George Young. The band split and was later called Tantrum with Mark Sneddon on vocals and guitar, Angus Young on guitar, Jon Stevens on bass and Trevor James on drums.


Angus and Malcolm Young formed AC/DC in 1973. The first line up included Angus Young on lead guitar, Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar, Colin Burgess on drums, Larry Van Kriedt on bass guitar and Dave Evans on vocals. The band's first single was "Can I Sit Next To You". Which was later re-recorded with Bon Scott, as their vocalist, as "Can I Sit Next To You Girl." They got the name AC/DC after seeing the letters "AC/DC" on the back of a sewing machine owned by their sister, Margaret. "AC/DC" stands for Alternating Current/Direct Current.

To read more about AC/DC check out the AC/DC wiki

After playing with the band for a while, Angus developed his trademark schoolboy image. Before settling on the schoolboy costume, Angus had tried other costumes, such as Spider-man, Zorro, a gorilla, and a parody of Superman, named Super-Ang. The original uniform was reputedly from his secondary school, Ashfield Boys High School in Sydney. One rumor is that he did not have time to change his clothes between school and band practice, and simply wore the uniform. By 1973, Angus had long left school. His sister Margaret suggested he wear the uniform after Malcolm asked each band member to come up with their own gimmick, which was ironic as Angus very much disliked being at school. This was the era of glam rock, when costumes were common for pop and rock acts.


Angus Young's energetic guitar style has been an influence on many young hard rock guitarists. His work with AC/DC has been an influence on bands ranging from Guns N' Roses and Def Leppard to newer artists like Jet and You Am. Angus says his own influences as Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Leslie West, and other blues and rock and roll players.


Angus playing style is very straight blues, playing in the minor pentatonic blues scale. His style is spiced by additional non-blues tricks. In AC/DC's earlier recordings, power chords can be heard in songs such as "T.N.T." and "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)". He also utilizes touches of Scottish folk in his playing, and pull-off arpeggios are a popular trick, appearing in songs such as "Baby, Please Don't Go", "Who Made Who", "Can't Stand Still", "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", "Sin City", "Shake a Leg", "Thunderstruck", and "Let There Be Rock". He is especially noted for his vibrato, his intricate improvisation in live shows, and his stripped down approach to the guitar, with regard to amp-provided effects and guitar accessories.

He often receives criticism from the music press, many of his critics stating that AC/DC's songs sound too similar, focusing on the same handful of chords. However, as Angus stated in an interview with the Atlanta Gazette in 1979: "It's just rock and roll. A lot of times we get criticized for it. A lot of music papers come out with: 'When are they going to stop playing these three chords?' If you believe you shouldn't play just three chords it's pretty silly on their part. To us, the simpler a song is, the better, 'cause it's more in line with what the person on the street is."

Stage Antics

Angus Young is notorious for his wild on stage antics. He entertains audiences with his intense jumps on stage and with his running back and forth across the stage while playing his guitar. Angus would clamber on to Bon Scott's shoulders during concerts and they would make their way through the audience with smoke streaming from a satchel on his back, while he played an extended guitar solo, usually during the song "Rocker". Once, he rode on Brian Johnson's shoulders. In some of his concert videos, he would raise his foot and bring it back down to the front of his other foot like a zig-zag on stage while keeping the same rhythm on the guitar as he played.

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In later years, Angus performed moves such as his own version of the Duck Walk, which was inspired by his idol Chuck Berry, and his "spasm", during which he throws himself to the ground, kicking, shaking, and spinning in circles, while playing the guitar. Angus developed the "spasm" while he was playing live in a small club in Australia, after he accidentally tripped over a cable on stage while playing his solo. He covered it up by having a seizure-like "spasm" on stage to make it seem like part of the act. It has been a trademark of his ever since.

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Angus Young also performs "the bob". In the bob, he head bangs while tapping his feet. He taps his right foot twice when head banging up, and his left foot twice when head banging down. The bob is found in many songs such as You Shook Me All Night Long, Bad Boy Boogie, Highway to Hell, and more.

Other gimmicks done by Angus include his strip act where he will pull down his pants revealing his undergarments, then pulls them down and moons the crowd. Sometimes he would use his fingers to perform his devil horns act, usually before playing "Highway to Hell" or "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be".

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This is Angus' gear


Angus Young has used Gibson SG's in various forms, his original and the basis for his current signature model, was a 1968 SG which he used throughout his career. He is rarely seen with another guitar. However, he also owns Telecasters, Gibson Firebird's and Gibson ES335's. When AC/DC played a jam of "Rock me Baby" with the Rolling Stones in 2003, he played a Gibson ES-335 borrowed from Keith Richards, perhaps one of the only times he was without an SG on stage. All of these are high output Alnico 5 pickups with matched coils.


Angus uses a plexi of Marshalls amps. Marshall JTM45s, JTM50s, JMP50s and Superleads for example. His main amp is his JTM45, which he uses both live and in the studio. When Young plays live, he runs this through an isolation speaker box that sits under the stage and feeds directly into the PA system. In the studio, Angus has often used a 100w plexi for riffs and a smaller plexi (JMP50, JTM50, or JTM45) for solos. Speaker cabinets he has used have been Marshall 4x12"s, mostly 1982 and 1960 B models with Celestion G12H 30 watt on older recordings, Vintage 30s, on newer recordings and G12M 25 watt speakers, on solos and overdubs on newer recordings.


Angus has been using Ernie Ball strings for over 40 years. He used Gauge 9-42's.

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Angus Young Signature Guitar

Angus Young and Gibson Guitar Corporation have collaborated to make the Angus Young Signature SG, which is special in several ways. The model features a pickup designed by Young himself (the Angus Young Signature Humbucker) in the bridge position, and a '57 Classic Humbucker in the neck. The headstock features Young's famous "Devil Schoolboy!" engraved picture, and the tremolo bar features Angus' name instead of the Gibson logo. The guitar has a rosewood fingerboard, trapezoid fret inlays, a signature black pickguard, 22 frets, a worn cherry finish, and nickel hardware. The volume and tone knobs are bigger than those of a regular SG but it still features the standard 3-way selector switch. There has been only one occasion on which Angus used the guitar on stage, playing "Shoot to Thrill" at the Summit in Houston, Texas in October 1983.

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Related GMC Lessons

Open Chords Rock Rhythm

Open Chords Rock Solo

Left Hand Exercise



--Nick325 05:36, 16 June 2008 (CEST)