Angus Young – Life, Guitars, and Equipment

Angus Young, the legendary guitarist and co-founder of the iconic Australian hard rock band AC/DC, has been a driving force in the world of rock music for over four decades. His powerful riffs, unmatched stage presence, and distinctive playing style have left an indelible mark on the hearts of millions of fans worldwide.

In this post, we will delve into the life of Angus Young, his notable guitars, and the equipment that has shaped his unforgettable sound.

Table of Contents

Early Life and the Birth of AC/DC

Born on March 31, 1955, in Glasgow, Scotland, Angus McKinnon Young was the youngest of 5 siblings in a family deeply rooted in music. Besides Angus father William Young and mother Margaret (her maiden name was also Young) have four more children.
Alexander (28-12-1946), George ‘Redburn’ (06-11-1947), Malcolm (06-01-1953) and sister Margaret.

His birth is often incorrectly listed as 1959. The reason is that the record company (EPIC) intentionally did this to the image of the “student” to make this plausible. In the seventies, Angus AC/DC was famous for this act of performing in school uniform.

His family moved to Sydney, Australia, in 1963. Growing up, Angus was inspired by his brother Malcolm, who played guitar in various local bands. With some school friends, he made early seventies part of local bands such as ‘Kantuckee’ and ‘Tantrum’.

AC/DC, the name coined by their sister, was compiled in 1973 by Malcolm Young in Sydney. He formed the band with some friends, Dave Evans (vocals), Rob Bailey (bass), and Peter Clack (drums). Angus was also present at the first rehearsals and Malcolm asked them if he wanted to play a solo part. Everyone agreed that Angus would be a great addition to the band.

The band found immediate success and soon followed with the recording of their first album, ‘Can I Sit Next To You’. This single was produced by their older brother George. George was a member of the band ‘The Easy Beats’, who achieved great success in the sixties.

On February 19, 1980, Bon Scott dies of alcohol poisoning. A serious blow to the group. Bon’s successor was found in Brian Johnson, whose hoarse, rough voice suited Bon well. Brian Johnson formerly sang in the Scottish glam rock band Geordie, which had the hit “All Due of You” in 1973.

The school uniform became a trademark of Angus (AC/DC), but Angus had other tricks up his sleeve at the time. So, he has already performed in a gorilla suit and a Superman suit.

Following the band’s move from Sydney to Melbourne, there were several line-up changes. The band now exists beside Angus and Malcolm by, bassist Mark Evans (who in 1977 was replaced by Cliff Williams), drummer Phil Rudd and lead singer Bon Scott. Scott worked as a driver for the band and had already played drums in several other bands. Bon Scott is almost ten years older than the others, but his charisma and raw vocals are a perfect fit for the group. This is how the recognizable AC/DC sound was born.

Angus Young’s Guitars

Gibson SG

Angus Young’s most iconic guitar is undoubtedly the Gibson SG. Since the early days of AC/DC, Angus has been inseparable from the SG, which has become synonymous with his sound and style. He first picked up a Gibson SG in 1970, and it has remained his primary guitar ever since.

Angus likes to play on the Gibson SG Standard cherry red, built between 1963 and 1970. These SG Standards were provided with a Gibson Tremolo System. Angus uses the tremolo system is extremely rare because the guitar is constantly annoyed, so he disassembles this system in general.

The favorite guitar of Angus is the Standard SG 1968. This SG standard was produced from 1967 to 1970 in the USA and is increasingly rare, partly because Angus buys almost every SG he can find. Meanwhile, he has about 60 to 80 guitars of this model bought.

Another SG model that he also plays is a black SG Custom with chrome elements and a white body. Unlike the regular SGs, these SG Customs have a neck with very flat frets so they can be played faster.

Angus has adjusted the guitar to his own taste to get off the middle element, the brass caps to replace chrome, and disassemble the tremolo system to put on a fixed comb. The elements are, as with all SG models Humbuckers. These are in contrast to single-coil pickups two against each other placed single-coils which will influence each other. This creates a warmer bass and a smoother sound at the low tones.

Another advantage of the humbucker with regard to single-coil is because the two coils work in contra phase, rumble (arise for example if you rise too dense at the transformer of an amplifier) that cancels each other. The metal guard also ensures that interference signals are shielded from the outside.

Until the eighties Angus played on both models and lived in the studio. Sometimes he also played a Gibson SG 1961, in contrast to the models from 1963-1973, they had a different tremolo system.

In the ’80s and ’90s, he played on SG models, which were very similar to the Gibson Les Paul ’61 Reissue SG. Two earlier ’61 SGs without tremolo were repainted especially for him, one in red and one in black. To do the guitars less rapidly and get out of tune they now provide Grover machine heads instead of the old Gibson Kluson machine heads.

Over the years, Angus has used several different SG models, including the ’68 Standard, the ’69 Custom, and the early ’70s SGs. In 2000, Gibson released the Angus Young Signature SG, which features a mahogany body, a slim taper neck, and custom-wound humbucker pickups designed to replicate Angus’s distinct tone. Check how old your Angus Young Signature SG is by the serial number.

Jaydee SG

In the early ’80s, Angus started using a custom-built SG by British luthier John Diggins, known as the Jaydee SG. The Jaydee SG featured a more extended upper horn, a lightning bolt inlay on the fretboard, and custom-wound pickups. John replaced all parts of the guitar except the headstock with the Gibson logo and serial number. Characteristic of this guitar is the fretboard with lightning bolt inlay, an idea by John. Angus used the Jaydee SG extensively in the ’80s and early ’90s.

Fender Telecaster

While the Gibson SG has been Angus’s primary guitar throughout his career, he has occasionally been seen with a Fender Telecaster. Angus used a Telecaster during the recording sessions for the albums “Ballbreaker” (1995) and “Stiff Upper Lip” (2000).

Other Guitars

Angus owns also some old Les Pauls and Firebirds. In his ‘storage,’ he has approx 100 different guitars, most SG’s but also other Gibsons that he collected over the years. Some acoustic guitars, Gibson 335, Firebirds, Les Pauls, and Epiphones.

Young’s Guitar Equipment


Angus Young has consistently relied on Marshall amplifiers to create his signature sound. Over the years, he has used various Marshall models, including the 1959 Super Lead Plexi, JTM45, and JCM800. In the early days of AC/DC, Angus would use a combination of four Marshall stacks on stage, each consisting of a 100-watt Super Lead head and two 4×12 cabinets.

Angus swears by tube amps and used mostly the late sixties Marshall tube amp. These are very old models and the original is still very difficult to find. These old amplifiers have been built with wire connections and not with circuit boards such as the later models and have as a result, another sound. Also by their age, they sound different.

The Marshall amplifiers were designed to produce a reasonable volume, but Angus turned the volume fully open. Because the amplifiers have no master volume control, they go so great as ‘burst’.

Angus uses the 50-Watt (JTM 45) amplifier the increased version, the rare ’67er 100-Watt (100 JTM) with KT66 tubes.

Besides, he uses the 1959 SLP 100-watt Super Lead amp and its 50-watt version thereof, depending on the room acoustics. But his preference is for the 50-watt JTM 45 models. The tubes he used for the SLP amplifiers are Groove EL-34 for the amp, and EC-383 as preamp tubes.

The boxes have been Marshall 4×12″ with straight soundboard, equipped with Celestion Vintage 30″ 70-Watt speakers. These provide a very stable bass with many mid-tones.

For a regular concert, there are only for Angus eight to ten 1959 SLP amplifiers on stage, of which probably only five are actually used.

The amplifiers of Angus are set as follows:
Volume: 7-8
Treble: 5-6
Middle: 3-4
Bass: 4.5
Presence: 8


Angus Young’s guitar tone has always been about simplicity and raw power. He is known for using very few effects, primarily relying on his guitar and amplifier for his tone. However, he has been known to use a Schaffer-Vega Diversity System (SVDS), a wireless system with a built-in compressor and clean boost. The SVDS subtly shapes Angus’s tone by adding slight compression and sustain.

Strings and Picks

Angus Young uses Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings (.009-.042) and has been known to use Fender Extra Heavy celluloid picks.

Personal Life

Angus Young has been married since 1980 to Ellen van Loghem, a Dutch girlfriend and ex-girlfriend of Benny Jolink, a member of the rock band Normaal.

He met her in July 1979 when AC/DC played a concert for a Dutch radio station where Normaal also performed. Angus remained in the Netherlands and now lives in Altena, a small village in the east of the Netherlands.

What is Angus Young Up To Now?

It is known that Angus now avoids the media as much as possible and alternates between Sydney and Althena. Angus talks about the mentality of the Altena people compared to Australia. “The people are very social, and whether you’re a butcher, farmer, or rock guitarist, for them here they are all the same. Something that I like recognizable and appreciate”, says Angus.

In Altena, he spent a lot of time in his home recording studio, where he also worked on new material for AC/DC. In October 2008, AC/DC released an album called “Black Ice”.

In September 2012, a live album was released featuring their concert at River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2009. A legendary concert in a sold-out stadium for over 200,000 enthusiastic fans.

“Rock or Bust” is the title of AC/DC’s studio album, released on November 28, 2014. The album was recorded in the spring of 2014 in Vancouver, at Warehouse Studio. “Rock or Bust” was produced by AC/DC. Brendan O’Brien and Mike Fraser.

What is the last album of AC/DC?

Power Up (PWR/UP) was released on November 13, 2020, via Columbia Records. Power Up marks the return of vocalist Brian Johnson, drummer Phil Rudd, and bassist Cliff Williams. They left AC/DC while touring in support of their previous album Rock or Bust in 2014.

It is the band’s first album since Malcolm Young’s death in 2017, and according to his brother Angus, it serves as a tribute to him. Malcolm received copyrights to all songs on the album.


Angus Young’s remarkable career has made him one of the most influential guitarists in rock history. His relentless energy, raw talent, and signature sound have inspired countless musicians and fans alike. By staying true to his roots and maintaining a minimalist approach to his guitar and equipment choices, Angus Young has created a distinctive style that has stood the test of time.

From his Gibson SGs to his Marshall amplifiers, Angus Young’s gear has played a vital role in crafting the unmistakable AC/DC sound. As a testament to his impact on the music world, Angus Young was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 along with the other members of AC/DC.

The story of Angus Young serves as a reminder that passion, dedication, and a unique approach to one’s craft can create a lasting legacy. As AC/DC continues to rock stages worldwide, Angus Young’s influence will undoubtedly be felt by generations of guitarists to come.