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An Interview With Angus Young Of ACDC - Why He Plays A
Maybe more than any other
guitarist ever, you're inextricably linked to the Gibson
SG? What was the evolution that brought you to this
I started playing on banjos and re-strung them up with
six strings. [But] an acoustic guitar, an old bang up
little ten-dollar job, that was probably the first thing
I started playing on. Me brother Malcolm got a Hofner
off of one of me other brothers and he got a Gretsch and
passed the Hofner on to me after much squabbling.
It was semi-acoustic and had all been packed with
cotton. But I never used to really take it as a serious
thing; I just used to fool around with it. When I was
about 14 was when I really started playing it seriously.
I got an amplifier for about sixty bucks that used to
distort all the time. It was a Phi-Sonic. After that I
got out and got a Gibson SG that I played until it got
wood rot because so much sweat and water got into it.
The whole neck warped. I bought it second-hand, it was
about a '67. It had a real thin neck, really slim, like
a Custom neck. It was dark brown. After about a year,
you lose about half the power in the pickups so you
either get them re-wired or put new ones in. Just
Did these early instruments still have that tremolo arm
They did but I took it off. I used to fool around with
them but you begin sounding like Hank Marvin.
And why did you remain loyal to the Gibson SG for the
remainder of your career?
It was light [weight-wise]. I'd tried the other ones,
Fenders, but you've really got to do a number on 'em.
They're great for feel but the wiring just doesn't got
the balls. And I don't like putting those DiMarzios and
everything because everyone sounds the same. All the
other sort of Gibsons I tried like the Les Paul was too
heavy. Hip displacement.
When I first started playing
with the SG there was nothing to think about. I don't
know how this came about but I think I had a lot thinner
neck. Someone once said to me they [Gibson] make two
sized necks, one was 1 ½ and one was 1 ¼ and this was
like 1 ¼, thin all the way up. Even now I still look all
over and I still haven't found one; I've been to a
hundred guitar shops and I found the same guitar [model]
but with different necks.
Did you ever experiment with the Gibson SGs when they
were called Les Pauls [Eric Clapton's graphically
appointed Cream-era guitar is probably the most famous
representative of this model]?
Yeah, I had a really old one I bought, a 1962. But it
had a very fat neck; it was good to play but it felt
heavier than all the other ones. That's why I stopped
using it. And when you're running around a lot, it
weighs you down.
So from High Voltage on it's always been the SG. Have
you ever tried using more modern types of instruments?
Yeah, I tried a Hamer but I wouldn't buy an expensive
guitar - especially in my case. It's always getting
beaten around. With the SG, you can do plenty of tricks
And you've been faithful to Marshall amplifiers as well?
Ever since I've been in this band I've been using
Marshalls. I've tried Ampeg and they weren't too good
for the sound I wanted.
On stage I have four stacks going, all hooked up with
splitter boxes. 100-watt stacks … it's good for your
eardrums. I use a real lot of volume, I turn that up; I
turn the treble and bass on about half and middle, the
same. I don't use any presence. If I don't think it's
putting out enough top, I will kick up the presence.
With Marshalls, if you're
using a fair bit of volume, if you whack the treble and
bass at half, that's where they're working. We get them
from the factory, that's what we do. We go down there
and try them out and fool around with amps and tell them
what we want and they doctor them up. At the moment,
they're all back to the old style of Marshalls, they're
very clean. They don't have these master or preamp
You have entered the modern age of electronics in your
use of a wireless system.
Yeah, I use the Schaffer-Vega. I've been using that
since '77. On the receiver you've got like a monitor
switch you can boost the signal and in the transmitter
you've got the same sort of thing. You can really give a
guitar hell with 'em. I have used the remote in the
studio and it worked really good. I don't believe I've
ever had a wah-wah or a fuzz box. It's just the guitar
and the amp and if I need anything, if someone says they
want a different approach to the sound, then I'll get it
with the guitar.
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