Want to play guitar like Angus Young of AC/DC?
You’ll be “thunderstruck” at how you pick up the groove of Young’s signature playing style with our Angus Young player study course, including his vibrato style, bending, and rhythms.
Angus Young was born in Scotland in 1955, the youngest of eight siblings. Music ran in the family, with most of the children playing at least one instrument. Angus picked up the guitar at five or six, with one lesson from his brother Alexander, and then taught himself. The family immigrated to Australia in 1963, and Angus practiced playing “guitar” on a banjo restrung with six strings. He was eighteen when he, along with his brother, Malcolm, and Colin Burgess, Larry Van Kriedt and Dave Evans formed AC/DC in 1973. Young tried a variety of stage costumes, including Zorro and Spiderman, before settling on his signature schoolboy outfit, which his sister suggested. His playing and stage antics helped make AC/DC one of the most successful hard rock bands in the world. He is the sole constant original member of the group.
Young bought his first Gibson SG second-hand around 1970, and he’s been playing them in various forms throughout his career. He has used a modified version of the SG called the Jaydee SG, made specifically for him by Jaydee Guitars. At least two of his SGs featured on-board wireless going into the amplifier, with the circuitry in a hole in the back of the guitar body. This practice was stopped due to the possibility of electrical shorts (from sweat). Young designed an Angus Young SG with Gibson, featuring a pickup designed by Young and lightning bolt inlays on the neck.
Angus Young has said that his musical influences include his brother Malcolm, Chuck Berry, Freddie King, and Muddy Waters. His style is influenced by the blues – major and minor 12-bar blues progressions. AC/DC is often criticized for having songs that are simple, but Young told 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.”
When you start to channel Young’s signature style with the player study course, there are lots of high-voltage AC/DC song lessons on the Fret Zealot app to learn.
With an unmistakable opening riff, “Back in Black” was written in honor of AC/DC’s former singer Bon Scott who died in 1980.
This song begins with the tolling of a bell – an actual, 2,000 lb. bronze bell made by John Taylor & Co. Bellfounders in England. The bell sound was recorded in a mobile studio inside of the bell foundry after the tracking sessions for “Back in Black” were complete.
One of AC/DC’s most recognizable songs gets its name from a childhood toy of the Young brothers. In the liner notes of The Razor’s Edge 2003 re-release, Young said that they were searching for a name for the song when they came up with the “thunder” motif, based on their childhood toy Thunderstreak. “It seemed to have a good ring to it. AC/DC = Power. That’s the basic idea,” he wrote.
“Highway to Hell” is about the exhausting nature of constant touring, which Angus Young referred to as the “Highway to Hell”. Australia’s Canning Highway also was part of the song’s namesake.