Interview:AC/DC’s Rig


Part 1: Angus Has a Few Guitars/He Has a Few Amps Too

Part 2: No Effects in This Rig Though/Strings and Things/Malcolm's Guitars

Part 3: Malcolm's Studio Rig/The Bass Setup of Cliff Williams





AC/DC's Rig


Part 1: Angus Has a Few Guitars/He Has a Few Amps Too


AC/DC guitar tech Geoff Banks gave the rundown on every piece of musical equipment used on stage and on the new disc, Stiff Upper Lip, by perennial schoolboy Angus Young; his brother, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young; and bassist Cliff Williams. Here's the Meltdown: Geoff, what kind of gear is Angus using these days?


Geoff Banks: On a normal live situation--an arena concert tour--he would have eight or 10 Marshall 4x12 cabinets with Celestion 30 watt vintage speakers. We've got a lot of amps. Normally he'll go through all of his heads in rehearsal before a tour and pick the heads he wants to use. We use five Marshall model 1959 100-watt heads. On the last tour we had a selection of maybe another 20 with us, in case there was a problem. How does he set those amps?


Banks: That varies. He's not a big presence guy. The bass is normally about halfway, the mids are normally around three or four, and the treble is normally on maybe five or six. The volume is normally up between seven and eight. On the model 1959 there's no preamp or master volume. On a stock 1959 head that's pretty loud. That's on maybe two of the amps. Some of the others might be tweaked a bit different because of idiosyncrasies in the amps. He plugs into channel one. We use Groove Tubes EL-34s or the Groove Tube version of them, and the Groove Tube version of the EC-383 preamp tubes, which is called the 12AX-7. What guitars is he using these days?


Banks: The black SG he used on the last tour, the Ballbreaker tour, was a mid- to late-'60s Les Paul SG. He's got a selection of those, all basically stock. The main one he used for the new album and will probably use for this tour is one of his old SGs, the one with the lightning bolt slash inlays on the fingerboard, and the AC/DC logo. That's a basic, stock early-'70s SG with humbuckers. There's nothing particularly flashy about it. It's well worn. He's had it for a long, long time. It was a vintage, stock SG, but at some point somebody put the slashes in the fingerboard. It's got a large scratch-plate (pickguard), which goes above and below the pickups. A couple of his spare SGs even have the Vibrola system on them. Are all the pickups stock?


Banks: They're all the basic, stock Gibson pickups as far as I know. Sometimes they get waterlogged from all the sweat, so sometimes he won't play one for a couple of days until it dries out. Sometimes we put a hair dryer on them. At some point somebody bypassed the tone and the other wiring controls to just give him one volume control, for the back pickup. Otherwise all the wiring is back to stock. He uses the bridge pickup all the time. Sometimes in the studio he'll go to the neck pickup and play some phenomenal blues licks. He's an excellent blues player, unbelievable. One of his idols is Johnny Winter. How many guitars does he bring on the road?


Banks: Last time we had eight for him to play on a daily basis. There was some other stuff in the trucks. I think he brought an old Les Paul, and some old Firebirds. I think that's the Johnny Winter influence coming out. But he's got the favorite SG with the slashes. He thinks it's just a killer guitar.


When I've been to the warehouse looking for guitars there's a lot of guitars there, as you can well imagine. I may not have gotten to the depth of them all. I think there's probably in excess of 90 or 100 guitars. There's a large percentage of SGs, but there's other stuff that he's bought over the years. There's some acoustic stuff, some 335-looking stuff, there's Firebirds, Les Pauls, some Epiphone stuff, and one or two Telecasters.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3