What guitar does angus young play? Angus Young primarily plays guitars from the Gibson SG series. However, perhaps his most popular and most used guitar is the 1969-1971 Gibson SG Standard. The year model of the guitar is unclear because he bought it second-hand. Nonetheless, he still has it and still claims it’s his favorite.
The band AC/DC has undergone numerous changes in terms of lineup. However, Angus Young has remained ever since the beginning of the band. He formed it with his brother, Malcolm, and to this day, Angus is the only remaining original member of it.
After forming it in 1973, the band eventually claimed international fame. That’s thanks to their rock beats, energizing lyrics, and, of course, electrifying guitar performances. This somehow makes us wonder, what guitar made Angus Young, the lead guitarist of the band, capable of producing such exhilarating music?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll show you the different guitars Angus Young played in his entire career.
What Guitars Did Angus Young Play?
Here’s a list of the most popular guitars Angus Young played from 1971 to 2008.
1969-1970 Gibson SG Standard
Angus bought a second-hand Gibson SG Standard when he was 16 years old, prior to forming AC/DC. He used this guitar even as the band started performing world tours. He also used it to record several albums for AC/DC.
However, given the frequency of usage, he seems to have stopped using it around 1978 due to the rotting of the wood caused by sweat and moisture. However, Angus still prefers using it when recording AC/DC albums.
1970s Gibson SG Standard (Factory Second)
In 1978, Angus realized the need for another guitar he could bring on tour. Otherwise, his first guitar might end up damaged beyond repair. That’s when he went to a music store in New York and purchased a few Gibson SG guitars. One of these guitars that’s really interesting is the 1970s Gibson SG Standard.
The guy who was handling the shop informed Angus that the guitar had the number “2” on the back of it. Apparently, Gibson inputs this number on guitars that are rejected because of cosmetic flaws and other reasons. Angus loved that idea, took the guitar home, and used it in multiple AC/DC tours.
1960s Gibson SG Standard and 1970s Gibson SG Custom
In most of AC/DC’s tours from 1978 to 1980, Angus was seen playing three different guitars. First was a 1960s Gibson SG Standard, which he used after letting his first two guitars rest. During the Highway to Hell tour, Angus used a 1970s Gibson SG Custom. However, the paint on it was most likely a re-finish, and the pickguard seems to be from an SG Special, making it a modified guitar.
1981 Jaydee Custom SG
Sometime around 1981, Angus Young switched to a 1981 Jaydee Custom Gibson SG. Jaydee is a guitar luthier from the UK whose real name is John Diggins. He built this guitar primarily for Angus, and the latter played it in AC/DC’s Donington Part concert in 1981.
Gibson SG Standard (Jaydee & Zebra Pickups)
Between 1983 to 1985, Angus was seen playing another guitar that’s significantly identical to his 1970s Gibson SG Standard. There’s a theory going around that says it’s just the same model, but there seems to be much more to it.
The guitar uses a Jaydee Hooligan pickup near the bridge. On the other hand, the other pickup near the neck has zebra patterns and doesn’t seem to have a metal cover, leading some to assume that the guitar is using a combination of Jaydee and Zebra pickups from Seymour Duncan.
Gibson SG Standard (Walnut with Lightning Bolt Inlays)
Angus kept working with Jaydee to modify his guitars, and another one that seems to be a product of Jaydee is the Gibson SG Standard with lighting bolt inlays. Angus used this guitar in AC/DC’s 1985 and 1986 tours.
The story goes that Jaydee had to repair Angus’s guitar because the body was eaten away by the latter’s sweat. While working on it, Jaydee added a touch of AC/DC by adding lighting bolts on the fretboard, replacing the regular circular position markers.
1960s Gibson SG Standard
From 1990 to 1995, Angus was seen playing a 1960s Gibson SG Standard in AC/DC’s Razors Edge and Ballbreaker tours. The guitar features a black finish and Les Paul truss rods. However, the 1960s Gibson SG Standard model does not have a black finish option, making it likely that Angus was using one of his old guitars, which he had repainted. Additionally, the tuners also seem to have been replaced since it was using Grovers instead of Klusons.
Gibson SG Junior
Perhaps the most identifiable guitar Angus used was the Gibson SG Junior, simply because it looks a bit different than his previous guitars. He used this in 1997 during an interview with Howard Stern.
The guitar does not seem to be modified, having only one P90 pickup near the bridge. Additionally, this seems to be the only time Angus used it, leading some to assume that Stern actually provided it.
1960s Gibson SG Standard (Black Ice)
Lastly, we have another 1960s Gibson SG Standard, which Angus used in Stiff Upper Lip, Black Ice, and Rock or Bust tours. These tours occurred from 2000 to 2016, making this 1960s Gibson SG Standard one of the last guitars Angus used in his performances.
The main difference it has from the other 1960s Gibson SG Standard that Angus used is that it doesn’t have a tremolo bar, and the neck seems to be wider. Nonetheless, the guitar has a worn-down headstock, making it likely that Angus has used this guitar before.
Angus Young SG
Gibson eventually released a signature guitar under Angus’s name. The guitar is called Gibson Angus Young SG, otherwise known as Thunderstruck. It features the most common specifications Angus uses on recordings and live performances.
Additionally, the circular position markers were also replaced by lightning bolt inlays, making the fretboard a tribute to Angus’s band, AC/DC.
AC/DC rocked the musical landscape and cemented their place in the world of rock and roll. This would not have been possible without Angus’s skills on the guitar. If you want to follow in his footsteps, choosing one among the numerous guitars he owned and played is a good place to start.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.