For anybody that hasn’t heard of AC/DC (and I suspect that won’t be many people!), they are widely considered to be one of the biggest and best rock bands of all time. Angus and Malcolm Young are the two guitarslingers of the band and are the songwriters and riff-masters of the operation. Although I am a huge fan of both Malcolm and Angus Young, for this episode I’ll be looking at Angus’ lead guitar tone from the early 1980s, particularly the albums “Back In Black” and “For Those About To Rock”.

I personally consider the Back In Black album to be a masterpiece of rock, with the guitar tones on this album being some of the best guitar tones ever recorded. Angus’ guitar tone is a no nonsense, straight ahead rock sound, coming from a Gibson SG through cranked up Marshalls. It doesn’t get much better than that!

When replicating this tone, I decided to use two separate approaches:

Method 1:

For this version, I used my Kemper Profiler with a profile of one of my own amplifiers that I call the “Rock Box”. This amp is a Marshall 100W “Plexi” clone that I built myself many years ago. I profiled this amp myself and did a sound test video, which you can check out here.

With this profile, I tweaked the Amplifier settings (in the Stack section) and increased the Definition to 6.0 and the Clarity to 3.7 to allow the treble to cut through a little more, as this profile is fairly bass heavy.

From there, I added in a Graphic EQ setting in the Kemper stomp section, with a +2.0dB volume boost (the EQ section was left flat). I added this to try and replicate the boost from the preamp in the Schaffer wireless unit that Angus is rumoured to have used in the studio.

To top off the sound, I added a Hall reverb module, with the following settings:

Mix: 49.9%
Del+Rev Balance: +58%
Time: 3.6
Damping: 1.9
Predelay: 27ms
Bandwidth: 6.9
Frequency: +0.1
Ducking: 0
Volume: +1.6dB

Method 2:

For this version, I opted for a third party profile from Top Jimi, called “TJ-68 SLead Med-3”, which is a model of a 1968 Marshall Superlead amp.

I tweaked the EQ section of this profile to brighten up the sound a little bit, with the following EQ settings:

Bass: -1.3
Middle: 0
Treble: +0.3
Presence: +0.3

I then repeated my Graphic EQ trick to replicate the Schaffer wireless unit, with a volume boost of +2dB (and the EQ settings flat).

From here I just added some reverb into the profile with the same settings as Method 1 (with the exception of the Mix being set to 72.1%).

Both of these methods produced tones that I really like, and will both get you in the ballpark of Angus’ tone from the early 1980s. Of course a 1968 Gibson SG wouldn’t hurt either…


NOTE: You can download the exact profile from Method 1 from this page.

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