fbpx
 

AC/DC’s “Back In Black” (Studio) New Series

23 Jan AC/DC’s “Back In Black” (Studio) New Series

Well, how could this one miss from the lot of the New Series? It couldn’t, is your sincere answer [sarcasm].

So I did it for you. And for me. And probably it won’t be the last time either. No secret, this is my number one, favorite song of all times across any musical genre. This is it, it’s the one that rings my bells.


An outrageous amount of work went into this one. Days studying (again!). Most of all, it took me days to feel ready again for the solo. When I felt I was, I went for both takes, that happened within a day of recording.

The microphone positions (micing) was as close as what Platt’s describes of his general technique on Back in Black (that is, of using two large diaphgram condenser microphones per cabinet) as it was possible. In the sense that, I kept trying to do what he described until it sounded decent. And I think you may agree with me, this one sounds probably the closest I have ever done ever. Both the solo and the rhythm parts, I guess, sound close.

The two microphones were set one on the edge of the upper left cabinet speaker, outer edge of the speaker cone, facing slightly towards the center, let’s just say in the general direction of it, as I went tilting slightly both of them until they sounded how I wanted them to. I was specifically looking for sounds that I hear on the album, and now I know what to look for. It’s impossible to describe, as it’s a resonance of some sort that in decades of listening, I have learned to recognize. And still, I wasn’t able to catch it, because I think it is an integral part of the room they played in Only partially I did, but I win’t desist.. It was easier for me to capture it in my studio than in this room here. Probably since there is no wood and there are glasses and mirrors here, I will never be able to grasp it wholly until I play in here (which won’t be long, since we have plans to move elsewhere). Still, I was able to capture a decent “Back in Black tone type”, definitely mellow overdrive, but cripsy, cracking. You literally have the feeling that the drive melts on its own, while  being on the verge of exploding. Amazing sound. God how I love this. I also followed indications that stated that the rhythm parts were recorded with a 1959 head, so did I. The solo instead  – Malcolm says this – were recorded with one (or more) 50w amp, so I used the 2204. I also tried the 1987 for a few takes, but the 2204 sounded better. I have spent hours trying to simulate the solo sound on the 1959, boosting it with an MXR EQ 10 band pedal and a couple of other volume boosts I have here, but it never satisfyed me. Then, on the verge of desperation, I remembered that maybe they used a 50w for solos. And thank God (or the Universe as a self creation) for the existence of the internet and its documentation, because as soon as I plugged in, it sounded like IT. Or a lot closer than the 1959. These amps are really different.

The 50w sounded more glassy, it was easier to make it glassier than the 1959. And also, it would overdrive (2204) just as much as I needed it to, without any boost, so much that the guitar volume was on 8-9. Definitely not on 10, where the tone becomes – you know it – harsh. And there is NO trace of it being harsh on that record, never. So the trick of lowering the volume knob on the guitar both for rhythm AND solos must be really something to look into sistematically. The 2204 head volume was therefore at 10 and the pre-amp at 8.

Treble probably at 7, mids at 5, bass at 2, presence 0.

The guitar volume for the rhythm on the 1959 was at 7, while the 1959 itself was at 8. No big surprises in the settings, believe me, it’s NOT the settings that we have to be looking at! It’s the microphones. I will stress it until I stress you!

Bass in fact was around 2 or 3, otherwise it gets too bassy here. Maybe it’s the attenuator, I’m told attenuators may contribute to bass frequencies to make the speakers work. Mids 4, treble 6. Presence 0. DO you see any new settings? I don’t think so. In fact, it was the way I put the microphones.

The other microphone, the second one, was placed about 6 inches away from the first one, at the very same distance from the grill cloth (not close to it anymore, probably 4 inches away), to prevent phase cancellation, more towards the center of the cabinet, with its general direction towards another speaker (the top right one). Again, it’s not that I set it that way and walked away: I started moving one or both for some time while playing the guitar with headphones on to find the right sound. Something that they did and do constantly in the studios, and which is considered by sound engineers a pain as it really is painful for their ears with such Marshalls. It is evident that the benefit of having an attenuator helps also in this field. It was and is a pleasure to try and dial in an interesting tone while fiddling with the guitar at the same time.

Of course, equalization in post (after recording) was also applied  to both the rhythm tracks and the solo tracks. I generally boost the 2khz frequency, and lower higer frequencies while also taking out some bass freqs below 100 hz. Some reverb and that is all. NO compression whatsoever.

I realized once again how much the playing is important with AC/DC. Like I didn’t know it. Sigh. And mostly, without the slighest doubt, the timing is King with them. Impressive. They are – or were – excellent, almost unthinkably excellent. I still marvel at them every time I intend to play seriously one song from Back in Black. Especially the title track.

But I digress.

I used the ’69 custom for the rhythm. You may see it has different pickups. Well, only one is, the bridge pickup (but I added the same covers to both, old burstbucker covers I had laying around). The “new” pickup in the custom bridge position is the… older Angus Young signature pickup! If you remember, it’s the one I had in the ’64 reissue. Since that guitar is a wreck now (I stole most of its parts to modify other SGs), I also took its pickups away. I also re-wired in ’50s wiring the custom (SG Custom) bridge pickup. It sounds “better” to me now, I undestand it better. It works more closely to all the other SGs I have. The AY pickup is still the great pickup I used to remember. I really like it. I used the SG Custom for no particular reason other than the fact that it sounds good and plays easy.

The solos were playid with Blackie. Why? No particular reasons other than, it has a very thin and small neck. I understand why Angus likes these: it’s easier to play like him with these necks. Particulalry, trying to emulate his vibrato comes more easily. So that’s why.

I am trying to tell you that I could even try and exchange parts with any other of these SGs I have here. In fact, provided that the guitar(s) sounds good and plays “easy” (low action, good resonance, no mis-fretting strings, etc.) probably any SG would work.

avatar
Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri
sd@solodallas.com

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

105 Comments
  • avatar
    guitarlord26
    Posted at 11:55h, 25 January

    hey fil. Another great performence.
    I was wondering what you think of Guns and Roses (the original line up not the current one), Velvet Revolver and Slash?

  • avatar
    Kinglance
    Posted at 01:17h, 25 January

    Hmm, I’m very confused… 🙁 Your cab is that a Marshall 1960BX with Greenbacks? I’m planning of buying a new cab, it’s for playing AC/DC, only for that, and I don’t know which cab to take 🙁 Someone who can help me?

    • avatar
      Dries
      Posted at 11:08h, 25 January

      Look out for an old 1960AX or BX cab. It doesn’t matter that very much if it is an AX or BX… The greenbacks do. Before 2002 the celestion greenbacks G12M25 were made in england ( now in china ). I have both an 1960AX (new) and an ’95 1960TV cab, the 1960tv sounds definitely better with the old speakers.
      Don’t buy a new cab, the new speakers sound harsh and there are plenty of nice cabs on the web. You can also upgrade your 1960A with greenback speakers…

  • avatar
    deni91
    Posted at 18:18h, 24 January

    Very nice Fil! You have nailed it! Perfect! 😉
    I would like an Angus signature pickup, but now I can’t afford, but I hope I will 🙂

    BTW, your solodallas.net T-shirts are in the laundry? 😀 😀 , nooo I’m just joking 😀

  • avatar
    TORVICK
    Posted at 17:39h, 24 January

    MAN!!!!! Thanks thanks thanks, Back in black…. AMAZING MAN ;B. I can play this solo!! I’m very happy, because it wasn’t easy to learn, i’ll post my version here^^ Anway, this song rocks.

  • avatar
    rpatzelt
    Posted at 11:11h, 24 January

    Well Fil, you’ve reached a point where any comment is useless. OMG, I’m speechless!
    I’m struggling with BinB solo for months :(…
    I can’t get the timing right COL (…crying out loud)
    There is a note(s) missing but I can’t figure it…I’m looking forward for your lesson desperately. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking of BinB like the door to AC/DC knowledge. I’m still knocking at this door, though…

    • avatar
      Devil'Fingers"
      Posted at 11:29h, 24 January

      Hehe, got the same, but I truggle with other songs, Night prowler, gone shootin. But We will get it 😀
      Cheers
      Paweł

      • avatar
        deni91
        Posted at 18:15h, 24 January

        Yeah, Gone Shootin’ solo is very difficult, I’m struggling with it, especially the bend+vibrato 😀

  • avatar
    Thundersnook
    Posted at 08:09h, 24 January

    Oh yeah! The awesomeness of your Solo makes me want to leant this (Yes the Solo! xD) Totally loved the ending part of the main-solo! =) Grettings from a flashed Felix (seeing himself with a teared eye because of the holy Lady-Gretsch! 😉 )

    Greetings Fil! =)

  • avatar
    Ant
    Posted at 01:48h, 24 January

    Fil you burnt holes in my ears!

    Seriously you have done so well and achived so much! would be even better if there was a crystal clear guitarless backing track that you could mix this with its a shame 🙁 still you have that magic touch that makes it sound so real ;).

    Im happy that you got to do your favorite song and do it right with so much accuracy!

    Congratulations!
    Ant

    p.s i dont see a stormtrooper belt 😉

  • avatar
    LedSabbath
    Posted at 20:37h, 23 January

    I like how you ended it. I say we go back a few years to my favorite AC/DC album for the next tone to discover, Let There Be Rock.

  • avatar
    DillonSG
    Posted at 20:35h, 23 January

    I watched the solo over and over. I’ve learned so much more and saw what i was doing wrong. Now i just gotta put more practice in and i should get teh solo somewhat right. Thanks Fil! This was perfect. Every video you post i learn something new.

  • avatar
    GoingDownOnTheWay
    Posted at 20:24h, 23 January

    Fil, I love this one but I think the sound is not ‘right’, yet. The tone is damn close, really, it is. It’s just something that’s missing or wrong, I don’t know, …

    I think the original sounds more distant while at the same time very huge. Your sound is close and seems a bit like a small bar gig with the amp sitting right in your face.

    To me “Back In Black” (whole Album but especially this song) seems to be very solid sounding, every chord is just one wall that will smash you down listening to it. What we’ve got here is a bit to ‘hollow’ (that’s what Highway To Hell and Powerage are all about in my opinion); there are some higher frequencies (the D chord for example) that seem to be ‘wrong’.

    But don’t get me wrong; I love the sound, tone , and of course your playing.

    If I did not know you were looking for the exact one, I’d say THIS is the tone I would want to have at home, while rehearsing and playing, or even at gigs.

    (actually the only band I take part in at the moment will never ever play AC/DC)

    Maybe it’s just because of the mix, your ears are trained so well, you have probably already noticed every difference before.

    You are right with your statement: Good, quality equipment and tone we love makes us play better, I think because we feel right (?)

    Whenever a nice tube amp crosses my way, I feel good and you can hear that.

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 23:52h, 23 January

      I hear you mate, and I’m glad you found some pointers to me. It’s a good excuse to cut it a-gain! 😛 Seriously, although I am looking for the exact tone, I may never achieve it. There may be things I just won’t be able to simulate, as the same room, that loudness, the “band sound” that spills into the microphones, the exact microphones, mic-pre amps; the MCI board that was used to record; the Neve board that was used for mixing. And more! There are really a huge number of variables. Nevertheless, I’ll keep on trying 😀 Funnily enough, yes this is about my favourite type of tone, too. This is also why I am trying to simulate it. I would try to use it…always!

      • avatar
        GoingDownOnTheWay
        Posted at 18:25h, 24 January

        You will achieve it soon. For sure.

        What is missing is just a bit of EQ to complete the Back In Black atmosphere. It’s just to ‘hollow’ yet. Do you know what I mean? I wish I could describe that better but I can’t.

        The cut from Highway To Hell and all LPs before to Back In Black. There is something about Back In Black (For Those About To Rock and Flick Of The Switche) that I can’t put in words.

        I think you will compensate the variables, the room, the board, the mixing, etc. With todays software, everything is possible and most important the vibe, of the equipment and your playing, is already there. With the right EQ, mic placement and mix, nobody will notice any difference.

      • avatar
        Hyce
        Posted at 16:34h, 25 January

        Fil, perhaps you could do what Jimmy Page did on some Led Zeppelin albums and have kind of an “area” mic that was farther away. It’s how he got that massive drum sound for the track When The Levee Breaks. If I recall he put the mic up near the roof on a landing out in the hallway where the drums were.

        • avatar
          Thundersnook
          Posted at 18:43h, 25 January

          Heared that too in “It might get Loud” =) After Levee, every band wants to record their drums in elevator shafts xD

          • avatar
            headwhop26
            Posted at 21:06h, 25 January

            Man, i love It Might Get Loud. Outside of the Young brothers, Jack White is my favorite guitarist.

          • avatar
            Hyce
            Posted at 21:07h, 25 January

            I know, haha! That drum sound is AMAZING! John Bonham’s my inspiration. It’s hard to get his sound without that huge kit, I must say.

      • avatar
        LedSabbath
        Posted at 20:27h, 27 January

        He is right and the only thing I can come up with is the fact the AY Signature Pickup is very thin. If young want the exact sound order a Seymour Duncan Brobucker. It is essentially the same pickup but is done by a master luthier, it has a fatter tone, aged magnet (maybe wound a bit more to), mix-match windings, and it is a Custom Shop Pickup. You have to special order it and it is about $160(USD) and will most likely take 4-6 weeks to ship to you. Here is a link:
        http://www.seymourduncan.com/products/custom-shop/humbuckers/brobucker/

        • avatar
          SGACE
          Posted at 12:41h, 28 January

          Angus Young’s old guitars have T-Tops pickups (early Ttops with patent No. sticker and the later with stambed No). The Ttops have a output of 7,5 K ohm +/_ 0,25 and the AY signature pickup has significantly bigger output. The Brobucker has 10 K ohm!!! and I really don’t know how close with a real Ttop will sound.. Also I think that it is expensive compared to the prices of pickups that the hand winders make. For example Bare knuckles, Sheptone, shed pickups, Highorder, Rock monkey and many more, are able to produce a pickup close or identical with a Ttop, with less money..
          I have a AY pickup, it is nice but something tells me every time that I play, that it is not there (classic Angus and Ttops sound palette), I feel that I miss something ( who knows maybe my ears are fault)..

          • avatar
            LedSabbath
            Posted at 21:49h, 28 January

            The AY signature is 9.6K ohm. Angus used T-Tops and PAFs that were rewound by John Diggins (Jaydee).

            • avatar
              SGACE
              Posted at 21:56h, 28 January

              No PAF’s.. PAF’s were installed in Gibson guitars until 1965, from 1965 and afterward were the Ttops. Yes John Diggins rewound some but not all..

              • avatar
                LedSabbath
                Posted at 00:20h, 29 January

                But not all of Angus’s guitars were from 1965-onward. Either way, I was just saying that if he likes the AY signature but wants a fatter sound, go with the Brobucker.

            • avatar
              LedSabbath
              Posted at 22:01h, 28 January

              Also Bare Knuckles are $165-$181 per pickup, Rock Monkey’s aren’t much less, Sheptone is $220(!!!!!), and I’m not very sure about High Order. But I do know Seymour Duncan is a master pickup designer and has worked with Angus. Plus you can ask them to make you an AY Pearly Gates for $160 to (the 1 in the Gibson Custom AY signature).

              • avatar
                SGACE
                Posted at 00:19h, 29 January

                The price that you say about shep is for a set of pickups and not for a single pickup, Rock Monkey is 120 $/pickup, and High orders is 81 $/pickup, but believe me its not the price rather which pickup has the characteristics or even similarity of a Ttop.
                Anyhow, I also agree with you that SD is a leading company for pickups,(who would disagree) and yes I know that if you call them, they could make the new pickup.. But if we compare and had to decide between the Ttop clones, the gibson AY and the SD AY, I am in that period (after long search) that I would say that I prefer the first choice..

  • avatar
    banane
    Posted at 17:35h, 23 January

    I love Blackie. Has always my personal favourite in your collection 🙂
    Very great performance here, Fil, love your movement. And the sound is and even more great, world class vibrato. Defenitely a reference for all who wants to play this song too. There’s so much one can learn just by watching this again and again.

    • avatar
      Kinglance
      Posted at 18:06h, 23 January

      Indeed, u can learn A LOT by watching it over and over. The solo is really great, best solo performance mayeb ever, vibrato is really very tight, awesome played, awesome vibrato. If it’s good for Fil I will make an article on how to exercise!! How to put your exercise-time in parts, what to do, what to pay attention for when exercise rhythm and solo, how to improve skills, this will be my personal approach. I will make this after friday (end of exams), then I have 2 weeks of vacation… 😀 Only if I may publish something from Fil!! :p

      • avatar
        SoloDallas
        Posted at 18:54h, 23 January

        Will make you contributor now, so that you can publish what you want. An administrator will then publish the article for you 🙂

        • avatar
          Kinglance
          Posted at 20:03h, 23 January

          Ok thanks, I’ll start with one article. Will be for next week, no time for the moment…

      • avatar
        rjofig
        Posted at 18:53h, 24 January

        Articles/tips on how to exercise would be welcome!
        Yeah, by watching a video one can learn a lot (another thing I learned here, playing to a camera then watching your own video objectively is quite helpful too). One thing I’ve never seen but I think would be neat: close-up of vibratos played in the right tempo, but captured in high-quality slow motion.

  • avatar
    ar2619Rob
    Posted at 17:05h, 23 January

    It is the only time I’ve seen (heard) the solo played perfectly. I can’t get it right and I’ve watched a lot of good players tutorials but they’ve always been not quite right but this is.
    I don’t think this can be improved upon so you might aswell start another one! It’s really uncanny to listen to such a convincing replica.

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 17:14h, 23 January

      Thanks Rob 🙂 Well indeed I am ready to face more “trials”. The whole BiB album awaits us. But also, older ones. As you can see, I have no intention to quit 😛

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 17:17h, 23 January

      BTW Rob, what may be not convincing – played by others – is the timing and touch approach. And tone wise, it must be kept simple. Otherwise, the solo is easily blown (in the sense that, “it will fail” in the hands of the player). It’s extremely difficult, but overlooked as usual. It’s the simplest yet most truly guitar approach there is: just play to the bone. His vibrato on this tune is simply perfect. It’s a “soul scream”. It’s my ideal vibrato. Timing is also perfect here, and so it has to be. It’s the blues.

  • avatar
    Hardrockerdave94
    Posted at 13:44h, 23 January

    Great job, I love that big fat beefy sound, sounds awesome

    • avatar
      headwhop26
      Posted at 22:11h, 23 January

      Agreed! I dont think there’s anything I can say that I havent before other than I could listen to this all day.

  • avatar
    Chris
    Posted at 12:32h, 23 January

    Fil, my god, it’s just amazing
    i really don’t know what to say, it’s just incredible, no mistakes, nothing
    i love it =)

  • avatar
    RBC
    Posted at 10:29h, 23 January

    Impeccable as always.

  • avatar
    KyleSG
    Posted at 04:49h, 23 January

    Awesome!!!!!!! Best Yet for Sure! Do you think the t-tops would make much of a tonal difference though compared to the angus young sig?

  • avatar
    matirocker
    Posted at 03:42h, 23 January

    Immpresive…. Most impressive….

    I gotta say, this was great, I was delighted by the solo’s tone, I loved it!!

    BTW, I don’t know if this may work out for you, but have you tried fading out your guitars at the same time the song does? I might make a sweet effect…. but I gotta love that new outro you made!!

    -matirocker

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 10:45h, 23 January

      Thanks Mati, indeed the fade out was an option, but I also wanted you to hear my sounds on their own a bit. In the mix it’s one thing, but on their own, they’re different and I wanted everyone to be able to hear them.

      • avatar
        matirocker
        Posted at 18:14h, 23 January

        I see. You’re right, it does make up their own sound… cool!

  • avatar
    Tyler
    Posted at 02:11h, 23 January

    Best attempt yet without a doubt. The 69 sg looks killer with the white pickguard. Does the sound your hearing in the room vary much from the actual recorded sound? I know there is so much emphases on mic placement as you’ve been saying. Btw I’m on an iPod right now and your site works great!

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 10:48h, 23 January

      Another good question Tyler. Well, the actual sound in the room contains all the freqs that you hear recorded, so you’d tend to say it’s the same, but some freqs once recorded and equalized are maximized; some others are minimized. So you can still tell it’s that sound but… different. Glad to hear that it does indeed work in iPods too! 🙂

  • avatar
    Kinglance
    Posted at 02:07h, 23 January

    Wow, there is no difference between your version and the original. With eyes closed you can’t hear a difference. This is really outstanding!! I love the camera-angle for the solo, really very nice!! Do u still play your Angus Young Signature guitar (with siganture and played by Angus Young)?? So the ideal setup for Back In Black?? Marshall JMP 2204 (I have!! 50watt), Gibson SG (I have!! Angus Young Signature!! Marshall 1960 BX cab?? (I have a A cab) and… not to forget… Angus Young playing skills (only Angus Young himself and u have) 😀 Do u think there is a lot of difference between a Shure sm57 mic and your mics??

  • avatar
    JaiminhoPagina
    Posted at 02:06h, 23 January

    Well Fil… Another spot on performance I must say!
    All the time spent on making this just completely worth it. It’s just AMAZING!
    😀
    I’m wondering… How do you think a late 70’s JMP 1987 would sound when compared to the Reissue? 😛

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 10:50h, 23 January

      Andre… there is no comparison between a reissue Marshall and the true, older thing. I know I sound snobbish, but I did try the reissues for years. I wanted to believe it would be the same thing. And look what I did: I bought a lot of older ones, too! They are different. They make them different now. Instead of buying a reissues Marshall head, do you know what I would do? I’d buy a Metro head. That is what I would do and probably will do: I want a 1987 Metro head and a 1959 Metro head as well. George Metro does impeccable work and those really sound the closest to vintage Marshalls.

1 2 3

Post A Comment