AC/DC’s “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” (Studio, from, “Let There Be Rock”)

18 Nov AC/DC’s “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” (Studio, from, “Let There Be Rock”)

As anticipated here a few days ago, I think I really did manage to capture this sound as well. It’s – as always – a matter of “studio album sound”, in the sense that, with minor adjustments, it was used all along on Let There Be Rock. This is my theory:

– Amp used: Marshall 2203 for both of the brothers

– Microphone: U47 FET (at least one per cabinet; WHY this microphone? Well, naturally we can’t be sure, it’s not mentioned anywhere. BUT we do know that the subsequent live “If You Want Blood” album – which was done as the usual tour following a new record – was recorded with U47s. Also, it has been an AC/DC tradition to recreate the sound of the latest album released out on tour, or very similar. Soooo….)

– I think that the microphone pre-amp was sent into distortion by overloading its input. This was added either on the preamp itself or in the analog console used at the time, a “Solid State” analog drive that was summed to the amp overdrive.

I simulated this exactly the same way, overloading my mic preamp.

The settings for the amp were:


Amplifier: 1977 Marshall 2203, stock.

Presence: 0

Bass: 2


Treble: 6

Volume: 8

PreAmp: 5-6 ish on Rhythm, 10 on solo.

Guitar is a 1970-1971 Gibson SG Custom, just like Angus’ original in every aspect. The controls were set to Volume 10 and Tone 5 for the rhythm; Volume 10 and Tone 8 for the solo.

I think Angus definitely used the “trick” of closing down the tone knob in the studio many, many times.

Additionally – I’ll say this here for now – I truly think that even in the movie “Let There Be Rock” at least a Marshall 2203 was used, and I also think the tone knob on the guitar was rather closed to avoid excessive feedback at high gain. It’s still unknown what was used to overdrive the amps for this movie, but my investigation will continue!

So, as you understand, my theory is that NO boost whatsoever was used here, just the amps and the mic preamp overdrive.

This is the year (1977) when AC/DC had attained an endorsement contract from Marshall, and very likely, they had received the 2203s and their cabinets brand new directly from them.

The 2203s were therefore the new thing to have, which would be a good reason for having used these amps.

Since the G12-65’s were not yet in production, probably G12Ms were used, which is what I used here as well (bottom cab, Pre-Rolas G12Ms).

Regarding the post-production of the sound, I used Neve 8081 modules here. I think this album was recorded on a Neve console, so I used the Neve outboard simulation.

Specifically, the EQ controls are quite different from what I have used so far, in fact these controls do help shape the sound, especially on the higher medium frequencies filtering.

Additionally, a tape emulation was added. On the solo, a tape echo was also used, nothing else.

I almost forgot to say something that I have been confident of for a long time: playing. The strings are brushed, lightly brushed, almost always, never hit hard.

I am not sure if I give this impression, because of my body language and aggressive face-look (that’s just due to how I hear the sound in my mind) but the strings must really just be touched, brushed in fact. It takes a lot of control of the right hand too, which is an additional element of concentration, and still makes me ‘wow’ at how these boys – very “young” at this time back then – had already grasped so many important things that I only understood around my 40 years of age. 



Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

  • avatar
    Posted at 21:14h, 08 January

    What about BBC Sight and Sound, VERY Similar to the original recording and Angus used a Schaffer-Vega Diversity System (You can see it on top of the amp. If you hear the Let There Be Rock Video from BBC Sight and Sound when he does the Lick at the start of the video its overdriven and then CLEAN when he bends and then he goes straight infront of the amp and on top of that You might be able to see the Schaffer-Vega Diversity System (Its visible). Then when Angus does “G E G E G E A E G E” You can hear that overdriven tone like in the original recording. Go and hear it. Its very weird no feedback except when he finishes with the solo 1 and 2 (Mainly after solo 2 you can hear the feedback) and when he finishes the song after “B” Chord and slides up Its clean and sensitive tone and then when he does the “B” Chord its overdriven… Check it out.

    BBC Sight and Sound LTBR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbzUce9bolA

    Check it out seriously you’ll go Yeah Jessey’s right!

  • avatar
    Posted at 21:06h, 08 January

    Isn’t the Neve Console 8081 basically a Compressor sort of thing? well maybe the schaffer replica would do very similar.

  • avatar
    Posted at 15:46h, 27 July

    loved that. ive always adored the tone on this album, unique and i couldnt say of anything other music that sounds anything like it. i always suspected the attack was something to do with the mic….i recorded myself once into an crappy old tape player right nest to amp, and on play back, theres that noise! i explained it as getting plosive p’s off an guitar amp. fil, if i want this as live sound, how to acheive? have 2203 (jmp 100 year 1977), so mic that up into a pa….but how to “overdrive the mic? busy guy i know but any clues gratefully received. you the man. harry

  • avatar
    Posted at 11:19h, 09 June

    brushed strings? wow this is new for me i thought that both brothers hit strings very hard as i heard also i actually do hit strings pretty hard just on solos i give it a slight brushy touch

  • avatar
    Posted at 16:25h, 15 April

    Hey Fil, is your toggle switch cap cream or white?

  • avatar
    Posted at 11:22h, 28 March

    Just how much difference is there with the drive between a 2203 and a Super lead?
    I get the impression when reading around that they are supposly much more ”driveable” than Super Leads stock or something, but it’s hard to judge spot on for me, my ears are not that good to hear all differences easily so i probubly won’t hear alot of difference but is there really that much more drive into a 2203 compared to a super lead?

    What do you think?

  • avatar
    Posted at 10:03h, 27 March

    i must admit i have realy taken a shine to the powerage album, its so raw! tight and full of nuiances, love it 🙂

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:02h, 27 March

      Hell yeah ant, that album kicks ass!!!!

      • avatar
        Posted at 20:40h, 27 March

        That is the album that Angus really shows his speed. Its fast and notes in sequences that are hard to play.

        • avatar
          Posted at 22:50h, 27 March

          BEST AC/DC ALBUM EVER in my opinion

  • avatar
    Posted at 01:36h, 27 March

    Hi there people, long time no “see”!

    I’m writting here just to share our brand new edited video! The song is the same as I posted around 1 month ago if I remember well…!

    Dig it!


    Hope to have some more videos/news about Solodallas! 😉


  • avatar
    Posted at 06:57h, 26 February

    i am unable to view the comments for this post :S i have no idea why it won’t work…

    • avatar
      Posted at 06:57h, 26 February

      ookaayy nvm it works now xD gotta love technology sometimes…

    • avatar
      Posted at 14:09h, 27 February

      I too am unable to see comments; there must be aproblem with this post 🙁

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