AC/DC’s “Riff Raff”, Studio Version, Schaffer-Vega Diversity Series

15 Oct AC/DC’s “Riff Raff”, Studio Version, Schaffer-Vega Diversity Series

This one took me circa four days to prepare, before final recording that is. I have been trying with the microphone position (Neumann U47) and with mild – really just a bit – equalization.

The microphone used in this album – or the microphones – was a Neumann U47 FET, a different microphone to the Neumann U 47 tube version, which is older than the FET design.

The FET design came into place after Neumann couldn’t source anymore (in good quantities) the VF14 valves (tubes) needed for the original U47.

Since I don’t have a U47 FET – and I don’t intend on getting one for now – I used the closest thing (in my mind) that I could use: its former self.

The two microphones are said to be slightly different, but I do not know in what they differ, frequency response wise. Eventually, will look for the charts.

Bon was also a user of the U47 FET for vocals, and I think he sang thru’ a U47 FET here.

While Mark Opitz – sound engineer for this album – talks about two microphones, the “AC/DC in the studio” interview talks about one microphone per cabinet. That’s what I used.

The final position is what you see on video, nothing really complex, a 3 inch distance from the outer right bottom cone, slightly towards the center of the cabinet. I always use the bottom cones, especially on the slanted cabinets. I had tried the top ones, but they give a “funky” strange response, you can hear a lot more the room and I didn’t want them. Better a straight position as on the bottom ones.

The sound of the guitars on this album is rather bright – especially on the rhythm ones – so I did slightly put some center cone as well in it.

Additionally, it is my strong belief that the whole album was recorded solely with Marshall 2203s, which is what I have done as well.

Now, the real news for us here could be the fact that I used 1979 Celestions G12-65s here. It was a much better instant match than the Celestions G12Ms.

The cabinet I used here is a “new” entry for me. It is an original, near minty 1979 slanted cabinet of the period loaded with them Celestions G12-65. It was acquired on ebay, from a disabled guy names “Philippe” and solely thanks to the help of brother/member Rob Taylor, who has completely managed from within the UK the pickup and shipping process. Philippe – being disabled – wouldn’t do anything but open the door at the carrier door buzz for pickup. Thank you once again, Rob!  Additionally, the ebay link was proposed to me by brother/member SGAce – George – who has also had his wife give birth to two wonderful twins. Thanks to you and Congratulations, George 🙂

I did try it on a few Powerage songs (Angus’ parts only(, and I came to the conclusion that Angus used exclusively Celestions G12-65s also on Powerage (as well as on Back in Black, that is).

Therefore, I am going to draw a temporary  conclusion here, which I have already shared with brother Franz (Banane) and to which he agreed (he was actually of the same idea, too): Angus used almost only G12-65s from 1978 (inception date) on for a good number of years. He must have liked them a lot better than the G12Ms.

The G12-65s sound a lot like G12Ms, but they give different things, too. Less bass and more tight; treble are “harder” sounding but not harsh; really, tougher I would say. Mids maybe are less prominent, more controlled. Very fascinating. Will experiment some on Highway to Hell as well. Generally speaking, find the G12-65s more controlled.

I am rather certain Angus did use extensively the G12-65s in that era: if you have some, or can (and want to) find some or even use those on amplifier emulators (in place of the G12Ms) use them as much as you can, record yourself and report back: we are very curious here of your own results!

The real difficulty here for rhythm parts for me were Angus’ “attacks”; i.e., when he starts playing in his own; there is no drums to hear and he is going on his own tempo; very hard for me to match (especially at the beginning of the song). Also at the end he does it again; I had to closely listen super-carefully (you can see that) and not move at all not to get distracted by my own sound and noise to get it right). After a few takes, it came off fairly well.

The rhythm part is pure adrenaline, with those riffs done with sheer energy. I am in doubt of how exactly he picked some parts and gave my best interpretation.

The pain for me here was the solo. Some of you have figured out it had to be a pain, and mostly it was for two reasons:

– almost un-recognizable notes due to speed and his own performance

– speed for a slow one like me.

To debunk the notes as much as I could (and for what it’s worth) I used ProTools slow down tempo function this time. Audacity is good, but ProTools puts less digital artifacts in it. I slowed down to 60% of original tempo, same pitch. As usual when I di this, I pick up one guitar in fine tune with the song, and start messing around for notes.

After one hour I had it figured out and had to repeat-play on the guitar certain passages to not forget about them. There are at least two specific points that come to mind where I did unusual things for me. We’ll do it on a tutorial.

The speed of it all was almost unbearable to me. I am not that fast, but he was and was good at it, by god! I had no idea he was that good at speed. It was good for me to approach this studio solo for the first time as it did put me against speed. I have never been particularly fascinated by speed, but damn, I could also use some at times, couldn’t I? So this will be one point for me (maybe, us?) to indulge into. But never leaving aside the timing (good timing) feeling and groove aspects of it. I would NEVER put speed in front of timing/feeling.

The types of scales he used here are also pentatonic with addition of a few “side notes”. Nothing impossible in terms of reach with fingers; but it’s the pattern he played them with that was difficult for me. And the speed. I remember thinking in my mind that I just couldn’t follow him. Had to replay for a few dozens minutes some parts over and over, until I memorized exactly the notes sequences and could then almost go into automatic mode, which “simulates” pretty much what I am sure he did (I don’t think he was thinking about what notes to make, though I just know he was willing to use specifically some notes to make the scale sound different than usual, as it is on the whole Powerage album).

While rhythm parts were recorded without the Schaffer-Vega Diversity (as I think was done in the studio for this song) the solo was recorded with my beloved Schaffer-Vega.

I can’t tell you enough how much I love it. It works marvels on all amps I tried it on. And different settings will give quite different tones.

Believe it or not, I also tried it on those small Marshall solid state things, the ones you clip to your belts; I love it! It just sounds Angus Young 100% (with an SG). This might well imply that the Schaffer-Vega works wonders on solid state amps. If you want my un-tested opinion on this, I think it will work on ANY amplifier.

Amp settings for both solo and rhythm were:

Marshall 2203; Presence 0; bass 2; mids 2; treble 5; Master 2; PreAmp 5 1/2 (five and a half). It’s rather clean (relatively speaking).

Guitar volume was on 10, and so was the tone knob. He might have done it differently. All open.




Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:09h, 16 October

    Oh my god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Great work, and solo is mmmmmmmmmmmmmm fantastic!
    Btw, don’t you think that Slash’ tone on appetite for destruction album is great too?
    Little example

  • avatar
    Posted at 09:55h, 16 October

    Brilliant as ever!

    Great work on the solo – I love the speed and long runs that Angus used to play so much back then.

  • avatar
    Posted at 05:23h, 16 October

    incredible! please phil, A tutorial of the solo would be life fulfilling.

  • avatar
    Posted at 23:24h, 15 October

    Fil, have you ever wondered how the speaker breakup affects the sound? Im fortunately in an environment where I can turn my amp up to a level where my greenbacks start to break up, and I love the sound that way. When the greenbacks (talking about the 25 watters here) break up, they have a much fuller bottom end as well as a harmonically richer tone.
    The problem with the 65s is that it’s a lot higher wattage, so you can’t push them into breakup with the normal 50W halfstack or 100W fullstack configurations. Maybe a 100W head into a single 4×12 would do it 😛
    It would be interesting to hear how the 65s break up.
    I know you are not in a suitable environment for that, I’m just thinking… 😛

  • avatar
    Posted at 21:16h, 15 October

    Fantastic stuff!

    Probably my favourite AC/DC track. I remember your Riff Raff live tutorial. Thats what made me want to pick up a guitar after years of being just a fan.This is even better, and the tone & notes are spot on as has already been said. I salute you sir. 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 20:36h, 15 October

    Amazing cover, Fil, wow!! Keep them coming!
    I don’t even dare ask for a tutorial for this one, this must be crazy hard to play 🙂
    On to whole lotta rosie studio version?
    Cheers, Renato

    • avatar
      Posted at 00:02h, 16 October

      THAT would be one to see!

      i would like to see Hells Bells and Shoot to thrill!! ohh the possabilities!! 😀

  • avatar
    Posted at 18:47h, 15 October

    When I grow up, I wanna be Fil.

    Haha. Your playing is great, man. I know how you feel; you always feel like no matter how good it is, it’s never enough; but that’s because you’re always looking up at Angus. You gotta remember that you’re better than the rest of us! Haha.

    • avatar
      Posted at 18:51h, 15 October

      Hahaha… made me smile 🙂
      Me feet are well set on the ground: I know (well) I am not better: I may have more experience with this. And I am older than most here. And in any case, I have been doing exactly this for how long… 30 years? 😀 I know this: THIS is a good pathway (not the only one, but a “strong” one, a “healthy” one) to “rock and roll” guitar playing that will stay with you forever. This is exactly why I do this. It’s like a school of rock, and I am just a student like anyone else here. I shall never forget this, or I’ll be a turd!!!!

  • avatar
    Posted at 18:32h, 15 October


  • avatar
    Posted at 17:49h, 15 October

    Wow, totally blown away Fil! The solo is incredible in this one and you nailed every note and not to mention that the tone was perfect! Watching you do the solo will help me out alot, I was missing alot of notes and little things that are hard to pick out. Gonna slow it down in audacity and try and conquer it!

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:23h, 15 October

    Two great songs in a row…Fil you great taste

  • avatar
    Posted at 16:20h, 15 October

    This is really amazing!! The sound is stunning!! The guitars are sooo beautifull!! Love the colour of the first one a lot!! Love this solo!! This is one of the best videos I saw this year or maybe ever!! The best video u made with the Schaffer Vega for me!! Thanks a lot!! Grtz, J-L

  • avatar
    Posted at 15:58h, 15 October

    Your playing is second to none Fil

    one day, i hope to play like that 😛 an insparation fil you realy are

    Thanks 🙂

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:26h, 15 October

      My playing – but thank you very much – is not only second, but third, fourth etc. mate. I am nothing special, really, I am not trying to be humble. It still is a tremendous effort for me, each time. Each single time I approach one of these songs, it’s almost a pain. This is also why I do enjoy these videos myself, it’s nice to see it coming out decently (at times). Thank you SO much Anthony, I am really not trying to be a foxy, smart “fake humble” guy. Yours, Fil 🙂

      • avatar
        Posted at 20:44h, 15 October

        Fil, funny you say that, I kinda feel the same way about doing videos. It is lots of practice, it is a pain and it’s humbling. But I learn a lot in the process, even when they don’t come out decently 🙂 I’ve learned a lot because this site is what it is – thank you, always, for that, Fil.

      • avatar
        Posted at 23:56h, 15 October

        Hehe Cheers!!!

        somtimes i play realy well usaly when my mind, body and heart (plus rested ears) are in it and THAT i believe is the essence to play well, but also as you said many times before its all practice and that is totaly true 🙂 i never thought i could cover Free Bird that i just wouldnt be good enough but i stuck to it followed your tutorials and i did it (with a lot of fun and a wig lol).

        Anyone can play guitar if they realy wanted to! and this is the place to be if you want help getting better

        Your Padawan
        Ant 🙂

        p.s im still waiting to see that stormtooper helmet 😀

  • avatar
    Posted at 15:20h, 15 October

    Fil, Astonishing! Timing is outstanding, overwhelming sound and tone.

    The solo seems the be so hard, I have never pushed myself learning the studio version.

    Is there any effect on the rhyhtm part? How do you pick those single notes in the main riff in order to make them sound so clear and punchy? Whenever I play this song, the A-chord is just to present compared to the single note part.

    Cheers 🙂

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:30h, 15 October

      This solo “seems” hard, because it is extremely fast. I have learnt it in one hour (the notes! – via tempo slow down). It is SO fast that I barely was able to keep after Angus. Angus had several abilities, not only the feeling, but speed as well. I don’t. I was barely able to cut a few “working” versions of this solo, and I did a number of takes to grasp it. The speed here – for someone like me, who isn’t able to play fast – was overwhelming. It was instructive for me to approach this solo, I had never done it. It taught me that Angus could really almost do what he wanted back then. Impressive indeed!

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:30h, 15 October

      I put reverb and EQ both in rhythm and solo 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 14:18h, 15 October

    Whoaaw. I bed this was the hardest solo you’ve ever learnt..
    Searching so long to get the right notes now !


    • avatar
      Posted at 17:50h, 15 October

      It was the fastest I have ever learnt. I felt like a beginner once again. Which is a common thing with guitar: constant frustration lol

  • avatar
    Posted at 11:47h, 15 October

    A new cab, you have there Fil 😛 This gets more and more interesting 🙂

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:32h, 15 October

      Yes mate, I am glad you notices. Cabinet is a 1979 original and near mint slanted cabinet with original Celestions G12-65s. Bascially, it could be one of the same models/years that AC/DC had back then. I am firmly convinced more and more that Angus (especially) started using G12-65s in 1978 (when they first came out) and used them extensively for years afterwards.

  • avatar
    Posted at 11:17h, 15 October

    Amazing !! Great cover and killer tone !
    Did you post a tutorial video for this track ?!

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:33h, 15 October

      I have one tutorial for this one – an older one – but it covered the live version. Will re do!

  • avatar
    Posted at 10:18h, 15 October

    Amazing! To me the timing makes this track and You’ve nailed it perfectly! =) Needless to say that the tone of Yours was incredible.!
    Also i liked the way You panned the tracks (left and right). The way You did it really lets us hear You playing.

    • avatar
      Posted at 11:13h, 15 October

      Yes, exactly my thoughts. Awesome performance again, and the tone makes your drool. Big huge wall of sound coming over. whoah!

  • avatar
    Posted at 10:15h, 15 October

    You did great! 😀

    I’am not sure if you lift your index finger of if you are moving the fingers on the frets, hard to see, i often lift the finger but not sure if that’s correct, in the starting riff i mean.

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:34h, 15 October

      I don’t lift it, I slide it (I think) 🙂 I have no idea what is correct, interesting of you to wonder! 😉

      • avatar
        Posted at 20:49h, 15 October

        Well i think lifting the finger , ”bodobombodobum” so to speak sounds pretty close playing wise, do you know how i mean?

  • avatar
    Posted at 10:13h, 15 October

    As always very good Fil!!!
    What SG is that?

    • avatar
      Posted at 10:26h, 15 October

      Looks like a 1970 SG.
      I don’t really recall this one (with a stopbar).
      Just bought ?

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:35h, 15 October

      Thank you,
      it’s a 1971 SG Standard, all original except the removed vibrola. I bought this one months ago. It came to me with the stopbar, but also the original vibrola inside the case. I decided to keep it with the stopbar, as it does simulate Angus’ first SG when he removed the vibrola 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 10:12h, 15 October

    Was on a festival yesterday… should have been playing some AC/DC stuff…
    There was a cover band of AC/DC, named Kingstone, everyone told me,: You’ll see, these guys are very good.
    Ok I tought, let’s check it out…
    First big mistake… Fender Stratocaster for AC/DC… ( no comment… )
    Second mistake, almost full Presence on both amps
    Third mistake, the guitarist only used a pedal for the solos, didn’t change his volume on the guitare at all
    Fourth, the rhythm was just, crap, wrong chords, wrong notes, no feeling, nothing at all…
    I should have been playing a few songs after these guys…
    BUT, they looked at my 94 SG, for a while… and then told the organisation they don’t want to let me play, the want to move their amps ( btw, the amps weren’t JTM or JMP … )
    I didn’t really care… I knew I know the songs… I just wanted to play for the people coming for me…
    And well, 4 hours after their show, the amps were standing there…they didn’t move… I could have killed them 🙂

    Back to serious stuff, this is AMAZING Fil, I was just blown away by the first chords…
    That SVDS is incredible, your playing is incredible again 🙂
    The day starts very good, will take Gone Shootin’ now 😛

1 2 3

Post A Comment