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 07:41h, 20 February


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

  • avatar
    Posted at 06:14h, 31 December

    I think Riff Raff is about a comic charachter, and that a lot of the “known lyrics” could be wrong. Remember, Dirty Deeds was also about a comic charachter, and Bon quoting from another tv-serie “Mork and Mindy” in Night prowler.

    These lyrics has always been a mystery, but clearly he´s singing “somebody´s giving me one arm up” instead of “kicking me when I´m up” as some lyric sites suggest.


    Underdog – Riffraffville Pt 1

    “Riff Raff, also voiced by Allen Swift, is an anthropomorphic wolf gangster based on noted actor George Raft. His gang consists of Sandy the Safecracker, Mooch (the underworld syndicate’s top gunman), Spinny Wheels (who drives the gang’s getaway car), Dinah Myte (the underworld syndicate’s greatest bomb tosser), the new members, Nails the Carpenter, Needles the Tailor, Smitty the Blacksmith, the Witch Doctor and other unnamed members.”

  • avatar
    Posted at 15:12h, 28 December

    For an AC/DC-oriented, but still general classic rock tone, would you suggest mixing two greenbacks and two 65s in a 4×12 cab? How would that sound?

    • avatar
      Posted at 15:30h, 28 December

      I have this setup here. Not sure if I want to suggest it for an AC/DC-oriented tone, because I don’t have a comparison to 4 65s. Can just say that I like the tone a lot, you got a different crunch from both the Greenbacks and the 65s plus the more solid mids of the 65s.
      Can’t do a comparison record also, that would need a 2 mic setup.

      • avatar
        Posted at 17:19h, 29 December

        I thought if I will get a 4×12 one day, I will use this setup. I think it might give me an interesting tone… smooth crunch from the greenbacks, and a bit of and edge, from the 65s. Nice combination, IMO 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 18:54h, 12 November

    This website should have a forum. I don’t get why we don’t have any. It would be cool for so many reasons. For example, im struggling with the fast part of the solo of “Walk all over you”, and I really need to talk to people about it, get suggestions etc. But there ain’t nowhere i can do this.

    Love this site btw. A forum would make it even better 😉

    • avatar
      Posted at 19:16h, 12 November

      Franz and I will think about it. I still am afraid that a forum might be a bit “dispersive” for us; however, I must admit that now it could work (now that we are 7.500).

  • avatar
    Posted at 22:27h, 03 November

    Wow… Look at this picture…


    The SV at the ’79 paris concert!! And it’s working!
    So the SV could be used at very little distance. The transmitter must be next to the receveiver, probably due to radio pickup on the wireless…

    But angus DID used the SV like a boost !

    • avatar
      Posted at 10:29h, 11 November

      Great discover!! I TOLD it’d got to be there… It could be just the guitar plugged right into the reciever, but it could be your conjeture too. BTW, WE ALL WHERE RIGHT: Angus has SOMETHING working before the amp in that gig too.

      • avatar
        Posted at 10:35h, 11 November

        Makes total sense.
        By the way, everyone listen: I HAVE BIG NEWS for the album “Let There Be Rock”. I debunked and found out the
        secret of that tone as well. Your Sound Adventurer, Fil 😀

        • avatar
          Posted at 12:17h, 11 November

          Can’t Wait!

        • avatar
          Posted at 00:28h, 12 November

          (Indiana Jones theme goes on in the background)


    • avatar
      Posted at 10:34h, 11 November

      I had missed this. Where do you see it? Can’t see it. I believe you, but this is a superb discovery. Where is it? It could be the missing link. You guys are fucking terrific. We started the biggest major investigation on the history of AC/DC rock!!! Please someone circle the SVDS in the picture. Also, Angus’ heads can be seen there. My thinking is that amps are regular 2203s.

      • avatar
        Posted at 10:37h, 11 November

        Hang on bro, doing that now and uploading it to the “find the SVDS” posting.

      • avatar
        Posted at 10:47h, 11 November

        Ok I have seen it 🙂 Sensational. Dries, you are a freaking miracle man. I wrote Mr. Schaffer about this right now.

  • avatar
    Posted at 20:14h, 01 November

    Exceptional! I love the tone of the vibrato D+F treble notes in the verse, and you do play the solo very well despite your own critical ears. The first album I heard was I.Y.W.B so therefore this is the first song I ever heard and it was my ‘awakening’. So now I’m gonna play it again but this time I’m gonna get up and dance. 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 15:50h, 31 October

    Bravo! Sounds very close, both the licks and the tone. Can you remove Angus guitar completely from the picture when you record? Also, you might want to try out Amazing Slowdowner from Roni music. It might be the best out there, especially below 50%. I´ve been using it for a while, very no thrills and simple, but still important functions.

  • avatar
    Posted at 16:59h, 25 October

    Thanks a lot banane and angusrudd for the help. I was wondering if u guys could do me one more favor. I was looking on ebay and found a few jmps, but i have no idea as to what im looking at when they show pictures of the stuff inside the head. Could you guys possibly look on ebay at these and post something on here that u guys think is worth buying? Thanks again. Im also looking for a cab if u guys find a cab thats worth buying.

    • avatar
      Posted at 19:45h, 25 October

      Hello Johnny, yes, can do that. The first instance here to watch for gear is the ebay watch post: http://www.solodallas.net/the-ebay-post/

      Will go now on ebay and look out for stuff. GAS Alert! 🙂

      • avatar
        Posted at 20:10h, 25 October

        Posted some findings there. General rules: look for 2203, 2204, 1959, 1987 models from mid to late 70s. Be critical. Go only for unmodded amps, wheneber possible. Ask for photos from inside the amp/cab to get an impression of its worrking state. Check Serial numbers for production dates.
        Same goes for the cabinets, 70s cabinet with either G12-25(Greenbacks) or G12-65s, your choice. Discuss it here with us 🙂

        • avatar
          Posted at 21:01h, 01 November

          if you want highway to hell sound G12-65’s right?

  • avatar
    Posted at 21:05h, 24 October

    hey angus rudd, i really like highway to hells tone but it said 2203 and 2204 were used, im not sure what the difference between the two is and which one i should go with. What would u suggest. I also loved the black ice live sound. Any idea as to what they used. Fil also nailed the powerage tone with his covers, he used a 2203 right?

    • avatar
      Posted at 21:52h, 24 October

      2203 and 2204 have basically the same sound, the 2203 is a 100 watter and has more headroom. The Powerage tone was done with 2203, yes. For the Black Ice live sound a modern 1959 or a Wizard amp would fit.

      • avatar
        Posted at 22:18h, 24 October

        I personally like the Powerage tone the best

  • avatar
    Posted at 19:38h, 24 October


    Yes it is the schaffer vega receiver !
    Golders green concert

    • avatar
      Posted at 21:49h, 24 October

      Yes, cool finding! Will put that in the “Find the SVDS” posting, thanks

  • avatar
    Posted at 16:12h, 24 October

    Hey Fil, im new to the site and was wondering what type of marshall head and cab i should buy to get the definitive acdc tone. Marshall 2203, 2204, 1959, im not really experienced in the amp field so if you can give me a link to something for sale on ebay or anywhere else id really appreciate it. Also, do you know what amps were used on the black ice tour? I seen it 5 times and absolutely loved angus’s guitar sound.

  • avatar
    Posted at 18:30h, 21 October

    thought the G12-65 appeared the first time in 1979?!?!?

    True or not?



  • avatar
    Posted at 22:48h, 20 October

    My brain is almost unable to comprehend this epicness..! What we’ve got here is a gut-twisting-in-your-face tone from the roaring marshall and a guitarist who knows how to employ it. Thanks Fil, for this cover! I’m looking forward to seeing more covers in the near future!

  • avatar
    Posted at 18:16h, 20 October


    A little too much highs on your JMP but stunning work Fil!!!

  • avatar
    Posted at 07:05h, 20 October

    Great job Fil, especially on the solo. Your fingers were flying! It’s amazing how how you keep the timing spot on and play with great feeling too.

    Where did you have the knob on your X10 transmitter? I know the T77 distorts rather quickly once you turn the dial past the “3 o’clock” position. It’s a delicate balance between the transmitter, receiver, and amp settings and like you said, you can get really different results with just a few slight turns of some knobs.

    • avatar
      Posted at 08:04h, 20 October

      Thanks mate. Well actually, once modified for guitar use, the T77 could/should be very close to the SVDS, and one should be able to move the knob all the way up. Which is how I keep it with the guitar-SVDS all the time: all the way up! Keeping it this way – says the manual (the original manual!) also does help to lower hiss.

      • avatar
        Posted at 07:19h, 21 October

        Ah, that’s really interesting. I always thought it would be best to have the transmitter backed off a bit and the receiver cranked all the way up. Does the VU meter on your SVDS get pinned to the right in the red area with the Tx turned all the way up?

        I’m borrowing my brother’s R42 and T77 but when I turn the knob on the Tx past 3:00 o’clock, the hiss increases significantly and the distortion is too harsh. I have to turn the preamp and mv down to 3 on my 2204.

        Another thing I found odd, as the 9-volt battery runs low on power, I lose lots of distortion! The volume is still the same, but the gain is way down. in fact, I barely move the VU meter on R42 with a low battery. I put in a new battery and everything sounds great. The VU meter on the R42 averages somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, peaking in the red area when I increase the guitar volume knob to 10.

        Keep up the great work, Fil!


        • avatar
          Posted at 11:42h, 21 October

          haha, that`s interesting 🙂
          I have the mv and the pre on three as well ! I use the Marshall Bluesbreaker pedal wich is a clean boost and it is almost all the way up and do i turn the mv and the pre more up, then it will get muddy and harsh, it disturbs the sound.

  • avatar
    Posted at 23:24h, 18 October

    Fil, can you do me a favor? I almost fell in love with your ’93 SG korina in the metro session. That guitar sounds kick-ass! Would you please let us hear that guitar in one of you future performances again? That would be awesome 😛

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:05h, 18 October

    Fil, although “all” has been said already about this, I’ll chip in as well then: I salute you!! Great cover of a kick a** rock ‘n roll song!!


  • avatar
    Neurotic Nick
    Posted at 22:10h, 17 October

    Aw man, you took the tailpiece off :0.

  • avatar
    Posted at 19:54h, 17 October

    All i can say is this: I admire you as a guitar player and your approach to the music (special to ac/dc music)!!!
    I play in one AC/DC tribute band for years as lead guitarists and I check this your site time to time and i’m impressed with this riff raff work of yours, really great job!!!
    Salute from Slovenia and keep on rockin’!!!

  • avatar
    Posted at 18:22h, 16 October

    Fil, bro, your latest videos are truly amazing. Tone wise and all… The funny thing is, checking the old tutorial for “Gone Shooting”, beside the fact that I loved back then the “old sound” now it seems, let say, “simple” in comparison with this one. Amazing!

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