Angus Young’s Cabinets and Speakers

02 Oct Angus Young’s Cabinets and Speakers

(please note: this post is a follow up on previous Marshall JMP 100).

Update as of Mon, Oct the 4th: our friend headwhop26 posted info from a reliable source stating the following:

The Youngs’ Marshall 4×12 cabinets have feature a range of Celestion speakers. Early on they were loaded with original G12M Greenbacks, or very often, the firmer, bolder, more efficient G12H-30s. Throughout the ’90s, the brother tended to use Celestions more contemporary Vintage 30 speaker, first in evidence on the 2000 album Stiff Upper Lip, although both have often returned to reissues of the G12H-30 and the Greenback in more recent years.

Update as of Sat Oct the 2nd: I have played more with the non slanted cabinet with the vintage 30s in, and – on closer listening and rather more in depth experimentation (volume at multiple levels, low and high pre-amp values, every possible turn of presence/bass/mid/treble) I have to say I am unimpressed (Back in Black wise!) with it.

So I switched to the slanted, 1969 (dated) Marshall 4×12 with original greenbacks in it, the difference blew me away.

What is particularly interesting is the roaring G chord, as played several times on that album by both brothers: you hear those angels coming down: completely different frequency response, touch, tone, everything.

Impressive bass/middle and treble response, in a completely different world in comparison with the vintage 30s.

I am tempted to say that these were the speakers used by Angus on most of the record, but I will wait on the other cabinet(s) loaded with G12H30 (30 watts instead of 25 watts, plus other differences that I am not yet aware of and couldn’t comment anyway).

I tried recording it with the poor microphone I had in the laboratory but the outcome was a disaster, therefore I will wait until I have a better microphone.

I feel refreshed, lighter. While playing I was in heaven. I played almost every one of my SGs and each one struck some interesting memories of the album and other albums as well. Im-press-ive is what I can say. I don’t think any description of the tone/sound would help us in any way, other than stating that I feel I am very, very close if not right there with what Angus must have sounded like in the studio room.

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This is a whole different matter, and it still “matters” a lot, to attain the proper “tone”.

Since I told you I am extremely serious at getting as close as possible to the right AC/DC tone of the mid to late ’70s, I am doing some research and some more shopping.

It’s one of those things that you are able to do when you’re a bit older, like I am now 😛 (if you consider that I had my first Marshall amp and my first real Gibson when I was 23 years old – circa 20 years ago… I couldn’t afford it previously).

Information on Angus’ speakers used in the mid to late ’70s (and why not, 1980!) is to say the least, scarce.

It says here that

As for amps, Young has been equally faithful to Marshall, but has run the gamut of this amp maker’s models through the course of his career, from the JTM45 with which a lot of his recorded work is associated, to JTM50s and JMP50s, to the multiple-stacks of big custom JMP100s that are often used live. And, to bring us back to the point I made at the start of this piece, he always sounds like Angus Young. On the enormous stages upon which the AC/DC live show takes place these days it’s usually impossible to see exactly which amp model he is using, but it’s encouraging to the rest of us to know how completely a player can make just about any rig their own. Angus has gigged and recorded mostly through Celestion speakers over the years, preferring G12H-30s for a time, and using Vintage 30s in more recent years, with a cab load of G12M Greenbacks thrown in now and then for good measure.

That “preferring G12H-30s for a time” rang a bell, in hope that it is referring to the older times (I believe this may be the case). As it’s the only type I don’t have right now – I have a non slanted 4×12 Marshall cabinet with Vintage 30s in (a reissue), but vintage 30s are 60 watts and were not available in 1980 (thanks SGace for this information). I also have a slanted Marshall 4×12 with original G12M Greenbacks (25 watts) from 1969 to try with this head (the 100 watt Marshall JMP Master Volume) but I wanted to try the whole palette of speakers, so I pulled the trigger on a 1973 non slanted 4×12 Marshall with G12H30 speakers (30 watts) inside:


1977cab2That “speakers matter” is fairly complicated, it’s well documented in general but extremely fragmented, so I understand I have to go by ear.

The objective is, to get the right amount of bass, mids and top end in the right balance, with the right amp and so on and forth.

From where I am now – Rome, Italy – there are very few opportunities to go to places and try stuff, it’s simply not happening here. So, I have to purchase equipment, then try, then decide.

Unfair, but I sense the reward – the personal satisfaction for this – may be really high, after all these years.

As usual, you have all been invaluable with pretty good information. Always feel free to add your own input.

Fil 😉

Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

  • avatar
    Posted at 11:03h, 13 January

    My cabinet is an model 1982 and it has a back plate reading about 120 watts which should indicate it is 30 watt ”Blackbacks” ( = GH12 Celestions), i was told it was meant in 1979 and some people says that the newer speakers arrived at 1979-1980 but it could have been that 30 watt speakers were installed early in 1979 or that they tried to sell away those they had left before begining to sell the new speakers?

    I have tried to identify the speakers by watching pictures of differences between blackbacks and G12-65s and 25 watt greenbacks and it seems that viewing from the grill with a flashlight, it should be the first mentioned speakers, haven’t removed the panel from the back to see the code as of yet so i can’t be sure though.

    They don’t break up as much as Greenbacks i think, i gotta crank them a bith higher it seems to get speaker breakup, they have a great ACDC kind of tone imo, they are said to not become ”mushy” when cranked up unlike 25 watt greenbacks and doesn’t seem to have higher bass frequenses dispite that they should have larger magnet.

    I have only cranked the amp up to ten on two times and only for less than a minute each time because of the enourmus decibels they give(to loud for my house really lol) but it seems they sound just better and better the higher your crank them naturaly ofcourse, and it doesn’t seem they become mushy or muddy when cranked, though i haven’t been able to tell that so far 🙂

    Sounds great though, great speakers i could really recommend equally as much as greenbacks who also sounds just as great! 🙂

    I think i’ve seen from pictures on the High Watt article that Cliff Williams have had those large 1979 4×15 cabs(square cabinets in early 70s i think), they’re big!

    Those are speaker cabinets Lemmy himself have used from what i’ve read 😀

  • avatar
    Posted at 03:42h, 13 January

    Fil I have a 2204 head and a standard 1960a cab but i want to replace the speakers with greenbacks or G12-65s which one would be a better match with the head ? plz help

  • avatar
    Posted at 23:34h, 12 January

    Remember marshall’s 4×12 cabinets 260watts (g12-65) didn’t arrive stock until the year 1980. They were named 1935A and 1935B. I do not think Angus nor Malcolm used them either on Highway to hell -or the Back in Black album 🙂 Experimenting and mixing with other speakers in 4x12s from the 70s is possible :/

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:49h, 20 October

    I have three 4×12 cabs (one slanted and two straight) with different speakers. I don’t have a genuine 4×12 Marshall cab with ’68 Pre Rola Greenbacks but I feel the best and more balanced cab for “that” AC/DC tone is my straight 4×12 Marshall with X pattern 2x12G12M (from 90’s) and 2x12G12H-30 Heritage. Sound is beautifully crunchy, punchy, clear but with some additional air thanks to the G12H-30. The old G12H-30 were certainly softer and a little bassy (LF version 55hz), in fact the were conceived as bass speakers. Hendrix probably used them extensively :))
    Anyway, to my ears, I feel that nowadays 4xG12H-30 speakers in a cab might be a little dry and harsh until you have broken them and played for a year or longer.
    G12H-30 70th Anniversary speakers are totally different animals… I don’t like them very much… They are a sort of spikey V30 more than an actual G12H…
    In the end, for a very vintage 70’s sound if you don’t have too much money to grab on the real thing, I highly recommend this combination! :))))

    Let there be Rock! \m/

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:58h, 20 October

      Thanks for parting your experiences here. Maybe its also interesting what Fil (and Members SGACE and JaiminhoPagina) found out about Angus’ usage of G12H65 speakers. See here for example: http://www.solodallas.net/acdcs-riff-raff-studio-version-schaffer-vega-diversity-series/

      • avatar
        Posted at 18:22h, 20 October

        Uhm…. It’s a little strange for me… I prefer greenbacks all the way 🙂
        I don’t think Angus used G12-65… Anyway… Fil could play with everything and the result always nails perfection! 😉

        • avatar
          Posted at 18:29h, 20 October

          That’s what I thought too (“always Greenbacks”), but it really seems to be different 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 22:56h, 20 July


    Let me know when you play through the cab with g12h30s because I’m buying a custom cab. I have a choice of a greenback, vintage 30, g12h30, and g12t75. Anyone’s opinion on the g12h30 would be much obliged. I have read many forums and it sounds like the g12h30 is the speaker for back in black and earlier, but I don’t know.

  • avatar
    Posted at 16:54h, 08 May

    I have recently brought an 1980 Marshall JMP 100 watt MKII head, and have found an 1979 year Marshall 4×12 with original blackbacks from same year, i’am linking the cab to show first, http://www.blocket.se/varmland/Marshall_4x12__Modell_1982__A___B_33297828.htm?ca=8&w=3 .
    ”Both boxes are from 1979 with Celestion G12H 30w in one of them and -74 creambacks in the other one which was swiched to latter.” (something like that). I asume the first mentioned speakers are the blackbacks, but i’am wondering if it’s a good choice, anyone knows if that’s great speakers? I rather don’t wanna use reissue cabs made by Marshall, prefer Vintage cabs but i currently need a cabinet. Since this one is for sale at a decent price, and since he mentioned it’s blackbacks in one of them, i’am wondering 🙂

    Should i go for the blackback cab? Appritiates any answer 🙂

    – Seb 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 20:12h, 13 October

    Not sure where to post this so move it if you like,
    Marshall Amps Info and schematic drawings.

  • avatar
    Posted at 07:13h, 02 October

    Nice cab. this is a 1982 model, with creambacks and 55hz. If it is possible give us information about the code in the chassis and the code inside the cone.. propable is the last year of pulsonic cones.

    • avatar
      Posted at 07:39h, 02 October

      I will. Not here yet George, being shipped (from the US of A). Hang on. I am also buying a black cabinet with G12H30s in it. This one is a 1976, slanted.
      All I could find for now.

      • avatar
        Posted at 08:45h, 02 October

        Why buying two cabs with g12h30 and not one with g12-65 to complete the palette?

        • avatar
          Posted at 08:59h, 02 October

          I’m assuming g12-65 may be similar to vintage 30s (both at 60w). The two cabs are similar – true – but not identical. Cloth is different, for example (BiB was recorded with the latter type). I know Angus said that the cloth as well had some influence.
          I’m trying to reduce the number of possible variables.

        • avatar
          Posted at 09:00h, 02 October

          PS the 1973 cabinet will also be useful for earlier AC/DC songs. Nothing gets trashed… all will be used for multiple projects in the spirit of solodallas.net 😀

      • avatar
        Posted at 22:19h, 20 August

        Hi FIL. What’s the best cabinet for you (who match the best acdc type tone with the 100w MV?) the slanted with g12m 25w or the straith cabinet with g12 h30 55hz who are more bassy?

  • avatar
    Posted at 06:54h, 02 October

    I built my own replica marshall cab, 4×12 with Vintage 30’s (60 watts) sounds pretty close to angus’s tone need a better head though.

  • avatar
    Posted at 03:43h, 02 October

    1st Comment!! Awesome!!! My Cab I play My 1987x through is a custom built (By Me) 2 x 12″ speaker cab. I have 1 Celestion Greenback(re-issue) and one Vintage 30 in it. Although not the perfect tone I get a very close, to my ears, Angus tone out of it. I know everybody can’t do that, but being a carpenter already made it easy for me. (For a pic of the cab her’s my YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/user/06AngusSG)

    I also built a new box for the head. I did the tolex coverings on both as well. Pain in the BUTT but worth it!!!

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