Angus Young’s Guitar Style: It’s PHYSICAL

09 Feb Angus Young’s Guitar Style: It’s PHYSICAL

I remember telling myself (and everyone I talk to about this, been years) how I always though Angus’ guitar style was physical.

This struck me as an evident truth when I got better at it. It still strikes me when I have to play lead (try to) like his lead solo on “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” posted the other day. If you look at the beginning of the solo, there is a major (in terms of, intense) bend there, done on the D string. I am sure that that is how he did it on the album. It’s a freaking tough job and it’s completely physical.

Why am I underlining this a-gain? Because not only Angus does it this way, and it’s a proven fact (and an acknowledged one: please watch both videos below) but also, I think personally (this is just ME!) that THIS is the way that a guitar should be played. At least, a rock and roll/blues guitar. Timing and physical approach (which things are bound together). You that are reading this, never forget about this.


It won’t only help you to replicate better your beloved AC/DC sound and tunes: it will help you to be a better musician. I have no doubts about this.


By being physical though, don’t think for a split second that he’s not in complete control of it: he is controlling his body and mind constantly. Hence the sweat. There’s no relaxation when playing like this. It’s pure energy, and it is what will hit you as a listener.

Do not believe in relaxed performances. Controlled yes (in terms of being concentrated on what you do; not in terms of playing like a fucking robot!!!).

I am still often called an idiot (current youtube comments on my older “Getting the AC/DC sound” a video that made almost half million views(!); I still “move to much”, make too many faces, ugly ones etc.). But every single time I check on those who are so aggressive at me and try to see how THEY play, well… not much there 🙂

I just don’t care. I used to react to this a lot worse than I am now (recently), as it would literally ignite me (laughs). As time goes by – and I am more self assured of my own skills as a musician – I tend to care less and less.

I invite you to do just the same and play with your whole body. You will feel naked and lost at first, in time, it will come to you and you will entertain anyone with your guitar playing.



Fil 🙂


If you wanna learn guitar then this is your man! If you’re trying to learn English then you’d be well advised to pick someone (even anyone) else lol.

Rob (AR2619Rob)

And err so, I always thought the SG was a lighter guitar cos you could just pick it up like this (shows how), See…..um…….well what I suppose people of an average, medium height can just sort of bend it…..
but when they bend it, they just sort of bend the string, you know (demonstrates crap) but with me it’s like I’ve gotta sort of go (demonstrates Godlike!) You know you have to sort of lean…lean into it you know lol. And a lot of people when you’re playing on stage, a lot of people say it’s a lot of movement but it’s actually me trying to get around the fret-board, you know. (Demonstrates double-stop bends) It’s just, I suppose, a thing of nature when you’re playing live, you know, and sometimes it’s the movement itself, you know, that actually helps you get the note, or you think, you know, you think of ways of trying to.. well you think I’ve gotta get that note, and how am I gonna get it out…. and like with myself, your knees sort of crunch up together and you just sort of go (demonstrates) lol’s it’s almost like a virgin there.
You know, if you had to get an effect or something, you would think of something that you could do with a guitar, like if you’ve heard the song Jailbreak, like, in the middle there’s a guitar break with the vocal thing, you know when Bon, he was singing and eh, you know he would do this ‘heartbeat’ thing, and then he would go ‘spotlight’ (demonstrates vibrato) you know, you make a rude noise and then you get ‘sirens’ you know and ‘rifles’ firing so you got that…. you would try and think of a thing, where, how to do it on the guitar without it sounding like somebody had put an effect on…and we always though it was better too because you were thinking about what you were doing.
You try to do what’s there off the record but I think …. we’re lucky in the form that we got little breaks and stuff that you can play and it’s just years of playing that you’ve built up between you and an audience. You get, I dunno, I suppose from the early days picking up things, you would watch somebody like Chuck Berry, and he always had little raps going on with an audience, you know he’d go ALLAY (allez if your French, lol, Rob) and the audience would go allay! (repeats) He’d just go like this (hand to ear) and the audience would respond, so I would try and do it with, well I thought Chuck can do it and maybe I can do it with the guitar. (Demonstrates how to build it up).
Well Malcolm and myself was, you know we would…….. I got it mainly from watching him, you know he was always sort of (demonstrates) and if you hear a track like one of the new ones, Stiff Upper Lip (plays riff)
As a kid I would sit and, I thought I was oh so clever you see, I thought I could sit and knock these little things together, and you were thinking it was a good exercise for me and you could sort of practise away with them, you know and even in the track Thunderstruck it was the same thing, it came up like a… it started like a one handed… so it started that way (demonstrates) and then you would end up (demonstrates two handed)
We used to have a funny thing, it used to seem after 6 o’clock at night when the sun went down or whatever time the sun would go down…was when suddenly it’s a bit vampire(y) in a way lol, the sound would start to fall into place. What sounded like, you know, a shambles in the morning sounded like something very together at night.


Hyce suggested that we watch this, and we do (thanks Hyce!).

Some physical playing and ugly faces right there for ya

Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

  • avatar
    Posted at 18:40h, 18 December

    Fil, I’m new to the site and just now read your post. I know exactly what you mean about getting physical. I’ve met and watched countless guitarists who are some of the most low-key, well-mannered, composed people…but when they pick up their favorite guitars and get after it, they transform! It’s like they have an alter-ego; many performers even notice it within themselves. It’s a bit like a kid who has to toe the line all day at school, but when that last bell rings, look out! All that pent-up energy has to go somewhere. Why not take it out on something that can positively respond?
    I think the jumping around and the face-making you mentioned are pretty much inevitable when playing guitar, especially anything Angus Young. This has always been what appeals so much to me about his playing. You can’t help but feel it–it goes into the ears and the brain and into every fiber of my being and just moves me. No one sounds quite like him (although you come within a hair’s breadth of it) and no one can quite explain that special something he has, but it’s undeniable. It will work its mojo on you.
    Some novice or wanna-be players make the faces and do the theatrics, but I can tell your movement and expressions are genuine. You are in that ZONE. Don’t ever get miffed about the naysayers. You are doing it right! 🙂
    I love your site, by the way. Discovered you purely by accident via YouTube. It was serendipity! Best to you.

  • avatar
    Posted at 11:56h, 17 July

    Hello. I’m not sure where to ask about this so I try here.

    We are having a discussion over at the acdcfans.net forum about how angus plays his part during the first verse of who made who.
    Does any body have an idea?

    Thanks in advance.

  • avatar
    Posted at 10:55h, 03 April

    I have a quick question just regarding the tuning on some of the albums that were not recorded in standard tuning, what tuning is it because I went down to E flat and that seemed to be too low, is it somewhere in the middle? I have just been tuning down until the string note matches the note I hear on the record but I would just like to know what this tuning actually is?

    • avatar
      Posted at 11:59h, 03 April

      427hz rings a bell?

      im not actualy sure but i know it aint that much different, all off them seems to be different too 😛

      • avatar
        Posted at 12:06h, 03 April

        no it doesn’t seem much different from standard does it, when I tuned down to the live at river plate tuning it seemed to be like half way between Eb and E haha , my music theory knowledge is terrible so excuse me, yeah they do i agree i think back in black is in standard highway to hell is lower with others being different again

        • avatar
          Posted at 12:14h, 03 April

          when i use Guitar rig i just keep my guitar at standard tuning then on guitar rig adjust the backing track itself to the right tuning 🙂

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