Update: please note, this post now includes Angus Young’s “official” amplifier settings!
Please read below.
Time for the write up.
As I had said briefly earlier, it had been years that I heard of the Wizard amps. Who hasn’t (interested in AC/DC, that is)? Already a few years ago I had tried to purchase one, but I was refused it, as I think that time (maybe 6 years ago) production had ceased temporarily. Then it has started again. After watching several clips of the various AC/DC soundchecks and backstages of the recent AC/DC tour (Black Ice), I decided to research the “Wizard” thing a little more in detail and really got interested in their sound. I got in touch with Mr. Rick St. Pierre, who is current AC/DC amp tech and has been so for the last 20 years (at least) and talked briefly with him.
The first amp I bought was the Vintage Classic, as I was convinced that THAT was Angus’ amp. But Mr. St. Pierre has also told me Angus uses the Modern Classic, which may even be an amp that Black Ice has been recorded with (NO confirmation from Mr. St. Pierre: only my suppositions). So I bought the Modern Classic as well. Payed in full, I get no discounts naturally or special prices: I am still a nobody and always will.
Several people are asking me right now what I think of these. Which is why I am recording with them (and will do a whole lot more in the following days).
They DO sound great. They have a similar tone one to the other, specifically the Modern Classic seems to be able to reproduce the sound of the Vintage Classic very well. While the Vintage Classic basically has one sound, the Modern Classic has a lot more possibilites.
I’ll say this again: these amplifiers sound (to me) like super Marshalls. Like a Marshall you had always wanted yours to sound like, precisely. RAW, terrific. As you play them, the feeing is of it being a “clean sounding amp”. But the sound recorded is always freaking dirty and raw. Impressive feeling, needs time to get accustomed to.
Mr. St. Pierre also emailed me the exact Angus’ settings for both amps(!), and I think I can share these with you freely. Starting with the Vintage Classic. Let me tell you that the Vintage Classic amount of drive is low; I think there’s less drive on a Vintage Classic than on a real Marshall 1959! But the tone is to die for. So here’s are Angus’ settings for the complete Black Ice tour on the Vintage Classic (which I suspect was the REAL amp most or a large part of the tour was played on):
Wizard Vintage Classic 100
These are not very far from what we already knew and played around with, but these are 100% accurate and coming from a reliable source. I think these are the REAL settings Angus mostly plays at.
In the studio, there can always be exceptions to this when one is looking for a specific sound, so this is NOT the bible. But I think it IS the starting point for everything Angus related of ANY era.
Mr. St. Pierre has also mentioned to me that Angus is using a Shure wireless unit, and that such unit is usually run “hot”, meaning – I am sure – that there is still a boost involved somewhere (either TX or RX). But rather transparent, as opposed to our beloved Schaffer-Vega Diversity System (that remains my favorite of all times).
I have used in this video in fact the SVDS for both rhythm and solo. More bland on the rhythm, just mild boost, while definitely hotter boost on the solo. Same amp settings!