14 Jun Flick Of The Switch – Gear Uncovered
Hi again, long time to post something but I feel that it is the right period..
Until now in general terms or maybe in very specific terms we discovered bits and pieces of how to get close of AC/DC sound.
We know the guitars and amps, almost the cabinets. This period the most of us keep searching about what is the spice in Angus sound and specifically about the wireless that he used..
After a lot of thinking I realised that I have to go back to all my previous searches and spent time to discover any small details that I can find..
I have to tell you that my favourite albums tonewise are Powerage, Flick of the Switch and Back In BLack.
From these three the easier to copy tonewise is Powerage.
The most dificult to copy is Back In Black.. Too polished sound because of the EQuing.. So this is not for the average bedroom players.. It needs the right gear and extensive knowledge of mic placements and Equing.
So what is it all about FOTS sound?? For my ears is a raw version of BNB. After reading some books I found out that FOTS was recorded at Bahamas just like BNB.. The production in FOTS was made by Angus and Malcolm and their aim was to produce a raw in your face sound..
For me they achieved it.
Anyway I believe that BNB is a Classic, way beyond anything in comparison. I started listening AC/DC because of this album..
But to be honest the most favourite ones, are Powerage and FOTS, each for another reason.
My search concentrated in the AC/DC’s rehearsals that made in order to produce the video clips to support FOTS album. When I started listen to the rehearsal takes, I realised that the album sound is all there.. I mean that there is no PLAYBACK in these takes, there are all live takes straight from their gear. Each take is played differently from the others, but the album sound IS ALL THERE…
Therefore I thought that this is the best place to start my research.. If this live sound is so identical with the album’s, why not to take some notes and try to imitate it… I have to say at this point that to check all these takes, second by second it was really time consuming.
BUT….. I discovered so many things that I believe that they will repay your time reading the rest of the article…Enjoy
These live takes took place in October 05, 1983 at The Caravan, Los Angeles CA, USA.
AC/DC at this period were, Brian Johnson – lead vocals, Angus Young – lead guitar, Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar, Cliff Williams – bass, Simon Wright – drums.
The place, that these tracks were recorded, looks like an empty building.
The member’s of the band made a circle so they could look each other when they played. Their equipments also were laid opposite each member..
THE SONGS There were recorded 13 takes of totally 5 songs,
– Guns For Hire (7 takes)
– Rising Power (1 take)
– Messin With The Kid (1 take)
– Flick Of The Switch (1 take)
– Nervous Shakedown (3 takes)
lets explain it clock wise from 12.00.
There are Angus amps and cabs, in the right is a Black box (in front of this box is his guitar stand containing two guitars), then there are two small boxes, on blue drawer with its front door open, then is a low height box that Angus use it as a coffee table, then a big box, then Simon’s drums, then Cliff’s amps and cabinets, then three big boxes, then Malcolm’s amps and cabinets, then two black boxes, then Brian’s low height box used as a coffee table, then 3 big boxes and one small one.. At this point one of the important things is to understand and get a view of how their set up was arranged and have a clear vision in order to understand the forthcoming findings..
Also to be easier for You to cross check them when You will watch the videos.. some photos to make even more clear, again starting clockwise 12.00,
1. Angus back.
2. Angus left hand side, drums and general view
3. Cliff’s side
4. Malcolm’s side
5. Brian’s side
6. General View
This is the easy part.. Both brothers used the same guitars in all takes .
Malcolm used his beloved Gretsch .
Angus used a Gibson SG standard 1979-1981 model. This guitar was equipped from factory with Super Humbucker pickups.. the output of the pickups are around 7,5 Kohm.
The guitars plug is on the side and not on the front of the SG.
Cliff used a headless Steinberger
Now here start the interesting part.
Each guitarist is having three marshall heads. two of them are the one above the other and the third one is alone.
– Malcolm: The two amps that are together are newer JMP’s 100w. I can’t tell if there are Lead or Bass amps.. They where not used for the sessions.
The third one is not a common amp.. after search I believe that it is custom made Marshall 2000 series amp.. This amp provides 200-300 watts and it was used in every track.
the following is the original version of 2000 series
– ANGUS: It took me some time to figure it out but it is clear now..
The two amps that are together they were not used in the sessions. These amps were
1. newer JMP Non Master Volume 50 watt on top
2. newer JMP Master Volume 100 watt on bottom
the rear side of them
3. The amp that stands alone is a newer JMP Master Volume 100 watt. It was used in all the recordings
and the rear side
check http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ_MIdm27e8 from 0:32 sec to 0:40 sec
Young brothers used for this session 2 cabinets each..
Until now we all knew that AC/DC used most commonly low wattage speakers like G12m25.
When I searched the videos, I found out that all the cabs in their left bottom corner have a metal gold plate.
It made me curious what this Gold plate means.. I knew that 70’s cabinets dont have a plate and this was placed from JCM (800) period and afterward.
So the obvious question was what are these cabinets?
I went through all my books and staff and I found out the following,
– G12 m25 watt is first produced in 1968 and its production stops in 1978/ early 1979
– 1978/79- The G12M25 is replaced with the G12M65.
The 65 is very similar to the 25 in sound overall, but has a tighter bass, and a later breakup. In the same period the G12H30 was replaced by the G12H80.
– From 1978 to 1983 the only available speakers were G12 65.
– From the beginning of JCM period (early 80’s),Marshall placed a metal Gold plate in their Cabinets, indicating JCM800 lead or JCM800 bass.
– In 1983 G12 65 was replaced from G12M70
– In 1985 G12 M70 was replaced from G12 T75.
– In 1989 G12M25 is re-issued
– In 1997 G12 H30 is re-issued
SO if we consider the following,
1. this session took place in early 1983
2. The Gold metal plates indicate JCM period in 1980’s.
3. At this timeframe the G12 65 were available and commonly used.
4. We have a photo document that Angus mixed a higher wattage speaker with a low wattage one, in early 1980.
5. There is no way that they used a G12M70 because it is known that unfortunately is was not a good speaker.
6. That if they wanted to use lower wattage speakers they could bring in the session cabinets of late 1970’s that they had available. (These cabinets dont contain a metal gold plates).
I strongly believe that both Angus and Malcolm used in this session Celestion G12 65 watt speakers.
OK….. now comes the FUN part….
Angus, Malcolm and Cliff are using wireless devices, except Brian.
So when I realised that, the obvious was to search for the devices…
– Malcolm’s device :
Check what it is on top of the 2000 series amp
too blurry?? ok check the following then,
not enough details?? check these then,
This is the Receiver of the wireless system.
It has ONE black antenna in the front plate and above the antenna is the cable plug that connects the RX and the amp.
It is not a diversity system.
This device has nothing in common with the look of a Schaffer Vega or a Cetec Vega R42 system.. It is different.
– Cliff’s device:
His wireless device sits on top of the amp.
The receiver is just behind Cliff
It is obvious that Cliff’s and Malcolm’s receivers are THE SAME. Same size and shape ( Black outer shell with silver frontplate).
This is the REAR side of the receiver, it the device on the far right in the picture,
SOS: In this photo there are a polymeter device on the far left, in the middle of the amp there is something that it seems like a spare transmitter (black) and on the right side is the receiver.
– Angus device
I could not find it.. I have searched the videos so many times but I could not spot it and be sure that THIS IS THE receiver.
To give You some more details..
There are three possible places were the receiver is,
– On top of the single amp (MV)
– On the black box behind the guitar stands (check sketch)
– Inside the Blue Drawer box in the left hand side of Angus and near his coffee table (check sketch)
In some videos there was not anything on top of the amp
in some other there was something in the right side of the amp
or in some others, there was something in the left side of the amp
It is funny but it wasnt so difficult to spot the Receivers of Malcolm and Cliff but searching for Angus receiver is like hunting a ghost..
The only photo that I can say that it might be a receiver is in the following,
In the far right side, above guitar’s headstock
But again I cant be sure..
Very important notice is that Malcolm’s transmitter has the same outer dimensions as Angus.
Angus TX is hidden inside a leather cover
Malcolms Tx is on a black leather cover with the controls uncovered
To summarise all the new findings,
– Malcolm is using a custom Marshall 2000 series amp and for backup two 4-holer JMP’s (lead or bass series)
– Angus is using a 100 watt Marshall JMP Master Volume and for backup one 50 watt JMP NMV and one 100 watt JMP MV.
– Both Angus and Malcolm use 4×12 cabinets with gold metal tags.. The speakers inside them, most probably are G12 65
– Cliff and Malcolm are using the same type of wireless receiver. The receivers are set just behind them for stronger signal.
– The wireless systems dont have any similarities in look with a Schaffer Vega or a Cetec.
Now after all this search some questions arised to me..
. Why Angus RX (receiver) is not in the same place just like the others, (constantly on top of his amps)?
. Why someone is constantly moving or placing things on top of Angus amp?
. Why Angus gear is set in distance in comparison of the others? In this a have a possible answer, to hide the fact that Angus is using a Master Volume amp that it is easily can be found and buy.
If You compare the official videos of the songs, You will find that all the scenes show only the group and there is a little on none scenes that show their gear.. I think that this is made intentionally.
For the end I will show a photo that will give us food for further thinking,
There are 4 amps Marshall JMP Master Volume models and one in the far left side that it seems like a 2000 series
This photo was taken in a live show on March 1982 for FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK tour…
Thank You for spending your time reading all this.. I hope that it was entertaining for You.