How to Rock Like Angus Young

This is for all you AC/DC fans out there. Here is the most accurate guide out there on how to rock like Angus Young. This guide includes everything you need to know, from Angus' picking style, to his looks and his moves.


  1. Image titled Rock Like Angus Young Step 1
    First things first, this article is written assuming that you already know how to play the guitar. If you don't, see some other articles about purchasing a guitar and then learn the chords: A, D, E, E5 (which is meaner than plain old E) and G. With these you can cover the main riffs of many of AC/DC's classics, such as "Highway to Hell", "Back in Black", and "TNT".
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    Buy a Guitar. You don't need an expensive guitar to rock. But if you happen to be loaded, a Gibson SG '68 is the guitar that Angus Young plays. You can get these for around $1500-2500. If you can't afford an SG, try to find a guitar with Humbucking pickups: Single-coils won't get you his sound. Vintage style ("PAF") Humbuckers are ideal, so that's what you should look for. An ultra-modern pickup like EMG would be inappropriate when trying to copy Young's tone. Use your bridge pickup for most rhythm and lead playing. For a bluesier tone, use both pickups and turn down the tone knob to about 6 on the neck pickup.
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    You will also need an amp and a cable (except if you're serious, you want a transmitter and bookbag!) to connect the guitar to the amp. Angus uses vintage Marshall tube amps like JTM45s and old 50w Master Volumes. In shows, he uses the 100w Marshall heads at 6 for the type of gain, but for solos, he uses the 50w heads on 10 for the gain, but lower power to match the volume.
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    Use the pick like Angus. One of the most identifying features about Angus Young's style is the way he uses his pick. Use an extra heavy gauge pick. Hold the pick so that about the width of a pencil is showing on the bottom, and strike the strings fairly violently, but don't let them buzz.
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    Copy Angus' vibrato. He has a really strong left hand, it takes some practice to nail it. Put emotion into it, not like Clapton but don't play it like metal. His solos are very bluesy. His vibrato is not a back and forth usually (B.B. king), more of an up and down.
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    Don't crank the distortion on your amp. Angus leaves almost every knob on his amp set at 5, except when he occasionally turns the mids up to 6! His sound is surprisingly clean and dynamic. The sound has to be clear, but mean. If you are using a Fender amp, make sure you crank up the mids to make it sound more like a Marshall. A tube amp will have a more touch-sensitive feel and will cover the fine line between clean and dirty more easily than a solid-state amp ever will. A Peavey Classic 30 (or something similar) is a good way to go if you are short on cash. Angus doesn't use any distortion or boost pedals (even during solos) so avoid them if you want a truly authentic tone. Use a mild overdrive pedal (instead of distortion) if you must use one at all!
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    Solo in Pentatonic and Hexatonic. He's a blues man!
    • Before you start your solo at the beginning of "Thunderstruck" (or any other solo), raise your pick into the air as high as you can reach. Show off your weapon, the key that unlocks the vault of all great rock.
    • During any guitar solo of Angus', you will notice him doing one of his signature dances. But his most popular by far is the one where he lifts his heels into the air, keeping his toes on the ground. (For all of you marching band people, this is just like marking time.) Start with either you left or right foot, but once you start, continue in this sequence: Left, Left, Right, Right, Left, Left, Right, Right...and so on. (This is going to be hard for marching band people, who have it drilled into their heads to go Left, Right, Left, Right...) Angus makes this dancing look easy but it is incredibly difficult to do so while playing guitar. The fact that he never misses a single note in live concerts while doing spectacular stage stunts is a testament to his immense skill.
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    Get the hair. It is not necessary to grow your hair, but it adds to the whole, rock 'n' roll feel. But if you do, Be sure to swing your head around a lot and show off those gorgeous locks.
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    Movement. Also you're going to obviously learn how to duck walk for those awesome solos and don't forget to head bang, two with head up, two with head down (keep repeating this pattern). Another thing is to look your audience in the eyes and pull some great rockin' out faces. If you complete this through a whole song, if you did it right, you should be dripping with sweat.


  • Don't get mad if you mess up! Angus Young's signature "Spasm" move was invented when he tripped over a cable in the middle of a solo during a show...and kept playing!
  • Don't worry a whole lot if you don't sound like Angus on your first time, it takes practice.
  • Real tube Marshall amps are $3000 really fast. Good equipment combinations for rock can be assembled for far less money. Look at a low price amps like the Vox Valvetronix connected to equipment like a Little Big Muff distortion pedal with an additional Boost Pedal. That combination is really versatile and can produce a really nice rock (AC/DC) sound.
  • Get the schoolboy outfit with hat and tie for kicks not for live performances and Practice practice practice
  • Play the bottom of open chords, it makes it meaner.
  • If you find it hard to dance like him, make up your own style! If you ever get famous, people won't respect your copycat dancing.


  • Don't be too much like a copycat. Invent your own signature moves to go along with your new Angus style. Don't be afraid to experiment!
  • Don't crank the gain! Ever!

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Categories: Music Techniques