GUI­TAR GI­ANTS An­gus and Mal­colm Young

Jamie Humphries lays bare the dev­as­tat­ing rhythm, riff and lead styles of the hottest sib­ling act in rock his­tory. Move over Ray and Dave, Noel and Liam, Justin and Dan… here come The Brothers Young!

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

They’re the hottest sib­ling act in rock his­tory! Jamie Humphries ex­plores the killer play­ing style of the Brothers Young!

How­ever good you re­call that in­fa­mous group of Aussie/Glaswe­gian/Ge­ordie mis­cre­ants AC/DC as be­ing, whack on Back In Black and re­coil in amaze­ment at how bril­liant they re­ally are. It’s as­ton­ish­ing the level of power, tight­ness, ex­cite­ment and sheer mu­si­cal­ity this bunch of guys man­ages to con­vey. And de­spite re­cent up­heavals due to ill­ness and other trou­bles, they are out on the road again with Axl Rose fronting, Chris Slade (back) on drums, and the Youngs’ nephew Ste­vie re­plac­ing Mal­colm on gui­tar.

While the band’s lin­eage is clearly rock and roll and blues, they are also cred­ited with pi­o­neer­ing heavy me­tal. How­ever you de­fine them, they sit along­side the very best gui­tar acts in his­tory, the meld­ing of Mal­colm’s rhythm and riff­ing with An­gus’s fiery leads pro­vid­ing the mu­si­cal plat­form from which song af­ter hit song has sprung.

The brothers formed AC/DC in 1973, and af­ter sev­eral line-up changes set­tled with singer Bon Scott, Phil Rudd on drums and bassist Mark Evans. In 1975 they re­leased High Volt­age, fol­low­ing up with Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be (con­tain­ing the clas­sic Whole Lotta Rosie). Bassist Cliff Williams re­placed Mark Evans and in ’78 the band re­leased Pow­er­age.

AC/DC’s break­through came in 1979 when the five-piece was put to­gether with le­gendary rock pro­ducer Mutt Lange for their best re­lease so far, the land­mark High­way To Hell. The re­sults of this Gib­son and Gretsch-fu­elled on­slaught shot the band into rock’s top ranks, but just a year later tragedy struck when singer Bonn Scott died af­ter a heavy drink­ing bout. They con­sid­ered call­ing it a day, but in­stead re-emerged with ex-Ge­ordie singer Brian John­son at the mic, re­leas­ing the finest al­bum of their ca­reer thus far, the awe­some Back In Black. This sem­i­nal rock record reached #1 in the UK and went on to sell more than 22 mil­lion copies in the USA alone. For Those About To Rock We Salute You proved al­most as suc­cess­ful, but dur­ing the ’80s the group’s pop­u­lar­ity di­min­ished. Drum­mer Phil Rudd was re­placed by Chris Slade (Rudd later re-joined but Slade is now back on kit).

With the 90s came a rock resur­gence, and with it AC/DC’s re­in­state­ment at the top of the pile. The band has con­tin­ued to re­lease hugely suc­cess­ful albums, and has now out­sold The Beatles in the US, mak­ing them one of the big­gest acts in mu­sic his­tory. Such albums as The Ra­zor’s Edge, Fly On The Wall, Who Made Who and 2008’s amaz­ing re­turn to form Black Ice, prove what an un­stop­pable force this band is. Add the sound­track to the movie Iron Man 2 and 2014’s world­wide smash Rock Or Bust, this time with An­gus and Ste­vie Young on six-string du­ties, what­ever hap­pens next their legacy re­mains solid gold.

AC/DC’s orig­i­nal sound comes from the per­fect pair­ing of An­gus on lead gui­tar and Mal­colm on rhythm. Mal­colm makes uses of open-po­si­tion voic­ings and slash chords, dis­play­ing a phe­nom­e­nal sense of tim­ing and groove – he knows in­stinc­tively what, and what not to play. An­gus pun­ishes his Gib­son SG with quick-fire licks, rapid vi­brato and per­fectly ex­e­cuted sin­gle-string lines – all de­liv­ered in trade­mark school uni­form. They dis­play a great balance of phys­i­cal aban­don, tech­ni­cal ac­cu­racy and mu­si­cal in­tegrity.

If you study the fol­low­ing rhythm and lead parts it will help you to work out AC/DC songs and so­los much more eas­ily, as you’ll be ac­quainted with the thought pro­cesses in­volved. We’ll in­clude ideas from both An­gus and Mal­colm, and will give you an in­sight into their very in­di­vid­ual ap­proaches. To round things off there’s an AC/DC-in­spired piece that makes use of the tech­niques cov­ered in this les­son. I hope you enjoy our jour­ney down un­der, up over… and be­yond!

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