Few guitarist/electric guitar duos are more legendary than AC/DC's Malcolm Young and his trusty 1963 Gretsch Jet Firebird.
With two holes in its body – one in the center, a result of the installation and subsequent removal of a humbucker between the Firebird’s two Gretsch FilterTron pickups, and one below the neck, from the removal of the guitar's original neck pickup – the rough 'n' ready, single-pickup axe was emblematic of Young's tough, no-frills approach to rhythm guitar.
It's almost impossible to imagine the late AC/DC rhythm maestro recording without the guitar affectionally known as "the Beast," but exceptions to the rule – somewhat to Young's chagrin in this particular case – did occur in the AC/DC discography.
When asked by Guitar World (opens in new tab) in a recently-resurfaced 2003 interview if he exclusively used the Beast in AC/DC's recordings, Young had this to say:
"Yes. I think the only time I didn’t was when we recorded 'High Voltage.' My guitar had been broken, and we had to get the song down that night, so I just grabbed whatever was lying around the studio. I believe it was a Gibson L-5.
"To this day," he added. "I still hear that track and go, 'Ugh.' [laughs] But other than that it’s the Gretsch on everything."
Of course, Malcolm's brother Angus is just as synonymous with his guitar of choice, a cherry-red Gibson SG.
When asked (opens in new tab) in the same Guitar World interview if he had ever used anything else on an AC/DC recording, Angus said, "Actually, come to think of it there is one track – 'Live Wire' – that I did with another guitar because I had broken mine as well. I did an overdub with a Les Paul, I think."
Angus Young playing a Les Paul on record, you ask? Not so fast.
"Once my SG was fixed," Young clarified, "I just went out and recut it!"
Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.
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