AC/DC guitarists and brothers Angus and Malcolm Young get their famous tone from two remarkably simple rigs. Lead guitarist Angus plays a Gibson SG into a Marshall stack with no effects pedals. Rhythm guitarist Malcolm plays a Gretsch “Firebird” into a Marshall stack, also with no effects. The AC/DC sound is powerful, punchy and raw. The Peavey Vypyr 15 is a 15-watt modelling amplifier. You can emulate the AC/DC sound, but not the volume, using the modelling presets as a starting point.
Connect an instrument cable to your guitar and connect the other end directly to the “Input” jack on your Peavey Vypyr. Don’t plug into any effects pedals. The classic AC/DC tone relies on as clean a signal as possible. Even when in bypass mode, effects pedals influence the tone of your guitar.
Turn the “Master Volume” dial down to “0.” Never turn the amp on at full volume; this can result in unexpected and potentially damaging bursts of volume. Turn the amplifier on.
Turn the “Amp” dial, located at far left, to “Classic.” This is a preset that emulates classic tones. While it’s not immediately reminiscent of the AC/DC sound, it’s a useful starting point because it is relatively neutral.
Turn the “Effects” dial to “Bypass.” Each amp setting has default effects that automatically kick in. Bypassing turns them off. Angus and Malcolm don’t use effects, and neither should you if you want their legendary tone.
Dial the “Pre Gain” parameter to about 60 percent. Angus and Malcolm’s Marshall amps run at half-volume, which prevents their sound from getting too dirty. You need to drive the Peavey Vypyr a little harder because it doesn’t have the characteristic power of a Marshall stack.
Turn the “Low” dial to about 60 percent. This controls the bass frequencies. You need a relatively powerful bass presence to add weight and punch to your chords, especially if you’re playing songs such as “Back in Black” or “Highway to Hell.”
Turn both the “Mid” and “High” to between 70 and 80 percent. Although it’s heavy, the AC/DC guitar sound is characterized by its brightness. The introduction to “Thunderstruck” is a prominent example of the bite and edge the Young brothers kick out with their tone.
Set the “Post Gain” dial to about 40 percent. This parameter increases the strength of the signal as it leaves the amplifier. It may be tempting to go for a saturated sound by dialing this high, but that wouldn’t be authentic -- you would lose some of the punch.
Gradually increase the “Master Volume” dial to a level suitable for your environment.
Use your bridge pickup for a fuller sound.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.