Learn to solo like… Angus Young (AC/DC)
PART 1 / 4 : Minor and major pentatonic scales
One of the key components in the music of AC/DC are the instantly recognizable, crazy guitar solos. Angus Young has got a few tricks he will constantly use to achieve this classic hard rock sound.
In part 1, we will look at the kind of scales Angus uses to improvise and write solos.
The most common scale used in rock (and in many more styles of music) is the minor pentatonic scale, which you probably already know. In many songs, Angus would often switch between the minor pentatonic and the major pentatonic, often at regular intervals (half a bar in major, half a bar in minor for example)
Let’s have a look at this lick using the G major and minor scales:
How to Solo like Angus Young
Now, let’s highlight the notes from the major pentatonic in pink and the notes from the minor pentatonic in blue:
To create licks following this kind of logic, we can take 2 pentatonic scales, one major and one minor, in the same area of the neck, and improvising using notes from either the major or the minor pentatonic. Here are the 2 positions the example above uses:
How To Play Lead Guitar Like Angus Young
TRUCKS TEDESCHI BAND
Live at Indigo2, 7 Nov 2015
Last night was exciting well before anyone walked onstage: three guitar amps, three mics for backing vocals and three for the wind section, full analogue keys corner (with a traverse flute hidden underneath), bass and TWO full drum kits welcomed us as we walked in to the Indigo2.
The venue was perfect for the night, brand new in every practical way (space-age sound desk, perfect lighting and contactless payment at the bar) but legitimately “old school” in spirit with equally priced floor tickets only differentiated by how keen the holders were to push to the front and how little deodorant they chose to wear; we got to the third row but still used binoculars to get full fretboard-level detail.
Derek Trucks & Susan Tedesch
We could spend all night debating who was the best musician in the band but, while all are virtuosos in their own right, each of them had plenty of space to perform (and wail), not an easy task with twelve musicians of that skill on stage. The sax solos did stand out though (particularly as I am not a fan of wind instruments) and were like nothing I’ve heard in terms of dynamic range, note choice and tone which ranged from a raspy early bluesman close to losing his voice to an electric violin played through David Gilmour’s guitar pedal board, but better.
Derek Trucks was transcendent while retaining the rawness you might expect from a 1970’s Allmans Brothers show. His rig, like his stage presence, was as stripped down as it gets with a single 60’s Gibson SG in open tuning played fingerstyle throughout the whole show, its volume knob the only effect. His solos soared and reminded me of early Clapton but as he was just as happy supporting the band with grooving rhythm for most of the show with his wife Susan who also took a few blistering solos.
The setlist ranged from the bands’ rocking blues opening numbers to the beautiful ballad “Midnight in Harlem” to a “Stax” flavoured second half (it was a proper gig with a break in the middle long enough for a beer and walk outside the venue). The covers included some BB King (Rock Me Baby) and Hendrix (Third Stone from The Sun) but this was miles away from a nostalgia show, the musicianship was as good and as informed about the past as it gets, while pushing the envelope in the most satisfying way for the audience.
I’m glad I was there, this was a show that I will remember for a long time, not just to say that I was there but because it proves that, while we can still worship heroes of the past and wish we had seen Hendrix at Woodstock, there is music out there that is just as good, edgy and innovative yet steeped in tradition, and fun to listen to – today!