Angus Young Guitar Methods

Learn about Angus Young's soloing techniques, from breaking down many of his famous solos.

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Ultimate Guitar
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I will teach you about two of the major techniques he used in his solos. Angus Young was a master of flawlessly switching from the minor pentatonic to the major pentatonic. The major pentatonic scales he used were(fingerings only):
E-|X-|--|--|X-|
B-|X-|--|--|X-|
G-|X-|--|X-|--|
D-|X-|--|X-|--|
A-|X-|--|X-|--|
E-|X-|--|--|X-|
So in the key of A it would be:
A Major Pentatonic
e-|--|2-|--|--|5-|                        e|14|--|--|17|
B-|--|2-|--|--|5-|                        B|14|--|--|17|
G-|--|2-|--|4-|--|  or an octave higher:  G|14|--|16|--|  
D-|--|2-|--|4-|--|                        D|14|--|16|--|  
A-|--|2-|--|4-|--|                        A|14|--|16|--|  
E-|--|2-|--|--|5-|                        E|14|--|--|17|
You can apply this to any minor pentatonic scale. For example in the solo to Highway To Hell:
   He starts out in the A Minor Pentatonic.
e-|----------5-5-------------------------------------------------------|
B-|----------5-5--------5--5---------5--5--------5--5-----------5--5---|
G-|-7^(9)---------7^(9)-------7^(9)--------7^(9)---------7^(9)---------|
D-|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
A-|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
E-|--------------------------------------------------------------------|


                                        Right here he switchs into the A 
e-|------------------------------------|----------------------| Major Scale.
B-|-7^(8)------------------------------|----------------------|
G-|-7^(8)------------5-----7--5^(7)----|----------------------|
D-|---------------------7-----------5--|-4^(5)----2-----------|
A-|------------------------------------|-------------3--0-----|
E-|------------------------------------|----------------------|


           hold bend               Now he goes back to the A Minor Scale.
e-|-------------5----------------|---------------------5--------|
B-|----------------5-------------|-------5---5-----------5------|
G-|-2----4^(6)--------(6)^4--2---|-------5---5------/5-----5----|
D-|------------------------------|-/5--0---7---7-5------------7-|
A-|------------------------------|------------------------------|
E-|------------------------------|------------------------------|



e-|-------------------------------------|
B-|------11-----11----------------------|
G-|-/12-----12--------------------------|
D-|-------------------------------------|
A-|-------------------------------------|
E-|-------------------------------------|
As you can see he goes back and forth very naturally. Another technique he uses is moving back and forth between octaves in the same key. What i mean to say is that mid-solo he may go up 12 frets the next octave. He does this on numerous occasions. In the key of A, the root note for the minor pentatonic scale is 6th string at the 5th fret. The next octave would be 12 frets up: 6th string at the 17th fret. This also works for every other minor pentatonic scale. For example, the solo to Let There Be Rock. He starts out with the A minor pentatonic with the root note at the 5th fret on the 6th string.
e |-------------------------------------------------------------|
B |-------------------------------------------------------------|
G |-------------------------------------5--7-7(9)-7-5--7-5ZYABLA~HUYABLAZYABLA~HUYABLA~-| 
D |---7---7---7-\-------7---7---7\----7-------------------------|
A |-------------------------------------------------------------|
E |-------------------------------------------------------------|

e |-------------------------------------------------------------|
B |-------------------------------------------------------------|
G |---5-7-7(9)-7-5-7---5-7-7(9)-7---5-5-----5---5-5---5-5---5-5-|
D |-7----------------7------------7-----7-7---7-----7-----7-----|
A |-------------------------------------------------------------|
E |-------------------------------------------------------------|


e |------------------------------------------------------------|
B |------------------------------------------------------------|
G |---5-5---5-5---5---5-5---5-5---5-5---5-5---5-5---5-5---5-5--|
D |-7-----7-----7---7-----7-----7-----7-----7-----7-----7------|
A |------------------------------------------------------------|
E |------------------------------------------------------------|


e |------------------------------------------------------------|
B |------------------------------------------------------------|
G |---5-5---5-5---7---7-7---7-7---7-7---7-7---7---7-7---7-7----|
D |-7-----7-----7---9-----9-----9-----9-----9---9-----9--------|
A |------------------------------------------------------------|
E |------------------------------------------------------------|
                      Right here he jumps up an octave and solos there.
e |-----------------|---------17--------------------------------|
B |-----------------|--20(22)----20-17--------------------------|
G |---7-7---7-7---7-|------------------17-17----19-17-----------|
D |-9-----9-----9---|------------------------19-------19--------|
A |-----------------|-------------------------------------------|
E |-----------------|-------------------------------------------|

   Then he goes back down an octave and finishes the solo.
e |-5-------5-5-------5-5-------5-5-------5-5-------5-------5ZYABLA~HUYABLA|
B |---8(10)-----8(10)-----8(10)-----8(10)-----8(10)---8(10)----|
G |------------------------------------------------------------|
D |------------------------------------------------------------|
A |------------------------------------------------------------|
E |------------------------------------------------------------|

e |-12h14p12h14p12h15ZYABLA~HUYABLAZYABLA~HUYABLAZYABLA~HUYABLA------------------------------------|
B |------------------------------------------------------------|
G |------------------------------------------------------------|
D |------------------------------------------------------------|
A |------------------------------------------------------------|
E |------------------------------------------------------------|
I hope this was helpful to you, and knowledge of major and minor pentatonic scales has really improved my solos, as i hope it will improve yours.

71 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Triviumsucks666
    E-|X-|--|--|X-| B-|X-|--|--|X-| G-|X-|--|X-|--| D-|X-|--| X-|--| A-|X-|--|X-|--| E-|X-|--|--|X-| ----- what does that mean??!!
    kraznor
    Trying to put what I just said into a tab: |R| | |x| |x| | |x| |x| |x| | |x| |R| | |x| |x| | |R| | |x| Say that's on the 5th fret, A Minor Pentatonic. This would be A Major Pentatonic, starting on the 2nd fret: |x| | |R| |x| | |x| |R| |x| | |x| |x| | |x| |x| | |x| | |R| OR , you could just play the A Major pentatonic (form 2, which fits the form above (1)) using the 5th fret as your starting point. It merely changes the form, check it: | |R| |x| | |x| |x| |x| |x| | |x| | |R| |x| | |x| | |R| |x| Note that R is the root note, A in this case. Hope that helps clear it up for some/many.
    kraznor
    Blues you can Use is the best book I've ever found that explains the major and minor pentatonic, and how they just shift position on the fretboard. Both are the same pattern, they merely differ in starting position. They are 3 frets difference. IE. the "classic" A pentatonic minor starts on 5th fret, and the same form on fret 2 gives you the A major pentatonic, which is F# minor pentatonic. Please note that all five forms of the pentatonic wrap around the guitar and repeat. Indeed, this is a crucial part of understanding how to play rock guitar leads.
    mr. ...
    BMcMahon wrote: who cares about that fancy shit
    uhh... any body who is halfway decent at guitar dummass
    NFR5063
    Correct me if I'm wrong(and I know someone will), but aren't these movable scales that can be played anywhere on the fretboard? The important thing to remember is to go up or down to the next correct position or it will sound "off". This is where the theory comes into play regarding what can precede/follow what. All you really need to know is that when you go to the next position it sounds cool, and if it doesn't then you haven't gone up/down far enough. Your ear already knows what it wants to hear. Also when it comes to vibrato, Angus' is very subtle sometimes. If you listen to AC/DC loud enough you will hear his vibrato where you didn't before. Just press the string down as hard as you can, and wiggle your finger in the direction of the edges of the fretboard. Vary your finger-wiggle speed from fast to slow until it sounds cool to you and remember more pressure is better. Later.
    liamduzrocks
    craftercon65 wrote: I seriously dont get all this minor and major pentatonic stuff. I got books and stuff and i still dont get it!. Can anyone explain it to me in english?
    major and minor pentatonic is more or less the same they just start at different places X X X X X X X X X X X X say this is e minor pentatonic the major pentatonic starts from the 2nd note of the minor which means e minor pentatonic is also g major pentatonic i cba to explain it properly lol
    zedlep
    The very first part is the A MINOR Pentatonic, not Major, it's a different scale form. The #s on the scales are also not for the A Minor Pentatonic, they're for the F# Pentatonic.
    Nah, he has it right. An A major scale is being shown here. You're looking at only from the perspective of a minor pentatonic scale. Keep in mind that the major and minor scales use the same box patterns - minor is just shifted up the fretboard an interval, changing the position of the root note for the pattern. Look at it this way - just work out what where that box pattern would be used in the A major scale, and you'll see it's correct.
    BriGuy7727
    The very first part is the A MINOR Pentatonic, not Major, it's a different scale form. The #s on the scales are also not for the A Minor Pentatonic, they're for the F# Pentatonic. A Minor would be (from low string to high string) 5-8, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7, 5-8, 5-8 & then add twelve to all of those an octave higher. Your first example in Highway to Hell is also not correct. He uses the A Minor Pentatonic scale throughout, however, the part that you have labeled "A Major Scale switch" is actually just the A Minor Pentatonic in a different position. Instead of starting the scale on the 5th fret on the low E string, he does it from the open position on the A string. He also doesn't go back to the A Minor Scale, he goes back to the A Minor Pentatonic scale in the 5th position.
    BriGuy7727
    The very first part is the A MINOR Pentatonic, not Major, it's a different scale form. The #s on the scales are also not for the A Minor Pentatonic, they're for the F# Pentatonic. A Minor would be (from low string to high string) 5-8, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7, 5-8, 5-8 & then add twelve to all of those an octave higher. Your first example in Highway to Hell is also not correct. He uses the A Minor Pentatonic scale throughout, however, the part that you have labeled "A Major Scale switch" is actually just the A Minor Pentatonic in a different position. Instead of starting the scale on the 5th fret on the low E string, he does it from the open position on the A string. He also doesn't go back to the A Minor Scale, he goes back to the A Minor Pentatonic scale in the 5th position.
    Jdwcomic
    Triviumsucks666 wrote: E-|X-|--|--|X-| B-|X-|--|--|X-| G-|X-|--|X-|--| D-|X-|--| X-|--| A-|X-|--|X-|--| E-|X-|--|--|X-| ----- what does that mean??!!
    thats the position of the scale so Gm pent would be E-|3-|--|--|6-| B-|3-|--|--|6-| G-|3-|--|5-|--| D-| 3-|--|5-|--| A-|3-|--|5-|--| E-|5-|--|--|6-|
    learninclutch
    Very cool lesson, I got the intro to Hells Bells. Great Beer drinking music! What does that mean? Letters are the strings, numbers are the frets. First note is the key which is 5 (A) on the low E Fattest string. Keep Practicing
    chROniCmiKe
    Back in Red wrote: redstrat8 is right, it's named that cause they saw the AC/DC thing on their sister's sewing machine!! No joke. Nice lesson though.
    i heard that it was because they went both ways, if you know what im saying, which is basically what ac/dc means in the most rudementary of explanations... nice lesson by the way, i wish that you would have given more examples though.
    playinbass1432
    mr. ... wrote: BMcMahon wrote: who cares about that fancy shit uhh... any body who is halfway decent at guitar dummass
    You're ****ing stupid. Angus knows **** all in terms of theory and all that stuff...he has the right idea; just play your guitar.
    RyanStorm13
    People should learn the piano before guitar, it would make their lives much easier. It helps me to refer to piano. I am still a learner though. The 5th and 14th fret on the E string is an "A", hence A, and the "formation" of a Penatonic scale. Just like when playing a chord, you have the main note, then its 3rd and 5th, and the name of the chord is based of the main note. I am still figuring it all out.
    HCherrySG
    unbelievable how many people post on here that do not know a thing or understand pentatonic scales and patterns. Pick up a beginner guitar book or find stuff like it online .It explains the fretboard as a tuning unique to the guitar (A A# B C C#D D# E F F# G G# ) If I lost you on that , you have no business picking up a guitar anyway .
    HCherrySG
    if you got the latest GuitarWorld mag - Angus owes his inspiration to playing to Chuck Berry (and borrows his duck walk quite often )
    HCherrySG
    It is true- ac/dc took their name from their sisters sewing machine . Angus' schoolboy outfit also came from their sisters advice. Angus used show up to band practice right after school ,without time to change clothes still wearing his school uniform.
    amynjimmy
    wow.. you can really tell who the newbies are...why would newbies be wanting to play lead?? should learn to play some easy stuff if you cannot read tab.
    learninclutch
    He put a 5 where a 3 should be for the basic Am pentatonic. Then it would be a Gm. The first note you play in a song is the key in which its played and then all the vocals and everything should fit in the key. The X's are where you put your fingertips numbers are the frets.
    D_Emily
    ok finally someone who put a really nice lesson on it ! Thanks a lot
    McAngusYoung
    Good job dude dead on with this one. I really don't follow the deep creamy center of guitar playing with all the Pentatonic and what not. I figured out how to play like him just from watching and listening. Very intense solos!!! He is my fav guitarist and I don't care if he isn't the fastest or the most well versed in GUITAROLOGY (yes I did just make a new word...got a problem with that? didn't think so) but he is just so clean and down to earth with his playing. He plays to play and that is what I love about him.
    GRocker93
    nice... i gotta say i probly use angus young's technique the most during a solo
    shampistols76
    ok um... for starters, the duck walk was chuck berry not hendrix... plus hendrix only burned his guitar in sacrifice (in loving honor for his guitar)... so unless u have that much love and enthusiasm as hendrix... dont burn ur guitar.
    learninclutch
    If I'm wrong, then thats where the theory for me gets confusing. Is the song Life in the Fastlane by the Eagles in the key of D? Someone tell me?
    gdavid
    oh thanks .. it will take me a year or to to get it .. but thanks :lol:
    Back in Red
    redstrat8 is right, it's named that cause they saw the AC/DC thing on their sister's sewing machine!! No joke. Nice lesson though.
    Blak_Strat101
    can someone please do a guitar lesson on how to burn an electric guitar like one of the greats...
    warlockking
    um everything in there could have been found in the tab for Highway to hell, or a pentatonic lesson.
    guitarist-jake
    the pentatonic scale has 5 notes "penta" including the root note "tonic" really simple c major pentatonic c,d,e,g,a,c, the c minor pentatonic c,d#,e,f#,a#,c just email me for a bit more info on minors or majors be be specific in what you want to know
    dc-boy
    omg it all seems so clear now, i have been trying to get as good as him and now i can, well not quite, great lesson, hey wheres my guitar
    fattestpenguin
    this is helpful, and I do believe the scales are right. and come on, I really doubt AC/DC is called that because they go both ways. Lets not be ridiculous.
    sosavpm
    you can do vibrato by pushing your whammy bar inwar and ourtward, or just wiggle your finger
    clint86
    I'de love to see something on Zakk Wylde. I know he bases everything in the Penatonics but it would be cool to see someone break down his stuff. Anyone that doesn't know exactly what is going on in this lesson by that way NEEDS to start practising there penatonics scales. You'll love them trust me!!!
    nukem14
    I seriously dont get all this minor and major pentatonic stuff. I got books and stuff and i still dont get it!. Can anyone explain it to me in english? it actually means that there is five notes like a b c d e just repeating