Finally got the AC/DC tone — it’s the speakers!

TheOtherEric

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Maybe I’m just slow to figure this out, but I just picked up a 4x12 (1979?) with G12-65 T3120 speakers and — BOOM — instant AC/DC. Wow! I’ve played several Plexi-style amps but my Greenbacks just could never do it. The amp below is a 1976/1977 JMP 2204, but probably any Marshall will do.

The G12-65 is an odd duck (compared to Greenbacks). Very nasal. And they really cut the perceived overdrive, so to get the same level of distortion you have to adjust your amp. I can see how they’d cut thru on stage. Not good for brown sound, but for blues/jazz soloing they’d probably be great. Kind of “ugly” sounding like AC/DC.
C020572D-454E-42F6-9938-F1DCFC7C7402.jpeg
 

TheOtherEric

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Ugly?
What do you mean?
Yeah, I just always thought of Malcolm’s early tone as “ugly” since it doesn’t seem to have a lot of harmonic content or fizziness, seems so nasal and boxy, and is like the opposite of clear and chimey. Not trying to be derogatory because it’s super cool and distinctive!

I just saw Solodallas’s Back in Black write up where he basically says the G12-65 is the key. Linky. I agree!
 

V-man

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HTH is actually “blackbacks” IIRC - thus you need 70s speakers, not modern repros. As for 65s, I never owned a set, but the IR is programed into one of the banks on my Captor, FWIW. 65s are PB&J when running my 2203, but they were the worst sounding traditional speaker [IR] I have tried with the plexi to my ears… mayyybe second to GT-75s.
 

solarburn

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HTH is actually “blackbacks” IIRC - thus you need 70s speakers, not modern repros. As for 65s, I never owned a set, but the IR is programed into one of the banks on my Captor, FWIW. 65s are PB&J when running my 2203, but they were the worst sounding traditional speaker [IR] I have tried with the plexi to my ears… mayyybe second to GT-75s.
I just saw a vid talking about the differences between current 25 watt greenbacks and blackbacks. Dude on the vid asked Celestion if there were any differences. Celestion said no. At one point in time they ran out of green caps and used black caps hence blackback was coined.

If this is true I'm LMAO! I've used that term blackback as if they were special greenbacks. Fuck me.
 

Matthews Guitars

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Malcolm's tone starts with a Guild Starfire (Or was it a Jet? I don't follow Guilds...) with one bridge pickup and a Marshall Super Bass. The cabinets might have most any period correct Celestions in them, apparently Malcolm wasn't as picky about that as Angus. But G12H30s may be assumed to have definitely been used.

I was really impressed at how well the AC/DC tone was replicated with my first 2203, all tone controls set to 3, with a 1960 full of G12T75s.

You might consider which SPECIFIC song's tone you are trying to replicate. There are some differences for sure.

Yes, there are some specific variants of Blackbacks that are tonally distinctive and unique. But there have been many small variations in even a specific build spec for a T1221 25 watt Greenback. Doping may change, they can be found with Mueller, RIC, or Pulsonic cones depending on year and other factors, and a whole lot more.

It's not possible to honestly say that all Celestions of a specific type are going to be the same. So often it's just not true.
 
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_Steve

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Malcolm's tone starts with a Gretsch Starfire with one bridge pickup and a Marshall Super Bass.

Malcolm used a Jet. I believe Starfires are Guilds?

FWIW Stevie switched to Creambacks for the last tour from V30s that I think Malcolm was using in his final tours.
 

KraftyBob

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It’s also in the amps. Angus ran his amps biased really hot and would go through a set of tubes every week while on tour. There’s a video on YT with his tech and he explains all that.

Also, as @Matthews Guitars said there isn’t just one AC/DC tone as it’s changed over time.

Glad you’re happy with your tone 😀
 

livebiz

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Yeah, I just always thought of Malcolm’s early tone as “ugly” since it doesn’t seem to have a lot of harmonic content or fizziness, seems so nasal and boxy, and is like the opposite of clear and chimey. Not trying to be derogatory because it’s super cool and distinctive!

I just saw Solodallas’s Back in Black write up where he basically says the G12-65 is the key. Linky. I agree!

I'm probably against the grain on this, but the pre-Mutt Lange albums sounded the best and had that open chimey grind to me. No knock on Mutt, he obviously adds something that makes great artists into great hit-making artists but for the Cars, Def Lep, AC/DC, their best sounding albums were before he came along.
 

_Steve

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I'm probably against the grain on this, but the pre-Mutt Lange albums sounded the best and had that open chimey grind to me. No knock on Mutt, he obviously adds something that makes great artists into great hit-making artists but for the Cars, Def Lep, AC/DC, their best sounding albums were before he came along.

Totally agree
 

Maxbrothman

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AC/DC only started to sound good to me when I stopped treating them like a Heavy Metal band and treated them like a Hard Rock band instead.

Regarding cabs and speakers, get a cab simulator like a Two Notes Captor X or whatever cab sim you want. With a single head, you will discover limitless tonal possibilities with cabs and speakers, let alone all the variations produced by microphone type, placement, and microphone combinations.

Cabs and mic are at least 50% of the tone, if not more. Some would say 70%. Some players make different heads sound the same because they use the same cab and mic placement.
 

junk notes

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Maybe I’m just slow to figure this out, but I just picked up a 4x12 (1979?) with G12-65 T3120 speakers and — BOOM — instant AC/DC. Wow! I’ve played several Plexi-style amps but my Greenbacks just could never do it. The amp below is a 1976/1977 JMP 2204, but probably any Marshall will do.

The G12-65 is an odd duck (compared to Greenbacks). Very nasal. And they really cut the perceived overdrive, so to get the same level of distortion you have to adjust your amp. I can see how they’d cut thru on stage. Not good for brown sound, but for blues/jazz soloing they’d probably be great. Kind of “ugly” sounding like AC/DC.
 

79 2203

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Opposite for me. My ideal AC/DC tone is the High Voltage,Dirty Deeds era followed by the next 3 albums, and then BIB. I had a quad of original late 70’s 12-65’s, a pair in a 82 4104, and a Heritage reissue pair but could never get them to sound right for my ideal AC/DC with 2203’s/4104’s.

When I got my 77 slant with 55hz 30 watt Blackbacks it was so much closer and lately I’ve been favouring a 71 1987 and paired with a 68 t1221 Greenback quad it’s game over.

BIB is a great tone, but there’s something about the fatter low mids that doesn’t excite my ears like the earlier sound(I hear it on Angus’s intro chords on Highway To Hell too)

Maybe it’s actually Mutt’s production I’m hearing ??
 

PowerTube44

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Regarding cabs and speakers, get a cab simulator like a Two Notes Captor X or whatever cab sim you want. With a single head, you will discover limitless tonal possibilities with cabs and speakers, let alone all the variations produced by microphone type, placement, and microphone combinations.
Is that strictly for recording, or can it be used with your rig in the room?
 

Marcomel79

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Opposite for me. My ideal AC/DC tone is the High Voltage,Dirty Deeds era followed by the next 3 albums, and then BIB. I had a quad of original late 70’s 12-65’s, a pair in a 82 4104, and a Heritage reissue pair but could never get them to sound right for my ideal AC/DC with 2203’s/4104’s.

When I got my 77 slant with 55hz 30 watt Blackbacks it was so much closer and lately I’ve been favouring a 71 1987 and paired with a 68 t1221 Greenback quad it’s game over.

BIB is a great tone, but there’s something about the fatter low mids that doesn’t excite my ears like the earlier sound(I hear it on Angus’s intro chords on Highway To Hell too)

Maybe it’s actually Mutt’s production I’m hearing ??
I totally agree. To me the sound of acdc is High Voltage. I love the rawness of Malcolm's tone i that record
 

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