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Angus Young talks guitar solos: "One note can be a hell of a lot better than 50 notes"

Angus Young
(Image credit: Ullstein Bild / Getty )

AC/DC (opens in new tab)'s incredible comeback continues with Angus Young as cover star for the new issue of Guitar World magazine (opens in new tab), and in an exclusive interview he talks new album Power-Up, songwriting memories with late brother Malcolm, SGs and even what he practices at home. But as a guitarist who can operate comfortably at the minimum and maximum extremes of blues guitar (opens in new tab) playing, his thoughts on solos are especially interesting. 

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Angus Young playing his iconic Gibson SG

(Image credit: Getty/Kevin Winter)

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"Well, if you go to a song that’s dependent on following a lead line, you’d best get your lead lines sorted out, reveals Angus on how he approaches the balance of improvisation and planning in his leads. "And it also depends on how prominent it is and how long you’re gonna go — 'Okay, am I going to do a long piece here or a rhythmic piece?'" 

Reflecting on some of his iconic breaks in classic AC/DC songs including Black In Black (opens in new tab) and Shoot To Thrill, Angus highlights the need to think rhythmically to serve the song.  "If you listen to where you would say, 'Here comes the guitar solo…,' it’s actually more rhythmic playing," Angus explains. "It’s got a little bit of a guitar bite to it but it’s more of a rhythmic thing. And it’s only really at the later part of the song, after a little breakdown piece, that the guitar — what you would call lead lines and phrases — picks up more.

"So what I’m trying to say is, it’s really down to the song itself and how you hear it. Because one note can be a hell of a lot better than 50 notes, you know?" 

Sage advice indeed from a master of the craft. See the latest issue of Guitar World for more Angus insight in the full interview – buy and subscribe at magazinesdirect.com. (opens in new tab) 

AC/DC's new album Power Up is released on 13 November. 

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Rob Laing
Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.