Watch Professional Rockstars Play Their Favorite AC/DC Guitar Riffs
AC/DC's new teaser for "Shot In The Dark" - AC/DC / Youtube
Without a doubt, one of the greatest riff-meisters in the history of rock & roll is AC/DC, just by looking and listening to their outstanding guitar riff collection that aspiring rockstars continue to play to this day. And some of these guitar dudes did well, as seen in the many, many episodes of Loudwire’s Gear Factor channel on YouTube.
Over many years and many Gear Factor episodes, we have been fortunate enough to hear master shredder after master shredder share their experiences with the classic AC/DC riffs that set them on the path to becoming proficient guitarists.
Prominent rock stars such as Zakk Wylde, Jared Dines, Mark Tremonti, and members of Sum 41 have all shared enlightening tales about the transformational force of AC/DC’s music, going into detail about how certain riffs shaped their decision to take up the guitar and how that decision affected their musical paths.
This video and article below serve as a tribute to the enduring legacy of Angus and Malcolm Young, featuring renditions of some of their most iconic compositions, including the timeless classic “Highway to Hell”, the electrifying “Thunderstruck”, the explosive “T.N.T.”, and the hauntingly iconic “Hells Bells”.
The “Back in Black” magic
Ozzy’s guitarist Zakk Wylde was one of the many, many guitar legends who heard either Hihway to Hell or Back in Black and thought, yeah I’d want to play that. And they did.
Wylde was seen in one Gear Factor episode playing some tunes and talking about how he started out learning the guitar. He cited AC/DC’s “Back in Black” as a favorite riff alongside Led Zeppelin’s “Tangerine”.
Another fan of that “super iconic” riff was Revocation’s Dave Davidson, who also picked up “Back in Black” as he started learning his favorite guitar riffs.
“I started studying with this guy, Jay Williston, then eventually I kind of broke off and then just started studying on my own, you know, just learning my favorite rock riffs. AC/DC’s “Back in Black” was one of them. I think that’s one of the best rock riffs of all time. Super iconic,” the guitarist explained.
“Highway to Hell” inspiring future rockstars
Sum41’s Tom Thacker and Dave Baksh also shared their experiences when they first listened to AC/DC.
“I mean, that riff blew my mind. And we’ve talked about this how you had a box of CDs that showed up at your house with other people’s names on them… And one of them was ACDC, “Highway to Hell”,” Thacker reminisced.
Lonny Eagleton of California heavy rockers Black Veil Brides was also blown away by Highway to Hell the first time he heard it. The AC/DC hit was what inspired him to pick up the guitar.
“The first rock music that I heard that inspired me to play guitar was when I heard ACDC for the first time. I remember being on a drive with my dad and he put on the ACDC live album and I heard the “Highway to Hell” riff and that was just it for me,” the bassist shared.
“Hells Bells” hits different
Rockers Stefan Schmidt of German a cappella metal band Van Canto and Brian Baker of punk rock bands Minor Threat and Bad Religion loved the somber opener to the iconic Back in Black album, “Hells Bells”.
“What are my favorite riffs to sing? “Hells Bells” [plays riff]. The rhythm guitars who only do power chords. It’s just one note that I can hold like forever. So this is not so much fun in the studio because it’s a little bit boring, but live, this works out great because you can actually just sing the note, take a look at the audience, and… just be on stage really feeling like a musician and not like a machine who has to throw out notes,” Schmidt explained.
Baker, on the other hand, admitted that he “stole” many, if not most, of the songs from AC/DC, citing the iconic track and even thanking Malcolm Young.
“I mean, what more do you want than beating around the bush? It’s f**king ridiculous. And that, that thing, every Dag Nasty song, like that’s where I stole it from. “Hells Bells”. Thank you, Malcolm, probably,” the influential hardcore punk rocker quipped.
AC/DC’s riffs are pretty easy and that’s what makes them iconic
Rock YouTuber Jared Dines emphasizes the sheer fun of playing AC/DC riffs, acknowledging their accessibility, while also referencing School of Rock, the 2003 Jack Black comedy film that pays tribute to AC/DC.
“AC/DC was so much fun because their riffs are pretty easy. [Plays riff] ‘Raise your goblet of rock’,” the YouTube sensation shared.
Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy also chimed in and expressed their admiration for AC/DC’s extensive riff repertoire. “I mean, it’s just… AC/DC’s got every single AC/DC riff,” Tremonti muttered.
Tom Keifer of glam rockers Cinderella, on the other hand, was drawn to Bon Scott’s badassery, remembering the first time he heard “Highway to Hell” and was swept by “the electricity of that sound”.
“I loved that he was able to just emojis, take a hold of a single note”
While hard rockers KISS inspired thrash metal rocker Phil Demmel, it was unmistakably Angus Young who ignited my passion for playing the guitar.
“You felt all of Angus’s emotions and you felt when he was pissed or if he was happy or drunk or horny, you heard it all from Angus and his fingertips and, you know, I loved that he was able to just emojis, take a hold of a single note,” Demmel, who played for Machine Head, explained.
The guitarist also cited the 1975 hard-hitting track “T.N.T.” as one of the early songs that became a significant part of his guitar journey, vividly recalling how he and his friend would blast the song on a “ghetto blaster”.
“My buddy Dave Culberhouse had the little ghetto blaster because that’s all we could afford back in the day. The little single tape desk took like four, eight batteries and we pumped that just the beginning. Just the intro. Just the beginning part,” Demmel recalled.
Watch Gear Factor’s full video below: