A Canadian Mennonite's sodden sermonizing on movies, music, miscellaneous.
Monday, June 25, 2018
Guitars I dig: Malcolm Young's “The Beast”
Malcolm Young's signature guitar was a 1963 red Gretsch Jet Firebird, given him by his older brother George.
When AC/DC started out Malcolm and his younger brother Angus traded solos — Angus claims Mal was always the better guitarist — but at some point Mal insisted the kid brother take lead and show-boating duties, while he, the elder, stood back and kept the train on the tracks with his dependable steam-engine rhythm stylings.
During shows Malcolm would switch from one Gretsch to the next, but inevitably “The Beast” came out. He made it his own by removing the trem-bar (“hard-tailing” it), the middle and neck pick-ups as well as the fire-engine red paint. It is as purely a rhythm guitar as can be.
Could be the knobs are there to keep it held together.
People with too much money can buy themselves a 2017 replica of “The Beast” for anywhere from $10,000 to $21,000. Players can find non-stressed varieties of the Malcolm Young Jet for anywhere from one- to three-grand. Owners are rapturous, for the reason you might expect — the guitar delivers that famous crunch tone, best when paired with an older Marshall amp cranked to 11.
"You're gonna charge WHAT??"
I see one version of the MY Jet has two pick-ups, so a player could reasonably expect the guitar to handle other duties besides stripped-down 12-bar blues-driven rock. However, I can't imagine anyone buying it for any other purpose than to chop out the AC/DC songbook — either in some crowded pub, or (more likely) their own bedroom.
Or church parking lot, depending...
That's more money than I could ever justify spending on an instrument of such limited expression. But I will admit that despite (or, let's be honest, quite likely because of) my complicated history with AC/DC I do have a special fondness for Malcolm's rhythm guitar. After a Saturday afternoon spent tackling some particularly tricky blues riff, nothing clears out the frustration like 10 minutes of chunking through “Jail Break” and “It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll).”