Malcolm Young’s Guitars and Gear

Malcolm (Mal) Mitchell Young was born on January 6, 1953, in Glasgow, Scotland. He was best known as a co-founder, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter of the Australian hard rock band, AC/DC.

Mal‘s rig was relatively simple, and he mostly relied on one single guitar: The Beast – a 1963 Gretsch Jet Firebird. This guitar was originally red and with two Filter’Trons. Over the years, he modified it numerous times, went through thousands of gigs, and finally in 2017 – Gretsch built a signature model based on that guitar.

1963 Gretsch Jet Firebird (“The Beast”)

Malcolm got this 1963 Gretsch G6131 Jet Firebird from Harry Vanda, and his older brother, George Young, both of whom were members of the band The Easybeats. At that time, the guitar was already moded with a third pickup, a Gibson Humbucker, sitting in between two stock Filter’Tron pickups (US-Patent-Number 2892371). This, of course, means that the body needed to be carved out in order to fit the new pickup.

Sometime around 1976/77 Malcolm decided to remove this third pickup, and the neck pickup, leaving only a single Filter’Tron in the bride position. At that point, the holes were covered up with a piece of a white pickguard.

After removing the pickups, he also removed the Burns Tailpiece (originally called Burns Vibrato) and replaced the white pickguard with two smaller black pieces (these were removed sometime in 1978). Instead of the Burns, he now installed a Schaller Bad Ass Bridge. In order to cover up the hole left behind the original bridge piece, he added a custom made black tailpiece.

In addition to this, the original red paint job was stripped of around 1977, leaving the bare wood exposed.

During the Ballbreaker Tour 1995, the black tailpiece was removed and the hole was with a white material for a short time. Sometime after the tour, he re-installed the Burns Tailpiece (probably around 2000).

Malcolm used also a second 1963 Gretsch Jet Firebird as a back-up guitar during tours (same mods like on his Number 01).




  • Faithful recreation
  • TV Jones Power’tron shine


  • Limited range of tonality
Mechanics and Electronics

Final Verdict

Starting with the most striking feature, what is going on with the pickups? Closely resembling Malcolm’s unwillingness to play by the rules, the G6131 MY has just a single TV Jones Power’Tron, a humbucker with shimmering treble with punchy bass. You only get the one pickup, plus a nice gap where two others should be. The holes reveal a chambered mahogany body, made for resonance, while the body is also faux aged, adding to the striking look. Indeed, this recreation of Young’s ’63 Jet Firebird - ‘The Beast’ - is as faithful a signature you’ll find.