Rick Rubin Reveals AC/DC's Trick to Make Guitar Solos Sound Amazing

It's more about the backing track than the solo

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jul 25, 2023

AC/DC rock! The veteran Australian combo are one of the greatest guitar bands ever, and producer Rick Rubin has now revealed their secret for making such exciting guitar solos: it's more about the backing track than it is about the solo itself.

Rubin produced AC/DC's 1995 album Ballbreaker, and he reflected on this experience during a conversation with John Mayer for an episode of Rubin's podcast Tetragrammaton. "I got to make an album with AC/DC," he explained, "and one of the secrets I learned about the way they did it was, when they tracked a song, they didn't do the solos — they just played the rhythm section of the solos."

He continued, "When it was time for the solo, they wanted the solo section to be the most exciting part of the song before the solo happened. They would speed up on purpose. They would lift off! And you never even had to hear a solo — it was just in the DNA of the track. And they often changed chords to not what you would expect in the rest of the song that felt like it was lifting off. And then hit it harder, and sped up — and it was all intentional. Even before the solo, it was the most exciting part."

He concluded the story by reflecting, "They really knew what they were doing. They knew how to do AC/DC so good. It's unbelievable." 

Ironically, Rubin's recording sessions with AC/DC famously didn't go all that well. They struggled to get a studio sound they were happy with, the producer was allegedly absent from many of the sessions, and both Rubin and the band have spoken negatively about the experience over the years.

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