Yngwie J. Malmsteen

Groupology

  • Steeler
  • Alcatrazz
  • Yngwie J Malmsteen's Rising Force

Cretaceous

Watch Yngwie Malmsteen in Action at the bottom of this page!

Famous / Infamous for

Famous For: Being THE rock guitarist of the 1980's. Yngwie's baroque and roll approach brought new meaning to the term guitar virtuoso. His blazing chops, precision picking, perfect vibrato and complete focus on his craft left everyone else for dust. Yngwie has also reduced the boundaries between metal and classical music thanks to his Concerto album.

Infamous For: The biggest collection of Fender Stratocaster's you will ever see. Going through band members more frequently than Ritchie Blackmore. He manages to pout better than all the chicks in his videos. His onstage theatrics broke new ground with high kicks, Strat slinging (over his shoulder), getting through over 100 picks a gig (yes really) and making the best of Blackmore and Hendrix's tricks whilst updating them for the new generation. He is also as well known for having "J" prominent in his name to which David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap once quoted "It's so as not to confuse him with all the other Yngwie Malmsteen's out there." But perhaps his biggest asset is his ability to talk himself up and generally give good value for money in all interviews he does. Yngwie is most recently remembered as the guy that fought Osama Bin Laden by bombing him with his version of The Star Spangled Banner in Brazil - kudos.

Influences

Obvious: Rock influences include Deep Purple, Rainbow, Jimi Hendrix, Rush, The Scorpions (Uli Roth era) and Genesis. His classical influences include Paganini, J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

The fact that Yngwie has built his own style on his influences and made them into a style all of its own says it all - he's an original.

Not-so-obvious: Some of the lesser known names in Yngwie's influences include Brian May, Dave Gilmour and Allan Holdsworth.

Strengths

Solos: Every solo Yngwie has ever recorded is a powerhouse of blazing runs, melody and perfect vibrato, sure the speed is there but if you were to slow down his solos you would have a collection of some of the most tasteful melodies you have ever heard.

Classical Influence: Though not the first to incorporate classical motifs into his playing, Yngwie is the player that made it sound the norm. His welding of Paganini-esque speed with the menace of Beethoven and the beauty of Bach made Yngwie's playing stand out from the rest of the metal crowd of the 1980s.

Riffs: Perhaps not as well known as his lead work, Yngwie has composed many classic riffs, check out the following: Rising Force, Bedroom Eyes, Braveheart and I Am A Viking for exciting riffs that power a song.

Consistency: Yngwie manages to release an album every year almost without fail. Not only this but he manages to release a great album every year without fail. Some may not be as good as others but they all contain Yngwie's flawless chops in an exciting metal package.

Weaknesses

What can be seen as Yngwie's strength can also be seen as his weakness. With Yngwie you know you are going to get a classical drenched melodic metal album, with soaring vocals, speedy solos, the odd instrumental and most likely a change of band personnel. This to the rest of the music community is seen as Yngwie going through the motions. The fact that AC/DC, Black Sabbath and to a lesser extent Aerosmith have done this throughout their career seems to make little difference to the Yngwie bashers. In truth Yngwie had his own style from his debut release so why bow to the latest trends?

Production: Yngwie's last studio album 2000's War To End All Wars was regarded by many as a sonic mess. Fan quotes like 'I can get better results on my 4 track Tascam' and 'He made a multi million dollar recording studio sound like a shit-pit' were some of the kinder ones going around, and the general consensus is that Yngwie needs help in this department. Yngwie himself seems to have recognised this fact by saying their will be an outside producer for his next studio outing.

Band Members: Yngwie has problems holding onto band members. Just when you feel Yngwie and the singer are building up a rapport, the singer is out the door. This is generally because Yngwie is reticent to give them creative input in the lyrics and melody lines. When they are allowed some creative freedom, the albums are all the better for it as highlighted by Marching Out, Odyssey, and Facing the Animal.

Tone

Yngwie's tone has been constant throughout his whole career. Simply a 50 watt Non Master Volume Marshall, fed by a Fender Stratocaster and a Dod250 Overdrive/Preamp pedal.

Yngwie's Strats are modified with scalloped fretboards, jumbo frets, DiMarzio HS-3 and YJM pickups and a brass nut. All these modifications are available on the Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Signature Stratocaster. Yngwie, like Ritchie Blackmore, only ever uses the bridge or neck pickups, the middle one is lowered flush with the pickguard. This gives a very distinct set of sounds that shines through Yngwie's 'clean distorted tone'.

Yngwie's Marshall's are totally stock. Being vintage 1987 model Marshalls from 1971-72. Yngwie says that these models are a little more aggressive sounding than earlier and latter heads. Luckily you can get a remake of this model in Marshall's 1987X reissue head. Yngwie's tone is pure Strat, with his tone being the result of fat power amp distortion rather than buzzy preamp distortion. The Marshall heads Yngwie uses are very clean compared to modern day amps and this is where the Dod250 comes in to slam the tubes harder and make them distort more.

Yngwie chosen pickups are very low output and this has the effect of sending a very pure clean signal to the amps. For more info check out the gear section at the Yngwie J Malmsteen's Guitar Alchemy website.

Yngwie also colours his music with acoustic guitar. This is normally a classical guitar with Yngwie's acoustic of choice being the Ovation Viper.

Guitar Style

Yngwie's whole style is built on the motto: More is more. As a result expect A LOT of guitar on all Yngwie albums.

Yngwie's approach is based liberally on the classical masters foundations, and the rock approach of bands like Deep Purple. Yngwie uses a lot of single note riffs - Never Die, I Am A Viking, Vengeance - which are often harmonised for a fuller sound. Yngwie can also bash out Hendrix type rockers with ease - Bedroom Eyes, Dragonfly, No Love Lost, I Don't Know - these tracks are generally powered along by HUGE grooves which show Yngwie has true strength in the rhythm department too.

Scale wise Yngwie's solos compromise licks and runs based on Harmonic Minor, Phrygian, Diminished and Blues Pentatonic scales. Harmonic Minor is "Yngwie's scale" if you ask most players. He does occasionally mix things with up with chromatic runs for a different shade — Leonardo.

Yngwie's style consists of a lot of linear licks, with a phrase being played up or down on one particular string, the speed and precision that Yngwie pulls this off with is stunning, it also gives for a more flowing sound than playing the same notes on different strings.

Sweep Picking is another of Yngwie's most famed techniques, he uses everything from 2 to 6 string swept arpeggios, all are super clean in the picking and fretting department, this is a result of Yngwie's Paganini influence and his desire to get a sound similar to the violin.

Vibrato:

Probably Yngwie's most underrated facet (by the general music press). Everything about Yngwie's vibrato is FLAWLESS. The pitch, intonation variety of speeds shows what good ears Yngwie has. His favourite vibrato is a slow and wide, similar to that you hear from violinists, but he also has a killer fast aggressive vibrato that builds on Hendrix and Blackmore's. Play a blues fan some music with Yngwie vibrato's on and watch their jaws drop!!

Yngwie Malmsteen in Action

Recommended listening

Alcatrazz

Yngwie Malmsteen / Yngwie J Malmsteen's Rising Force

Profile By Andy Craven. Copyright ©2002 All rights reserved.