What typical sound do you love

"How can less be more?" - The sound of Yngwie Malmsteen

by Marian Quantity,

Most famous guitarists are always praised for their advancement, for their quest for new challenges, and for their thirst for adventure. That is not the case with Yngwie Malmsteen. But why should it? Isn't it also nice that there are musicians who have an unmistakable style and stick to it? Malmsteen is a guitarist who has changed next to nothing in his playing style since his first record and is thus constantly satisfying his fan base from album to album. However, this only applies to Yngwie Malmsteen's guitar playing. He has been scolded often enough for the songs, as he showed a strikingly constant inconsistency here.

But no matter how changeable the overall impression of his productions was, one thing could and can always be certain: You always get these expressive arpeggio licks at the speed of light and that typical Malmsteen sound that bursts with energy. And this style has always been impressive.


With such purists as Yngwie Malmsteen, research into the technical equipment is quite easy. No careful viewing of old live recordings, no rummaging in old newspaper archives, no long lists of guitars, amps and effects. Malmsteen himself is a passionate guitar collector, but his interest is almost exclusively limited to Fender Stratocasters, of which he owns a three-digit number. His favorite instrument is the one that also served as a model for the Fender Signature model: a white 71 Strat with sanded fret gaps, which Malmsteen usually tuned a semitone lower. Between the guitar and preferably old Marshall Mark II amps from the early 70s, Malmsteen has switched a myriad of effects devices from different brands over the years. Including reverb and delay, flanger and wah-wah pedals.

In order to almost imitate his sound, you need a Strat and a couple of powerful amps with a lot of distortion, especially reverb and delay effects, with which he likes to make his solo sounds sound wider and sometimes more washed out. The flanger can be switched on discreetly, although this is mostly required for clean parts. A WahWah is only used very rarely.

“How can less be more? More is more! " - Yngwie Malmsteen

Sounds & technology

Malmsteen's role models are inextricably linked to his style and could not be more different. In addition to the old rock heroes such as Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore and Uli Jon Roth, it is above all classical or baroque composers such as Bach, Pachelbel, Paganini and Beethoven who have had a lasting impact not only on his playing style, but also on his compositional style.
It is not without a certain comedy when Yngwie Malmsteen announces a piece with the words: "I have dubbed it 'Arpeggios From Hell" in a teaching video that is now also on YouTube. And the reason for this is because it has the most extreme arpeggios that I ever came up with! ”That can probably only be topped by Michael Angelo Batio, who promises 'Speed ​​Kills' on his educational DVD:“ I'm gonna give you the keys to the Lamborghini! "

But kidding aside. These two characteristics, namely speed and arpeggios, are two of the most important parts of Yngwie Malmsteen's guitar playing.

The special thing about Malmsteen, however, is that it is not just fast. It is a daring but legitimate claim to say that Malmsteen is one of the most expressive guitarists of our time, even without the speed he often uses. His tone is simply unmistakable. Mainly responsible for this is his left hand, with which he can not only sweep the fingerboard with virtuosity, but also knows how to color and shape the notes in a unique way using vibrato and precisely voiced bends.

His vibrato in particular serves as a template for many guitarists. Malmsteen does not produce this often extremely wide vibrato by moving the hand back and forth, but by means of slight bending movements. As for the right hand, Malmsteen's entire body is used. His movements when alternating the attack with a plectrum come from both the wrist and the elbow joint. When using the sweeping technique, this movement is more likely to come off the shoulder. This has the advantage that he does not have to change the position of the hand, so that all strings are struck from the same angle and with the same intensity, which results in a more even sound.

Despite the force that Malmsteen puts into his attack, the movements are quite economical. The pick never strays far from the strings, which is certainly an important requirement for Malmsteen's speed.

Due to the range of models and influences mentioned above, Malmsteen's clay material is also very versatile. In addition to the usual rock ingredients such as minor pentatonic, blues scale and church scales, the harmonic minor scale as well as minor, major and diminished arpeggios characterize his sound.

The whole workshop including sounds and transcriptions can be downloaded for free here!



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