By Strings Direct – 29 August, 2023
"There are two man-made objects you’re gonna see from space: the Great Wall of China and my wall of Marshalls. My road crew hates me!”
Wizardry is not a term used lightly in any situation but on this occasion this week's other-worldly guitar hero really does deserve the accreditation.
An artist that is not easily categorised, neo-classical metal comes to mind, a player that has gained prestigious status in the guitar community for his flawless techniques and groundbreaking style, this is a player built for speed 🤘.
An innovator, mentor, teacher, rockstar and icon for the guitar playing community. This long-standing artist has enjoyed a great and long-standing career in his field along with being a poster boy for the guitar magazines over the decades.
The eccentric and uniquely technical, mind-bending guitar artistry that empowers the great Yngwie Malmsteen. 🎸
Neoclassical Beginnings 🎼
“As a kid, I’d already played the piano, the trumpet, all that. I didn’t like any of it, it was horrible. But guitar felt like a natural thing to me. I was only seven, and already had a guitar, when I saw Jimi Hendrix smashing up his Strat on TV – but that was only a visual influence, not a musical one.
Yngwie Malmsteen - Guitarist.com
The Beatles emerged in 1963 and very soon would make their mark on the world, that same year the 6-string virtuoso Lars Johann Yngwie Lannerback was born in Stockholm, Sweden.
Soon after birth his parents would be divorced after a strained relationship, this led to much anger in a young Yngwie and he was slightly troubled child due to this; initially he rejected music and he saw it as a weakness, as such he viewed things like guitar as something for wimps and had no interest at all.
Music was offered to him as a young individual like it was to many of us during the early years of education, Yngwie encountered failed attempts at piano lessons as well as trumpet lessons, even the acoustic guitar that was bought for him aged five by his mother was left on the wall indefinitely.
As with many artists and creative individuals there was a big bang 💥 moment, a definitive and influential imprinting event of change.
On 18th September 1970 a 6-year-old Yngwie was completely awe-inspired and truly taken back by a program dedicated to the untimely death of Jimi Hendrix, witnessing his legacy unfold on the television Yngwie’s mind was blown! 🤩
Transfixed by Hendrix’s extravagant showmanship and how he lashed his audience with feedback and flamboyant stage presence, coaxing sounds out of an electric guitar that were never before heard, he was also mesmerised by the fact that Hendrix would sacrifice his guitars through flames and destruction in an almost otherworldly spiritual manner.
Ironically the death of Jimi Hendrix was in turn the musical birth of Yngwie Malmsteen. 🎸
A mind now ignited, Yngwie began to immerse himself in music, initially he had got his hands on an old Mosrite and then quickly a cheap Stratocaster. The journey began with him getting lost in bands like Deep Purple where he spent endless hours unlocking the mysteries of the instrumentation and soundscapes.
His earliest guitar memory would be Jimi Hendrix but he firmly confirms that he was not a musical influence, as it was Richie Blackmore that truly took him down the rabbit 🐇 hole.
Yngwie swiftly became inquisitive about the classical influence through which Richie voiced his interpretations, intensively researching the source and related external avenues Yngwie became engrossed in the classical side of music investigating Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Mozart.
Extreme dedication would lead to exhaustion and Yngwie would often be found asleep still clutching his guitar 🎸 …
"I like B.B. King, he’s just magical. I don’t think anybody could play one note [to] say so much as he did. What I found that appeals to me no matter what instrument they play is that sincerity that comes from."
Yngwie Malmsteen - rockcelebrities.net
Dedication would quickly lead to obsession and Yngwie stopped going to school regularly around the age of 10 even though he excelled in art and English his mother recognised his talents.
He was allowed to stay home from school and practice his guitar with his records. It was here his focus became unobstructed and undisturbed; his progression was intense and began to border genius.
Incredible fusion style began to develop from his own creative mind combining his love of rock/metal and his respectable affection for classical composers and instrumentalists a landmark style was carved.
Like many similar extravagant guitar players of the modern day Yngwie acknowledges copious amounts of inspiration from British guitar player Allan Holdsworth, a name that has been cited by many of the modern greats. Allan is almost a silent guitar hero to the masses and hugely underrated in the commercial world, an exquisite musician.
Yngwie formulated the extrovert and flamboyant presence of Hendrix and fused it with classically based progressions and theory this would create an onstage sound and charisma never seen before.
Heavy inspiration and appreciation from the classical scene came via Gideon Kremer performing Paganini's 24 Caprices.
Intense study of both contemporary music and classical passage would define Yngwie Malmsteen’s trademark style.
The L.A. Sweep 🧹 Picker
“I became an aficionado of Bach and Beethoven, but when I heard Paganini, that was the biggest moment. Nobody was playing those crazy arpeggios. Everybody was just playing the box. But I wanted to play that shit on guitar. Sweden, at the time, was a quasi-socialist country, very anti-everything. “
Yngwie Malmsteen - Guitarist.com
As a player and at such a young age Yngwie jumped across the pond and headed for the lights of the USA 🇺🇸.
“When I first came from Sweden to America in 1982, I was in a very run-of-the-mill LA band called Steeler. I remember, 30 people came to our first show, but one week later we played the Troubadour and from the dressing room window, I was looking down the street and there was a line around the block. I asked the bartender, ‘Hey, who’s playing in town tonight?’ And the guy says, ‘You are.’ That was after one week in America. It was fucking crazy.”
Yngwie Malmsteen - Guitarist.com
Let’s listen to the big man talk big 5, a great insight!
Yngwie Fender Fanatic 🎸
Famed for his playing, idolised for his style and inspired by his equipment.
Yngwie has been a long-standing fanatic of Fender guitars and products, from a very young age the connection was there, like many that witnessed Hendrix the experience formed a visual bond in the minds of the masses that will never be broken, the image of a Stratocaster being pushed to its limits and beyond. ☮️
Malmsteen has coveted Fender ever since and now the dream is real! He has his own signature Stratocaster along with numerous other products that he uses to define his unique and individual tone.
A guitar that is completely tailored to his style and technique, check out the very individual specification of this instrument and it is very much one-of-a-kind:
Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster Specs:
- Machine screw-mount maple neck with modern "C" profile and "bullet" truss rod
- 9.5"-radius scalloped maple or rosewood fingerboard with brass nut and 21 "super jumbo" frets
- Three Seymour Duncan® YJM Fury™ pickups with three-way switching
- "No-load" tone control for bridge and middle pickups
- Aged plastic control knobs, switch tip and pickup covers
- Vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge
Long-term infatuation with the Fender brand extends to pedals, cables, and many other items, but most importantly string choice…
“Built For Speed the only Strings I will ever play”
Y. Malmsteen for Fender.com
Yngwie has his own personal specification string gauge and his signature set is produced exclusively by Fender. The gauges in make perfect sense for his uniquely swift and intricate style; the fast pace at which he moves across the fretboard along with the speed of his bends and vibrato.
|Gauges||8, 11, 14, 22w, 32w, 46w|
A truly virtuoso player that is almost ahead of his time tailoring everything from the instrument right down to the strings to his specification this is exactly the type of player we like to see here at Strings Direct, a visionary!
“It was crazy. I don’t know whether Vai practised more than me, but I would say, as far as actually spending time with the guitar, it was every waking moment. I sacrificed things for the guitar, for sure. Most people thought I was completely mad.”
Yngwie Malmsteen - guitarist.com
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