Believe it or not, Swedish supernova, Yngwie Malmsteen hasn’t always been the Rock legend that he is today. In fact, he wasn’t particularly musical at all when growing up and he didn’t pick up a guitar until seeing Jimi Hendrix perform on TV as a child, changed his life.
Aged just 18, Yngwie moved from Stockholm to America where he quickly became synonymous with neoclassical metal music. In a career spanning decades, Yngwie has reached some pretty huge milestones including releasing over 20 studio albums, being named in the top 10 greatest electric guitar players of all time (TIME magazine) and not to mention, having a huge influence on 100’s of guitarists across the globe.
Yngwie Malmsteen first became known in the mid-80s for combining a love for heavy rock with emotive playing, bundled together into a jaw dropping neoclassical playing style.
In terms of technique, Yngwie makes heavy use of harmonic minor scales, but it’s his playing style that sets Yngwie firmly out from his contemporaries. By combining strict alternate picking and arpeggios, interspersed with plenty of pull offs and heavy distortion, he creates a modern take on Bach, who Malmsteen often cites as one of his biggest influences. Check out the 'Arpeggios From Hell' video below to have a see for yourself.
As a playing style this is very difficult to master. Often referred to as ‘sweep picking’, this technique usually takes years of practice, however Yngwie has a scalloped fretboard that has effectively ‘scooped out’ the wood between the frets allowing for a lighter touch.