Sunday, April 29, 2012

The #12 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Yngwie Malmsteen

This guitarist is ultra-fast, who can come up with amazing rifts.  But he's also technical and precise:
#12:  Yngwie Malmsteen, Alcatrazz, Solo
35 years as an active guitarist
(Guitar solo with Alcatrazz...)

Yngwie Johann Malmsteen (real name Lars Johan Yngve Lannerback) was born June 30, 1963 in Stockholm, Sweden.  He became known for his neo-classical style in heavy metal.

At the age of seven, Lars saw footage of Jimi Hendrix burning and smashing his guitar and that is what inspired Malmsteen to play the guitar.  When he was 10, Lars took his mother's maiden name Malmsten and slightly changed it to Malmsteen as his surname, then anglicised his third given name to Yngwie.  He formed his first band, Track on Earth and practiced hard.  Malmsteen was a teenager when he became aware of the music of violinist composer Niccolo Paganini, whom Yngwie cites as his biggest classical influence.  Malmsteen also notes that Brian May, Ritchie Blackmore and Uli Jon Roth also had a great influence on his guitar playing.

In 1982, Mike Varney from Shrapnel Records, who had heard a demo tape of Malmsteen's guitar playing, brought Yngwie to the United States.  Yngwie worked briefly with Steeler and Alcatrazz before releasing his first solo album, Rising Force, in 1984.  

Rising Force was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Album and won Best Rock Album from Guitar Player magazine.  Yngie Malmsteen was on his way.  With vocalist Jeff Scott Soto again helping out, Malmsteen released Marching Out, while Mark Boals provided vocals for Malmsteen's album Triology in 1986.  

In 1988, Malmsteen released Odyssey, his most successful album due to the single "Heaven Tonight".  Concerts in Russia were recorded and released the following year under the title Trial By Fire:  Live in Leningrad.

In the early 1990's, Malmsteen released the albums Eclipse, The Yngwie Malmsteen Collection, Fire and Ice and The Seventh Sign.  He had a following in Europe and Japan, but had little exposure in the United States.  Malmsteen then released Magnum Opus in 1995, Inspiration in 1996, Facing the Animal in 1997, Double LIVE! in 1998 and Alchemy in 1999.
 In 2000, Yngwie signed with the small Spitfire label, enabling him to release his 1990s catalog into the U.S. for the first time.  After the release of War to End All Wars in 2000, singer Mark Boals left the band, replaced by Doogie White.  In 2003, Malmsteen joined Joe Satriani and Steve Vai for the G3 supergroup to showcase the talent of the three great guitarists.  

In 2005, Malmsteen released the album Unleash the Fury and followed that up with a DVD--Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E Flat Minor, Op. 1 with the New Japan Philharmonic.  Lead singer White left in 2008, with Tim Owens taking his place.  Perpetual Flame was released later that year and Yngwie followed with Relentless.  

Malmsteem picked up the ball from other neo-classical guitarists such as Ritchie Blackmore and Randy Rhoads and ran with it.  He is one of the masters of shredding.  He combines metal riffs with the virtuostic fury of single notes.  Yngwie utilizes alternate picking and finger picking using inversion.  He'll use the steel strings to create moody rhythm parts.  But he has blown people away with his speed and precision when he arrived on the scene in the mid-80's.  He blazes through harmonic minor runs and burns up the upper end of the fret board.

Malmsteen influenced many guitarists, including Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, Vinnie Moore and Jason Becker.

Malmsteen has long favored Fender Stratocasters, particularly from 1968-1972, saying the bigger headstock generates more sustain.  He uses a 1972 blonde Strat nicknamed "The Duck" because of its yellow finish and the Donald Duck stickers on the body.  In 1988, Fender released a Malmsteen signature Stratocaster in a Vintage White finish with a maple neck.  Malmsteen also plays the Rickenbacker bass guitars, the Gibson Flying J, the Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, Gibson SG's and an Ovation Viper Nylon String Electro-Acoustic. 

 Yngwie also has a signature YJM100 Marshall amplifier, based on the '1959' range.  He has also used the 1959 Plexi, the 1987X and 4x12 cabinets from Marshall, loaded with G30 Celestion speakers and the Rhino YJM150 Black Star Signature Amp Head.

For effects, Malmsteen chooses the Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble, the Ibanez TS-9 TubeScreamer, the Dunlop Crybaby Wah, DL-8000R delay units from Korg, TC Electronics G Force Multi FX, the Furman Power Conditioner, the Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro MIDI pedal board, the Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer, the Roland DC-10 analog echo and PK-5 MIDI pedals, the Boss OC-2 Octave, the Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, the Boss CH-1 Super Chorus, the Boss PS-5 Super Shifter, the Dunlop JH-F1 Hendrix Fuzz Face and the MXR Dyna Comp.

Malmsteen has proven through time that he has durability and has become a legendary guitar player.  Through countless speed-driven riffs but also highly melodic playing, he has incredible versatility not seen in many of The Top 100 Guitarists*.  His knowledge of music and precise, technical playing score valuable points in rating guitarists.  Yngwie Malmsteen comes in at #12 for the Rock Era*...

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