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TECH SESSIONS_YNGWIE MALMSTEEN

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62 Guitar Interactive Issue 52


YNGWIE MALMSTEEN TECH SESSION

TECH
SESSION
With a career that has spanned 40 years and with over
twenty albums to his name, Yngwie Malmsteen’s influence on
modern electric guitar is remarkable. By drawing influences
from classical composers such as Bach, Paganini, and Vivaldi,
and fusing it with contemporary stylings, he is a founding
father of the neo-classical genre. Nick Jennisonexplores the
incredible techniques of YJM in this issue’s Tech Session.

www.guitarinteractivemagazine.com 63
TECH SESSIONS_YNGWIE MALMSTEEN

T
here have been only a small hand- Equal parts Blackmore and Paganini and
ful of guitarists that can claim to aged just 19, Yngwie’s staggering technique,
have revolutionised the way we inventiveness and ferocity shook the guitar
think about our instrument. Take the emer- playing world to its core. It was a musical
gence of Edward Van Halen, for example; and technical paradigm shift that gave birth
almost overnight, the guitar playing world to a wave of “neo-classical” guitar heroes,
was turned on its head as gunslingers across including Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker, Marty
the globe desperately tried to work what on Friedman and Vinnie Moore. If we were ever
earth was going on in Eruption. Earlier still, to carve a rock guitar, Mount Rushmore, his
Jimi Hendrix had the guitaring greats of the face would be on it – probably wearing avia-
era hanging their heads in defeat. So it was tors.
in 1983 when Yngwie Malmsteen (Yngwie
J. Malmsteen, mind you) was unleashed on Make no mistake, Yngwie is a genuine, bona
unsuspecting guitar players everywhere. fide guitar god. And now, dear reader, we’re
going to see what makes him tick.

Yngwie Malmsteen Tech Session Performance

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YNGWIE MALMSTEEN TECH SESSION

GENERAL GUIDANCE PICKING RULES

As you work through this tech session, I As previously mentioned, Yngwie’s pick-
think it’s important to keep a few things ing technique follows a very strict set of
in mind: rules that are not only remarkably elegant
and efficient but are also absolutely criti-
Yngwie has a deeply idiosyncratic techni- cal to nailing the Yngwie sound.
cal and musical style, and it’s these quirks
that make his playing so unique and The pick must move in a relatively
instantly recognisable. We’re going to be straight line, but at approximately a
focusing not only on the types of lines Yn- 45-degree angle to the plane of the
gwie plays, but most importantly how he strings. Downstrokes move towards the
plays them. I’ve chosen to stick faithfully pickguard and “bury” between the strings,
to Yngwie’s (somewhat unconventional) while upstrokes pull up and away from
technical style, which involves a strict set the pickguard.
of picking rules that I’ll outline in a mo-
ment. While this is not the only way - and String changes, where possible, happen
perhaps not even the most efficient way - after an upstroke. This is because the
to play the lines in this study, it’s the only picking angle mentioned above causes
way to really capture the Yngwie “vibe”, upstrokes to “escape” the plane of the
and it’s definitely worth the effort. strings.

Much of Yngwie’s playing is improvised, When there is an even number of notes


and his feel is often quite rubato. Don’t on a string (2, 4, 6, etc.), strict alternate
focus on matching the complex rhythmic picking is possible.
groupings in this study exactly, but rather When there is an odd number of notes on
concentrate on starting and finishing in a string (3, 5, etc.) during an ASCEND-
the right place, and allowing the notes in ING line, the last note will be a down-
between to flow freely. stroke followed by a sweep to play the first
Yngwie is a comparatively light picker and note on the next string.
has an incredibly deft left-hand touch. When there is an odd number of notes on
Stay loose! a string (3, 5, etc.) during a DESCEND-
This piece is really hard! Don’t expect to ING line, the last note on the string will
master it straight away. Take it one section be a pull-off followed by a downstroke to
at a time, and with effort and dedication, play the first note on the next string. »
you’ll get there. Good luck!

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TECH SESSIONS_YNGWIE MALMSTEEN

This sounds like a lot to take in, but once you master this system, you’ll find it’s
strangely intuitive and very effective indeed. Most importantly, however, it sounds
right.

BARS 1-2:

We begin with a short sweep followed by a wide “classical” vibrato on the high F#
note. This is achieved by pulling the string towards the bridge then pushing it towards
the headstock, rather than the “ceiling-to-floor” motion used to create the more tradi-
tional “rock” vibrato that appears at the end of this phrase. Your “rock” vibrato should
be wide and intense, but medium in speed - go too fast and you’ll sound like Zakk! »

66 Guitar Interactive Issue 52


TECH SESSIONS_YNGWIE MALMSTEEN

BAR 3: sweep. For maximum authenticity, palm


mute the G and B strings.
This is the first time we come across
a recurring feature in this piece, the BAR 4:
3-string arpeggio. Here we’re playing
inversions of an Em arpeggio (with a There are two distinct Yngwie-isms
cheeky E major on the final repetition), on display here - a single string “fours”
but later in the piece, we’ll use the same sequence and a descending legato run in
picking pattern to execute Am and di- the “Black Star” or “harmolean” shape
minished 7th arpeggios too, so let’s take (so-called because it’s a mix of harmonic
this time to get it right. The upstrokes minor and aeolian scales). Focus on the
used to play this line are not actually downstroke at the beginning of each
sweeps, but individual “escaped” up- fours pattern, and you’ll be fine. Flick
strokes, while the three consecutive to your bridge pickup as you begin the
downstrokes are played as one long slide into the legato run, and give it
some big vibrato at the bottom!

Yngwie Malmsteen Tech Session Lesson Part 1

68 Guitar Interactive Issue 52


YNGWIE MALMSTEEN TECH SESSION

BARS 5: diminished 7th chord, inspired by I’ll


See The Light Tonight. Big vibrato, as
Here we have the same arpeggio me- per usual!
chanic as bar 3, but on an Am arpeggio.
BARS 12-13:
BARS 6-7:
Here we enter the “theme” of the piece
Big vibrato and bends precede a long - a harmonized pedal-tone figure in-
picking run inspired by Far Beyond The spired by Black Star. It’s a big stretch,
Sun. This run is best thought of in two but at this speed, it’s really best to try
parts - a series of descending “fours” and keep the all the notes (barring the
on a single string, followed by a “threes last one) on one string if you can. While
and fours” run across the strings. For re-positioning the 12th fret E note on
the single string run, concentrate on the the B string (17th fret) will undoubt-
downstroke at the start of each set of edly feel easier on the left hand, it’ll play
fours as in bar 4. The “threes and fours” havoc with the picking, and it’s not how
run that follows begins with a legato Yngwie would do it - we’ve come this
“pickup,” then two seven note groups far in the name of authenticity, it seems
of “DOWN-up-pull off-DOWN-up- a shame to give up now. To keep your
down-up,” first on the B and G strings, picking consistent, focus on striking
then on the D and A strings. Visualise the first two notes with downstrokes,
these two groups separately, and you’ll and hitting the last three as “down-up-
be fine. DOWN.”
BARS 8-11: The soaring unison bends that follow
Take a breather! We’ve got some low are also straight out of Black Star.
chugs followed by a surprisingly easy BARS 14-15:
flurry on the low two strings. In bar 9,
we re-visit the classic “Black Star/har- We’ve got the same pedal point there,
molean” shape, with picking this time. followed by another picking run that
There’s a legato flourish on the high E makes use of the “threes and fours”
string, followed by four picked notes on mechanic from bar 7. For the natural
the B, “DOWN-up-pull off ” on the G harmonic, give it some vigorous wham-
and D strings. Pick lightly, and concen- my bar vibrato if you have one, or if you
trate on the first downstroke on each don’t (as I didn’t) you can bend behind
string. In bar 11 we’ve got some ascend- the nut to achieve the desired effect! »
ing tritone intervals outlining a dramatic

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TECH SESSIONS_YNGWIE MALMSTEEN

BARS 16-17: on the high note during my performance


wasn’t intentional, but I couldn’t help my-
Time for some tapping! While you might self! You should feel similarly free to deco-
not immediately associate Yngwie with rate these lines as you see fit.
this technique, a quick look at some con-
cert footage will show he uses it pretty For the legato run (which makes use of
regularly! Here, we’re tapping every right- our now familiar “Black Star/harmolean”
hand note but the first one twice. Concen- shape), flip to your bridge pickup as you
trate on the first tap in each position and begin the long descending slide. Think
let the notes in between follow naturally. about this run in three-string groups. Keep
your picking light and your pull-offs ag-
BARS 18-19: gressive to get that “meowing” sound.
One more time around our theme, fol- BARS 22-23:
lowed by the now familiar 3-string arpeg-
gio pattern, this time outlining a very char- The descending trills outline a diminished
acteristic diminished 7th tonality. Yngwie 7th chord, harmonised in parallel minor
uses this kind of line all the time, and it’s 3rds (much like the arpeggios in bar 19).
easy to see why! Again, there are perhaps For the chromatic pull-offs, it helps to
more efficient ways to play this, but they target the highest notes on the E and G
won’t sound as authentic as the approach strings and let the remaining notes take
we’re using here. care of themselves. If you finish too quick-
ly (like I did), keep going onto the A and
BARS 20-21: E strings as long as you need!
The next segment focuses on some of the BARS 24-25:
techniques and ideas that Yngwie uses fre-
quently, but perhaps don’t get talked about Inspired by his infamous Blues Solo and
enough. We’re also moving from a har- Red House performances, Yngwie’s fierce
monic minor tonality (in E) to a phrygian blue rock playing doesn’t get anywhere
dominant vibe (in B). While E harmonic near the attention it deserves. The slightly
minor and B phrygian dominant share the bonkers stretch that starts this lick is chal-
same notes, we’re leaning heavily on B, D# lenging and requires a light but accurate
and F#, which gives us that characteristic touch. If you can’t manage it, consider
phrygian dominant vibe. You don’t need either tapping the high notes or re-posi-
me to tell you something different going tioning the 7th fret B on the 2nd string (at
on though; it’s pretty clear to hear! the 12th fret) - as ever though, this comes
at the expense of authenticity and right-
We begin with a legato run following a hand ease.
screaming high note. The ornamentation

70 Guitar Interactive Issue 52


YNGWIE MALMSTEEN TECH SESSION

The bluesy lick that follows is more akin the ascending direction. It’s surprisingly
to Eric Johnson’s legendary 5s mechanic. elegant once you get the hang of it, and
Yngwie and Eric are actually quite similar definitely worth persevering with.
when it comes to picking strategies (de-
spite being worlds apart musically). The
key to making this work is hitting the 7th BARS 32-39:
fret note on the E string with an escaped Here we enter the solo section, inspired
upstroke, and sweeping on the G-to-B in no small part by Far Beyond The Sun.
string and D-to-G string crosses. You can We’re also back in our phrygian dominant
approach this with a more aggressive right- tonality, this time in E. The riffs are fid-
hand touch, but be sure to lighten up for dly, but work well if you follow the picking
the next few licks. rules laid out earlier. Stay light on the trills,
BARS 26-27: or you’ll risk running out of steam.

A three-note legato version of the dimin- BARS 40-42:


ished 7th arpeggio. Concentrate on the first We launch into the first solo with a de-
note of each group, and playing one repeti- scending run straight from Far Beyond
tion, two lots of two, one again and finally which makes use on one of Yngwie’s fa-
two lots of two (one-two-two-one-two- vourite harmonic minor pathways and once
two). The right way to play this would be again falls squarely within the established
to sweep on all of the B-to-E string crosses, picking system. A screaming high bend
but an alternative method would be to precedes a long set of ascending 4s. Once
hammer the B string notes without picking again, focus on the downstroke that starts
them. each group to keep your hands in sync.
BARS 28-31: BARS 43-44:
Two more pedal tone themes, with two The legato passage that starts this phrase is
examples of Yngwie’s ascending picking almost identical to line in bar 4, but trans-
mechanics. Put simply; every new string posed into our new key. We’re starting to
must start with a downstroke. When play- notice the same patterns cropping up again
ing even numbers of notes on a string, you and again, and that’s a good thing!
can use alternate picking as each string will
finish with an escaped downstroke. If there BARS 45-48:
is an odd number of notes on a string, you
should sweep to get to the new string. This A monster of a lick, demonstrating Yngwie’s
is what we’d generally refer to as “economy tendency to phrase “across the bar lines”.
picking,” except Yngwie only does this in Don’t focus on getting all the »

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TECH SESSIONS_YNGWIE MALMSTEEN

complex rhythmic groups exactly right - When it’s our turn to go again, we have
that’s not the point here. The idea is to a string skipping version of the 6es me-
start and finish in the right place rhythmi- chanic discussed in bars 45-46. This is
cally and allow the remaining notes to fall made possible by starting each group on
where they may. a downstroke and finishing on an escaped
upstroke, and it’s pretty damn difficult any
We begin with an interrupted version of other way! The ascending run that follows
bar 40’s Far Beyond shape, followed by is an amalgamation of the ones found in
a screaming high slide. This transitions bars 29 and 31 - if you’ve mastered those,
neatly into the iconic Yngwie 6es pattern this one should feel quite comfy.
(it took some willpower to wait until now
to bust it out!). Essentially, the pattern is BARS 57-62:
made up of three notes grouped as “high-
low-middle-high-middle-low” - in this in- That pesky keyboard player is at it again!
stance we play C-A-B-C-B-A. Focus on the Better show them who’s boss. Some trem-
downstroke at the start of each pattern to olo picking sets us up neatly for a one-two
stay in sync. After a brief pause on fret 20, punch of descending one string fours fol-
we launch into a deciding version of the lowed by a “threes and fours” descending
now familiar “threes and fours” pattern, run. We’ve seen these ideas a few times
but this time inverted (fours and threes!). already in this piece, and if you’ve made it
Finally, we’ve got a ripping ascending E this far you’ll know exactly how to handle
major sweep arpeggio with a soaring slide them.
bend up to a high E. If you have 22 frets, BARS 63-64:
you can slide to there and bend the rest
of the way. If (like I was) you’re playing a Here we have a cool example of what Yn-
guitar with 21 frets you’ll have to tough gwie refers to as “pizzicato”, based on the
it out and bend a tone and a half to reach violin technique of the same name. We’re
the highest note. With your pinky. Those sounding all the notes here (including the
.008s don’t seem so silly now, eh? open strings) with the left hand, outlining
an Am triad using the “6es” pattern from
BARS 49-56: bars 45-46 and 53-54 - the only differ-
Whew! Time for a rest. What Yngwie ence is that the low note in each group is
study would be complete without the an open e string. You may find that you
ubiquitous synth duel. Inspired by Jon race through this sequence too quickly - if
Lord and Richie Blackmore’s famous bat- you do, one more repetition of the high-
tles, we can take this moment to riff out est grouping (open 17 and 20) should fill
while our virtual keyboard player lays the time until the next lick! If on the other
down the gauntlet. hand, you’re a little slower getting through

72 Guitar Interactive Issue 52


YNGWIE MALMSTEEN TECH SESSION

Yngwie Malmsteen Tech Session Lesson Part 2

it, feel free to miss off the final repetition. reliable than trying to alternate pick each
Whatever works! note. Last but not least, we finish on a B
power chord and an E major - a composi-
BARS 65-68: tional technique known as tierce de picar-
Home stretch now, and we’ve got the same die, finishing our otherwise minor piece on
arpeggio sequence we started with, this a major chord. A suitably grandiose ending
time on those classic diminished 7th arpeg- to the musical odyssey (pun intended) that
gios. We’re in harmony with the guitar on we’ve just undertaken!
the backing track, so be sure to stay in time! I don’t know about you, but I need a cup
BARS 69-70: of tea after that! All that remains is to say
thank you, dear reader, for sticking with me
A dramatic finish, we’ve got an Em triad this far. It’s been a total privilege to bring
arpeggio with a bend up to the 24th fret you this look into the style of one of my
high E to kick us off. Because of the rela- heroes. I hope you enjoy learning this as
tively slow speed, it’s ok to play this with all much as I enjoyed writing it. Practise hard,
downstrokes - it’s plenty efficient and (in and more importantly – PLAY LOUD!
the Yngwie system at least) probably more
END «

www.guitarinteractivemagazine.com 73
TECH SESSIONS_YNGWIE MALMSTEEN GEAR REVIEW

THE
THE GEAR
A long with his monste
fiery delivery, a hug
makes Yngwie so im
incredible tone. While his sou
somewhat over the years, the r
damentally remained the same
DOD 250 overdrive, cranked
noise gate, and hall reverb. It’s
setup; there’s nowhere to hide
forgiven. You have to be totall
game, but if you can rise to th
tone is mesmerising. It’s like p
with the difficulty set on expe

The Strat I used for this sessio


Yngwie Malmsteen signature
and signed by the man himsel
loped fretboard is an experien

0
LL YJM10
M A R SH A
FENDER STRAT SIGNATURE MODEL

74 Guitar Interactive Issue 52


COLUMNS_ANDY TIMMONS

214 Guitar Interactive Issue 52


COLUMNS ELECTRIC GYPSY TAPPED HARMONICS

E L E C T R I C G Y P S Y
T A P P E D H A R M O N I C S

Andy Timmons brings his GuitarXperience to Guitar Interactive Magazine for


an exclusive lesson. In this issue, Andy breaks down the instantly recognisable
‘Tapped Harmonics’ technique used in the opening section of his instrumental
classic, “Electric Gypsy.”

T
apped harmonics are executed by
tapping on the actual fret, most
commonly 12 frets above the
fretted note, but also can be accomplished
by tapping any of the fret wires with proper
technique. Clear Tapped harmonics can also
be achieved by gently touching the string
over the fret instead of tapping the fret wire if
the guitar string is already ringing.

Have fun!

The Jimi Hendrix inspired, “Electric Gypsy”


was written and recorded in the early 90s
after Andy returned to Dallas after four years
of performing and touring the world with
Danger Danger. »

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COLUMNS_ANDY TIMMONS

216 Guitar Interactive Issue 52


COLUMNS ELECTRIC GYPSY TAPPED HARMONICS

The song has become a staple of his techniques, harmonic structure, difficult or
incredible live shows and features on Andy’s challenging phrases and even relative stories
critically-acclaimed instrumental debut behind the writing and recording process of
release from 1994, ‘Ear X-tacy.’ Featuring the original version of the song.
the original Andy Timmons Band and
showcasing Andy’s versatility in a wide Tabs and notation are included in each
variety of guitar styles and techniques, from lesson.
the super-fast to the soulful. Check out more from the Andy Timmons
This lesson is part of the Andy Timmons GuitarXperiance right here:
GuitarXperiance’s “Song of the Month.” www.guitarxperience.net
Every month, Andy breaks down an entire
song performance and will also go through END «

each section thoroughly explaining the

Electric Gypsy Tapped Harmonics

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