How To Play Guitar, Malmsteen Style

author: awesomo41894 date: 03/29/2011 category: guitar gurus
rating: 5.9 / votes: 8 
So, you wanna play guitar like Yngwie Malmsteen, or any other classical influenced guitarist for that matter? Well in this lesson, I'm going to try and show you what I know about Yngwie Malmsteens playing style, from his chord usage, to his scale usage, to some licks in his style. And, before we begin, MALMSTEEN ALWAYS TUNES DOWN HALF A STEP (so Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, Eb)! However, any theory references for the sake of ease will refer to the notes as if they were played on a Standard tuned guitar. This lesson will be more theory based then anything, but I have many more Malmsteen style examples available per request. Here's the order of the lesson: 1. Yngwie's Primary Influences 2. Yngwie's Chord Usage 3. Yngwie's Scale Usage Ok, so now that you know the order, lets get started. Yngwie's Primary Influences His 3 most significant influences are Niccolo Paganini (a nineteenth century Violinist), Ritchie Blackmore (His whole look, his guitar choice, his use of fifths in his chord progressions), and Uli John Roth. If you wanna play like him, its crucial that you look at all three of these guys playing to get an understanding of what he was influenced by. Another influence, that doesn't show up much in his playing, but is what made him start playing guitar, was Jimi Hendrix. He's been quoted as saying he started playing guitar the day Hendrix died. Yngwie's Chord Usage Malmsteen's chord usage is pretty diverse. He's used everything from powerchords, to diminished chords, to regular major and minor chords. He uses his knowledge of chords not only in his rhythm playing, but in his solos as well, in the form of sweep picking, and tapping. I will give you an example of all the chords I think are crucial to playing and writing like him. These will all be in the key of A minor, or A harmonic Minor (Remember, these are all moveable shapes, I'm not gonna get super technical and name all the chords, because I want this lesson to help everyone with minimal confusion). Chord 1: He uses this chord a lot in his riffs, I would consider it one of his main chords.
e|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|
G|-----------5--------------|
D|-----------7--------------|
A|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|
Chord 2: This is where Ritchie Blackmore's influence can be seen.
e|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|
G|-----------7--------------|
D|-----------7--------------|
A|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|
Chord 3: Just an average powerchord.
e|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|
G|-----------5--------------|
D|-----------3--------------|
A|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|
Chord 4: He uses this a lot in his chorus's and verses, depending on what he wants to do with the song.
e|--------------------------|
B|-----------5--------------|
G|-----------4--------------|
D|-----------6--------------|
A|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|
Chord 5: This is another chord that he'll play and hold for awhile, just like the previous one.
e|--------------------------|
B|-----------8--------------|
G|-----------9--------------|
D|-----------10-------------|
A|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|
Those five chords are VERY commonly used in his playing, and while he has used MANY more, these are very important as far as writing his style of guitar riffs. Now, as I said before, he uses Chords in his lead playing too, usually in the form of Swept arpeggios, or tapped licks. I will give you a few examples of how he uses chords and arpeggios in his soloing. When learning any of these arpeggios, practice them SLOWLY! That's the only way you will ever play them clean. If you don't already know how to sweep, to sum it up in a few words, sweep picking is playing arpeggios quickly with each note played seperately. My advice on how to do it is: 1. FOLLOW the suggested sweeping patterns 2. Sweep Lightly 3. Use a circular wrist motion (Well it's more of an oval) 4. PRACTICE SLOW! That's the key. If you still don't understand sweep picking, check out my neoclassical shred guitar lesson on this site, it has an indepth section on sweep picking. Now for the examples: Notation p - pull off h - hammer on ^ - up pick/sweep v - down pick/sweep Example 1: This is a really basic 3 string A minor Arpeggios
e|-----12-17p12------------|
B|---13---------13---------|
G|-14--------------14------|
D|-------------------------|
A|-------------------------|
E|-------------------------|
   ^  ^ ^ V     V   ^
Example 2: Another basic three string sweep, this time the diminished shape. This is used a lot in Malmsteen's playing (He only uses these when he's playing in the harmonic minor, its the only place these work (well at least)). Now, with this shape there is a trick, if you want to play another diminished arpeggio in the same key, all you have to do is either add a multiple of three to every note in the arpeggio, or Subtract a multiple of three. I'll show you what I mean. The basic Diminished Shape
e|-------10-13p10-----------|
B|----12----------12--------|
G|-13----------------13-----|
D|--------------------------|
A|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|
   ^  ^  ^  v     v  ^
The next Diminished shape using the multiple of three rule
e|-------10-13p10-------------13-16p13------|
B|----12----------12-------15----------15---|
G|-13----------------13-16----------------16|
D|------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------|
   ^  ^  ^  v      v v   ^ ^  ^  v      v  v
Example 3: This is another version of an A minor Arpeggio. This is in my opinion the most difficult 3 string sweep, and one that malmsteen uses heavily. You have to roll your finger to perform this sweep correctly.
e|--8p5-------5-------------|
B|------5---5---------------|
G|--------5-----------------|
D|--------------------------|
A|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|
   V    V ^ ^ ^
Example 4: This is a Major arpeggio shape. He doesn't use these as often as the ones already discusses, but he does use them.
e|-15p12----------12--------|
B|-------13----13-----------|
G|----------12--------------|
D|--------------------------|
A|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|
   V     V  ^  ^  ^   
Example 5: Yet another variation on the minor sweep pattern. This is an A minor arpeggio.
e|-12p8---------8-----------|
B|------10---10-------------|
G|---------9----------------|
D|--------------------------|
A|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|
   V     V ^  ^ ^
Example Six: A five String A minor arpeggio. This one is used in almost EVERY neoclassical song ever written.
e|-17p12---------------------------12---------|
B|-------13---------------------13------------|
G|----------14---------------14---------------|
D|-------------14---------14------------------|
A|----------------15-12h15--------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------|
   V     V   V  V  V  ^    ^  ^  ^  ^
Example Seven: This will be my last Sweep picking example before I show you how to combine them, it's another A minor Arpeggio, that Malmsteen uses in his playing.
e|-12p8-------------------------8----------|
B|------10-------------------10------------|
G|---------9---------------9---------------|
D|-----------10---------10-----------------|
A|--------------12-8h12--------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------|
   V     V V  V  V  ^    ^  ^  ^  ^
Arpeggio Lick 1: Here's an example on how Malmsteen use's arpeggios.
e|-17p12----------12-13p10----------10-10p7--------7-12---|
B|-------13----13----------12----12---------9----9--------|
G|----------14----------------13--------------10----------|
D|--------------------------------------------------------|
A|--------------------------------------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------------|
   V     V  ^  ^  ^  V     V  ^   ^  ^  V   V  ^ ^ ^  V
Arpeggio Lick 2: Another example
e|-17p12----------12-17p13----------13-17p12------12-17---|
B|-------13----13----------15----15---------13--13--------|
G|----------14----------------14--------------14----------|
D|--------------------------------------------------------|
A|--------------------------------------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------------|
   V      V ^  ^  ^  V     V  ^  ^  ^  V    V ^  ^ ^  V
For more examples, you should check out some actual Malmsteen songs, such as Fire and Ice, Eclipse, and Rising Force. Those three songs have GREAT arpeggio sections in them, Fire and Ice being the Hardest, Rising Force being the easiest. Yngwie's Scale Usage Malmsteen's songs are mostly composed around either the Natural Minor Scale (AKA Aeolian) or the Harmonic Minor Scale. In this section, I will explain what those two are, how to play them, and give you a few lick examples. Let's start with the Natural Minor (Or the Aeolian) Scale. To fully understand where the Natural Minor comes from, you first have to understand the Major Scale, so I will explain that too. For the sake of ease, we will stay in the key of C major/A minor for this whole section. The Major Scale: The major scale is the basis of almost all western based music. It is vital to know in order to improvise and compose music successfully. The major scale in the key of C contains the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. The C is called the Root note, or the tonic, The D is called the Supertonic, The E is called the Mediant, The F the Subdominant, the G the Dominant, the A the Submediant, and the B the Subtonic. These are fancy names that refer to each note in the scale. Albeit the fact that they are not ABSOLUTELY crucial to know, they are good to remember. The formula for the major scale is (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) or W,W,H,W,W,W,H (W meaning whole step or two frets, H meaning Half Step or 1 Fret). It is very important to remember this formula because almost every other scale is based off of it. So, here's how you could play C major on the E string, starting at a C note.
e|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-8-10-12-13-15-17-19-20------------------------------------------|
However, this is not very practical. So here's a way you can play the C major scale over 6 strings.
e|--------------------------------------8-10-12--------------------|
B|------------------------------8-10-12----------------------------|
G|-------------------------9-10------------------------------------|
D|-----------------9-10-12-----------------------------------------|
A|---------8-10-12-------------------------------------------------|
E|-8-10-12---------------------------------------------------------|
This is a little more practical, it gives you plenty of possible uses. Now, you are probably going, well how does this help me? I don't want to know the C major Scale, I want to know the A minor (Aeolian) scale. Well, the A minor Scale comes from the C major scale. A aeolian is the sixth mode of the C major scale. What that means, is you look at the notes in the C major scale, and you find the sixth note, which is A, and the will be the minor scale that goes with C major. So, the notes of A minor are (A,B,C,D,E,F,G). The order of modes goes: Ionian (Or major) Dorian Phrygian Lydian Mixolydian Aeolian (or Minor) Locrian. In C Major that would be: C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian, and B Locrian. To find these anywhere on the neck, you just find the root of the mode, so for A aeolian, find an A note, and play the cooresponding notes from there, so A B C D E F and G. You can play this in many ways. I have however, written up a tab in Guitar pro 5 (I could put it in PDF format too) that gives you 7 patterns to remember that will let you play in any mode without having to think to much. Ok, now the Harmonic Minor scale is an alteration of the Aeolian (or minor) scale. All you do to get the Harmonic Minor scale, is you sharp the Dominant (or G in A minor). The formula is (1,2,3,4,5,6,#7) so A harmonic Minor would be A B C D E F G#. This gives the minor scale a much more evil sound quality. Now that you know what the minor and major scales are, here are some licks. Lick one: A simple A harmonic Minor lick that's used a lot in Malmsteen's playing. (~-vibrato)
e|-10-13-12-13-10-13-12-13-8-12-10-12-7-10-8-10-5~-----------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
Lick two:
e|-12h13p12p10----------------10-----------------------------------|
B|-------------13-12-10-12-13----13-12-10-9~-----------------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
So, Now you have an understanding on his Chord and Scalar usage, there's only one thing left to do, leave you with an example on his playing style. I have longer ones by request, but heres a small rhythm and lead example.The rhythm is sixteenth notes for the first bar, bar 2 is half notes, the rest are 16ths. /=Slide in from below)
e|-12p10-------------------10-13p10----------13-16p13----/19ZYABLA~HUYABLA~----|
B|-------13-12-10ZYABLA~HUYABLA~----12----------12----15----------15-----------|
G|-------------------13----------------16--------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
 |
e|---------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------|
E|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-1-1-1-1-|
 
e|------19-20-19-17-16~---------------16-17-16---------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------18-17~--------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
 |
e|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
G|----5---------------------------------5--------------------------|
D|----7---------------------------------5--------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
 
e|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-17-15-13-12-15-13-12-10-13-12-10---12h10-------10---------------|
G|----------------------------------13------13-12----13-12-10s9ZYABLA~HUYABLA--|
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
 |
e|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|--0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0--------------------------------|
That's the end of my VERY short example. I have a few other examples, plus the aforementioned easy way to remember modes, tabbed, and can send them to you per request. Just shoot me a message. Also, if you have any questions don't be afraid to ask. I hope this lesson helps you with your guitar playing, and gives you some insight into Malmsteen's style.
More awesomo41894 lessons:
+ Neoclassical Shred Guitar Music Styles 07/08/2009
+ Shred Guitar Speed Picking And Sweep Picking Music Styles 05/29/2009
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