Yngwie Malmsteen: "The pentatonic scale is extremely limiting. I thought, 'There’s gotta be more…'"

(Image credit: Austin Hargrave)

It’s safe to say that when guitar fans talk about Yngwie Malmsteen - and electric guitar fans talk about Yngwie Malmsteen a lot - they don’t usually mention the word 'blues'. Rather, the Swedish virtuoso is, of course, firmly established as rock’s foremost exemplar of neoclassical shred guitar, and has been for a good 35 years.

During this time, he has seemingly run rampant over any limits that might have been deemed to exist regarding human finger speed, in the process crafting some of the most technically advanced, insanely acrobatic and, of course, ridiculously fast licks, riffs and solos in all of rock and metal. He is, as Malmsteen himself states to Guitar World, “a circus freak” guitarist, and in the very best sense of the phrase.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.