“Even Eddie Van Halen – god bless him, I love him – was mainly pentatonic. I was radically different”: Yngwie Malmsteen on Rising Force and the introduction of a neoclassical shred icon

Yngwie Malmsteen live onstage in 1985, shredding a red Stratocaster
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Before there was an Yngwie Malmsteen, players like Ritchie Blackmore, Brian May and Uli Jon Roth had been experimenting with classical-inspired ideas in the context of hard rock, although it’s safe to say they remained very much rooted in the pentatonic blues. 

When the Swedish maverick unleashed his debut in 1984, however, it was unlike anything anyone had ever heard, and it would go on to kickstart a whole movement of guitarists dedicating their lives to neoclassical sounds. 

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Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences as a guitar player. He's worked for magazines like Kerrang!Metal HammerClassic RockProgRecord CollectorPlanet RockRhythm and Bass Player, as well as newspapers like Metro and The Independent, interviewing everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handled lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).