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Tell me about your new Fender Yngwie Malmsteen “Play Loud” Custom Shop Stratocaster.
It’s crazy. When I first came to the states I took an extra pair of pants, a toothbrush and one guitar. I just went! That guitar is the guitar you can see on the cover of Rising Force (’71 Fender Stratocaster). It has a lot of miles on it. Fender told me they wanted to do a tribute. It’s an incredible honor. The way they made it is absolutely frightening! It’s mind bending how they could make a guitar that looks and feels exactly like a guitar that’s over thirty years old. It’s just amazing.
Is your original “Play Loud” guitar retired?
Yeah. I don’t really take it out anymore. I have a few of the new ones on tour. I alternate them with the regular Fender Yngwie Malmsteen model guitars. Those are amazing guitars too. It’s ridiculous how good they play. I had a special one made in Ferrari red.
Have you bought any new gear lately?
No, I haven’t. I’m a purist. Once I find something I really love then I never change from it. Once I find it, that’s it. That goes for my guitar, amps, even down to watches and cars. I’m very particular about what I use. I view my instruments more like a violinist would appreciate a Stradivarius. He’s not going to go look for a different one. It has the sound and now the sound is there. All I have to do is be inventive and not push a button to get something else.
Yeah, but I saw you play a Flying V in Alcatrazz.
I have a lot of different guitars. I have Les Pauls, Flying Vs and all kinds of things. I like them. They’re really good but they’re not even in the same universe as far as the actual tool of what I use. It’s about getting my sound and having that feel.
Do you have a favorite Marshall head?
I have so many now. I have one I left at home that I used for the last few albums. It’s an old Marshall Plexi 50 watt. It’s got a really nice tone. I like the 50 and 100 watts and I also have a couple of 200 watt Majors as well. I use that on stage. It’s called a Marshall Major. It’s very rare. They only made them for a couple of years. It’s 200 watts! (Laughing) I love the way it looks. It looks the same as a regular Marshall head but it’s fatter. I use old stuff, vintage amps and cabs. I might have to replace some of that stuff because it’s really old. They’re all stock too, nothings changed.
What about effects? Do you still use your DOD signature overdrive?
They don’t make them anymore, but I’ve been using the original DOD 250 Overdrive since the seventies. It’s always been there. Boss made me a really good noise gate and a good chorus. I don’t use effects that much. I use a couple of delays to split the signal across the stage to get a fugue effect. I also have a super old echo unit that’s a piece of shit that I like to make noise with (Laughing).
How do you have your delays set up for solos?
It’s totally dry. No delay. It’s dry all the way through but I have a pre-set where I can split the signal in stereo. I think it’s eight milliseconds where I can play counter point with myself. That’s the only effect, but for solos it’s completely dry.
Tell me about your book.
I started it a couple of years ago and I took a break. It’s going to be out one of these days.
Is this a tell all book about you on the road and getting arrested?
It’s everything! From me growing up in Sweden, to all the bad things and all the good things. Things completely involved with the musical thing, but lots of personal things as well.
When you’re driving around in your Ferrari what music do you listen to?
Lately all the stuff I work on, but if I were to put something on it would be Vivaldi, Bach, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and stuff like that. Sometimes I turn on the radio and listen to classic rock.
One of my favorite records of yours is Inspiration. You covered a lot of great bands. Rush, Kansas, Rainbow, …even Holdsworth! (Laughing)
That was a fun record! I would like to do another one but my hands are full. I don’t have time to do anything. Even when I’m not on tour I wake up in the morning and I do interviews all day. Perpetual Flame is the top priority for everything right now.
When you have down time do you try not to play guitar to take a break?
No. I always have a little Marshall hooked up to a guitar. Even when I watch TV I play quite a lot. I do a lot of other things like play tennis, but the music is always there.
Does it ever feel like work?
It hardly ever feels like work. The work part is the traveling and all that, but the playing is not work.
Is there a side to your playing that people don’t know about? Do you sit and play Beatle love songs for example?
Sure, why not! I can do that! (Laughing) Most of time I just noodle around. I don’t play set things. I improvise. I just play whatever. That’s how things come out. Improvisation is the genesis of composition. You can’t compose if you don’t improvise. That’s how new tunes come out.
It’s a tuning issue. I play the guitars really hard. Sometimes the high E will be a little low and move around. I don’t like that. The tailpiece or bridge can move and I’d rather just switch it.
Even your critics admit you have excellent pitch and vibrato. Where does that come from?
I’ve always been very particular about pitch and vibrato. It’s always been the back seat of people’s view of what I do. They always talk about the speed. Pitch and vibrato is really where it’s at for me. It just goes along with the whole plethora of expression. I always was very much into the classical violin sound. I always loved the dramatic sound of that. Pitch is just something that came naturally because I came from a musical family. We were very particular about that as I grew up. You couldn’t be singing out of tune or anything like that! (Laughing)