Yngwie Malmsteen Guitars and Gear List (2021 Update)

In the long, storied history of the electric guitar, few artists have blended classical and metal styles with the ferocity and melodic sensibility of Yngwie Malmsteen. Sweden’s shred-meister general took the lightning-fast technique of Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads and amplified it through his own baroque sensibility.

Yngwie Malmsteen Playing Guitar Live
Photo by Alterna2

Malmsteen continues to inspire awe and envy in audiences and peers alike to this day. Whether it’s with his solo band, touring in the all-star G3 project, or showcasing his jaw-dropping technique alongside symphony orchestras, Yngwie Malmsteen remains one of rock guitar’s foremost proponents.

What Guitars Does Yngwie Malmsteen Play?

Yngwie Malmsteen plays Fender Stratocaster guitars, his original being a 1970s model, known as “Duck”, which his signature model strat would be based on. Malmsteen’s 70s Strat, as well as his signature Strats, are notoriously finished in an aged vintage white color.

See the full list of Yngwie Malmsteen guitars and gear below.

Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Signature Stratocaster

Yngwie Malmsteen Fender Stratocaster Signature

Finish Vintage White
Years Used 1986 to Present

As surprising as it may seem these days, back in the 1980s Fender wasn’t in the signature model market. Although plenty of guitar players proudly endorsed their manufacturers of choice, the idea of sticking a player’s name and signature on a model was totally alien to the Fender corporation.

The 1980s shred fever gripped players around the world, the younger generation of guitarists preferred Charvel, Ibanez, and Jackson instruments. Stratocasters were horrifically uncool. In fact, Yngwie Malmsteen blamed none other than Eddie Van Halen for the unpopularity of Stratocasters, telling Ultimate Guitar that “when I came to the States, the Stratocaster was really out of fashion thanks to Eddie Van Halen, god bless him – it just wasn’t fashionable at all. Everybody wanted humbuckers and whammies and shit.” The fact that Edward Van Halen’s iconic “Frankenstrat” was built from Stratocaster parts appeared to be lost on his legions of imitators.

Despite the Stratocaster’s determined lack of hair-metal cool, Malmsteen remained a stalwart supporter of his beloved Strat. That’s why, when Fender finally caved and decided to produce signature guitars, Malmsteen was the first artist to ever receive a signature model. Yngwie himself told Guitar magazine about the experience, detailing how his debut solo album Rising Force, with a Stratocaster on the cover, changed Fender’s fortunes, and his, forever.

“They had been struggling a bit, then my Rising Force album came out, and not only did the album turn everything upside, but what’s on the cover? A Fender Strat. That fucking album saved their company! They said that when that album came out, they couldn’t build guitars fast enough; before that, they were selling nothing. So they came to me.”

Before that happened, I was being offered guitars from every guitar company and every amp company in the world. You name it. Gibson, even! ‘Whatever you want, we will give it to you.’ I said: ‘No thanks, Fender Strats, that’s it’.

Malmsteen was promptly rewarded for his loyalty (and Fender’s boost in sales) with a custom-built signature model. He even received the first guitar for free, an honor at the time bestowed only upon Yngwie Malmsteen and fellow Stratocaster loyalist Eric Clapton.

“But not only was I the first guy to get a signature model, I was the first guy to ever get a guitar for free from those guys. Fender never gave guitars to anybody! They didn’t give to Blackmore, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Hank Marvin, or whoever.”

Yngwie Malmsteen’s signature Stratocaster has been a fixture of Fender’s lineup ever since and remains an integral part of his guitar arsenal to this day. Fender has produced several signature models over the years, mostly based on his Number One or Duck Stratocasters.

The original 1986 Malmsteen Stratocaster was based almost entirely on his heavily modified 71 Strat. With its scalloped maple fretboard, vintage white finish, brass nut, and Dunlop 6000 fret wire, it allowed Malmsteen’s legions of fans to mimic his guitar acrobatics at home. At the time, the signature model featured a DiMarzio HS3 in the bridge and two DiMarzio YJM pickups (rebranded the HS4 since Malmsteen’s switch to Seymour Duncan) in the middle and neck positions. The YJM/HS4 is a staggered magnet version of the HS3, differently voiced to accommodate the tonal change based on pickup position.

Subsequent Malmsteen signature models, including Fender’s most recent crop, offered variations on the overall Malmsteen theme rather than outright replication of his own collection. One notable variation is the addition of signature guitars with rosewood fretboards rather than Yngwie’s preferred maple. Newer Malmsteen models also come in colors other than white, including red, pink, and blue. In 2010, Malmsteen moved from DiMarzio pickups to Seymour Duncan, who designed a signature set of high-powered single-coil pickups for Malmsteen’s personal use. These YJM Fury pickups were specifically designed to capture and enhance Yngwie Malmsteen’s characteristic tone.

The YJM Fury from Seymour Duncan uses high-output Alnico 5 magnets and wax potting to minimize the squealing feedback often associated with single-coil pickups performing under high gain. The pickup in the middle position features reverse wind and reverse polarity, meaning that using a combination of either the bridge and middle or neck and middle will mimic the effect of a humbucker, canceling the characteristic Fender “hum”. The Seymour Duncan YJM Fury set as found in Malmsteen’s signature Fender Stratocasters also has the pickups slightly mismatched, with the bridge pickup wound hotter to balance out the neck pickup, particularly when switching from chord-based rhythm playing to Malmsteen’s signature molten lead lines. Seymour Duncan takes canceling unwanted noise so seriously that they actually include an additional bottom coil that injects a “negative hum” into the guitar’s amplified signal.

Fender also occasionally clones Malmsteen’s iconic instruments for popular consumption.

One example of this is 2008’s “Play Loud” Stratocaster, a near-identical replica of The Duck. Malmsteen was so impressed by the replica that he retired The Duck, telling Premier Guitar “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.”

The “Play Loud” Custom Shop Stratocaster features an Olympic white finish with heavy aging. Where the paint has worn away, the guitar’s alder body is clearly visible. It features a similarly aged maple neck, with Malmsteen’s preferred scalloped fretboard. The guitar features the same pickups that The Duck once boasted, 2 Dimarzio HS-3 in the neck & bridge, while the middle position has a Standard Fender ’70s-era single-coil pickup. It also features Malmsteen’s preferred Dunlop 6000 fret wire, brass nut, a bullet truss rod nut, and Fender’s newly developed no-load tone control. On the oversized 70s-style headstock, it has Schaller tuning heads and a missing string tree, just like the original.

1972 Fender Stratocaster “The Duck”

Yngwie Malsteen 1971 Fender Stratocaster

Finish Blonde
Years Used 1976 to Present

“The Duck” is so named thanks to its aging blonde finish and a Donald Duck sticker on the headstock, as years went by, however, some aesthetics wore off. The guitar is also known as “play loud” thanks to a sticker emblazoned with these words on its upper horn.

The first appearance of this guitar was when Malmsteen was still playing in Alcatrazz. It boasts many of the features that he incorporated into his other instruments, including several distinctive customizations. Yngwie claims to prefer the larger headstock from 1970s Stratocasters as these increase the instrument’s sustain.

Malmsteen likely bought this Stratocaster in imitation of his guitar hero Ritchie Blackmore, who famously played a white Strat during his tenure in Deep Purple. He similarly claimed to be influenced (visually, not musically) by Jimi Hendrix, who is perhaps the artist most indelibly associated with Fender’s flagship instrument.

On another hand “The Duck” has seen significant alterations throughout its career, some more eccentric and unique than others. Considering that Yngwie Malmsteen emerged around the same time as Eddie Van Halen, he was perceived as his European-born proto-shred contemporary, he found the appointments on the guitars of the 1970s inadequate for his high-octane needs. While EVH hacked away at his instruments, assembling bizarre-looking Frankenstein guitars from various parts, on another hand a neoclassicist Yngwie adopted a subtler approach.

The most obvious change to his Stratocaster was its initial inclusion of DiMarzio single-coil pickups. DiMarzio, an American boutique pickup manufacturer, was a favorite among rock and metal players of the 1970s and 1980s. The double-cream Super Distortion humbucker graced albums from the likes of KISS, Iron Maiden, and Motley Crue. Unlike these artists, however, Malmsteen preferred the thinner sound of a single-coil pickup. As a result, he eschewed humbuckers entirely, adopting these high-output single-coil pickups. Surprisingly, considering the volume and distortion with which Malmsteen prefers to play, these DiMarzio pickups minimize unwanted humming and screeching, providing volume and saturation in their place.

Malmsteen also altered this guitar’s neck, transforming the 3-bolt Fender neck into a 4-bolt. This may have been to facilitate tuning stability or the physical integrity of the guitar during Malmsteen’s acrobatic performances.

Yngwie Malmsteen’s extensive and continuous modifications to his Stratocasters can neatly be sorted into two categories. There are changes to the guitar’s tone, in pursuit of a brighter, more aggressive, or more distorted sound, and changes to the guitar’s playability, in pursuit of a speedier, more ergonomic instrument.

Subtle changes to this guitar’s sound include Yngwie Malmsteen’s replacement of his guitar’s nut with one made of brass and the removal of the middle string tree from this Stratocaster’s headstock. The brass nut likely produces a brighter tone than the conventional bone or plastic nuts would have, and the removal of the string tree will likely have had a similar purpose. Eventually, Malmsteen replaced his DiMarzio pickups with signature model Seymour Duncan YJM single-coil pickups.

In order to make his guitars easier to play, Malmsteen also replaced the guitar’s stock fret wire with Dunlop 6000 fret wire. These taller, wider frets facilitated wider, more aggressive string bending and enabled a lighter, faster touch during Malmsteen’s legato runs. Malmsteen also switched to Wilkinson springs for his guitar’s tremolo, which aid in tuning stability and enable him to perform dive bombs without the guitar going out of tune, or requiring the use of a fiddly Floyd Rose tremolo system.

The most extreme alteration Malmsteen made to his Stratocaster was the scalloping of its frets. Scalloping a fretboard involves scooping the wood out from between its frets, resulting in a “u” shape between each fret. This means that the guitarist’s fingers don’t come into contact with the fretboard, instead only touching the string and the empty air below it. Yngwie’s hero, Ritchie Blackmore, was a notable early adopter of the scalloped fretboard and was likely the inspiration behind Malmsteen’s own.

The painstaking process of scalloping requires a master luthier to slowly file the wood away in between the frets. Doing so fundamentally changes the way the guitar is played. As such, few guitarists adopt scalloped fretboards. Because the player’s fingers are only in contact with the guitar’s string, not the fretboard, there is no friction, allowing for easier bends and vibrato. Malmsteen’s fluid bends and rapid vibrato are major aspects of his playing style, facilitated by his scalloped fretboard.

Initially, Malmsteen also disconnected the tone control of his Stratocaster entirely. Conventional Stratocaster circuitry features a single volume knob and two tone controls. The tone knobs typically acted as treble filters and were popular among guitarists looking to tame the “quacking” tone of a Stratocaster. In addition to this, the Stratocaster’s naturally treble-heavy tone risked sounding harsh at higher volumes. The Strat’s dual-tone potentiometers were designed to allow players some semblance of EQ control, filtering out certain frequencies to bring out the best in their guitar tone.

However, among hard rock and metal players, the tone knob was seldom if ever used. Distorted tones required less EQing, and the treble-heavy sound of a Stratocaster through a Marshall amp provided plenty of note definition and clarity. To avoid complications, Yngwie Malmsteen bypassed his tone controls entirely, leaving only the volume control connected to his guitar signal.

Yngwie Malmsteen’s 1972 Stratocaster features an ash body with a finished maple neck. The fretboard features black dot inlays and is attached to the body by the aforementioned four bolts. As a 1972 CBS-era model, it boasts the oversized headstock common to 1970s Stratocasters, a feature that Malmsteen prefers on his guitars to this day. The guitar’s lightweight construction and plentiful aftermarket additions make it a high-speed shred machine.

Furthermore, as the 80s grew closer to their end, Yngwie was approached by Fender with the hopes of developing a signature model to his name, as he agreed his only specifications were to follow the amounted modifications he had made to his original “Duck” Stratocaster. Overall, this is easily one of the most iconic Yngwie Malmsteen guitars of all time.

“Number One” 1971 Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster Number One

Finish Vintage White
Years Used 1976 to Present

A near-identical clone of “The Duck”, the “Number One” Stratocaster eventually replaced its original sibling as Malmsteen’s main guitar.

If the Duck initiated Yngwie Malmsteen’s love affair with early 70s Stratocasters, “number one” sealed the deal. This guitar boasts many of the same custom appointments as “The Duck”, including the brass nut, scalloped fretboard, removed string tree, and Seymour Duncan YJM pickups. Like the Duck, it once featured DiMarzio single-coil pickups, which were replaced when Malmsteen commenced his endorsement deal with Seymour Duncan.

However, unlike the Duck, “Number One” retains its original Fender tremolo system. It also features different Ferrari stickers and the number “one” on the back. Like “The Duck”, “Number One” features an ash body, maple neck, scalloped maple fretboard, and oversized CBS-era headstock.

1970s Fender Stratocaster “Number Two”

Fender Stratocaster number two

Finish Vintage White
Years Used Unspecified to Present

Although we’re not certain when the guitar was manufactured, or when exactly Malmsteen got his hands on it, there’s another 1970s Fender Stratocaster in his collection. Named “Number Two,” it serves as a backup for Number One.

According to Malmsteen himself, the tones on this instrument are somewhat “harsher” and heavier. Whatever is the case, this guitar bears the same exact specs as the Number One 1971 Stratocaster.

Just like the Number One, Malmsteen’s Number Two Strat saw a lot of action over the years, although not as much. He prefers to use it for some specific lead sections. The instrument is still in use, both the guitarist’s studio and live work.

1954 Fender Stratocaster

Fender Black Stratocaster 1954

Finish Black
Years Used Unspecified to Present

According to Malmsteen himself, this is his most prized instrument. It sticks out from his flock of near-identical 1970s Stratocasters in several ways, most notably its smaller pre-CBS headstock. Malmsteen told Ultimate Guitar precisely why this instrument is his favorite:

“It’s a March ’54, which was the first month, the first year they ever made a Stratocaster. It’s handmade, they only made eight guitars that month, so it’s one of the 8 first Strats ever made ever in the world. I got it from a Swedish collector way back when he needed some money or something.

He didn’t want to get rid of it, but I said, ‘I need to have this one because this is one of the first-ever made.'”

1954 Stratocasters, as Malmsteen correctly observed, are highly prized vintage instruments. The first run of Stratocasters ever produced, they featured solid ash bodies, maple necks, and Kluson tuning heads. They were the first electric guitars ever produced that weren’t designed to mimic earlier acoustic models. With its distinctive asymmetrical double-cutaway body and individually adjustable saddles in the bridge, the 1954 Stratocaster looked like no guitar ever produced before. It’s a testament to the impact this instrument made that so many brands modeled their own instruments on the Stratocaster, a trend that continues to this day. Another notable technological advancement of the Stratocaster was its tremolo system, which features a simple arm directly mounted into the bridge plate. This allowed far greater tuning stability and reliability than any competitors at the time, such as Bigsby or Gibson’s own tremolo systems.

Malmsteen’s Stratocaster was hand-built before Fender was even using machines to craft their instruments.

Malmsteen respects the history of this particular instrument enough to have avoided scalloping its frets or changing its pickups. All its parts are still original, including the handwritten inscription of its birthday inside the neck cavity.

Fender STW-230YM Double-Neck Stratocaster

Fender STW-230YM Double-Neck Stratocaster

Finish Vintage Cream White
Years Used 1994 to Present

Knowing that Yngwie is one of the most innovative guitar players of the 20th century, it doesn’t come as a surprise that he got a double-neck Strat made especially for him. This happened sometime in the mid-1990s, most likely in 95.

What’s interesting is that the guitar became available as a limited-edition model, designated as STW-230YM, and was made in Japan. Now, what we’re not certain of is whether Yngwie’s double-neck Strat was made in Japan or in America. But what is certain is that all of these copies made between 1995 and 1999 had his preferred classic setup with only been 50 of these ever made me.

Double-neck Fender Stratocasters in general aren’t exactly mass-produced guitars. They’re actually a pretty rare sight and have only been made in limited quantities mainly as signature lines under several guitarists’ names. Despite this unusual, it packs clever craftsmanship. The upper 12-string neck has Fender’s old “hockey stick” headstock. Aside from scalloped fretboards on both necks, the specs are what you’d expect from a Strat, including scale lengths and fretboard radiuses. Each section has three pickups. They’re controlled through the same 5-way selector switch.

Of course, these come with maple fretboards. But what’s interesting is that the fret wire on all frets of both sections is made by Dunlop. However, there’s an additional volume knob right below the bridge pickup. We assume this is a master volume for the 12-string section. This particular trait enables Yngwie to easily adjust the volume or use the violin-like volume swell technique easily.

Additionally, the bottom section, the 6-string one, comes with a classic tremolo bridge. Meanwhile, the 12-string part has a hardtail fixed bridge.

Ovation Viper YM68 Signature

Ovation Viper YM68 Yngwie Malmsteen Signature

Finish White
Years Used 2011 to Present

Aside from Fender, Malmsteen also collaborated with the legendary acoustic guitar manufacturer Ovation. Two new models came in 2014, the steel-string YM68 and the nylon-stringed YM63.

Over the years, Malmsteen used different Ovation guitars, both live and in the studio. So the collaboration was pretty much expected. According to Malmsteen’s words, he actually got these guitars in the early 2010s, most likely in 2011 before releasing them to the market.

Although they’re made for different strings and sounds, both YM68 and YM63 are rather similar specs-wise. The bodies are made from mahogany with a specially designed spruce bracing on the inside. The top, however, is a solid cedar board, with two F-shaped holes.

They both feature 5-piece necks made from maple and mahogany. There’s the ebony fretboard on top, bearing a total of 24 frets. Finally, this is all rounded up with a walnut bridge that has an Ovation Viper piezo pickup in it. It can be seen in recent live performances.

Timetable Showing Each Guitar Yngwie Malmsteen Has Played at Each Point in His Career

Fender1954 StratocasterBlackUnspecified to Present
Fender1970s Stratocaster "Number Two"Vintage WhiteUnspecified to Present
Fender"The Duck" StratocasterBlonde1976 to Present
Fender1971 StratocasterVintage White1976 to Present
FenderYngwie Malmsteen Signature StratocasterVintage White1986 to Present
FenderSTW-230YM Double-Neck StratocasterVintage Cream White1994 to Present
Ovation Viper YM68  SignatureWhite2011 to Present

Yngwie Malmsteen Amplifier Overview

Yngwie Malmsteen once said “There are only two manmade objects you can actually see from outer space. One is the Wall of China, one is the Yngwie Malmsteen wall of Marshalls.”

Indeed, when Malmsteen’s career started to take off in the Rising Force era, every guitar and amp company in the world wanted a piece of the Swedish wunderkind. As Yngwie himself tells it, he said to “No thanks, Marshalls for me”.

Like virtually every other hard rock or heavy metal player at the time, Yngwie Malmsteen was a dedicated Marshall man. However, unlike many other players, he rarely entertained their competitors, even when offered lucrative endorsement deals. As a result, Yngwie Malmsteen’s signature guitar sound has remained astonishingly consistent over the decades of his career, particularly when compared with contemporaries such as Edward Van Halen.

The sheer versatility of the Stratocaster-and-Marshall combo as wielded by Yngwie Malmsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore, and Eddie Van Halen is truly remarkable. Malmsteen managed to shape the Marshall amplifier’s characteristic roar and crackle to his own needs.

Malmsteen played stock Marshall amps early in his career, but when the British amp builders came knocking with an offer to build a custom amp just for him, it took no time at all for Malmsteen to switch things up. Let’s take a look at the amplifiers Yngwie Malmsteen used over the years, and the subtle ways his Marshall use differs from that of his guitar-playing peers.

Marshall JMP-50 MKII Head

There is no amplifier more indelibly associated with rock and roll than the Marshall Super Lead. From the moment that Jimi Hendrix plugged into a dimed Marshall stack at Woodstock 1969, Marshall’s Super Lead range defined the sound of rock guitar and continues to do so to this day.

While most guitarists of the 1970s and 1980s were firm adherents to the “more is more” school of thought, Yngwie Malmsteen was notable for preferring 50-watt Marshall heads to their larger 100-watt cousins. His main amp of choice for many of Malmsteen’s classic albums was the Marshall 1987, a variation on the more widely used 1959 Plexi. The 1987 model was first produced in 1963, but Malmsteen reportedly prefers early 1970s models.

The 1987 JMP head has a clear, defined bass response, well-suited to the treble-heavy Stratocasters Malmsteen plays. This is thanks to its EL34/KT66 valves and fifty watts of power, which mutes some of the harsher treble tone that comes with some hand-wired Marshalls.

Yngwie Malmsteen does blend his 1987 JMP heads with 1959 100-watt models for live performance, presumably to balance out his overall tonal spectrum. Malmsteen keeps all his Marshall amplifiers totally stock, with the original tubes and parts still intact. This is all the more impressive given the massive alterations he made to his Stratocasters and the age of his amps. Yngwie Malmsteen uses late 1960s and early 1970s Marshalls almost exclusively. Apparently, this is because each individual amp from the era sounds unique. Malmsteen himself said “all the Marshalls made during this period are hand-wired, and actually, they’re all different. I know that because Jim Marshall and I got drunk one night and he told me that they just didn’t give a f*ck back then. When they ran out of one capacitor or transformer, they just threw in whatever was lying around”

Malmsteen told Premier Guitar in 2008 that his fifty-watt Marshall JMP head was still his favorite amp.

200-watt Marshall Major

Live, Malmsteen’s infamous “wall of Marshalls” includes the Marshall Major, a short-lived amplifier head with a whopping two hundred watts of rock and roll power. Malmsteen said of the Major “It’s very rare. They only made them for a couple of years. It’s 200 watts! I love the way it looks. It looks the same as a regular Marshall head but it’s fatter.”

The Major was first introduced in 1967, with KT88 output valves, two ECC83 preamp valves, and one ECC82. The Major, with its two hundred watts of power, was initially aimed at rock players hungry for ever greater volume when playing live. Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen’s ultimate guitar hero, was a notable proponent of the 200-watt Marshall Major.

As with his JMP Mk II heads, Malmsteen keeps the Marshall Majors in his backline totally stock. This is likely because he strongly prefers the sound of the original Marshalls, and because as with the 1987 range, each amp is different from the next. Altering the tubes, transformers, or any part of the amplifier would affect the amp’s unique tone. When you have an expansive amplifier collection like Yngwie Malmsteen, you don’t need to alter your amp. You can just switch to a different one!

YJM100 Signature Marshall

Somewhat predictably for such a devoted Marshall player, Yngwie Malmsteen boasts a signature line of Marshall amps. This amplifier is based more on the 100-watt 1959 range than the 50-watt 1987 line and was likely the result of Malmsteen desiring certain traits about his 50-watt amps in a larger package.

Malmsteen, with all the humility you would expect from the godfather of neoclassical shred, calls this amplifier “the ultimate Plexi”. It blends many of the features of his favorite Marshall amplifiers in a single package.

The amp’s aesthetic design is based heavily on the Marshall Majors, for example, with 1960s-style toggle, switches on the amplifier’s face. The YJM Signature amplifier also features four EL34 valves, and the usual four-input Super Lead setup as many expect from a vintage Marshall.

The amplifier also features a built-in boost circuit, effectively building an overdrive pedal into the amp itself. Conveniently, the amplifier also has a footswitch to control this circuit, allowing players to quickly switch between channels when required. The YJM100 also has a built-in attenuator, which allows Yngwie Malmsteen to lower the wattage of his amplifiers when playing in the studio, practicing at home, or in a smaller venue.

Yngwie Malmsteen Pedals and Effects Overview

Although the core of Malmsteen’s tone is the combination of his modified Stratocaster and vintage Marshall amp, he is a notable user of effects pedals. Yngwie uses an overdrive pedal to boost his guitar signal, and occasionally uses a chorus effect for his clean tone.

Ibanez Tube Screamer

The Ibanez Tube Screamer is one of the most immediately identifiable overdrive pedals ever made. Its distinctive tonal coloration meshes particularly well with the single-coil articulation of a Stratocaster, and as such it appears in the arsenal of many Stratocaster-wielding heroes like Stevie Ray Vaughn and, of course, Yngwie Malmsteen.

Malmsteen used the TS9 during the 1990s. The TS9 is a later model of the Ibanez Tube Screamer, with a brighter sound than its elder brother. This treble-heavy sound, with plenty of articulation, likely suited Malmsteen’s legato playing style, which depends heavily on his pick attack.

DOD 250 Overdrive

A huge part of Yngwie Malmsteen’s signature guitar tone is the thick, souped-up sound of this DOD preamp/overdrive pedal. The DOD is not intended to push Malmsteen’s amp into distortion or fuzz territory. Instead, he uses it to add a layer of amp-like compression and articulation to his guitar tone.


The YJM-308 was Yngwie Malmsteen’s signature pedal, based on his DOD-250. The Malmsteen signature line was virtually indistinguishable from the standard DOD-250 but for Malmsteen’s name on the box. The 308 was named for the model number of one of Malmsteen’s favorite Ferraris.

Yngwie used the YJM-308 in the same fashion as the DOD 250. It’s likely that the boost circuit on Malmsteen’s signature Marshall was based somewhat on this signature pedal.

Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Overdrive

Seemingly assembled as part of Malmsteen’s endorsement deal with Fender guitars, he first started using this signature pedal in 2014.

With its two-knob design, one for gain and the other for volume, this pedal at least aesthetically strongly resembles the DOD 250. Tonally, Malmsteen described it as “very liquid sounding, very powerful sounding, and it’s not fuzzy, it’s just perfect”. The Malmsteen signature Fender overdrive is likely an updated variation on the DOD circuit, with tweaks to the DOD’s drive settings to suit Malmsteen’s personal preferences.

As with his other drive pedals, this runs into an amplifier that is already overdriven, enhancing Malmsteen’s guitar tone rather than changing it.

Malmsteen, of course, plays with both controls on his Fender signature overdrive pedal all the way up to ten, “because there’s no eleven”.

BOSS NS-2 Noise Suppressor

This isn’t exactly an effects pedal, but it is a major part of Yngwie Malmsteen’s guitar rig.

Fender Stratocasters are particularly noisy guitars, prone to hum and feedback. Running a Stratocaster through a cranked Marshall and then adding an overdrive pedal will only serve to increase feedback. That’s why Malmsteen uses this Boss noise suppressor with his overdrive pedal. Like his signature pickups, it eliminates unwanted noise, ensuring that Malmsteen’s dirty tone is as clear as possible.

Roland Space Echo

The Roland Space is one of the most iconic echo pedals ever made. Unlike many lead guitarists, who use echo effects for their solos, Malmsteen prefers to use the Roland Space Echo for texture in clean and rhythm passages. In fact, Malmsteen’s lead tone is supposedly completely dry, a rarity among shredders.

BOSS CE-1 Chorus Ensemble

When playing his classical-style clean parts, Malmsteen colors his clean tone with this classic chorus unit from Boss.

The CE-1 was the original chorus unit, responsible for many of the warm, luscious chorus tones heard on classic albums of the 1980s. This stereo chorus unit allows for fine-tuning of a guitar player’s chorus tone, from a subtle shimmer to the thick, warbling tone more commonly associated with 1990s grunge.

Today, for his chorus tone, Malmsteen uses a more compact CE-5 unit, a foot-pedal version of the original CE-1.

Vox 1902 Flanger

One of Yngwie’s most interesting pedals was the Vox 1902 Flanger, which he used during his early solo years. Despite being old, this analog pedal enabled him into some serious tone tweaking.

Boss OC-2 Octave

For some time, Malmsteen has also used Boss’ classic OC-2 Octave pedal. It’s the predecessor to today’s OC-3 pedal. This is yet another classic that has set the standards in the world of guitar. It comes with the original signal level control, as well as controls for one and two octaves below.

Boss DD-3 Digital Delay

Of course, it’s only obvious that Malmsteen used, and still uses, the classic DD-3 Digital Delay by Boss. This is one of the pedals that changed the game. Originally available as DD-2, it was the first-ever digital delay in a compact pedal casing.

Dunlop JHF1 Fuzz Face

Although not exactly the type of distortion you’d expect Malmsteen to use, he actually has Dunlop’s JHF1 Fuzz Face in his rig. This is a Jimi Hendrix model and a direct continuation of the old Fuzz Face pedal made back in the 1960s by Arbiter Electronics and Dallas Arbiter.

What’s funny is that Yngwie said that he just likes the pedal’s appearance. According to himself, it looks like a landmine.

Wrap Up 

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Malmsteen played in various bands since the tender age of ten. As a teenager, he took particular influence from the likes of Paganini and Johann Sebastian Bach and was particularly affected by the guitar stylings of Ritchie Blackmore. Deep Purple’s axeman lightning-paced major key runs and lengthy legato passages, shaped Malmsteen’s own playing immeasurably.

Like Eddie Van Halen before him, Malmsteen imprinted his musical DNA on generations to come, with hordes of fleet-fingered neoclassical acolytes crowding the world of rock and metal to this day.

Yngwie Malmsteen’s playing style and tone are inseparable from one another. His distinctive sound, thick, articulate, and distorted, is inseparable from the impeccable technique Malmsteen perfected over decades. The ergonomic design and instantly recognizable tone of a Fender Stratocaster contribute enormously to this.

The Stratocaster’s upper-fret access, slender neck, and lightweight construction make it the ideal shredder’s guitar. However, in the halcyon shred days of the 1980s, when his peers picked up Kramer and Charvel humbucker-equipped “superstrats”, Malmsteen remained loyal to the Fender Stratocaster.

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