The Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster is the latest Yngwie Malmsteen signature guitar from Fender Guitars. If you haven’t heard of either Fender or Yngwie, where have you been? This is one of the top guitar makers creating a guitar for one of the most influential neoclassical shredders on the planet!
True to form, the Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster has a scalloped fretboard, which is where the wood between the frets is scooped out. This design was first seen on eastern and Indian instruments, and also early lutes and it can facilitate bending by pushing the string into the fretboard (as opposed to the usual side-to-side with guitar). However, Yngwie has this modification for a very different reason- it’s because it (apparently) makes him play better.
The idea of a scalloped fretboard is that, because you’re not going all the way down to the wood when fretting, you can play with a lighter touch. This means less effort for each note, and less tension (if you’ve been reading my blog before, you’ll know how bad tension can be for your playing!).
It also means less friction when bending notes, as the string is only going along a smooth fret and not the wood of the fretboard.
This effect is also magnified by the jumbo frets and “C” shaped neck profile, meaning this guitar is definitely built for shred!
Being modelled after Yngwie Malmsteen’s favourite Fender guitar, the Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster also has an alder body, bolt on neck, and the original Fender synchronized tremolo. One of the other important features is the brass nut, which is a similar material to the frets- and therefore the open strings sound more similar to fretted notes.
- Scalloped Rosewood Fretboard
- Vintage White Colour
- Alder Body
- Urethane finish
- Stratocaster® body shape
- Maple neck
- Modern “C” shaped neck
- Fretboard radius: 9.5″ (241 mm)
- 25.5″ (648 mm) scale length
- 21 super jumbo frets
- Brass nut
- 1.650″ (42 mm) nut width
- Pearl Dot position inlays
- Bullet style truss rod
- Artist Signature on Headstock
- 4-Bolt Vintage-Style neck plate
- 6-Saddle American Vintage Synchronized Tremolo
- Chrome hardware
- American Vintage tremolo arm handle
- Fender Vintage “F” Stamped tuning pegs
- 3-Ply White pickguard
- Aged White Plastic control knobs
- Aged White switch tips
The Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster also features three Seymour Duncan YJM fury pickups, which were especially designed in collaboration with Yngwie himself. In fact, they went through around 20 different designs before it was the exact sound that made Mr. Malmsteen happy.
The pickups are stacked singlecoils, which means they are hum-cancelling, but the coils are on top of each other instead of side by side, as in a humbucker. This means that each pickup is essentially two singlecoils, one on top of the other. Any hum or interference is cancelled out between the two pickups, but you still get that singlecoil tone. However, the pickup selector is only a three-way switch (the same as on Yngwie’s guitar).
- Bridge Pickup: Seymour Duncan® STK-S10B YJM Fury
- Middle Pickup: Seymour Duncan® STK-S10N YJM Fury
- Neck Pickup: Seymour Duncan® STK-S10N YJM Fury
- Master Volume
- Tone 1. (Neck Pickup)
- Tone 2. (Middle and Bridge Pickups)
- 3-Position Blade pickup selector
The Fender Yngwie Malsteen stratocaster also comes equiped with Fender® USA Bullets® 3250L, NPS, (.009-.042 Gauge) strings.
What We liked
Well- first and foremost- this guitar is definitely a strat. If you like the standard strat shape, feel and sound, you’re likely to love this guitar too. It has a similar versatility, in that it can play funk, heavy rock, country, jazz, or anything else. However, I’m pretty sure that you won’t want this guitar for light jazz! This guitar is designed to be a shred machine, and (when it’s set up properly) will almost play itself! It’s very easy to play, and only requires a very light touch.
I especially like the way that these pickups seem to cut through– just like Yngwie’s tone. I often find that singlecoils tend to be a bit thin and quiet, but not here. You still get that snappy, cutting singlecoil tone, but without ever sounding thin, or weedy.
Personally, I love the neck pickup on a strat for lead tones- it’s just the right combination of smooth, liquidy tones while still being able to cut through the mix. The YJM Fury neck pickup does just that, and more- somehow it sound beefier, without losing any of that beautiful neck singlecoil tone.
Although, if we’re talking about my personal tastes, a bridge singlecoil is not my favourite. I would much rather have a humbucker in that position because otherwise it can sound too trebly for me. Then again, this is the Yngwie Malsteen signature guitar, not mine…
There is definitely one thing that this guitar does very well, and that it shred lead guitar! The tone is perfect for that all over.
The Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster is also very well made (as you would expect from Fender), and it feels solid. It stays in tune really well- no matter how much you shred up and down the neck. It’s also quite light (even for a strat), with a super low action and the scalloped frets mean that you barely have to touch the guitar to play it.
It’s almost spooky how this guitar almost wants to play itself, with little effort from you…
What We didn’t like
Aesthetically, this guitar is very beautiful and is the same colour as Yngwie’s own strat. However, it’s a shame that a guitar that sounds so great, and is so much fun to play doesn’t come in many other colours.
The main difference with the Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster and a regular strat is the scalloped fretboard. There are arguments for and against this, and both have their merit. If you’re into Yngwie Malmsteen’s music, you’ll probably want this guitar regardless, but I think it’s an interesting discussion.
On the one hand, the scalloped fretboard forces you to use a lighter touch, otherwise you pull the notes out of tune. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend this kind of guitar for a beginner, or someone who is particularly heavy-handed when playing.
On the other hand, forcing a lighter touch will actually make you faster. In fact, I’ve always maintained that you shouldn’t be fretting down to the wood anyway- because that’s more effort than you need to use. The actual string is stopped on the fret itself, and pushing down any further is- at least- a wasted effort and- even worse- could pull the note sharp.
It kinda reminds me of those picks you can buy that force you to only use the very tip. Yes, these things will improve your playing and shredding speed, but they are only forcing you to do what you should be doing anyway. This is how the Fender Yngwie Malsteen Stratocaster can actually slowly improve your speed on other guitars- when you get used to using a light touch.
Of course, the scalloped ‘board makes tapping a bit of a pain at first, but you can get used to it. That may be the main downside to this guitar, actually: the fretboard just feels a bit weird, and you’ll have to slightly adjust your playing in order to get used to it. If you’re a true fan, I’m not sure this will be much of an issue, however.
The pickups themselves sound great, but the signal from them is kinda low. I suppose this is to be expected from singlecoils, but when you hear Yngwie himself, you always imagine him with a strong, powerful tone (at least, I do). This guitar may actually surprise you with that.
Conclusions on the Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster
The main thing about the Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster is the scalloped fretboard. I mean, the rest of the guitar is just amazing- the pickups sound awesome, and it’s a bit like playing a strat that has been turbocharged.
The fretboard just feels a bit weird at first, that’s all. Chords are more difficult, because you might push down too hard, but lead playing is easier, because you’re forced to use a light touch.
If you’re a fan of Yngwie Malmsteen, or just love to shred, this guitar will be for you, but if you’re a beginner, or want to play mostly rhythm guitar…probably not the best idea. This guitar was not designed with the rhythm guitarist in mind. I mean, that’s cool too. This guitar will make you sound like Yngwie, and maybe even play like him- which is the real point!