Yngwie Johann Malmsteen’s Duck

Yngwie Malmsteen’s journey toward guitar greatness has been as unique as the sound he produces. As a very young boy growing up in Sweden, he showed no particular interest in music, but when he saw news reports of Jimi Hendrix’s death in 1970 and viewed clips of his frenzied solos and destruction of guitars on stage, Malmsteen was inspired. He got his first guitar, a used Mosrite, when he was seven, and soon acquired an inexpensive Stratocaster. He spent hours trying to emulate Hendrix and the classically inspired solos of Ritchie Blackmore on the Deep Purple albums.

Yngwie was a discipline problem at school, but was totally devoted to his guitar playing. His mother frequently allowed him to stay home from school so he could practice. This he did, sometimes until his fingers bled. His sister, who was studying the classical flute, taught him about composers like Niccolo Paganini and Yngwie’s interest in the form and structure of classical music was sparked.

By the time Malmsteen was fifteen, he had given up attending school altogether and was working in a music store. While there, he picked up a vintage lute that had a scalloped fretboard. Scalloping is a process of hollowing out the wood on an instrument’s neck between the frets so that the string only makes contact with the player’s finger when depressed, and not with the wooden board. Malmsteen was immediately smitten with the technique, went home, and carved out the fretboard on his own Strat. He has been using guitars with scalloped fretboards ever since that time.

Yngwie’s most-used Strat is one he calls “Duck.” It is a 1971 yellow Stratocaster with Donald Duck stickers on the body. Duck was purchased in Sweden while Malmsteen was still a teenager. He has kept it with him throughout his career and has used it extensively for both stage and recording work. Guitar World Magazine spotlighted Duck in a poster feature photo shoot in 1994. Yngwie also owns a double neck guitar made by Fender of Japan.

Fender has joined with Malmsteen to create three signature Strats. The most recent model (2007) comes in a vintage white color. It is made from alder with a maple neck (with scalloped fretboard, of course.) It has a specially designed 60’s shape neck and a large 60’s styled headstock. The guitar also sports aged pickup covers and plastic parts. All the components of the instrument such as bridge height, intonation, and playing action are much more finely adjusted on the signature models than those produced on the regular Fender assembly line. Malmsteen has said that he is very pleased with his newest Signature Strat.

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