YNGWIE MALMSTEEN: 'The Electric Guitar Is Still A Developing Instrument'

Modern Guitars Magazine recently conducted an interview with legendary Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. An excerpt from the chat follows:

Modern Guitars Magazine: If I may quote you, you state: "I don't think anyone can actually teach someone how to play guitar. The desire should come from inside." And: "Once you get past the basics needed to play guitar, the rest is up to you." Can you tell me what you mean by that?

Yngwie Malmsteen: "Well that's cutting it a little clean. See, I never had lessons, OK? And the way I look at it, the electric guitar, per se, is still such a new instrument. It's still not thirty — forty years old — the way we're playing it, not the instrument itself. Whereas you have classical violin that is very fucking set...that is....um...you hold the violin like this and you move the bow like this and that's it. That's the end of that. You don't experiment with that. It's the same with piano and some other instruments like that.

"This is still a developing instrument. There is no wrong or right way of doing it. Whatever's the best way for you. However, what I think is the most important thing to learn about any instrument, is the basics of music. Learn your ABCs before you write a Hemingway novel, you know? Don't skip any of that stuff. You learn your modes, your scales, your fucking relative keys, and you know all that shit. That stuff is key. You have to know that. And it's not boring, it's cool. And the more you learn it the more you go, 'Ohhhh, that makes sense!' So that I think is a very good thing to be taught. I wasn't taught that either."

Modern Guitars Magazine: You're completely self-taught?

Yngwie Malmsteen: "Yeah, I figured that out myself. From listening. I would have learned a lot quicker if I had someone to show me that shit. But I don't think you can be taught to be creative. It's like a computer. The computer will give you what you put in it, you know, or make an equation or something. I shouldn't talk about computers, I don't know anything about them. But you don't get out of it more than you put in. Basically that's what I'm trying to say. I think you can get pointers, but I don't think you can learn to be a complete musician. That has to come from within. And it entails a lot of sacrifice."

Modern Guitars Magazine: You also once said that you get bored at home or at rehearsal. You come alive more in front of an audience.

Yngwie Malmsteen: "Yeah, I do. To me, the audience can be one person. I'm so critical of myself that it's really hard for me to like get high on my own shit. I sometimes manage to do it, but most of the time not. So if I have somebody in the room that I'm sure they'll dig this. I like that. But it could be one person or it could be a hundred thousand."

Read the entire interview at ModernGuitars.com.

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