Early Yngwie - can anybody play it?

Ok so making some progress. Surprised once I got over the weirdness of starting the new string with a downstroke how quickly I could start to adjust. I have been alternate picking for years so not a noob. So you can adjust quickly.

I still need to polish though - particularly getting the first 3 notes before the jump to the high E.
It is very easy to play the 12-14-16 accidentally as “pick (down)-hammer-hammer” as you get ready for the down stroke on the high E (12th) as opposed to “pick (down)- pick (up)- pick (down)” then high E 12th pick (down)
Recapping this is the lick I am working on:

Then the next part is working out where Yngwie used legato through the turnarounds in this lick! Oh dear LOL. I was trying to follow what Troy was telling me about the escape strokes - but am a bit lost trying to apply it to this turn around.

Anyway thanks all for the input. Have got a lot out of this thread.

1 Like

We’ve covered the descending fours topic extensively here:

If you can’t swing a membership consider a scholarship!


Thanks for the encouragement Troy! To be honest I am actually a LOT further away from this than I had thought. LOL I am still plugging slowly away at this lick you put up:

Turns out there is a lot going on here. To change from alternate picking to economy to match what Yngwie does (and you demonstrate) is going to require changing my whole picking mechanic.

(a) The first thing is getting used to pushing through to play a downstroke on the high E.
But the much more difficult aspect is
(b) getting used to playing the accent of the first note of the second set of fours with an upstroke.

Despite what many many many transcriptions write - these turnaround licks are played as quadruplets not as triplets. People might say that is obvious - but I’m not sure it actually is given by how many people (including me) get it wrong.

You nail it. You play:

I have bolded the accent - which is of course an upstroke.
When I alternate pick I can play them as quadruplets because the accent is on a downstroke - which is of course WAY easier than playing it with an upstroke. But it doesn’t sound like Yngwie.

I believe this is why there are virtually no examples of anyone playing the turnaround Alcatrazz licks as Yngwie does (except yourself demonstrated above) because of the difficulty of the phrasing.

This is probably old news to a lot of the people here - but I am fascinated by the enormity of the challenge of playing these licks as Yngwie did in the Alcatrazz era.

It reminds me of when I first started trying to learn the Paul Gilbert lick!

I may not be following totally, but I think you may be overthinking this. The number one thing, and the very first step you need to take, to play any Yngwie phrase is to establish an upstroke escape (USX) picking motion. It doesn’t matter which joints you use to do this. Wrist and wrist-forearm are the most common. But the number one thing is that the pick must move in such a way that upstrokes escape.

Once you can do fast, fluid USX motion, everything else will click into place. Adding in pulloffs and downstroke sweeps are the other two ingredients. But again, I stress, the core step is USX motion. If you don’t have that USX motion, and you’re doing some other kind of motion, these lines won’t flow.

If you’d like to link to a clip of you’re playing, we’d be happy to take a look. Put that up in a Technique Critique thread and we’ll get on it!


Getting stuck on details of the Yngwie system is something I regret to admit I am actually pretty good at, so I think I can feel @Interestedoz’s pain here from bitter personal experience.

If you are running four note chunks and you have straight up-and-down alternate picking with a USX mechanic it can become deeply engrained into your experience that each chunk starts with a down stroke and this can become an intrinsic part of the feeling of locking into the chunks.

But when you pick DUDD for a chunk ending with a swept note, the following chunk UDUP (P for pulloff, here, although we’re derailed in this analysis long before that) has to start with an upstroke and this is really really disconcerting at first even if there is nothing otherwise wrong with your USX motion as such and even once you’re timing the sweep sweetly. It feels like the post-sweep chunk is upside down and horribly broken, unless and until you get used to it (which it happily turns out is mostly a question of getting used to it).

I have no particular advice to add to Troy’s except that it is (of course) possible to include upstroke-initial chunks and it is (of course) essential to do so for the Yngwie methodology, and it is a simple matter of reprogramming your concept of chunkhood and its picking correlates, and if you use CtC best practice – look for a speed too fast to be brain-driven but not too fast to be brain-corrected and just try and adjust to this strange new chunking world – you will surely succeed in reprogramming yourself.

(And the same goes for working in the pulloffs when you get that far, although I am still working on that myself – my own personal pain-point is the Black Star lick, where successive chunks of three start on the pull off, but it is slowly becoming less disconcerting)


Yes! People used to call (and still do) Bonamassa an EJ clone- first of all, it’s weird because it’s not all he can do, and plus, he does predominantly “tumbling” sixes not fives for the trademark runs. To a casual listener it may seem all similar and very fast and widdly widdly, but it ain’t so! Love to listen to both!

Sorry to derail the thread but hope you’re well Troy, the team, and the rest of the people here.


Wow! I don’t know how you can diagnose this stuff without even hearing it - years of practice I guess Troy. I was playing around again with it tonight and realised there was a slight error with the string change - I wouldn’t call it a “hop” but I wasn’t pushing through enough - so a very slight hop you could say. But it was enough to make the lick sound not-Yngwie enough - even though I was playing it relatively cleanly. So I tried pushing through and getting to the high E string that fraction faster - and this let the accents etc. all fall into place - the lick started to come together. I was overthinking it and it turned out to be a slight mechanic correction after all. Thanks again!

Thanks for the reply vonbladet - and indeed it seems I wasn’t yet sweeping sweetly enough for it all to fall into place. I worked really hard on the post-sweep chunk - but couldn’t get it sounding right. Then I got the sweep better by pushing through more and it kind of all fell into place.

Yes I agree this is (as one of my old bosses in tech use to say) “non-trivial”! lol But as Troy, yourself and others have encouraged here - “non trivial” does not mean impossible.


1 Like

Remembered this the other day and felt it had a place in this thread. Someone can do it, even if that someone is Jeff Loomis. :wink:


A lot of the every note is picked myth is due to the fact he’s one of the few higain players playing what is essentially single coils, higher action and a bright tone. Clarity and articulation is a big characteristic of his signature rig.


Thanks Dissonant_Timbres - yes this video absolutely belongs in this thread.! Jeff Loomis clearly nails it! The great thing about this video is that he does the cover of the solo without backing track.! Most people when attempting an Alcatrazz cover do it playing along with Yngwie - which is understandable given how hard it is.

Can anyone spot if he is using economy picking to get the turnarounds?
( At first I thought he was alt picking - but on slowing down and closer inspection I think it is economy.)
Here is one queued up:

Yep - for the longest time I thought he was alt picking every note!

Also @Troy and @tommo - I have a rather average video of me playing Troy’s lick on the night I got it to start sounding right - would it be appropriate to put it here? I just thought people might be interested in seeing something that has come together - rough though it is.

Thanks all for the great input to this thread!

1 Like

Jeff is totally awesome obviously! And a very nice dude who we should reach out to.

But this is pure alternate and doesn’t really look or sound like Yngwie’s one-way economy approach. Again fabulous playing but not the same thing.

Re: the scalar bits and how the picking works, Jeff’s picking motion looks like Andy Wood’s and McLaughlin’ss. That means it’s DSX, not USX. So Jeff starts all these little six-note patterns on an upstroke. In slow motion this is clear. This is the opposite of what Yngwie does. Jeff definitely does throw in pull-offs here and there, but because he’s not using the full-time USX thing you’re not getting the little DDU combinations you would get with a USX approach inside the scalar lines.

Obviously, some of the arpeggio stuff is swept here for sure. But you’re seeing more of that “two way pickslanting” Gambale-style approach as opposed to the one-way economy approach of Yngwie or Eric Johnson.

Always happy to take a look, but I think that would fit better in a Technique Critique thread. For sure go ahead and make one, and link

More generally, have you watched the Cracking the Code episodes linked above as far as how the picking motion works, when to use pull-offs vs sweeping, and so on? Because the way one-way economy works is thankfully pretty straightforward. It’s based on USX motion, all these even-numbered patterns start on downstrokes, and so on. Just getting a handle on the “rules”, so to speak, can clear up a lot of confusion and save a lot of Q&A.

1 Like

Thanks Troy - I have looked at the techniques and found them extremely helpful. To bring it all together I have attempted your turnaround lick in this thread here:

It is rough - and not as good as yours! But I wanted to share with everyone who has been assisting - even just to show I am genuine and enjoying learning and putting this stuff together!

Thanks again

1 Like

For anyone else interested in the the very early Yngwie playing - here is him playing one of these amazing turnaround licks at 18 years old!! Unbelievable


This performance is amazing. He plays the arpeggio break from ‘Rising Force’ here - interesting how he worked it out about 7-8 years before recording it on Odyssey!


Should be illegal to be that good.


Damn. 18 years old.

Crazy he’d developed his signature technique and vocabulary already at this age. Even though we now know that’s it’s not strictly required, his efficiency of motion on those 2 string sweeps in that ‘Rising Force’ part is a beautiful thing to see. Even on footage of this quality. Thanks for sharing!


I still cannot work out how Yngwie developed his style. If you listen to the early Steeler solos you can hear simply amazing technique.

I’m working on learning how to play some of these early Yngwie licks and will be posting some more stuff soon on the forum.

One thing with playing early Yngwie I have learnt is it’s not enough to know what notes he is playing. You have to know how he is playing them if you want to sound like him. This is where the analysis Troy has done is important. Yngwie uses economy techniques and this results in that smoothness in his runs you hear in the Alcatrazz/ Steeler.


In his biography he says he socially distanced him self and practiced every waking hour. This attitude of his is true to this days. Steve vai says it and I have it on good authority from his Alcatraz fays, he’s never without his guitar, practicing.

One of the things ive heard is he also practices on acoustic just as much. This is not known by many. If you hear him noodling on his electric in interviews you can hear it, he’s articulate and picks harder that one might imagine.

Also his setup is critical, his custom guage 8/9-46 with high action and his amp/OD into t75s. He s also no stranger to hybrid picking.


This has just come up on Youtube - it is early Yngwie!. Check it out!

What I get from this is:
(a) Yngwie at this stage of his carer was quite focused on his picking and was unbelievably fast. When you hear him blazing through his Alcatrazz solos, they are probably not even the peak of his picking speed.
(b) The level of precision is again extraordinary
(c ) His splaying changed post Alcatrazz and became focused on other stylistic elements - more legato, more arpeggios, more classical type runs

The OP of the video suggests this is circa 1985 - but I think this is earlier - clearly in front of an audience large enough to be heard. I’m thinking Steeler or something else?

Also I hear a clear difference between the 85 link in the video comments to this - I felt his playing had already begun to change post Alcatrazz.

I’m interested on people’s thoughts on this! :slight_smile:


In the heavily memed “more is more” interview Yngwie touched on how much a “freak” he was in his youth constantly practicing and alludes to having gotten bored with the blues as the prime reason for focusing more on classical tonality as major/minor tonalities have more notes in the scales. There is another banger interview that I can’t find at the moment from the Metal Evolution: Power Metal ep where he talks about learning Deep Purple’s Made In Japan by ear, replacing Blackmore’s playing with his own, and fooling his school friends.