Some Alternate Pickers claim that Malmsteen

Plays sloppy. They cite out of beat notes after that get resolved after a measure or so.

My guess is the economy picking vs alt. picking as alt.picking tends to be very robotic and synched.

My question is … is this a common opinion ?

Yngwie was a better picker when he was younger. If you listen to the Alcatrazz days, his tone was very clean and his picking was very precise. He still had his rules of strategic pull offs and hammers, so it wasn’t strictly alternate picking, but it was very clean. He also plays etudes or motifs in a lot of songs that are very good as far as meter is concerned.

When people say that he is sloppy, it’s because he rushes things now. He tries to play extremely fast all of the time and that is causing more mistakes. Zack Wylde is suffering from the same thing.

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Most people I’ve talked to/read their thoughts think his playing is not what it used to be, because…

To me that sums it up. Let’s not forget he had the bad car accident and had to re-learn a lot of things. There’s no way of knowing if that would have never happened if he’d still be as squeaky clean as he was in the early days. As @shredhead7 pointed out with Zakk…this happens to many players as they age.

I think in general, even in the early days, Yngwie’s playing was a little fluid, sort of like how blues players push/pull the phrases. Intentional or not I always liked that about his playing. Compared to someone with seemingly total accuracy like Di Meola. Who knows, some people probably think Al is “too clean” lol! Everyone is a critic…


I like this sound, and 99% of what I play is alternate. A lot of my favorite players tend to play phrases that aren’t “metronomically strict” - it gives the playing another aspect of poetic tension, a different flavor. It’s just cool. lol And I think it requires even more control and daring than fitting everything neatly into its little box all the time.

That said, I do think Yngwie was better overall when he was younger - better tone, less sloppy. But he’s still awesome now.


Agreed, so easy to try and play like this and it sound very messy. There is a push and pull that goes on which is hard to replicate.

Eric Johnson does a similar sort of thing but no one would accuse him of being sloppy, guitarists do love to hate Yngwie a little bit. Pre-car crash he was unstoppable and I still love his albums up into the mid-90s but any more recent criticism is probably fair.

His playing since then doesn’t have them same fire it used too, a little messy, a little repetitive and not quite as tasteful as he used to be. To be fair to him, he’s not in his 20s anymore and it can be incredibly hard to recapture the intensity of youth, especially when you were one of the best in the world :slight_smile:


Once people become famous, much of their hunger is likely appeased, and practicing is just not as important as it once was.

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If they are talking about the Alcatrazz days, then I strongly disagree with the proposition. I would simply ask them to play an Alcatrazz solo without error as well as Yngwie does. And I would look forward to hearing it.

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His ‘sloppy’ is beyond most players’ best day.

But yeah…over the years his articulation has suffered. The car accident had a marked effect. The fact that he came back at all is pretty amazing. Plus, those injuries don’t just heal and ‘everything is cool’ from then on. Previous injuries and age conspire in ways the young have no frame of reference for.

I saw Les Paul play roughly a year before his death. His fingers barely let him play, and he sat pretty much the entire time. Did I hold that against him? Hell no…dude earned it, and nothing is forever.


Agree with all the points posted above. But i find your remark very interesting, this is true most often but there are always exceptions to this phenomenon. Kinda explains whe I don’t like alt pickers as much, I think push and pull is very important and essential, even classical musicians have to do it.


I guess one thing I’m not clear is what’s meant in general by ‘sloppy’ because it’s such a blanket term. Unwanted string noise, missed notes or bad hand sync… I do consider those things sloppy. If the notes are clean but the playing is not quite in time…I don’t think I’d call that sloppy. Especially if there is musicality involved in the “not quite in time” aspect of the playing. I realize that last bit is highly subjective. Even in classical music where manipulating the pulse is intentional and inherent to a ‘good interpretation’, there can be high degrees of disagreement within that community as to what’s the correct amount. [My teacher in college used to bitterly complain that classical guitarist John Williams played things “just too darn straight” ha…]

I think the “not quite in time” was always there with Yngwie, to a degree. Now, yeah his more recent playing has some of that other stuff in it (string noise or missed notes). But even Anton Oparin, who is very critical of many very good players, gave Yngwie props on hand sync. I believe he said that pre and post car accident he considers his hand sync to be quite good. And alternate pickers don’t come much cleaner than Anton, so I’m scratching my head who these “alternate pickers” in the OP are who are shading Yngwie for slop lol!


Hmm, interesting thread. I personally think Yngwie’s still got ability in spades - he’s as good as anyone, and is massively influential.

I think Yngwie likes to take chances, and try new things on the fly within his particular paradigm. So sometimes when we improvise things, you know even just sort of mess around with things a note or two get sacrificed.

I would love to hear a new Yngwie album with an actual producer (Bob Rock lol), and a dedicated band. I’m not a big fan of Yng’s vocals although he’s getting better with each release.


Such an interesting point! Have seen this mentioned before I think. I wonder what people’s view is:
Does Yngwie (to get his amazing phrasing) play:
a) ever so slightly ahead of the beat
b) on the beat
c) behind the beat
d) or all of the above depending in the need?

I’m not sure to be honest!


Pretty sure I have heard him do all of the above. Specific examples would be great but I don’t have any :frowning:
I’d bet he also isn’t totally conscious of it and that it’s organic.


I’ve seen what some are referring to as playing out of time or push/pull as “floating” over the beat or bar. Most times, it’s actually intentional, and other very precise, clean players such as Satriani also do this. I do it when I improvise, and it’s all good as long as when you come out of the phrase or line, it resolves to someplace sonically satisfactory within the context of the tune.

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He often plays very rubato like. You can especially hear it when he is playing over ballads. He rips through them almost disregarding the tempo. I think that’s just his style though. So if that’s what people are referring to, I wouldn’t agree that it’s sloppy playing. His hand sync for that way of playing is phenomenal.

I’ve not watched more recent footage of him though so can’t comment on what he is like nowadays.

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It was always there with him, and part of what makes his playing musical. As @joebegly said, I don’t think any of the above is calculated, it’s just an idiosyncrasy that belongs to him, and if you went through his enormous catalog of music you would find examples of all. Blackstar is probably one of the first things most people ever heard from Yngwie, and it’s all over that song.

Personally, I really like this character over a tightly locked to the beat at all times one. You want both, but the locked to the beat at all times can be a bit robotic.

Some of my favorite players have this quality to their playing. For example, George Lynch’s playing on Back for the Attack imho was his most ferocious lead playing he has done, and this quality and other idiosyncrasies is in that as well. It’s not planted on a straight grid, and some of the licks sound like he is just trying to cram in what he can. Even JP does that too.


Agree it is highly musical. I’ve been working on the Jet to Jet solo and the phrasing is unlike anything I have tackled before! It jumps around at rapid speed - and getting it to sound like Yngwie is quite the challenge. I’ve heard so many covers - but very few people capture the Yngwie feel. It is absolutely not sloppy! The very opposite. It comes back to wondering what the people who say he is sloppy are exactly referring to?

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I love the man but this is a bit of a mess, even though there are parts of it that are good:

Compared to pre-car crash(?) Yngwie, just fooling about backstage:

Again, this is not meant as an attack, he’s probably my favourite guitarist of all time!

Also on a side note, his technique looks noticeably different to me :slight_smile:


That bottom video (80’s) - there is LOT of left hand thumb movement in there! Very different technique to my eyes as well. Very, very fast playing too.

EDIT - I meant right hand thumb movement of course - sorry!

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The guys career has spanned over 45 years now- they’re not always going to be winners. The one thing to really ask when making some of these determinations is this: could he have played that better, or was that the best he could do. I think he could have if he wanted to. He kind of s rms like he just wants to get things over with, and go for okay enough.

One thing to keep in mind is that he has spent most of his career at this point post accident.