Legendary guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen is the undisputed master of neoclassical guitar, was listed by Time magazine as one of the 10 greatest electric guitar players who’s ever lived, and has been voted #1 guitar player in Japan more often than any other living guitarist. He’s known for his blazing speed, technical proficiency, and amazing live performance gymnastics. And with over twenty albums to his name, Yngwie started out as a lead singer/lead guitarist. He now sings lead vocals in the studio and on stage.
Yngwie’s latest record World On Fire was released in June 2016 on Rising Force Records worldwide and King Records in Japan.
[LEWITT] How have you gone about expanding your career, and what you like about working as a producer?
[Yngwie Malmsteen] Producing is something I’ve been doing pretty much since the very beginning. My uncle had built a studio in my grandmother’s building in Stockholm back in the ’50s, and I learned a lot from him as I grew up. So I’d always been into recording, and I produced all my demo tapes myself. Then eventually, 35 years ago, I came to record here in the States. I’ve since produced pretty much everything except the first two Steeler and Alcatrazz albums. So I’ve always been a producer and I’ve always been into the engineering process, and as soon as I was able, I took the money I’d made and built a proper recording studio. That was long before started working with ProTools – it was still the era of two-inch tape and analog recording. But my present studio is a proper place, of course, so I’ve now got ProTools and stuff like that. I’ve always been very hands-on about it, as far as micing techniques and such things go.
[LEWITT] Speaking of micing: You’ve got an LCT 840 tube microphone in your studio, as well as an LCT 940 Tube/FET combination mic and an LCT 550 from LEWITT. Tell us about your recording experience with these mics…
[Yngwie Malmsteen] I was on tour for World on Fire when I first got my hands on these microphones, but I soon went to my studio with my engineer to do some vocal overdubs. We did one take with the LCT 840 and one with the LCT 550: I liked the tube mic and my engineer liked the FET mic – and in the LCT 940, we’ve got a microphone that has both, so obviously, we’re very happy. That’s the most amazing thing, and it blows everybody’s mind: how you can get that tube warmth and the “zing” from the FET in one microphone. Very, very good! I mean, the LCT 840 and the LCT 550 are great for different types of voices and different types of instruments. As for me, I’m pretty loud when I sing, and I like how the tube reacts to my singing because it gives me a very full tone. But the zing (as my engineer calls it) from the FET is very important too, because it gives you the definition. So yeah, I’ve used everything, starting with the old German mics and stuff like that … but the LCT 940 is a totally amazing microphone, and I’m completely blown away by it.
[LEWITT] You use the MTP 550 DM dynamic handheld microphone when you perform live onstage. Can you tell us how that compares to the mics you used previously and why you switched over?
[Yngwie Malmsteen] For the longest time, I used another Austrian brand – I don’t need to mention the name – and I was never totally satisfied with them, but I also didn’t want to the American ones – and I don’t want to mention their name, either. [laughs] On my last tour, I used fifty-four 100 watt Marshall heads and twenty-four 4x12 cabinets, so I played very loud – and being the singer now, I have to be able to get as much volume as I can without feedback, obviously, and also without EQing out all the nice stuff and basically having a honky sound – because that’s what happens if you EQ everything to get rid of the feedback, you kind of lose the sound, too. So the MTP 550 DM has all I need, and I’m extremely pleased with it. It’s very true-sounding, and it can handle the volume as well – and mine’s done in chrome, too, which I like it even better.
[LEWITT] On your recent tour, you also used the DTP Beat Kit Pro 7 on drums; tell us about your experience with those drum mics…
[Yngwie Malmsteen] The thing is, as a long-time producer, I really don’t like acoustic drums, I think they’re a horrendous beast to deal with in the recording studio because they never stay in tune, they always leak, they always have no definition and no separation – nothing like that. Live they’re ok, but you want to EQ the toms and all of the sudden you end up EQing the cymbals … it’s a disgusting phenomenon, I really, really hate it. But when we put these mics on my drum kit on my last tour – oh my god! – the separation and definition were outstanding, and it was really easy to work with that sound. They blew away everything, and my live engineer agrees with that, too. I’m very happy with these mics!
So far, everything that LEWITT’s made I’ve been very impressed with. So: good job!