Rockin' Riffs Review: Yngwie Malmsteen-Style Diminished Arpeggios

Yngwie Malmsteen is known for being one of the fastest players in the industry. Using unique arpeggios which are obviously based in Classical-era harmony from the likes of Vivaldi, Bach and Mozart, he effortlessly blends it with rock and metal phrasing, which is called “Neo-classical Metal”.

Yngwie loves playing with either the harmonic minor scale or its fifth mode, the Phrygian Dominant. This can be heard in almost all of his songs, but I just love the way he delivered in “Far beyond the Sun” and “Black Star”.

In this Rockin’ Riffs Review, we will learn some of his most used patterns – Diminished Arpeggios.
This technique can be pretty easy to learn, since we will only use three strings. Diminished chords and arpeggios consist of only 4 different notes that are each a minor 3rd distance apart. On guitar a minor 3rd is a 3 fret distance.

This first lick is a sweep picked diminished arpeggio on the E B and G strings. A good picking pattern for this is Up on e, Up on B, Down on G, Down on B, Down on e.

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You can use sweep picking if it’s more comfortable for you. Some guitarists prefer using it because they can play faster using that picking.

For the second and the last lick, we will play the diminished scale ascending then descending from low E to high E and back again across all six strings. This makes an interesting pattern on your fretboard.

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These licks will help you improve both your cross picking and sweep picking skills, and you will also get a hold of diminished arpeggios. If you love Neo-classical sound, I’m sure that these licks will be staying in your stable for a long time!

See you next week for another Rockin’ Riffs Review! You can check out our RRR for Paul Gilbert from last week! If you want a specific guitar style to be featured, leave a comment below or message us on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #gzRockinRiffs!