Identifying an Yngwie Strat

A note on identification. While the first Yngwie Strat model (1988) is distinct from the others in that it has a small, 50’s style headstock and a two-point tremolo, the later two redesigns, launched in 1998 and 2007, are less easily distinguished. Online specs are often outdated, with a picture of the new guitar but the info on the old one; sometimes sellers on eBay or smaller indy sites copy the latest Fender specs (from the ’07 revision) to the description of their older, used models. Occasionally a Japanese model will sneak in, too. The way to ID the Malmsteen Strat you’re looking at is from its headstock.


Here’s what you’re looking for:

US version #1:

  • Small 50s headstock (all others feature large “CBS” heads)
  • Filled truss rod plug – no access

US version #2:

  • Large 70s “CBS” headstock
  • Walnut truss rod plug w/access

US version #3:

  • Large 70s “CBS” headstock
  • Chrome “bullet” truss rod

Japan versions:

  • Large 70s “CBS” headstock
  • Chrome “bullet” truss rod
  • Does not say “with synchronized tremolo” below Fender decal
  • Two string trees
  • Modern Gotoh type tuners

US vs Japan

Fender-scallops-US-JPModels produced by Fender Japan, regardless of how you feel about them, are less valuable than the US versions, with bodies made from basswood (as opposed to the traditional alder of the US versions) and generally worse scallop jobs. Up close you can often see quickie, machine-style scallops in their fretboards; a shallower cut that does not reach all the way from one fret to the next, but rather creates a small trench in the wood between flat, unscalloped ledges. Fender US Malmsteen necks have a more detailed, hand-finished look to them, with each scallop rounded out individually from fret wire to fret wire; no flat ledges. The same applies to factory-scalloped Fender Japan ST71 and ST72 “SC” (for ‘scalloped’) models, which did not carry Yngwie’s name or signature, but were unmistakably intended as cheaper avenues into the Malmsteen realm. It’s easy to identify the Fender US approach as more appealing, having more craftsmanship invested in it; however, it has been said that refretting the Japanese style board would be an easier job, which may be true or may not.

US vs US vs US

I’ve owned all three US versions of the Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster, and although I got rid of the earliest model, I still have the next two models, which are much closer in spec and appearance, and by far the two you’re most likely to find out there today.

The original 88 version is quite distant from what Yngwie plays today, with its little round neck, thin vintage frets, two-point trem etc. However, what bugged me about it was the way truss rod adjustments could only be made at the heel. That meant removing the neck for every adjustment. If you own a scalloped neck somewhere like the North East, where half the year is terribly humid and the other half is terribly dry, you need to get in and make adjustments, and it’s just too much of an operation with the first Malmsteen model — especially if you consider how we don’t always get truss adjustments right first time, and have to retune, let the neck settle, check, and tweak again.

There’s not a great deal to separate the latest two versions, both of which feature the fat frets, big headstocks, later ‘YJM’ model DiMarzio pickups and easily-accessible truss rods we’d expect. But the 2007, which remains the current design today, does have some nice updates, and is my pick of the Malmsteen models. If you want to know why, see my V2 versus V3 Malmsteen Strat comparison review.

— G.A.N.

53 Replies to “Identifying an Yngwie Strat”

  1. Hi! I have a japanese Malmsteen strat bought in 1992. Bought for £550.

    Do you have any idea what the resale price for it would be nowadays, or even where to look to find out? Hope you don’t mind the question.

    Many thanks in advance, either way!

    Warm regards,


    1. Hey, Haider! I’m not sure what you’d get for your Strat today, especially in Britain where everything costs more. Whenever I want a ballpark figure, I search eBay’s Completed Listings to see what similar items have sold for, so that’s my suggestion. Even if you turn up nothing on the UK site, try the German one etc., or widen your search to Europe, just for a rough number. Good luck!

      1. Hi
        Was this guitar ever made in black and white (left handed model?).


    2. Hey!
      Last June I got a Malmsteen Strat replica, and to give credit where credit is due, this guitar is amazing! I got it through DHgate, a mistake I won’t make twice as they were slow almost yo indifferent. But the guitar!
      No cracks or chips at the neck joint (or anywhere else). White body, pickguard and pickup covers and controls
      Maple neck and fingerboard, scalloping done as if done by somebody who cared about what they were doing. Just beautiful (frets and fretwork too).
      The pickups say “Noiseless” with beveled magnet tops. Nice and smooth and slow breakup, perfect for an old blues guy like me. 5 way switch. Small dime-sized pots which are serviceable as strats don’t typically have high output loads and work smoothly.
      The large headstock has open access to the truss rod with walnut lining, not a plug. 2 string trees and large Fender logo. I installed a brass nut and brass roller nut trem saddles which gives the strings brass to brass connection. I have a trem setter but will need to have it installed—a bit out of my depth! Installed Fender strap buttons to secure my strap, a Neil Young white alternating peace signs and doves on black background. That’s all I got. I do NOT try to pass it off as genuine but a great replica, my “strat”!

  2. Hey man have opputunity to purchase YJM 88 strat just this one dosnt have truss rod plug on headstock and the string/guide tree is back to front(no hole to say that its been turned around)its a rosewood board,i know Fender can be inconssistent sometimes but have you seen this before?thanks mate.

    1. If it has the two-point tremolo and small headstock, which it should have from ’88, you’re probably okay. That was the first year. A string tree could be reversed using the same hole. I’d take a long hard look at the decal if I were you. Does it have the brass nut? The tweed case?

  3. yeah well i found 1 exactly the same on you tube and talked to the guy there, he seemed to think that maybe Fender did the early model that way due to trussrod,rosewood board being of different tolerance to the maple,to me the string tree has not been spun around because of its location,i have done a week long comparison on the Fender decal and seems legit,i just was originally wondering if youd ever seen this before..anyhow great site and thanks for the info.

  4. oh sorry mate, yes brass nut and tweed case the serial dates its as a 88 so spose im a winner!!

  5. The scallop on newer (1997-present) Japanese YJM models is the same as the US models only shallower! I own a ST-71 and ST-68-YJM I love the amber color neck which sadly my 2007 Yngwie model lacks; with it it would by far the best model.

    1. Thanks for adding this information. I’ve seen the better examples of Japanese scalloping, i.e. without the plateaux, but didn’t know when these models appeared.

    2. @gatmaniax I just dug up fuzzy old pictures of my own rosewood ’88 YJM (long gone) and indeed: no truss plug, backwards string tree! Looks like I will have to update the article…

      Enjoy the guitar. Mine sounded great, but I got tired of taking the neck off to adjust for humidity, and eventually it ran out of adjustment. Hopefully you are somewhere drier!

  6. Frederic Krohmer says: Reply

    I had one of the US 88′ models which was unfortunately stolen… Easily one of the most disappointing days of, my then, young life. I have one of the newer models now and the neck feels thinner to me. It’s been many years, I am imagining this or did the 88′ have a chunkier neck? Thanks much.

  7. There are much more Japan Malmsteen Models like the ST-68-YJM (mentioned in one of the former comments).

  8. […] versions so far of the Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster. As covered in the article on ID’ing various Malmsteen models, the original signature series Strat is plainly different from the other two, with its 50s type […]

  9. Hi, I have an Ynwie US 1996 50th anniversary, how much do you think it cost now?

    1. As far as I know, Jay, most Strats leaving the factory in 1996 were slapped with a 50th Anniversary sticker so it’s unlikely to be a special edition commanding a premium. Given the depressed guitar market (it’s a great time to buy, not sell!) then $800 to $1,100 is the going rate, depending on color and condition. Thanks for the visit. 🙂

    2. thanks, id rather keep it then, but what if someone want to trade it for a vintage 79 fender us strat. is it a good deal?

      1. Price wise, yeah, it’s a good swap. Guitar versus guitar, though, maybe not. The 70s Strats are notorious for quality issues and generally considered a low point in US production. Depends what the mojo of vintage provenance is worth to you. Try to look it over first.

  10. […] that Yngwie strat I've got an '88 orig U.S.A. model. The Chinese also get the truss rod wrong.…stratocasters/ …and the tremelo.…ld-versus-new/ It's basically just a […]

  11. Hi dear, sorry for my english but i’m italian!!!
    I have a YJMalmsteen fender strat first series (artist 1989) color candy apple red w. rosenwood neck. this guitar is a gift ( my lovely wife). But i’m not sure about the originality of this guitar. i try to speak with you:
    1st) the fender decal in the headstock is like a stickers.
    2nd) the neck plate is without “f” or “fender”or “number series” (the serial number is only in the rear of the headstock
    3rd) in the rear of the neck in not available the brown line typically used to demonstrate the presence of the truss rod.
    Can you help my.
    Thx and sorry for my “poor” english. Alessandro.

    1. Welcome, Alessandro.

      I hesitate to say too much without seeing photographs, but it is very likely your Malmsteen Strat is authentic.

      1. The first YJM series was modeled on old 1950s Strats, and they applied the Fender decal to the headstock the same crude way it was done in the early days: on top of the lacquer, with no protection! My ’89 was this way. It’s easy to damage these decals, so be careful.

      2. Almost every Yngwie Strat I’ve seen, even new on the walls of guitar stores, had plain chrome neckplates, with no F or serial number there. You may find a hand written code such as “M2” in the tremolo cavity.

      3. Again, these first YJM Strats were based on early Fenders, which had no skunk stripe on the back of the neck. Your truss rod was installed from the other side, the front of the neck, before the rosewood fretboard which now covers the route.

      From your description, everything adds up. Give that wife of yours a hug! And please don’t apologize for your English. I studied Italian at college and remember about three words.

      1. Thanks for your help man. really. and … thanks to my beloved wife for the wonderful gift. I’ve been waiting for years! god bless you
        …and sorry again for my English, very poor!!!! 😉

      2. Hi Malmsteen lovers I have an 89 with small headstock and skunk stripe – truss rod adjustment at heel (I filed out a little bit off the pickguard so you can get a screwdriver to the adjuster without taking off the neck). It has kluson tuners and no name on dimarzio pick up covers and twin pivot bridge. The neck feels fatter than any other strat I have played(for me that’s good).
        I took out the Di Marzios (middle was stock) and TBX’s (not my taste) put in fender 60’s stock PUPs and is a blues/Hendrix monster – the bends are so sweet and easy with scalloped neck. I have had it for over 20 years now and had no trouble refretting with scalloped neck. Nitrocellulose monkey vomit (vintage white) colour. It’s still the best strat I have played and I’ve owned and played plenty. Does anybody know how many of each model have been made?

  12. Hey, great page!

    I just want to add some small, but, important details that gives away if it´s an 88 or 89- model.
    If you cant check the serial number for some reason…

    First of all, I live in Sweden and there´s not many early models in circulation. A lot of the newer though. I own two 88´s and has been forced to really tell the difference from these and the later ones from the first series.
    Anyway, the 88 model has DiMarzio tuners and no logos on the pup covers.
    The 89 has kluson tuners AND DiMarzio logos on the bridge and neck pup, the mid pup is a stock fender.
    I did see an 88 with the kluson tuners, didn´t buy it or even see it irl, but hopefully he´ll still sell it to me one day… The serial number was from an 88, so was the other details except for the tuners. Could have been a modification at some point, or even a “transition” from DiMarzio to kluson on a late 88 git? Don´t know…
    Well, I allready made a short story long, but to sum it all up:
    1988 = DiMarzio tuners. NO DiMarzio logo on pickups.
    1989 = Kluson tuners. DiMarzio logo on pickups


  13. Hi there,
    First of all thanks for all the useful tips and tricks about Malmsteen strats. I have a question that really annoys me: My luthier (who is a very good one and not any kind of fraud) told me that it is definitively impossible to refret the neck of a Malmsteen strat (mine is a 2011 US model)because there is too little wood under the frets. The only possible option when the frets will be worn out is to buy a new neck! Secondly he told me that the frets on a scallopped fretboard tend to be worn out faster than on a standard strat neck! If anybody could give me an anwser I would really appreciate it! Thanks and sorry for the mistakes I’m not a native English speaker.

    1. My luthier told me the same. This is so disappointing but what could we do?

  14. What are your opinions on this eBay neck – item # 181066628531 . The decals just look wrong to me . I don’t mind that the clear has been sanded ( or was this some crap neck that never had any ?) because I would want it to build me a play loud replica ! My concerns are that it is a decent neck , good scallop job , and that its the proper size as far as “feel ” . By “feel” I bought a warmth neck once that was scalloped and I built a play loud replica but the neck felt like a softball bat compared to my authentic yjm fender . What are the proper neck size for a yjm ??


  15. just purchased a scalloped strat neck. serial number z7285447. paid £67 in england. just wondered if it’s good value. or, as i fear a cheapo piece of crap. can’t trace the number. says made in usa. but, looks & feels like it was made in about 20 minutes. no bullet truss rod end, plastic nut & asymmetrical heel caper. go easy. break the bad news gently.

  16. I think saying the US YJM Strats are superior to the Japanese ones in terms of craftsmanship is questionable at best. I have yet to see an MIJ strat with sharp fret ends, a sloppy finish, or shoddy wiring. I can’t say the same about US Fenders.

  17. Great articles on this fantastic guitar! I recently purchased a 2008 Yngwie strat.
    Three questions:
    1)Does the serial number SZ8082074 make sense?
    2)Yngwie’s signature: the ‘Y’ , ‘G’ and the ‘star’ are squiggly. Is there a way to upload a photo for you to view?
    3)The trem block is painted gray. Is this correct?


  18. Hi,
    I have bought a malmsteen signature made in Japan last week.
    It says serial number : I024475 on the back of the neck.
    Now i want to know of this is a real malmsteen strat.
    In the neckpocket is stamped : ST72 ex. 1M
    And the neck :J stamp ST-72 EX/IM
    It has the malmsteen autograph on the big headstock, and it have a bullet truss rod, scalloped neck pickups where i cant find a name on saddles without stamps and black pu covers and knobs. Can somebody tell me if this is a original malmsteen strat mij?

  19. I recently purchased 1988 Yngwie, S/N SE800599. It was modified by the previous owner, single humbucker, one tone control, push-pull volume control, gold tuners, and gold bridge. I am in the process of locating original parts to bring back to original. Fender archives only go back to 1998, so that info is not helpful. It is candy apple red and in excellent condition. Came with original tweed case but no case candy, which I am also looking for.


  20. Very good page! tnx.

    You mentioned that 89 malmsteen is modeled after 50’s stratocaster..which kinda scared me.

    I have found a 89 jumbo refretted signature model. But I have hesitations about the neck radius. If it is really modeled after 50’s strats, then there is a chance that the radious is 7″ and not 9″? I already have a 50’s classic player strat, while it is great I sell it because thats a pain in the ass to bend strings without buzz due to small radius!.

    You know the radius of this guitar?


  21. Stuart Johnson says: Reply

    I have just bought a Made in Japan Yngwie Stratocaster S/N O014848 , with large headstock, 2 string trees, but with Floyd Rose tremolo. Were these ever made? Or have I bought a Partscaster?
    Can anyone shed light on this?

  22. Stuart Johnson says: Reply

    Sorry S/N J014848 – which supposedly dates it to 1989/90

  23. I have the first production run of 1988 YJM in Sonic Blue, but it has aged to a nice Seafoam Green now. The specs are:

    -50’s Headstock with skunk stripe
    -Maple Fretboard
    -Brass Nut
    -Single String Tree (arched T-type with pivot – single screw held in)
    -DiMarzio Machine Heads/Tuning Pegs
    -DiMarzio HS-3 Single Coils (Neck/Bridge) with plain non-branded pickup covers
    -TBX Tone Switches (neck & bridge) which I LOVE!!!
    -5-Position Toggle Switch
    -Small Frets (flat and not rounded)
    -2-Pivot American Standard Powdered Steel Saddle (smooth as hell flow)
    -Plain metal neck plate

    I never have to remove the neck to adjust the truss-rod, removing the pickguard and inserting a Phillips screwdriver is good enough. Love the buttery tone!

  24. […] Identifying an Yngwie Strat | Pick Roar – Help on identifying the various models of the Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster. […]

  25. Hey man..long time no see..never did buy that 88..dude just came off shady..but friday 13th scored a 2011 YJM strat for a song..mean..i really like it alot..anyways keep up the good work send some pics later..chur!

  26. Thanks for this! Anyone knows what pickups used to come with a japanese yngwie strat?

    1. Depends on the year. Very early models are just plain single coil pickups with no brass nut. Later models comes with DiMarzio HS-3 on the Neck & Bridge as well as a brass nut.

  27. I found a lot of China made strats that is said to be made with alder wood.. The only things that I notice that is not exactly is the brass nut. I asked the seller about it. Sellers said its all is copy. Even the dimarzio, stickers and my guess the serial #.. How good it is? It’s a very though question! If you need link to see where is the guitar let me know.. Price is between $150 to $250. It vary from seller.

  28. Hi, can you tell me what pickups came with japanese yngwie strats? I have one from 1990-91 batch and it seems to be generic black single coils. Any info would be very appreciated

  29. I have an 89-90 seafoam green Japanese model. It also came with black generic single coils of unknown origin. I love the dark tint of the neck.

    Here’s the specs:
    89-90 Japanese Yngwie Model(I serial #)
    Poor scallop job
    Tinted neck
    Small frets
    Plastic nut
    Black single coil pickups, unknown make
    Gotoh tuners
    Cast bridge saddles, made to appear like the older style Fender Saddles
    No “Synchronized Tremolo” logo on headstock
    3 bolt neck with micro tilt adjustment
    2 string trees
    Bridge block not as thick as US Yngwie models
    Seafoam Green finish
    5 way US Made Switch CRL US Pat. 2503885
    Pots say M250k(ohm symbol) and 06k or 08k
    Capacitor says 473k 50v with an N that has a circle around it
    70’s large CBS Headstock

    I also have a US 2014 model. Love them both, but man that seafoam green is just awesome.

  30. David Robertson says: Reply

    Hi I am concerned a Yngwie stray I purchased may be a fake. It’s a made in USA start but does not have a brass but. The serial number is Z7. Which is 2007. How do i tell? I have a picture of the head and serial number. Can you assist?

  31. David Robertson says: Reply

    Dern predictive text really just screwed that up. I purchased a 2007 Fender Yngwie Strat. My concern is it has no brass nut. I have a picture of the head stock and serial number. Can you help identify??

    1. Let’s take a look. I’ve emailed you requesting pics.

    2. Hey,

      How did your Yngwie Strat story went? Did you found out if your’s Fender Stratocaster is original?

      I am trying to find out answers to similar questions: if the serial number Z9 is ok (I mean its not SZ9). Please let me now if you have any info about that.


  32. As far as I know, there are Chinese made Malmsteen-fenders, which says ‘made in the USA’ on the front of the neck and start with the prefix Z7xxxxxx (at the back of the neck). An good example you can find at youtube. A Russian guy ordered a Chinese Malmsteen-fender and just got it. The guitar looks good. But… the price shall be 150 – 250 dollars…. and than you have a new one! Cheep it is, but it ain’t the ‘made in USA’-guitar!

  33. Hi, I have the option to buy the Yngwie model. I saw it only at the photos. The guitar looks like a new model, has a CBS headstock and a Seymour-Duncan pickups (with the YJM inscription in the middle). The seller, however, writes that it is from 1995. The serial number checked on the Fender website says that it is MALMSTEEN STRAT MN VWT W/C. Can you help me identify this one? It costs around $1,500. Is it a good price? Thank you for your very useful informations.

  34. I was just on Facebook Market here in Hawaii. A guy has a fake Malsteem strat on sale for 1300 bucks. The serial is the give away, it starts with U.S. and then gibberish numbers. Second clue is the small American flag decal on the pickguard, it’s not the right font nor logo that Fender uses. It’s a fake chinese guitar. Otherwise it looks perfect. Be careful out there….

  35. AngelDeville says: Reply

    I picked up a “Crafted in Japan” 1999-2002 Tokai made Yngwie Strat. (One string tree) without the “syncro trem” label.

    Dimarzio dp217 pickups.

    In it’s 18 years on this earth, I’m sure there have been some changes.

    Did it originally come with a 3 way switch? Mine has a 5 now.

    Did it originally come with a Strap? Straplocks….etc… what brand?

    I do have a tweed case with red/pinkish fuzzy lining.

  36. Hello Gray, My friend recently picked up a Malmsteen fender strat and he wanted to authenticate it on things besides the head stock. I’m pretty sure that his particular model has a walnut truss rod plug, although not quite sure. He thinks its an 2009 or 2010 from Corona because of the serial number which he looked up which starts with a Z 1. Is there anything written or engraved on the neck (where it meets the body) that can’t be seen unless taken apart. 2. Is there also something engraved or written underneath the pick guard as well. 3. Is there something else somewhere on the guitar that might be in a section I haven’t described. Can you help Thanks ,Brian

  37. Hello l have this fender SE 910789 Yngwie stratocaster mint green can you tell me the year and any information on it

    Mark Rios

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