Yngwie Malmsteen Strat: Old versus New

There have been three US production 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 neck, head and body, its narrow frets, and American Standard type two-point tremolo. The subsequent two models, updated in 1998 and then 2007, are less easily distinguishable, and both look pretty much like what you see Yngwie spin around his shoulders today. There are differences between these two, though, some totally inconsequential, some less so, and here I compare them side by side.

[We are long overdue for an update: A fourth version of Yngwie’s signature Strat was released in 2011. It is immediately recognizable by its recessed Dunlop strap locks set flush into the body, in place of traditional strap buttons. It comes loaded with three Seymour Duncan YJM Fury Pickups, the company having spirited Yngwie away from DiMarzio after nearly 30 years. Otherwise, version #4 has the same spec as version #3 covered here.]

Guitars used:

  • My version #2 Yngwie Strat was made in 2001. This model was introduced in ’98 and is sometimes referred to here as “the ’98”.
  • My version #3 was built in the first year of production, 2007. This was available until sometime in 2011, when the pickups and strap mounting hardware were changed.
Can you tell the difference? Version #2 top, version #3 bottom.
Can you tell the difference? Version #2 top, version #3 bottom.

Common Ground

Let’s start with what features they share. They both have: alder bodies; scalloped maple necks (with the option of rosewood fretboards); hella fat frets; vintage six-screw tremolos with the stamped, bent steel saddles; large 70s style “CBS” headstocks (which Yngwie thinks provide more sustain…); DiMarzio YJM stacked humbuckers in the neck and middle positions; DiMarzio HS-3 pickups in the bridge positions; and in my case, both are even vintage white.

Both supposedly employ “no load” tone controls, which are meant to be bypassed completely at 10, mimicking Yngwie’s previous predilection for disconnecting his tone pots for what he described as more output but was probably more brightness. However, on each Yngwie Strat I’ve owned, only the outer tone control evidenced the notch effect, where a no load control softly locks into place when turned all the way up. I turn these all the way up anyway, to get that bubbly, open Yngwie sound, and when I’ve built guitars I’ve omitted a tone control completely; I’d be perfectly happy if manufacturers did the same.


2007-bullet-and-nutThough all but identical at a glance, get in close to these guitars and reasonably subtle aesthetic differences begin to peep out. For the rabid fan, a mild irritant in the design of the signature Strat available from ’98 through the end of ’06 was the lack of a “bullet” truss rod. You never see Yngwie without that bullet! It was an easily identifiable niggle; a dissatisfying reminder that we didn’t have quite the same guitar as Yngwie, but a slightly inaccurate, if well-meaning, facsimile for fans.

Lately I was in a toy store at the Monroeville Mall (where Dawn of the Dead was filmed) and felt my inner 13-year-old greaseball horror fan stir, abruptly and unexpectedly, when I saw that they had finally released a Freddy Kruger replica glove that was really made out of metal. The one they had when I was a kid was plastic and cloth. As I watched grubby, taped-off-satellite VHS tapes of the Nightmare On Elm Street movies in the wee hours of my tweens, I dreamt of a more satisfying reproduction. It’s not that I wanted to lacerate innocents with an insane razor claw; it’s that mine didn’t look the same as Freddy’s. Besides being plastic, the cloth under-glove was gray while Freddy’s leather was a caramelly newbuck, and forget the dirty copper of the hinged fingers and backplate — they hadn’t even bothered. There was even some tortoiseshell plastic in there. What the?

yjm-headsI seized on this metal glove and, for a few electric, ecstatic moments, believed that of course I would buy it, this object that had always been missing, before a cold wash of reality swept through to remind me that I am 32 and in little need of fantasy prop replicas that would aid hours of role play in an adolescent horror world. I can make use of a guitar that makes me feel just a little bit more like a rock star, though.

The bullet truss rod, standard issue on the Yngwie Strat since ’07, is the metal Freddy glove of the Malmsteen disciple — finally, the guitar looks right.

body-curves-and-colorsIt was not until I laid both guitars down together that I discovered a difference in the paint. It’s not the clearest comparison to make in small digital pictures, but in raw daylight it’s unmistakable. The older model is buttery and yellow, brighter; the current model is duller, less colored, a more genuine cream, for my money the more naturally aged-looking color of the two. You can imagine this as paint that started out white and found itself in a sunlit store window for some years.

A digital swatch taken from the guitars in Photoshop makes things clearer. At the time they were made, both finishes were billed simply as “Vintage White” by Fender.


I like the idea of taking a guitar to one of those machines at Home Depot that scans the color of any object and spits out cans of matching paint. A whole room of Malmsteen vintage white appeals — it’s subtle enough to make sense on a wall, and to pass spousal standards of taste and decency. For this I think I’d go with the earlier model. Something about a roomful of the duller, more beige tone of the new paint strikes me as institutional, like a 70s psych ward. I am not going back to one of those.

yjms-floor-bodiesFender went with a mint green pickguard on the earlier of the two guitars, presumably to emulate a bit of age, as the effect is of a discolored white. The new model employs a simple, true white pickguard instead, which pops better in contrast with the body paint and controls, defining the iconic curves and details of the Stratocaster design in stronger terms.

The mint green guard of the ’98, against vintage white paint, cream knobs and mint green pickup covers, is more amorphous, with each element blending together as members of the ‘dirty white’ family — nothing stands out.

Adding a white guard in 2007 gave all those aged colors a nice neutral to be seen against, like installing 6500ºK lights behind a screen, and I think the timeless appeal of the Stratocaster layout is better showcased because of it. The immediate impression is of similarity to an earlier, healthier ‘Duck’, before exposure to decades of touring in the hands of a viking, such as on the cover of Rising Force, or even the June 1988 issue of Guitar World; significant images, both.

A couple of smaller aesthetic differences: the ’98 has a rich, amber-tinted neck, while the new one goes for a very white, uncolored maple. Some of this could be down to age, but given that my ’98 revision Yngwie was actually made in 2001 and lives in its case between uses, I don’t think these came out the factory the same color. The ’98 also has a high grain (and possibly higher grade) maple neck — more on this later — and at some point between the two models, DiMarzio evidently decided to step up its brand recognition, with pickup logos about six times the size they used to be. The subtler old ones seem more tasteful.



The 70s aftermarket trend for brass nuts clearly made an impact on young Yngwie, who’s insisted on them ever since. They are meant to increase sustain, though this may be a manufacturer myth akin to herbal supplements which increase a man’s size — both rely on wishful thinking.

You will have noticed, as I have, that anything farther down the neck than the fretting finger has no effect on your sound, because that’s not where the string’s vibrating. If you’ve ever put an elastic band or a hair scrunchie around your first fret, to dampen unwanted open strings while attempting tapping sequences more demanding than the usual three-note doo-da-dee, you’ll have noticed, when you tore off and went on soloing with a pick as normal, that the guitar sounded the same as usual. You could wrap an uncooked bratwurst sausage around the neck beyond your fretting hand and it’d sound the same. That is my assertion. I’m not a physicist. I can only see how a brass nut might improve sustain on open strings, where it is directly involved, and shit, who plays chords?

There is an advantage to the brass nut in that it won’t break, which is nice, but they’re also harder to work with, which is sometimes a problem.

The nut on earlier Malmsteen models, including my 2001, was a heaving big uncultured block which was cut unreasonably high, creating a monstrous string action at the low end of the neck; something like 50 thousandths at the first fret in my case. To quote a guitar tech when I popped the case and pointed out what needed to be done, “that is ridiculous.”

These unrefined brass bricks make you work unnecessarily hard when so high, adding significantly to the action across the entire fretboard, for almost no benefit. Nut height has no effect on fret buzz beyond the open strings. In short, these beasts need to be filed down if you’ve to stand a chance of nailing the Déja Vu riff. Or strumming G-flat minor without going purple in the face.

Happily, the revised 2007 Malmsteen Strat, with its many new features, has one improvement not mentioned in the literature: a sane brass nut. It’s slotted at a height that will not require intervention from your tech, and it even looks nice. The early nuts were blocky, rather industrial chunks of metal with hard edges; the new ones are polished smooth, nicely rounded at the edges.


A major focus of the Malmsteen models is their necks; it’s largely what sets them apart from other Strats, after all. The 2007 redesign brought a number of upgrades, or at least changes, to the neck.

Fender’s press material mentions even deeper scallops, which seem a bit needless, but they are indeed present, if only really evident at the top end of the fretboard. The scallops on the ’98 are already plenty deep, nothing like the shallow Fender Japan or Allparts versions, and could hardly be said to be restrictive, but apparently Yngwie is having them cut deeper these days by long time luthier Larry Lashbrook, so we get something similar from Fender.

The new scallops, top, are even deeper than the previous model, bottom.
The new scallops, top, are even deeper than the previous model, bottom.

The new scallops start getting pretty aggressive around the 9th or 10th frets, and by the time you’re up in the teens you’re really ice skating, never touching solid ground. It is fun, I have to say, and liberating to be freed up like that. These high notes ring out more clearly too, as if that extra space beneath the strings acts as an acoustic chamber in some way — like when you play your guitar with the pickguard off and all that empty routing works to amplify the strings.

Both necks are finished in glorious old nitro, as you’d find on genuine vintage Strats; a thinner, hence less vibration-damping finish that purists love (and manufacturers avoid, because it damages easily). Fender only went half way, compromising by finishing the body in standard modern poly, the thick plastic gloop on most current guitars that can never age attractively and hampers resonance. An all-nitro Yngwie model would be wonderful, one that would age, tint, chip and sing, but one supposes they have to keep something back for customers of the custom shop, and it’s encouraging they would be talked into nitro necks at least.

One possible tone-benefitting update on the ’07 involves machine screw neck mounting, a system the big man apparently has installed on all his guitars. Instead of big wood screws going through the heel and into the wood of the neck itself, machined screws are used, coupling with metal anchors set into the base of the neck, a bit like the posts and anchors you see on floating bridge guitars. This allegedly binds the neck even tighter to the body, reducing the chances of it moving around, but as a player who is not often given the venue or inspiration to fling his guitar aloft into the lighting rig, I can’t say I’ve experienced neck instability issues under the old system. I suppose it might grab you a bit of sustain, if you half closed your eyes and hucked up your shoulders and really really wanted it.

Fretwire seems about the same — fat — with equally good work on the fret ends, and a little accompanying rolling of the fretboards of each guitar, for a soft, don’t-think-about-it feel. Yngwie has said the current model has a different profile, and it may be be flatter, but playing the two back to back they feel very similar. The 2007 is more susceptible, however, to an under-reported malady of Fender Strats which share this combination of vintage string spacing on the tremolo end paired with a modern, narrower neck. The high E string needs very little encouragement to slip off the fretboard, and makes a frightful squeak as it does so. Hybrid tremolos can be bought to address this, with vintage screw spacing but modern string spacing to match the neck — cheaply, a Highway One Strat tremolo will work; more expensively, Callaham makes a nice model — but these aren’t mods you should have to make to a $2,000 USA-built guitar.

2001-neck-grainYou’ve got to see the difference in the maple. The stock used on the earlier guitar’s neck is flooded with sexy, swirly grain, all marbled and mature, what you might call select maple. It’s knurled and flowing, the scallops skimming through the figuring, creating a lot of movement and interest, with a premium look that makes you feel a bit more pampered than the Plain Jane American Standard owner — and well you should.

2007-neck-grainThe new one is just flat, buttery, Army-issue maple, ordinary and functional, the kind you’d find on any Strat. I don’t know if this discrepancy is down to a scarcity of beauty pageant maple, a bit of cost cutting (even as the MSRP rises), or someone new in charge with different standards than whoever oversaw these artist series instruments 10 years ago, but these current models (that is, 2007 to present) usually look this way.


It’s odd, isn’t it, to have only a little section at the end of a giant article about guitars — musical instruments — discussing sound. This is a comparison, however, and the reality is that these guitars share the same manufacturer, wood types, pickups, electronics, and hardware; to get them to do anything worthwhile you even have to run each of them through the same DOD pedal. Battering away at the arpeggios, scalar runs and supersize vibrato they were made for, teeming with gain, yes, they sound similar.

Guys who have been around the block a few times will tell you, though, that the louder a guitar sounds unplugged, the better it will sound amped up — not least The Maestro himself. It makes sense: natural resonance, in an unplugged guitar that is louder than another unplugged guitar, can equal longer sustain, and subjectively richer tone. The current model, or my ’07 at least, sounds louder and clearer unplugged, quite distinctively. There’s less of what I perceive as crosstalk between the parts; it rings out simply and truly. My earlier revision has a quieter, more muddled unplugged tone, leading perhaps to a marginally detectable dissonance once electrified.

This is mostly meaningless, however; without a large sample pool of guitars from each line, it can’t be said with any accuracy that type B, through changes in design and materials, outperforms type A in natural sustain or tone. Wood, you know, is all different, and one slab of it won’t sound the same as the one right next to it on the factory line. I remember reading about Steve Vai visiting Ibanez, trying endless neck-and-body combinations in hope of replacing his beloved, fatally splitting Evo; but none of them had it, this particular marriage of these particular bits of maple and alder. Thus, lengthy internet comparisons aside, it’s always preferable if you can actually lay your hands on an instrument before you buy it.

You Are Free To Go

Thus ends an evaluation of the version #2 Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster (1998-2006) versus version #3 (2007-present). I’m hanging on to both, in hopes of starting an unholy billion dollar guitar pile like YJM keeps at Studio 308, but if forced to choose would go for the current model. With several caring little updates, it’s the closest Fender has come to Yngwie’s current custom spec, plays better out of the box, and damnit if I’m not just a fool for that little bullet truss rod.

At a Glance

The main, non-subjective differences between the two models. (For shared features, see Common Ground, near the beginning of the article.)

Feature Yngwie Strat (1998-2006) Yngwie Strat (2007-present)
Truss rod Recessed 70s style “bullet”
Neck Nitro finish; high-grain maple; amber tint Nitro finish; plain maple; no tint
Pickguard Mint Green 3-ply White 3-ply
Brass Nut Square; cut high Rounded; cut low
Scallops Deep; even depth across fretboard Deeper; deepest in highest frets
Neck Mount Standard 4-screw 4-machine-screw anchor system
“Vintage White” color Butter Cream

62 Replies to “Yngwie Malmsteen Strat: Old versus New”

  1. hello,
    i also have 5 fender yngwie signature guitars (all made in USA) in my colection (check out my website), they are: 1989 (sonic blue) , 1995 (candy apple red), 2000 (vintage white), 2000 (sonic blue), 2007 (vintage white)
    and , i want to give you the correction, that is : yngwie #2 version neck (1998-2006) has the same NITROCELLULOSE finish as the #3 version (2007-now). all of US Yngwie neck NEVER used Poly finish. unless the japanese model

    hope this correction is useful for your info in thsi article, or or the other purpose


    1. Interesting, Gooswyn. Can you point to a pre-2007 catalog confirming this?

      1. AJFenderBender says: Reply

        I can confirm this as well. I have a ’98 (97 serial#) with a rosewood board, and the neck itself is nitro finished. I know this for sure as I had a non-nitro safe stand for a while and the neck finish reacted badly to it and melted a bit. This is why most guitar stands now use that black foam stuff around the neck support rather than the brown/translucent rubber or silicone.

  2. hello Gray,
    yes, it has described on the Official Fender Frontline magazine from 1999 – 2006
    you can see the detail of the neck finishing, and it described as : Nitrocellulose Laquer.
    and also, I’m using my feeling when I touch the neck, and the neck finishing is Nitro , not polyurethane 🙂


  3. Hey Gray,
    I’ getting ready to buy a Yngwie Strat frist ever this info really help’d , But
    now aday’s it’s hard to fine a store that even has one in stock so there’s no
    way to try out the Guitar be for hand so I have no choice but to order on line
    I just hope that I have good luck with my Yngwie Strat been waiting for a long
    time for chance at one of these Baby’s ! One more thing does the frist E string
    slip of the Fret s ?

    Thanks for the Imfo !

    1. Glad this is of some use, Ray, and I’m sure you’ll love your Yngwie Strat. These are fun guitars!

      This E string issue has become quite an annoyance for recent owners; it seems to be a relatively new phenomenon. I’ve had all three versions of the guitar, and it’s only been a problem on the latest (2007-present) model. Apparently Fender is using wide vintage string spacing at the bridge for that authentic Malmsteen look, but modern narrow necks. The fret ends and fretboard edges are more rolled/rounded on the current model, when I compare mine at least, and there’s your recipe for disaster. Either a Highway One tremolo (cheap) or Callaham V/N tremolo (not as cheap) will line the strings up properly and solve it. Thanks for dropping by!

  4. […] which, after all, are the pickups in The Duck, for God’s sake. (They sure sound grand on my Yngwie Strats.) But all the same, there’s a slim chance this move is not just about money, royalties, […]

  5. Hello, I am of Argentina, I need to know if a Malmsteen of the 1989 can be better than one of the 2003, I hope that it can respond to me, thanks

    1. Rarer, perhaps, but not necessarily better, and generally priced about the same on the used market. The best one, of course, is the one that plays and sounds best to you! If you can’t play them first, compare the features and choose that way. Personally I prefer how the truss rod on the later models (1998 to present) can be adjusted at the headstock; the original ’88/’89 requires removing the neck to adjust at the heel.

  6. I would want to ask those of you who own several of these YJM strats, if you here any differences between the 2007 YJM strat and the ones between 1998 and 2006? I keep hearing about this problem with the e string and replacing the bridge to a Callahan or Highway one, I do not mind doing that but the earlier ones from 1998 to that point did not have the problem and the scalloping was lighter. I will get to buy just one and maybe later in life another. Do you believe the newer ones (2007 and later) are better made, sound clearer, louder, play better etc or would you just go buy a used one? Clearly the YJM Fury pickups are newer and probably better sounding. Every guitar is different but the 2007 has a lot of changes and needs work to be at its best, I also hear it needs to be set up with a high action and the others can use a medium action or lower? I just want advice on which is better the newer or older models ( after 98) we already know what the review thinks? What do you think? I will only get to buy one so I want to do it right!

  7. Hello,
    I don t know which model i must choose between an early version ( 89 ) and a newer one
    CAN anyone give me an help, a test of the two, différences between them ….
    Thanks for your help

  8. Hi,

    First I have to say: Really nice page about Yngwie Strats, Kudos!! Very informative and detailed. That we like.

    Then a few pointers. Iv’e bought both a 2006 (Version 2) and a 2011? (Version 3) of the Malmsteen Strat and to me they sound completely different. The 2006 sounds way more like Yngwie’s original tone. And something I don’t see you mention is that the neck on the 2006 model is way fatter than the 2009 something model. Way, way fatter I would say. I’ve done a sound test with both of them in a plexi-marshall with with a handbuild (english) copy of a DOD 250 grey. They sound way, way different to my ears. The new version 3 (2011?) one sounds much brighter and thinner than the fat-necked 2006 (version 2) one.

    But I’m not sure what combination of things is causing this. The pups are different. On the newer one there’s the YJM fury’s…on the older one there’s the DiMarzio YJM and HS-3. To me the older one sounds way better actually. But that’s my personal opinion 🙂

    Ps. I have to share some anecdotes since I’m swedish and hung with Yngwie in Upplands Väsby (outside of Stockholm) in his early days. He used to trash parties putting his own tapes on all the time. It seems he’s cooled his ego down quite a bit in his later years. He was a serious pain in the ass in the late 70’s and early 80’s 🙂

    But he definitely is one of the finest guitar players around. I admire him like crazy. I was at his first bachelor party too when he married his first wife (Swedish one, Erika). He went on stage at a small place and did some Purple and Hendrix covers. THAT was true magic.



    1. Ah! I can clear this up. What you actually have is “version 4”, which didn’t yet exist when the article was written. Yngwie left DiMarzio towards the end of 2009, and after his new Seymour Duncan pickup was announced in January 2010 the signature Strat was reworked when they were incorporated – you should have recessed strap lock buttons, too, yes? (No DiMarzio contract, no more putting clip lock straps on there!)

      I didn’t know they’d made the neck thinner, but I’m not surprised it sounds different with the new Duncans. Most will agree his tone as been in steep decline for years, and anything designed for the same ears that mixed the last several albums is likely to fall well short of his 80s-90s pinnacle.

      Thanks for dropping by, Peter, and especially for the early viking stories! Don’t suppose you have a few photos locked away…? 🙂

      1. Hi, now that the 2011 model is available, i wonder if anyone here can tell me the difference in the neck profile between the version 4 and version 3. IN the fender website, it claims that the scallop is deeper. i know that version 2 and 3 is deeper than version 1, now is version 4 deeper than version 3? thanks.

      2. Ah, I see. So there’s actually a Model 4…and yes, you’re right. It has recessed strap lock buttons. But at least I’m having that model 2 one (2006) that sounds and plays fantastic! I also managed to find another model 2 one (I feel a bit lucky now…). Also bought a Marshall YJM 100 amp. But I have to wait until late october to get it…

        I’m trying to find one of these DOD YJM308 pedals too but they don’t sell them anymore here in Sweden 🙁

        Unfortunately I don’t have any pic’s from the early Yngwie-parties. But I’ll actually check with my 80’s-metal pal to see if he has some.

        Thanks again for your nice informative page!


        1. The 308 was discontinued, but is usually available very cheaply (~$30) on eBay. It’s perfectly usable in its stock form, but a bit thin and screechy. I do recommend having it modded by Outlier (John Evosevic) to match Yngwie’s “magic” old DOD 250.

          Details: http://pickroar.com/279/ultimate-yngwie-malmsteen-tone-grey-mod/

          However, your YJM100 (congrats!) basically has a 308 built in so you might decide you don’t need a pedal at all. Let me know how you like the amp when it arrives, Peter.

  9. Ah! great! I didn’t notice you had a page about the 308 too 🙂
    I have seen them on ebay yes, but the one’s Ive seen only ship domestically in the U.S

    Yes, the YJM 100 has a built in “DOD 250” and by the few youtube clips I’ve seen (and heard) it’s sounds quite nice. But since I seem to find myself becoming a bit of a “collector” of Yngwie items I wanted to really find that “early Yngwie” tone too 🙂
    As you mentioned it seems to be a bit thin and noisy and seem to need the Boss NS-2 Noise Gate that Yng uses too. I know a bit about electronics and it’s actually a very simple design. I think the differences in sound has alot to do with the quality of components used.

    I bought a handmade DOD 250 clone from the U.K called “D OverDrive 250” by a company called BigKnob and it sounds pretty damn close to Yngwie through my early 70’s Marshall head and 4×12 Marshall (75 Watters).

    I actually got a bit unsure about the neck thickness stuff we discussed before. My third Yngwie strat arrived yesterday and It feels like a mix between the 2006 (model 2) and the 2011 (model 4) one. Actually I will measure the necks on all of them and see what the actual differences are. The reason I got unsure is because I got the idea that it’s an optical illusion that the necks are different because of the difference in scallop depth…but I’m not completely sure until I’ve measured them.

    I think I need to scan your site a bit better to see if you have more fun stuff about Yng 🙂



    1. please let us know about the differences in the neck and the scallop fretboard. i m interested in getting the 2011 model. thanks.


      1. Guitarman (Peter) says: Reply

        Hi yp,

        I haven’t been able to measure the necks on the Yngwie-strats just yet but I’ll report back on the differences as soon as I got the tools to do a correct measurement.


  10. Gray-
    Can you please tell me if there is ANY possible way to solve the high-E-slipping-off problem without replacing the tremelo? I just got my 2007 version last week, love it, but don’t feel right replacing any major components and damaging the (yes, restorable) originality of this guitar. Any help/tips you can give would be really appreciated. Great site, BTW…..

    1. Hi Mark. I’ve seen a nut with tighter spacing used as well, but of course that’s still a component change and, for me anyway, a harder one than replacing the bridge! One or two players have reported success of a sort by realigning the neck: loosening the strings a tad, and the neck bolts, aligning the neck a smidge so that the low and high E strings are equidistant from the fretboard edges, then retightening the bolts to hold it in place; a small piece of card may be required in the side of the neck pocket if the neck wants to shift back to its old position after the strings are brought back to full tension. This isn’t really fixing the problem so much as averaging it out across the board, but if it buys you that millimeter that stops you slipping off the side it might be good enough.

      I know what it’s like to be cautious with a new guitar, but don’t fear reversible mods like a tremolo swap. There’s nothing sacred in there, just a primitive bridge held on a piece of wood by six ordinary screws. 🙂

      1. Thanks for the response. Last question, then. Do you know if the Highway 1 trem is considered an off-the-shelf part that can be had at most music stores? And lastly, any idea as to the approximate price?

        Thanks again for the nice article……

        1. I think the strange spacing of the tremolo means it’s unlikely to be found among the limited parts walk-in music stores offer, but you can buy it all day at specialists like angela.com. Check eBay from time to time for a used one, too. I believe the correct spacing is found on 2006 and later models. $75 is about the going rate new. Callaham’s “V/N” model is the Cadillac option at $165.

          Hope it works out for you. Let me know!

          1. Peter (Guitarman) says:

            Hey guys!

            I did exactly what Gray said earlier, on my version 4 Yngwie-strat (which was the one with the biggest problem regarding this). I realigned the neck: loosening the strings, and the neck bolts, aligning the neck a smidge so that the low and high E strings are equidistant from the fretboard edges, then retightening the bolts to hold it in place. I didn’t use anything between the neck and body though. But It actually worked very well without it.

            Now the version 4 is as good as the other 2 Yngwie-strats!!! It’s a great guitar and I’m working on my economy picking a’la Yngwie 🙂


            Peter (Guitarman)

          2. Great that this little trick worked for you, Peter. It might not be enough for everyone – it depends on individual things like how the fret ends were finished on a particular guitar, how wide a player’s vibrato is – but it’s free to try.

  11. I am thinking about trading one of my guitars for a 2006 Yngwie strat but after reading this article I am not so sure.I didn’t like the fact that the nut was so high on the 98/2006 models.Did all of the 2006 models have the nut issue?This guy wants $1300.oo for his 2006 but for $300.oo more I can get a 2011 new.I guess what i’m asking, are the new ones that much better?I’m pretty sure they are I just want some feedback from players that own them.

  12. Hi, recent research has stated the obvious really but I think the results would be interesting for this article. Tight grained and less defined wood has substantially better acoustic properties than loose and more defined grain. This is a shame because I love the look of wood with defined grain. (I have bought guitars in the past just for the look of the wood). But from an acoustic point of view the plain grained neck has better resonance over a wider range of frequencies.

    This is why Stradivarius violins are so good, he would only chose the tightest and leased defined grained wood to make his instruments.

  13. I’ve replaced the stock bridge with the V/N Callahan bridge and am very pleased with the results. I did it myself, which I was a bit hesitant to do but it worked out fine. The trem is light years better than the original in terms of fit and tone (IMO), but I would have preferred Fender given us a bridge that didn’t have such a flaw (would it have been so hard to use a Highway One trem?). While I kinda mind the ‘less than stock’ look of the Callahan, it’s an excellent trem and the bar has no ‘wiggle’, plus it doesn’t require that spring the orignal has (that can be easily lost). Thanks for the info!

    My question is the best way to authentically setup the trem. I just have it set flush to the body so that it doesn’t go out of tune on a string breakage, but primarily so unison bends sound right. But now it takes a LOT of strength to use the bar and it’s just stiff feeling. I’ve searched around but can’t seem to find how Yng sets up his trem; that is, does it mount it flush against the body or is there that slight ‘gap’ (credit card height) which allows for a looser touch using the bar? I’m not sure; any ideas?

    1. Thanks for the Callaham impressions. I should really get round to it one day! I did notice that Fender has its own new version of a vintage/narrow tremolo stock on certain Strats this year, which might bear investigation.

      Several years ago, Mike Spitzer, Yngwie’s ex-manager, was nice enough to send me a lot of measurements taken from Yngwie’s guitars. He floats the trem 1/8″ off the body. I prefer the tone of a floating Strat bridge, too — more open and springy. You might try your old Fender springs as well, to see if they have more ‘give’.

  14. hi im Rosli, im just a beginer about playing guitar by fender stratocaster Scallops guitar, and i really love malmsteen tallent, i would like to get some tips or may be more about about it. would u help me that what kind model pick up by Seymour Duncan did Fender guitar Stratocaster Yngwie Malmsteen use, and which part is to be fit in ? or may be others instalation guitar gears same like him 🙂 . best help advise by you. thank.

  15. Malmsteen best guitar work was from his earlier albums the ones that brought him fame pickups were dimarzio those are the guitars to be using in My opinion

  16. How thick is the poly finish in those new models? I want so much a malm strat but the finish makes me decline it :/

  17. Hi,
    I have owned both a 1997 large headstock YJM which must of been one the first made with that serial number for the Version 2 first large headstock model and the action on it was awesome.
    I have been playing a 2007 Version three and yes definately the neck is alot thinner….to me it seems Fender are trying to modernize it a little for sales I don’t believe Yngwie’s 68-69 -71 era strats would have thin necks like that….when will we actually get a replica of his desired strat who knows….
    I found the neck on the 1997 V2 much easier to play it seemes to fit alot better the 2007 thinner neck, yet one would think it would be easier to play but it takes some getting used to since you have these huge jumbo frets and deeper scalloping but nothing to really anchor your hand onto.
    Sound acoustically was louder on the 2007 V2 but the quality of the 1997 was better acoustically…..Probably due to what Pick Roars review about the quality of woods back then compered to the plain jane maple on the current models.
    The 1997 V2 sounded alot more distorted yet clean amplified while the 2007 V3 was great but need some gain/drive push.
    What i would like to know is did Yngwie use the V2 first large headstock on Facing the Animal or his older superior strats.
    Also how different are the 1988 V1 to a 1995 V1 Bothe small headstocks.

    1. Just correcting the grammar I mean ‘it seems to fit alot better THAN the 2007 thinner neck’

      I found the neck on the 1997 V2 much easier to play it seemes to fit alot better the 2007 thinner neck,

    2. I own a couple YJM strats and have been looking everywhere for commentary on the difference in neck thickness! Your mention here is the first I’ve found on the matter. Do you know anywhere I can get more info one this difference between the models? Thanks!

  18. Hi, just got to say that I picked up a 2007 US Yngwie Fender Strat today and really appreciated your reviews on ID’ing the different types and your take on the various versions. It really helped me when considering the differences.
    Without doubt some useful, helpful research.

  19. What a great article! Thoroughly enjoyed reading that, very in-depth.

    I owned a 2003 YJM Strat in Vintage White, but it just never ‘clicked’ with me because it had a rosewood fretboard. Sounds silly I know but they just aren’t the same as the maple versions! We fickle guitar players eh? Anyway, I sold it in about 2007 and have regretted it ever since. So I’m pleased to say that I’m going to collect my new one at the weekend! A 2004 maple boarded version in Vintage White. I can’t wait.

    Gray, have you thought about picking up the new version with Duncan’s and doing a comparison? Would love to see it as an article.

  20. Bryon Weaver says: Reply

    I recently found a Malmsteen STRAT at a pawn shop with a left handed neck on a right handed body. Was this a production option? And if it was, what would retail value be?

  21. Dear all,

    I’m just a freshman in Electric Guitar, I’ve bought a YJM Strat. about a month ago, it was manufactured in 2012. After reading all these conversation, I do want to know that is the one I am owning way too bad? Any solution?

    Besides, I’ve gotten a chance to buy another 2010 YJM, but I have no idea to distinguish it whether an authentic or fake, any hints?

    (from Hong Kong)

  22. Great articles on this fantastic guitar! I recently purchased a 2008 Yngwie strat.
    Two questions:
    1)Does the serial number SZ8082074 make sense?
    2)Yngwie’s signature: the loop on the ‘Y’ , ‘G’ and the ‘star’ are squiggly. Is there a way to upload a photo for you to view?

  23. I think malmsteen said he likes to use the 1972 modle because he feels the larger headstock helps improve sustain. Do these 2007-present modles have that?

  24. I recently purchased an early ’88 with some mods. Tried to get the original spec sheet with part numbers, but Fender archives only go to ’98. Anyone know who might have this? Also looking for original documents that would have come with the guitar, been trying eBay but no luck.


  25. could you please tell me bridge and neck pickup heights ???? whe string is pressed down at the last fret ???


  26. Gooswyn, what is your website? Also, need wiring diagram for my ’88.

    Two HS3’s, one 57/62, two TBX tone controls, one volume, five way switch.


  27. Very useful and interesting article. Think I may have some sort of ‘transition’ Malmsteen as I think I features of both. Mine’s an ’07 for the most part.

  28. Hi, does anyone knows any Yngwie signature with 22 frets??? I saw one in craigslist today in Palm Beach County, South Florida..

  29. Hello,

    I recently bought a 2013 model Fender YM Strat but I noticed that the scallops are not deep as the 2007 model shown above. Does anyone know about this?

  30. I have all 3 versions of the guitar and the last one I have is a 2014. Fender appear to have overcome the problem with the high E string as there is no problem with the high E falling of the neck Ive beat the hell out of this guitar and not once as this happened. The mark 2 version is the worst for this Happy days

  31. Great article. I own three YJM Strats (2005, 2006 and 2007 models). I just wanted to offer a cheap and dirty “fix” to the dreaded High “E” string problem. The benefit of this little trick, is that it more or less maintains the vintage string spacing (2-3/16″), which I prefer for playability.

    You need two things. A) a very thin, plastic cable zip tie. B) a couple of narrow saddles.

    Two get the appropriate narrow saddles, you can buy a package of Graph Tech “Ferraglide” saddles suitable for an “import Strat”. These saddles have the narrow 2-1/16″ E to E string spacing. The product number is PG-8000-00. You don’t even need to replace all the stock saddles. Simply put one of the Ferraglides on the Low “E” and one on the High “E”, then take the cable zip tie, thread it under and over the saddle assembly (not in between each saddle, wrap it around the entire group), and then tighten the heck out of it. Cut the excess cable. Do it so the lock/ratchet block of the cable tie is on the right (high “E” side) of the bridge. The effect of this is to pinch the saddles all together, enough such that it moves the high “E” string inward, away from the edge of the neck. Since the low “E” and high “E” saddles have been replaced with the narrower saddles, it allows the these two outer strings to move inward from the edge of the neck…most importantly, the high “E”. Easy-peasy.

    The only draw back, of course, is that the resulting aesthetics might bother some. You have a mixed group of saddles (the Ferraglides are the block style, whereas the stock saddles are the vintage bent steel.). You also have a thin plastic tie wrapped around the saddles. This is not as obtrusive as one might think. You can get the cable ties in clear, translucent. If you want to retain all vintage bent steel type saddles, then you might be able to contact Callaham, and see if you can purchase just a package of the V/N saddles, and use those instead of the Ferraglides. For me, I am more interested in having a guitar that plays exactly the way I want it to…minor cosmetic deviations are not something that bothers me.

    With that said, replacing the stock tremolo with a Callaham V/N or Highway One tremolo is definitely the way to go, if you don’t mind the narrower string spacing. In fact, I had retrofitted my three YJM Strats with Callaham V/N trems…and used them for a few years. However, I eventually realized that I play cleaner and faster with the vintage (wider) string spacing…so I ended up switching back to the original tremolo, and using the cheap and dirty “trick” I described above. Works like a charm.


  32. I just bought an 05′ YJM Strat used but near mint. I am paying $1050 for it.

    Is that a good price and can I be sure that these 2005 YJM’s are US made. I am going to put the YJM Seymor Duncans in it as soon as I get her home.

    Any info on these Strats would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    1. That is a pretty good deal, I paid about $100 more for mine and the next cheapest on ebay the last month was about $150 more than I paid.

  33. I depends for me anyway what you want to emulate.

    I you want a SIG model that emulates the current SIG models then yes, go for the bullet.

    I got the 05′ braised it is as close to some of Ygwies favorite early Strats… 68/67, 58 and the 71’s had no bullet truss rods at all. I’ve many of his early guitar’s with no bullet truss or nothing there vat all and others with the little dark tear drop cap.

    On the Album ATTACK he used several SIG models withe no bullet truss rod so. He loves the vintage but was forced to retire them. Only reason he went to the bullet is because of Hendrix and like the way it looks.

    I like the non bullet version myself, just like the SIG model he uses on ATTACK. Remember, he has 100’s and 100’s of theses things.

    BTW: Met him in 1984 in Dayton Ohio. Stood less than 5 feet from him during the entire set.


    1. Just a quick clarification: Hendrix never had a Strat with a bullet truss rod.
      The bullet truss rod was introduced by Fender in 1971 and Hendrix died in ‘70. The bullet truss rod allowed for neck adjustment without neck removal – IMHO a massive improvement. Sadly this improvement was paired with the weaker 3-bolt neck joint.

  34. John Cartwright says: Reply

    I purchased a MIJ Malmsteen Strat used in the late 1990’s. It was a bit odd though, sporting a black basswood body, three-point neck plate, white pearloid pickguard, active EMG single coils with the wrong potentiometer values (standard 250k) and a tweed case with brown interior. Obviously the EMG’s are an alteration, but what about the rest?

    Currently it is fitted with a tortoise shell guard, cream knobs/covers, GFS 60’s pickups, and a steel block replaces the zinc one on the six screw bridge that came with the guitar when purchased.

    Thanks for your thoughts, folks.

  35. i have black one – made in Japan, and also 2001 ! Love both!

  36. Gregory Hodde says: Reply

    Most of the 2000 strats have a sz then numbers. any one know of seeing one with the letters us then numbers? thanks, Greg

  37. Daniel Kavic says: Reply

    Hey do you live in Pittsburgh? I’d love to meet up sometime at your place to see your guitars man. I live NW of the city, up near Moon Twp.

  38. Hello everyone,

    i bought a fender yngwie malmsteen usa 2006 2 weeks ago but i have a problem. I have a 5 way toogle switch and a person told me that fender yngwie usa had only 3 way toogle switch (5 way toogle switch for japan only?). so I wonder if I do not just the neck a fender yngwie malmsteen usa 2006 . Serial number is referenced at fender. tha,ks for answer

  39. My model number # se 910784 what year do you think it is

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  41. Super informative read! Bravo!!

  42. Hi, I have a 2008 model and could do with a replacement tremolo arm. I want the exact model that came with the guitar though so can anyone tell me with part number I need to find please?
    (The USA Made Orig. Tremolo Arm Vintage. Strat P.N. 0992039000 is NOT the right one).

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