Metallica’s lead guitarist, Kirk Hammett, was listed as number 11 on Rolling Stones list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. While playing with Metallica, Hammett contributed to many songs that were huge hits, developed some killer riffs and earned himself and his band seven Grammy awards. Metallica is considered one of the best-known heavy metal bands and has produced many hugely popular albums, including its self titled album that sold 15 million copies. Four of Metallica’s albums reached number one on the Billboard 200 and their combined record sales for all the albums are somewhere around 95 million. If you are a guitar player and would love to replicate Kirk Hammett’s rock star success, take some tips from the man himself.
Hammett possesses a true love for playing the guitar and for music in general. This might explain why he claims to play his guitar 361 days out of the year. If you are looking for guitar tips from Hammett, the first one is to practice obsessively. Hammett started playing the guitar when he was 15 with an unimpressive guitar that he got from a Montgomery Ward catalogue. He decided he needed an amp to go with his guitar so he made one out of a shoebox and a four-inch speaker. Eventually, he got a job as a dishwasher at Burger King to finance his musical inclination. It wasn’t too long before Hammett was able to upgrade to a Fender Stratocaster, and then moved on to his favorite of all time, a 1974 Gibson flying V. Another hint from Hammett is that you don’t have to be in possession of the best equipment available. You just have to start somewhere and work with what you have until you get better and can upgrade. Hammett definitely didn’t start out with the fanciest music gear, but his love of music and playing the guitar kept him going.
Hammett is a man who is constantly curious and interested in learning new things. He is quoted as saying “a life lived unexplored is a life not worth living.” This character trait played out well for him on a few levels in his guitar career. His curiosity kept him experimenting with different techniques on his guitar in a quest to develop something truly unique. This brought about the “Frankenstein” technique that Hammett invented by using different pick-up and amp combinations. After Hammett joined Metallica, his desire to learn and explore gave him the motivation to join the ranks of some other guitar greats and take guitar lessons from Joe Satriani. This was a great move for his career because it bettered his skills as a well-rounded musician when he learned to play jazz, classical and blues from Satriani.
Lastly, Kirk Hammett is a humble guy. One night at 3:15 in the morning when he was touring with Metallica and staying in a hotel room, he composed the famous riff that is included in Metallica’s most popular single “Enter Sandman”. “Enter Sandman” was the first single from Metallica’s self-titled album, which sold 15 million copies. Hammett could have considered himself a big time, accomplished musician at this point and stopped trying to improve his craft. However, even after Metallica’s huge success, Hammet had the humility to admit that there was plenty more that he could learn about guitars. He enrolled in guitar classes at the local city college in San Francisco to continue improving his skills and working on his craft.
Overall, Kirk Hammett is a passionate guitar player who is consistent with his practice and devoted to learning and improving his skills. He remains humble even after the great success of his band and his music. These traits combine to make Kirk Hammett one of the greatest guitar players of all time.