What Kind of Guitar Does Kirk Hammett Play?

What Kind of Guitar Does Kirk Hammett Play?

Get ready to dive deep into the world of rock and unleash your inner guitar hero, because today we are pulling back the curtain on one of metal’s legendary axe-slingers. This article will delve into the mysterious realm of Kirk Hammett, the remarkable guitarist of the iconic band Metallica. As the mastermind behind unforgettable riffs and mind-bending solos, Hammett’s choice of instrument is a closely guarded secret. But fear not, fellow music enthusiasts, for this article has embarked on a quest to uncover the truth: What kind of guitar does the Metallica legend play? Prepare yourself for a journey through the realms of heavy metal and discover the hidden mysteries behind Hammett’s six-string weapon of choice.

History of Metallica and its members

The history of Metallica dates back to the early 1980s when drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist James Hetfield met in Los Angeles, California. They bonded over their shared love for heavy metal music and decided to form a band together.

In search of a bassist, they recruited Ron McGovney who was later replaced by Cliff Burton. The trio then moved to San Francisco and released their first album, Kill ‘Em All, in 1983. However, it was not until the addition of lead guitarist Kirk Hammett that Metallica truly found its sound. With Hammett’s technical prowess and melodic solos, the band’s second album Ride the Lightning was a huge success.

The early years of Metallica were characterized by intense touring and a growing fanbase. Their third album, Master of Puppets, solidified their place as one of the biggest metal bands in the world. However, tragedy struck when Cliff Burton was killed in a bus accident while on tour in 1986. The band was devastated but decided to continue with Jason Newsted as their new bassist.

The 1990s saw Metallica’s sound evolve and experiment with different genres, including the controversial release of their self-titled album, known as the Black Album. Despite mixed reactions from fans, it became one of their best-selling albums.

History of Metallica and its members

In the late 90s and early 2000s, tensions rose among band members due to creative differences and personal issues. Jason Newsted left the band in 2001, and Metallica faced a difficult time finding a replacement. They eventually hired bassist Robert Trujillo, and their next album St. Anger was released in 2003.

After several more albums and tours, Metallica’s legacy as one of the biggest and most influential metal bands of all time is undisputed. Their music continues to inspire and influence new generations of metal artists.

As for the current members, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo continue to create music and tour around the world. Despite their ups and downs, Metallica remains a force to be reckoned with in the world of heavy metal. They have received numerous awards and recognition for their contributions to the genre, including being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.

The band’s longevity and enduring popularity can be attributed to their dedication to their craft, constant evolution, and ability to connect with audiences worldwide. Metallica’s music will continue to stand the test of time, cementing its place as one of the greatest metal bands in history. Their influence has also spread beyond the music industry, with their charitable efforts through the All Within My Hands Foundation and their advocacy for mental health awareness. Metallica’s impact goes far beyond just their music, making them true icons in the world of heavy metal. So raise your devil horns and crank up your speakers, because Metallica is here to stay [1].

Kirk Hammett’s Guitars and Gear

Kirk Hammett’s Electric Guitars

Kirk Hammett is one of the most iconic guitar players in history. He has been the lead guitarist for Metallica since 1983 and has become known for his fast solos, heavy riffs, and unique sound. Throughout his career, Kirk has used a variety of electric guitars to achieve his signature sound.

One of Kirk’s most famous guitars is the ESP KH-2. This iconic guitar was meticulously designed specifically for him, taking into account every detail to meet his exact specifications. It has become his ultimate weapon of choice on stage, showcasing not only its striking visual appeal with a custom graphic of his signature skull and bones but also its exceptional performance features. With powerful EMG active pickups, a versatile Floyd Rose tremolo system, and a lightning-fast neck for effortless soloing, the ESP KH-2 empowers Kirk to unleash his creativity and deliver mind-blowing performances that captivate audiences worldwide.

Kirk Hammett’s Electric Guitars

One of Kirk’s all-time favorite guitars is the iconic Gibson Les Paul Custom. Renowned for its exceptional craftsmanship and timeless design, this legendary instrument has played a pivotal role in shaping Kirk’s signature sound. With its mahogany body and maple top, the Les Paul Custom delivers a rich and powerful tone that perfectly complements Kirk’s aggressive playing style. From the crushing riffs of “Master of Puppets” to the blistering solos of “Metallica,” this versatile guitar has left an indelible mark on numerous iconic albums. Its enduring popularity among rock and metal guitarists speaks volumes about its unmatched quality and sonic prowess.

In addition to these classic guitars, Kirk has also used a variety of other instruments throughout his career. These include the Jackson Randy Rhoads model, the Fender Stratocaster, and the Gibson Flying V. Each guitar has its own unique sound and features that Kirk utilizes to add depth and variety to his playing.

Kirk Hammett’s Acoustic Guitars

While primarily known for his electric guitar playing, Kirk also has a love for acoustic guitars. He often incorporates acoustic elements into Metallica’s music, adding a softer touch to their typically heavy sound.

One of Kirk’s all-time favorite acoustic guitars is the legendary Martin D-28. Renowned for its exceptional craftsmanship and timeless design, this guitar has left its mark on iconic Metallica tracks like “To Live Is To Die” and “The Unforgiven”. With its meticulously crafted construction and premium tonewoods, the Martin D-28 produces a rich, full-bodied tone that resonates with warmth and clarity. Whether you prefer strumming or intricate fingerpicking styles, this versatile instrument offers a sublime playing experience that is truly unmatched.

Kirk also owns a custom-made Taylor acoustic guitar, which he has used in both live performances and on albums. This guitar has a unique look and sound, with a smaller body size for easy handling on stage.

Kirk Hammett’s Acoustic Guitars

Kirk Hammett’s Guitar Amps

In addition to guitars, the choice of amplifier is crucial for achieving Kirk’s signature sound. He has used a variety of amps throughout his career, but some of his most notable and influential choices include:

  • Marshall JCM800: This is one of Kirk’s go-to amps, known for its raw, crunchy tone and versatility in both live and studio settings.
  • Mesa Boogie Mark III: Used on Metallica’s legendary album “Master of Puppets”, this amp offers a more modern and aggressive sound.
  • Bogner Uberschall: This high-gain amp has been favored by Kirk for its ability to produce heavy, distorted tones without sacrificing clarity and definition.

Aside from these main amps, Kirk also incorporates various effects pedals into his setup to further shape his sound. These include the classic MXR Phase 90, the Digitech Whammy pedal, and numerous distortion and overdrive pedals.

Kirk Hammett’s Guitar Effects

Kirk has always been a fan of experimenting with different guitar effects to create unique and interesting sounds. Some of his most notable effects include:

  • Wah pedal: Kirk’s use of the wah pedal can be heard on songs such as “Enter Sandman” and “One”, adding a distinctive vocal-like quality to his playing.
  • Delay/echo: This effect is used to create repeating echoes, adding depth and atmosphere to Kirk’s solos.
  • Flanger: The swirling, jet-like sound of a flanger can be heard on songs like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Blackened”, giving his guitar an otherworldly quality.

Kirk’s willingness to explore different effects has not only added diversity to Metallica’s sound but has also inspired countless guitar players to experiment and push the boundaries of their own playing.

Kirk Hammett’s Guitar Effects

Kirk Hammett’s Guitar Strings and Picks

When it comes to achieving the desired sound, even the seemingly minor details like guitar strings and picks can make a significant difference. Kirk, known for his meticulous approach, has extensively experimented with various string brands over the years. Among his most commonly used are Ernie Ball and D’Addario, carefully chosen for their exceptional quality and tonal characteristics. For optimal balance of tone and playability, Kirk prefers medium gauge strings, which allow him to effortlessly express his musicality.

In addition to his thoughtful selection of strings, Kirk’s choice of picks is equally diverse and tailored to suit the specific requirements of each song and playing style. He has explored a variety of materials and thicknesses to find the perfect match. Among his favorites are the Dunlop Tortex picks, renowned for their durability and grip, enabling Kirk to execute intricate picking techniques with ease. When precision is paramount, Kirk also relies on the Jazz III picks, renowned for their smaller size and tapered shape, offering enhanced control and articulation.

By paying attention to every aspect, from the strings to the picks, Kirk ensures that his instrument becomes an extension of his musical expression, allowing him to create captivating melodies and electrifying performances.

Kirk Hammett’s Guitar Accessories

To round out his guitar rig, Kirk also utilizes a variety of accessories to enhance his playing. These include:

  • Dunlop Cry Baby Wah Pedal: Used for its expressive and vocal-like qualities, this pedal has become a staple in Kirk’s setup.
  • Fender Super-Sonic Amplifiers: These amps, used on the “Death Magnetic” album and tour, offer a punchy and dynamic sound that is perfect for Metallica’s music.
  • Axe-Fx III: This all-in-one digital guitar processor allows Kirk to have a wide range of effects and amp models at his disposal, making it an essential tool for live performances.
  • Wireless Systems: To ensure freedom of movement on stage, Kirk uses wireless systems from brands like Shure and Line 6.

Kirk’s attention to detail in all aspects of his guitar setup is a testament to his dedication to crafting the perfect sound. From guitars to amps and everything in between, each element plays a crucial role in shaping Kirk’s iconic sound and style. As his music continues to evolve, it is safe to say that Kirk will continue to explore new techniques and equipment, constantly pushing the boundaries and inspiring generations of guitar players to come [2].

Kirk Hammett’s Guitar Accessories

How to play guitar like a professional?

Playing guitar like a professional may seem like an unattainable goal for many beginners. However, with consistent practice and dedication, anyone can achieve a high level of skill in playing the guitar. Here are some tips to help you play guitar like a pro:

1. Start with the basics

Before attempting complex techniques, such as intricate fingerpicking and advanced chord progressions, it’s crucial to first master the basic chords and strumming patterns. This will not only provide you with a solid foundation for your playing but also improve your muscle memory and finger dexterity. By dedicating time to hone these fundamental skills, you will find it easier to progress to more advanced techniques and explore a wider range of musical possibilities on your instrument. Remember, it’s all about building a strong musical groundwork that will pave the way for your musical journey!

2. Learn music theory

Having a solid understanding of music theory can have a profound impact on your guitar-playing abilities. It will not only enhance your comprehension of chord progressions, scales, and other fundamental concepts but also provide you with a deeper insight into the intricate workings of the guitar. By delving into the intricacies of music theory, you will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to create harmonious melodies, experiment with different styles, and unlock your full potential as a guitarist. So, embrace the journey of exploring music theory and watch as your guitar-playing skills soar to new heights!

3. Practice consistently

Becoming a professional guitar player requires dedication and practice. It’s crucial to set aside a specific time each day to focus on honing your skills. Start with short practice sessions, allowing yourself to gradually increase the duration as you progress. Remember, consistency is key – even dedicating a shorter amount of time each day to practice is more beneficial than sporadic, lengthy sessions. By establishing a regular practice routine, you’ll build a strong foundation and steadily improve your guitar-playing abilities. So, grab your guitar, find a quiet space, and let the music guide you on your journey to becoming a skilled musician.

Practice consistently

4. Experiment with different styles and genres

Don’t limit yourself to just one genre or style of playing. Embrace the world of music and explore the vast array of techniques, genres, and styles available to expand your musical repertoire. By experimenting and delving into different musical realms, you not only keep your guitar-playing fresh and exciting but also gain a deeper understanding of your own musical abilities. Discovering your strengths and weaknesses as a musician becomes a journey of self-discovery, guiding you towards honing your craft and developing your unique sound and style that sets you apart from other guitar players. So go ahead, open your musical horizons, and let the melodies take you on an extraordinary adventure!

5. Play with others

Playing guitar in a band or with other musicians can greatly enhance your skills and musicality. It will not only challenge you to keep up with other players but also provide valuable learning opportunities. By playing with others, you will learn how to listen and adapt to different styles, develop a sense of rhythm and timing, and improve your improvisational skills. So, join a local jam session or start a band with other musicians – the experience will significantly benefit your guitar playing.

In conclusion, playing guitar like a professional requires consistent practice, dedication to learning, experimentation, and collaboration. By following these tips and staying committed to your musical journey, you will be well on your way to becoming an accomplished guitar player. Keep playing, keep learning, and most importantly, have fun! So pick up your guitar, start practicing and make your way towards becoming a pro!


What is Kirk Hammett’s main guitar?

Kirk Hammett, the legendary guitarist of Metallica, is known for his signature guitar, the customized ESP LTD KH-2 Vintage. This exceptional instrument boasts a meticulously crafted alder body that delivers a balanced and resonant tone. Its bolt-on maple neck provides stability and enhanced sustain, while the rosewood fingerboard offers smooth playability and a warm sound. Adding to its unique aesthetics, the guitar showcases a striking skull-and-crossbones inlay on the 12th fret, epitomizing Kirk’s rebellious spirit. To complete the package, the guitar features a custom “KH” pickguard, giving it a personalized touch that truly sets it apart.

What type of pickups does Kirk Hammett use?

Kirk Hammett is known for his powerful and versatile guitar tones, achieved through a combination of his playing technique and equipment. He primarily uses EMG active pickups on his guitars, specifically the EMG 81 and EMG 60 models. The EMG 81 pickup is known for its high output and aggressive sound, while the EMG 60 offers a smoother and warmer tone. These pickups are a staple in Kirk’s setup, giving him the ability to switch between heavy distortion and clean, melodic passages seamlessly.

What effects does Kirk Hammett use?

In addition to his signature guitar and pickups, Kirk Hammett also utilizes a range of effects to shape his unique sound. Some of the most notable effects in his arsenal include the Dunlop KH95 Kirk Hammett Signature Wah Pedal, which adds depth and expression to his solos, and the BOSS MT-2 Metal Zone Distortion Pedal for heavy, distorted tones. He also incorporates effects such as the MXR EVH90 Phase 90 Phaser and the TC Electronic Flashback Delay to add dimension and atmosphere to his playing. Overall, Kirk’s use of effects allows him to create a diverse range of sounds that have become synonymous with Metallica’s music.

What songs did Kirk Hammett write?

Kirk Hammett has been a key songwriter for Metallica since joining the band in 1983, contributing to some of their most iconic songs. Some of his notable writing credits include “The Unforgiven,” “Enter Sandman,” and “Master of Puppets.” He also co-wrote many other fan favorites such as “Fade to Black,” “One,” and “Nothing Else Matters.” Kirk’s songwriting has played a significant role in shaping Metallica’s sound and cementing its status as one of the most influential metal bands of all time.

So, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Kirk Hammett’s guitar playing and songwriting have been crucial to the success of Metallica. With his unique style and sound, he has inspired countless guitarists and continues to be a driving force in the metal community. Despite being on top of the game for over three decades, Kirk Hammett remains a true icon and an inspiration to musicians around the world. We can’t wait to see what he brings to the table next!

What guitar did Kirk Hammett use on Master of Puppets?

Kirk Hammett’s guitar on the iconic track “Master of Puppets” was his signature ESP LTD KH-2 Vintage. This guitar has been a staple in Kirk’s collection since the early days of Metallica and has been featured on countless songs, including some of the band’s most famous hits. The powerful tones and unique design of this guitar undoubtedly played a crucial role in shaping the sound of “Master of Puppets” and solidifying its place as one of Metallica’s greatest songs. So, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Kirk Hammett’s guitar has become just as iconic as the song itself. From his main guitar to his use of effects and songwriting abilities, Kirk Hammett continues to leave a lasting impact on the music world and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

How to achieve Kirk Hammett’s sound?

Kirk Hammett’s signature guitar and gear undoubtedly play a significant role in achieving his unique sound. However, there are some essential techniques and playing styles that contribute to his iconic tone. Firstly, Kirk is known for his aggressive picking style, using downstrokes to create a heavy and powerful sound. He also utilizes palm-muted riffs and fast, precise alternate picking to add speed and precision to his playing.

Additionally, Kirk incorporates a range of effects such as wah pedals, phasers, and delays, which allow him to create dynamic and multi-layered sounds. Overall, achieving Kirk Hammett’s sound requires a combination of the right gear and techniques, but most importantly, it comes down to having a distinctive playing style and approach to the instrument. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own unique sound, just like Kirk did! His legacy reminds us that it’s not about what equipment you have, but how you use it to create something truly special.

Why is Kirk Hammett considered a guitar legend?

Kirk Hammett’s contribution to the world of music and guitar cannot be overstated. From his technical proficiency and impressive range as a guitarist to his songwriting abilities, Kirk has solidified his place as one of the greatest musicians in history. He has influenced countless guitarists with his unique playing style and sound, leaving an indelible mark on the metal genre and beyond. Moreover, Kirk’s involvement in Metallica has helped elevate the band to legendary status, making them one of the most successful and influential bands of all time. With a career spanning over three decades and no signs of slowing down, Kirk Hammett has undoubtedly earned his place as a guitar legend in every sense of the word. So, let’s raise our guitars and salute the master of metal himself – Kirk Hammett! His legacy will continue to inspire generations of guitarists to come. Keep shredding, Kirk!

Useful Video: Metallica’s Kirk Hammett At Guitar Center

Conclusion Paragraph

Kirk Hammett is a legendary guitarist who has left an indelible mark on the world of music. Through his extraordinary talent, dedication and hard work, he has created a legacy that will continue to inspire generations of musicians. Hammett’s main guitar gear includes ESP guitars, DigiTech Whammy pedals and Mesa Boogie amps. He has also collaborated with various other guitar companies such as Randall Amplifiers and Gibson to create signature models that are highly sought after by fans.

  1. https://www.last.fm/music/Metallica/+wiki
  2. https://www.groundguitar.com/kirk-hammetts-guitars-and-gear/