Kirk Hammett Compares His Guitar Skills To James Hetfield


Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett talked about his bandmate and singer James Hetfield’s guitar skills by comparing them with his own during his recent interview with Goldmine Magazine. Hammett shared he improved his playing through learning new techniques.

James Hetfield became the band’s co-founder, rhythm guitarist, and singer after he replied to drummer Lars Ulrich’s advertisement in a local newspaper. Even though he has attracted more attention from critics and metalheads with his unique vocal performances, many have credited his talent as a guitarist and included Hetfield in the lists that ranked the best guitar players in the world.

Although longtime Metallica fans know that Hetfield began learning to play guitar when he was a teenager, he didn’t immediately become Metallica’s guitarist. They first worked with Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, and then after he had to leave because he struggled with addiction, Kirk Hammett joined them as their new guitarist in 1983. However, this doesn’t mean that Hetfield gave up on playing guitar, which his bandmate approved in his conversation.

The Metallica guitarist praised Papa Het’s guitar playing skills, saying that his right-hand technique was amazing, and according to Hammett, he didn’t have to work hard for that. The guitarist highlighted that the singer was so talented that he could get up and play ‘Fight Fire with Fire’ anytime, which was featured in their second studio album ‘Ride the Lightning.’ His bandmate’s musical talent seems to have encouraged Kirk to explore new techniques since he said he has always been curious about his instrument.

Kirk Hammett shared his ideas, saying:

James is amazing in his right-hand technique — it seems like it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance for him to do. He can roll out of bed and play ‘Fight Fire With Fire,’ no problem. That’s great. I play guitar all the time. I’m constantly looking for new things to learn because I’m curious.

I’m curious about my instrument, curious about music, and curious about being a musical artist. I’m always learning stuff. Plus, I’m always finding out what I learned in the past that I learned wrong, and this is how you should play it. I’m like, this is great — I finally learned that after 30 years, which is the case with a lot of Hendrix stuff.

Because Jimi, that stuff is so hard to figure out and so hard to play. A lot of times, I’ll come to pieces of his guitar solos, and I’ll dance through that part because I didn’t know that particular part. Last week I learned a bunch of Hendrix riffs, which helped free me up to fill in some of the holes.”

Hammett added that learning to play guitar and working on riffs is a never-ending journey, so he has been studying them for decades to improve himself. The guitarist said the late musician Jimi Hendrix’s riffs weren’t easy to understand and play, but he said he learned many of them last week.