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From the Archive: Kirk Hammett Discusses the Past, Present and Future of Metallica in 2002 Interview

From the Archive: Kirk Hammett Discusses the Past, Present and Future of Metallica in 2002 Interview

"A lot of people think I actually came into my own sound on that song. That had everything to do with buying Mesa/Boogie Mark II-C heads. Boogie made those heads for a short time in the mid Eighties and only made a limited amount of them. They moved on after that, and they haven't really been able to recapture that sound since -- I don't know if they ever tried or not. But there's something about Boogie Mark II-C heads that were really unique and very individual in their gain stages and overall sound. Most of Master of Puppets was tracked with Boogie heads and Marshall heads combined, and I used my Gibson Flying V and my Jackson. By that time, I also had my black Fernandes Stratocaster."

...And Justice for All (1988)

"I lost a lot of sleep over that set of guitar solos! [laughs] The main guitar solo at the end, with the right-hand, Eddie Van Halen-type tapping, came almost immediately. That guitar solo was just a breeze; what was going on with the rhythm section in that part of the song was just very, very exciting for me to solo over: The first solo was a little bit more worked out. I heard James playing some really melodic stuff over the intro, just doodling around, and I thought, That's pretty cool, I'm gonna use part of that. So I have to give credit to James for subliminally pushing me in that melodic direction. I think the first two licks at the top of the first solo are his, and the rest of the solo just sort of fell into place. That little chord comp thing in that first solo came from a major-chord exercise that I do all the time. I thought it would sound really good in the solo if I just staccato-picked it and resolved it right there. I thought the solo needed something to perk people's ears up!

"The middle guitar solo in that song, I must have recorded and rerecorded it about 15 million times. I wanted a middle ground between the really melodic solo at the beginning and the fiery solo at the end; I wanted that to sit very confidently within the song, but it sounded very unconfident, and I was never happy with it. Finally, it came down to the wire: we were mixing the album while simultaneously touring on the Monsters of Rock tour. One night, I flew from Philadelphia to New York City, and while everyone else was on their way to Washington, D.C., I went to the Hit Factory and rerecorded the solo again. I brought my guitar, I had one of my main amps sent to the studio, and I redid the solo there and finally nailed it. I was very, very happy about that! The next day, we played a show in Washington, D. C. It got panned by the critics, because we'd all only had about three hours of sleep and were exhausted. But I got a good solo the night before, so it was worth it! [laughs]

"I think at that point I was using the ESP neck-thru-body KH-1 guitar, with the skulls on the fingerboard. I'd gotten that guitar in '88 and used it pretty prominently in the studio. I also used an ADA preamp and an ADA MP-1 -- it was a programmable digital amp that had tubes in it, with a separate rack-mounted EQ. I remember blending that thing with the Boogies for lead sounds and clean sounds. The clean sound on 'One' was done almost exclusively with the ADA MP-1."

Metallica (1991)

“Again, I was playing my ESP with a wah pedal, and this time I used a bunch of different amps. We were combining Boogies and modified Marshalls; I also think we had a clean old Fender in there, and maybe even an old Vox amp, and they were all blended together to get that tone. I can remember getting that lead guitar sound together very quickly, very spontaneously. When it came time to start thinking about that guitar solo, I just thought, Well, this is a great guitar song, and it's in the spirit of all my favorite guitar bands, like Thin Lizzy and UFO, but kind of modernized. So I kept thinking, Michael Schenker, Michael Schenker... But then I started thinking, If Brian Robertson from Thin Lizzy played on this song, what would he play? With that mind-set, I started playing what I thought Brian Robertson would play on a song like that, and the entire fucking guitar solo wrote itself!

"You know how the guitar solo goes: it plays out, and then there's a lead guitar break that leads into a breakdown? I think the time has come to tell where I actually got that lick. It's from 'Magic Man' by Heart, but I didn't get it from Heart's version; I got it from a cut off Ice-T's Power album, where he used it as a sample. I was listening to Power a lot while we were recording Metallica, so I kept on hearing that lick. I thought, I have to snake this! I did change it around a little bit, though!"

Load (1996)

"Speaking of Thin Lizzy, the first time James heard my solo on 'Hero of the Day,' he didn't like it. He said, 'It sounds like bad Brian Robertson!' [laughs] I was like, 'What do you mean?' And then, after much 'debating' back and forth, we kind of agreed that it wasn't so much the solo that was the problem but the lack of anything going on underneath it. So he went and put something down underneath it that made it sound, well, a little better to his ears, I guess. It was one of those things where one musician hears one thing one way, and another musician hears it completely different.


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