The secrets behind James Hetfield's guitar sound on Metallica's Sad But True

(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Image Direct/Getty Images)

Sad But True
Metallica, Black Album (1991)
James Hetfield (rhythm part only)

What’s genuinely sad but true is that you’ll need to spend a fortune if you want to duplicate James Hetfield’s monstrous rhythm guitar tone on this track with a rig identical to what he originally used. And that doesn’t even include the studio, its equipment and the prodigious talents of producer Bob Rock and engineers Randy Staub and Mike Tacci. Here we can cover only about 60 percent of what went into crafting Hetfield’s sound, and even then we need to speculate, as the details still remain closely guarded secrets.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.