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Famous Guitar Gear

James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Metallica

Okay, okay, it’s Metallica. Yes, they’re an easy target (thanks Lou Reed), but they remain one of the most important bands in rock and metal. More importantly, have you seen the setlists these guys are playing for their 30th anniversary celebrations? My word. This week, the band have also unveiled a number of outtakes from 2009’s semi-return to form Death Magnetic, with the fantastically-titled quartet Just A Bullet Away, Hate Train, Hell and Back and Rebel of Babylon.

Frontman James Hetfield is the man behind (most of) the riffs and also the band member most likely to end every sentence with “AGH!” As a bona-fide guitar superstar, he gets to use a whole load of custom guitars courtesy of ESP, as well as a number of Gibsons. In fact, he has 25 guitars listed for the band’s 2010 tour, according to a comprehensive rundown of all the gear the band use onstage available on their official site.

Hetfield rocking his ESP Truckster (photo: egwnd on flickr)

Hetfield relies predominantly on Mesa Boogie amp gear for his tight rhythm sounds: Tri-Axis preamps and power amps are his choice distortion-makers, in combination with Triple Rectifier heads and 4×12 cabs with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. Roland JC120 combos also see use for clean tones and have done since Metallica’s early career. Finally, effects come courtesy of Line 6 modellers and TC Electronics G-Major systems. It’s an insanely complicated rig but, hey, it’s the guitar tech’s problem now, right?

Lead guitarist Kirk “the wah” Hammett mirrors his muscular bandmate in many ways. Like Hetfield, he has a hell of a lot of signature guitars, often featuring horror flick inspired graphics, and brings a collection of 30 axes in total with him on the road.

Hot indeed: Kirk with his signature ESP (photo: Alberto Cabello on flickr)

The signature gear doesn’t stop there though. Hammett also utilises his Randall RM100KH amp head and cabs, topping that off with his all-important Dunlop Kirk Hammett signature Cry Baby wah pedals, a number of which are strategically positioned across the stage, ensuring that Kirk is never caught short when he needs to hide his sloppy playing take a rip-roaring solo. He also relies on several other effects including the Line 6 MM4 and DL4, Ibanez Tube Screamer, plus the Digitech Whammy and Space Station pedals. Aside from the wah, all other effects are switched remotely by the band’s erstwhile techs.

Well, that’s the basics covered for the ‘tallica boys’ current rigs but for more information see the aforementioned official gear list or Monty Jay’s gear site for past Metallica equipment, although a number of his links aren’t working. Sort it out Monty!

About Michael Brown

Michael is a journalist, musician and general guitar geek who works for Total Guitar and Guitarist magazines. He also freelances on the side, most often for Drowned in Sound. You can view his work here.


3 thoughts on “James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Metallica

  1. Reblogged this on johnnyjohnsen.com.

    Posted by Johnsen | December 11, 2011, 11:23 pm
  2. Sorting started =)

    Posted by mj | December 14, 2012, 7:33 am

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