Kirk Hammett's soloing is surprisingly bluesy
Example 1: Triplet pentatonic run. Here's a descending minor pentatonic in triplets favoured by countless rock players like Jimmy Page and Slash. However, Hammett tends to pick every note to give it extra bite - you can hear him playing patterns like this during his solo for Disposable Heroes.
Example 2: Stretchy pentatonic lick. Although this is sextuplet based, the ordering of the notes (in particular the first and third notes of each sextuplet), makes it less cliched than the previous example. Notice the blue note (b5) adds some tension to the lick, ideal for metal scenarios (Dimebag Darrell occasionally favoured this blues-scale approach, too).
Example 3: Repetitive three-note-per-string pentatonic. The pull-off pattern in the first bar requires you to have your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck so you can stretch comfortably. A similar lick can be heard in Hammett's solo on the latter part of Welcome Home (Sanitarium).
Example 4: Three-note-per-string metal blues lick. By using the blues scale within a metal framework (ie, using a speedy repetitive lick that works the 'blue' note rather than simply treating it as a passing note), Kirk can add a lot of exciting tension to his soloing. Spend some time mastering the slightly awkward three-note-per-string fingering and position shifts in the last bar.
Example 5: Pivot-note lick. This example demonstrates the machine gun-effect of fast picking one pivotal note (E on the ninth fret, third string) that is interspersed with hammer-ons. The start of the solo in the latter part of Welcome Home (Sanitarium) is one example of this. Start slow with this one, and then build up to speed.
Example 6: Stretchy pentatonic lick v2. The sextuplet groupings here are similar to those found in example 2, so if you've nailed that, this final example shouldn't prove too tricky. This lick is often used by Hammett and is very effective at high tempos. Shred on!
Play lead guitar like Metallica's Kirk Hammett
Metallica made a huge impact on the heavy metal scene in the 1980s with their fast, high-volume and high-powered style. Here we're looking at the band's lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and his use of the pentatonic scale, particularly on the band's Master Of Puppets album.
Kirk's style is often based on fast 16th note repetitive patterns that sound intense while retaining a blues-rock vibe.
Indeed, Hammett's style reveals plenty of blues schooling; alongside frequent use of the minor pentatonic scale is the blues scale with its b5 note, one of the most effective choices when going for that demonic metal vibe!
The following audio examples demonstrate the use of the minor pentatonic scale with the occasionally added b5 (#4), part of the blues scale (click here for full-sized tab):
Here's the backing track so you can try them out for yourself: