Kirk Hammett on his first wah pedal encounter: “When that sound came out of the speakers, it startled me”

(Image credit: Future)

Kirk Hammett is keen on his wah, to ignore this fact would be doing both parties a disservice, so it's not surprising Metallica's lead man vividly remembers his first encounter with the effect. And how it resonated somewhere deep within his metal heart.

In a recently unearthed Hammett interview with our friends at Guitar Player, Hammett reflects on this five guitar solos that changed his life. And while Metallica's love for Thin Lizzy is no secret, the impact of Brian Robertson’s lead in Lizzy’s 1976 song Warriors was particularly profound for a young Kirk. 

“This solo was the first time I’d ever heard a wah pedal," recalls Hammett, "I remember that when that sound came out of the speakers, it startled me.

"The one guy that I’ve always thought did not get enough credit was Brian Robertson, and his style and feel is something that I aspire to."

In 2011 Total Guitar magazine spoke to Brian Robertson about his time in Thin Lizzy including his audition for the band in 1974 when he was just 17 years old.

“I just got a train to London for some auditions," recalled Robertson, "and one of my friends, who I went to school with, was actually roadie-ing with Lizzy and I stayed with him and Lizzy’s crew. I was a bit of a fan of the band, to be honest. I had to wait a couple of weeks while they auditioned other people, then had a jam, and that was it. The rest is history, I suppose.”

Robertson would form one of rock's most influential guitar partnerships alongside US guitarist Scott Gorham, currently with Black Star Riders.  “It just happened naturally," said Robertson of their creative dynamic. "I tended to play a lot of melodies anyway because I’m pretty lazy…always have been! I don’t like playing rhythm too much and Scott was very much into playing rhythm. 

"We just took those melodies and basically stuck harmonies to them. How and when it came to fruition is difficult to pinpoint, but I guess it started coming together on our second album [together], Fighting – and live as well.”

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.