The Style Of Sir James Hetfield

In this lesson you will have learned the style of playing of James Hetfield and ways to develop these styles for your own rythmn playing.

Ultimate Guitar
Ok so first things first, to really be able to play Mr Hetfields rythmns you are going to have to develop your right arm.Second a METRONOME is the best way to devleop speed! A very easy way to do this without trying to figure out 32nd and 16th notes is by using the bulit in metronome on power tab! In this lesson I will be showing you some Alternate picking and Down picking exercises from Metalica songs, they will range from easy to difficult. Hopefully after mastering these riffs you will have attained decent Picking skill and you will be able to make your own riffs based on these ones Easy:
Alternate picking, the opening riff off My Apocolypse(Death Magnetic)
|------------------|  |------------------| 
|------------------|  |------------------|
|------------------|  |--7/6---7/6---7/6-|
|--5h7-------------|  |--5/4---5/4---5/4-|
|--0---0-0-0-0-0-0-|  |------------------|  
Down picking, the verse riff off Ride The Lightning(Ride The Lightning)
Now that were buliding up a bit muscle we will be playing puppets and creeping death in no time! Now for a few more picking examples slightly more difficult Alternate picking: The verse riff from That Was Just Your Life(Death Magentic) this one is great for triplet development
 PM---|           PM---|          PM---|  

The 'Darkness' riff from one(...And Justice For All)take this one SLOW!


Down Picking:
Intro from Through The Never (Black  Album)
PM---| PM----|
Intro Riff From The Four Horsemen (Kill Em'All)this one is the most difficult so far
Hows your right arm so far? Tired? thats good, but if you feel pain of any kind(not burn) STOP! put the guitar DOWN(not in your hands) for 3 minutes and put the palms of our hands on your knees! (you may get Repetative Strain Injury or Tendinitis if you dont!) And now for the riffs that make James A GOD OF RYTHMN guitar (Only try these once you have MASTERED the riffs above) the folowing riffs should be stared slowly and progressivly get faster Alternate Picking:
Intro riff from Hit The Lights (Kill Em' All)
 PM------------               PM-----------

Verse riff from Battery (Master Of Puppets)
Note the triplets marked with the 't'
           ---t---     ---t---                  ---t---     ---t---

Bridge form Disposible Heroes(Master Of Puppets)

       PM-----------|   PM---------|    PM-----------|  PM----------|
     PM-------------------|    PM-------------------|

And of course the most difficult Alternate Picking Rythmn
Verse riff from Fight Fire With Fire (Ride The Lightning)
B||----------------------------------|--------------------------------| X4
 PM ...........     .............      ...........     ...     ...

Dyers Eve Main Riff (...And Justice For All)

   PM...........|            PM..............|

 PM..............|       PM............................|

Well thats it for the Alternate Picking
Now Down Picking:
Verse riff from Creeping Death(You Knew it was coming)
                                    H P P

Intro to Blackened (And Justice For All...)
G|----------------------------------------------3---------------| X3

Intro to Master Of Puppets(Like Creeping Death you knew it was coming)
e |-----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
B |-----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
G |.----------------|----------------|----------------|------------4---|
D |.----------------|----------------|----------------|------------4---|
A |-----2-----3-----|4-----3-----2-2-|----2-----3-----|4-----3-----2---|
E |-0-1---0-1---0-1-|--0-1---0-1-----|0-1---0-1---0-1-|--0-1---1-0-----|
Well thats it!! If there is enough positive response for this lesson I will do a lesson on james's solos, go into depth into the scales and modes he likes to use, his influences and some of their rythmns. Hope you enjoyed this lesson. METAL UP YOUR ASS!

22 comments sorted by best / new / date

    some of these triplets (like the ones in battery) are actually gallops (two notes of a particular length coupled with another note of an increased length; in the case of battery, it's two sixteenths and an eighth). also, it's spelt "rhythm". other than that, good lesson.
    Quite good man ,nice selection of riffs ,you should do a Kirk Hammet one next
    greener_30 wrote: This is good except James and Kirk downpick Battery just to let you know
    dude, battery is impossible to downpick what the ****
    Dragon God
    i think you did your "C5" wrong, i thing 5 is supposed to be on the "D" string, just saying
    bistro84 wrote: In the ninety's Cherry Lane published a book based on Hetfeild. It was thicker than some album tab books but it gave you insight on how he arranged his songs and how he used the scales and made his chords and riffs.
    Yet Hetfield himself said that he didn't know any scales or chords? Burton's the one who did all the scale stuff dude. I don't care what that book says
    In the ninety's Cherry Lane published a book based on Hetfeild. It was thicker than some album tab books but it gave you insight on how he arranged his songs and how he used the scales and made his chords and riffs.
    RiseAgainstScum wrote: Hetfield downpicks fight fire with fire. Battery is like a walk in a park after that.
    there is way more to Hetfeild than you could even fit in a little lesson like this. There was a time, like all of the nineteen-eighty's when James down picked bloody everything! Except when chucking.
    I wanna see teh solos one plzkthx. I know many, many and I mean many of jaymz' riffs. But not his solos >_>
    Um, why does an article about the style of a RHYTHM guitarist say nothing about the rhythms he uses aside from "use a metronome"? I've listened to Metallica a lot, but there's enough sound smashing around in there that it's hard to tell sometimes what the hell Hetfield is doing in between Hammett and Ulrich. And between his left and his right hand, I'd say what his right hand is doing is way more important, even if it's harder to tab.
    greener_30...they do not down pick triplets in battery if that is what you are saying.
    Well done, man. Nice structure and the choice of riffs is good. Also good to have those little tips here and there. The article needs proofreading but nothing incomprehensible (so that's cool with me). And I must admit you made me Wiki Mr. Hetfield just to check if he's actually been honored with "Sir".
    This is good except James and Kirk downpick Battery so you know for future reference
    Uh, Battery is downpicked, except for the 16ths, not triplets. One of the main foundations or Hetfield's playing style is a continued downpicking technique, with occasional upstrokes to fill in pedal notes.