Apart from being one of the top guitarists of all time, Joe Satriani is well known as the guitar teacher of some of the prominent axemen such as Alex Skolnick, Steve Vai, Rick Hunolt, Larry LaLonde and Kirk Hammett.
Recently asked about the Metallica guitarist, Joe shared nothing but praises for Hammett's guitar playing, as well as the band's contribution to music.
"The main thing with Kirk that was really a lot of fun was he was a really good guitar player when he walked [through] the door," Satch told Concertfly. "He was already playing lead guitar for Exodus, so he was already shredding. He had a great right hand, he knew most of his chords, he just didn't learn how to play in an environment where he learned all the names and how to connect everything together.
"So my job was to take advantage of the fact that his fingers were already moving like crazy, and we could focus entirely on melodic and harmonic possibilities that he hadn't yet been exposed to, which means I would show him more developed chord structures," Joe continued. "I would show him how to figure out what key he was in, and I would show him all the different melodic possibilities that exist, scales basically. That's a fancy way of saying I had to show him scales and he had to practice them all over the neck.
"The thing that was very interesting that a lot of people don't realize, is that it was very exciting because I noticed that Kirk's age, all the way down to let's say about 10 years old, my students were at the very beginning of what turned into thrash metal, and what became what everybody knows as Metallica and every other band that was sort of under their wing there," the guitarist further explained. "They were coming up with material that changed the harmonic structure that a then budding lead player would be stuck playing over. So for instance, I wouldn't know the names of the songs, but Kirk would bring in some chord progressions and he’d say, 'Hey, me and James were working on this thing and I think there’s going to be a solo over this section, but I have no idea what key it's in.'"
Giving Metallica kudos for pioneering efforts, Satriani added, "In those songs people hadn't really soloed over chord structures like that, they weren't blues chord structures, they weren't pop structures, they weren't jazz structures. It wasn't cut and dry, and I think if you took even somebody as accomplished as Steve Lukather, who during that time was the first-call electric guitar player in LA for sessions. He probably would have looked at the chord progression and gone: 'Oh my god, what are you going to do over this?' What it took was the new generation to say 'Okay, I'm not going to get psychedelic, I'm not going to get bluesy, I have to create a new path to solo over this new kind of chord progression.'"