Joe Satriani: What Was Kirk Hammett Like as a Student

"At first he took Dave Mustaine's approach of playing blues rock over the progressions."

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Remembering the days when he was teaching a bunch of young kids who grew into some of the finest guitarists of their generation how to play guitar, Joe Satriani focused on one of this most prominent students - Mr. Kirk Hammett of Metallica.

Satch tells Classic Rock Magazine: "Kirk was a great student. He was very eager to learn.

"His fingers moved great - and he had great taste in guitar players like Michael Schenker and Uli John Roth. He was completely musical.

"He'd been in Exodus, but all of a sudden got in this band, Metallica, and he disappeared for a few months then came back with a copy of 'Kill 'Em All.' Thrash metal songs had brand new chord progressions that had nothing to do with blues, Zeppelin or The Beatles.

"Kirk would come in and say, 'Check out this new song I have to solo over - what key is this in?' Often the song wasn't in just one key. I had to teach him to decipher the song's tonality, to understand the musical possibilities, and how to make his own decisions on what to play."

Describing Kirk as a "young kid full of talent and enthusiasm" and saying how "Hit the Lights" perfectly captured 'Tallica's sound at the time, Joe added:

"Kirk had just replaced another great guitar player, Dave Mustaine, and at first he took Dave's approach of playing blues rock over the progressions.

"As the Metallica records pile up you can hear Kirk working in more exotic scales, but every now and again he'll still play a solo that sits on top of the riff - the one from 'Sad But True,' echoes the early Kirk Hammett.

"Even after all these years his finger tone's still the same. He burst on to the scene with that sound and throughout Metallica's musical journey his solos come up big, thick and full of energy."

He concluded: "People are looking for that special thing that you can't put into a book, you have to curate that yourself - and Kirk's never lost sight of that."

65 comments sorted by best / new / date

    crazyhorse174
    Kirk looks like Inigo Montoya in that picture.
    dlh2786
    Wah - "You keep using that word, i do not think it means what you think it means"
    lyytheprozai
    so where did the wah come into the picture?
    pressureproject
    That overusing of the wah didn't really start until the Black Album. I'm sure Bob Cock had something to do with it.
    leo4sf
    Bob Cock had nothing to do with the black album. He did produce some Primus stuff though. Heard he is dead now.
    Iommianity
    When Kirk takes the time to write and prepare a solo, his phrasing is catchy and anthemic. The problem now is that his soloing just sounds lazy. Not a lot of melody or dynamics, just repeated blues licks and random noise, like a lot of his solos on Death Magnetic.
    travislausch
    "As the Metallica records pile up you can hear Kirk working in more exotic scales, but every now and again he'll still play a solo that sits on top of the riff - the one from 'Sad But True,' echoes the early Kirk Hammett." And if that's the case, it seems like since that album, he's forgotten the lessons he learned from Satch. I mean, song and riff-wise, a lot of the post-Black Album Metallica stuff was actually really good, but Kirk's solos have really been a determining factor for me and they've been very average, at best, lately. Not a single solo I liked on Death Magnetic and it's shaping up to be more of the same on Hardwired, if the two singles are anything to go by. Maybe he needs a refresher from Satch? I'd support it because his solos from Ride The Lightning to AJFA were the deciding factor that got me to start playing guitar in the first place and it's always kind of sad to see your childhood idol fare worse than you thought.
    davidkoh007
    +1 Couldn't agree with you more. There are still some good solos that go well with the song after Black album like Fuel, Better than you or Until it sleeps just to mention few. Almost all solos on Death Magnetic sound like pure gibberish maybe except The day that never comes. Hardwired solos sound even worse so far on the released tracks. They lack any interesting melody, it's just a big pile of random notes put together just to fit in the key. Edit: I forgot about The Rebel of Babylon, that solo was spot on, but nothing else since that.
    Oreman V Death
    Kirk has always been trying to provide good soloing for Metallica songs, i do not care if the peak of his abilities was in the Black Album but sure as hell i am glad for that peak!
    dectlariosa005
    Unforgiven 2 was one of his greatest solo ever for me. But if he didnt abused the use of wah-wah pedal in death magnetic probably he can have his great moments again on that album.
    MrKRB64
    Even though it's his signature sound- I really think he should ditch the wah for a few solos at least because everything he plays lately sounds the same.
    Rabje1234
    Joe Satriani is awesome, I would love to see a full interview with him where he remembers the days of teaching. As in, video.
    WardLucas
    I've always found it odd that someone with the ability and musical knowledge that Satriani has cannot make listenable music of his own.
    Anjohl
    I don't agree with you, but have you ever heard the term "those that can't, teach"? Oftentimes, talent =\= ability.
    IvyRock
    Kirk Hammett to Satriani: How do I play solo over this song? Satriani to Hammett: Let me show you this Wah pedal. The End.
    metallicmud
    Everyone talking about Kirk using the Wah. Have a listen to kill em all its full of wah.
    WheelsOfSteel
    "one of this most prominent students" mmh failed student
    skotyb
    If Kirk Hammet failed then I wanna be a failure... Gobshite.
    WheelsOfSteel
    pfff no comment
    schecterhellraz
    but you clearly commented...
    WheelsOfSteel
    Dream Theater's best albums: 1) Awake 2) Images... 3) Scenes... 4) A change... 5) Falling... 6) When Dream... till Train... but then pure shit..... Symphony X is da shit till The Odissey... first album of SX is superb
    Anjohl
    Whatever album has "Pull Me Under", their single hit, is their best album.
    zack2k
    Why do you type this just to get a reputation? bored or just like getting much attention?
    WheelsOfSteel
    Well done! I'm the one and only Kirk Hammett... This is my alter ego complaining about my lack of study of the instrument...Keep licking my ass honey
    seemykids99
    You are SO fuckin' edgey. You're a rebel, and you don't care who knows it. I thought this would one of the few places on the Internet to go and not run into a douche canoe, but here you are.
    selkayann
    Guys, giving him the crap award gives him IQ. Let's not downvote people like that and just give them hell in the comments
    Lefty7Stringer
    "Thrash metal songs had brand new chord progressions that had nothing to do with blues" LOL okay
    davidkoh007
    It's true
    Lefty7Stringer
    Haha oh really now? Have you heard kill 'em all? Listen to just the first 60 seconds and tell me that isn't rooted in blues.
    davidkoh007
    Of course it is rooted in blues, it uses multiple blues pentatonic scales (a LOT) especially Seek and Destroy, not mentioning the solos, but Satch was talking about Chord progression, which definitely is a lot different from blues.
    Lefty7Stringer
    First three riffs from seek and destroy, opening from four horsemen...and the list goes on. Just because you don't think of blues when you hear it doesn't mean it isn't rooted in it. Metal is rooted in rock, rock is rooted in blues. All manner of riffs using some for off i biiiv or bv iv I has it's roots in blues. The second riff from seek and destroy is only the most robust example and you're just being thick headed of you don't hear it. Yes in general thrash metal is very different than blues but he's talking about Kill Em All specifically. Hell even the verse riff from puppets is theoretically a very blues inspired riff.
    andythomas804
    [deleted]
    andythomas804 · Oct 13, 2016 11:26 AM