Kirk Hammet

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Photo of Kirk Hammett from a live performance of Metallica

Kirk Lee Hammett (born November 18, 1962 in El Sobrante, California, USA) is the lead guitarist in heavy metal group Metallica.


Kirk Hammett was born in El Sobrante, California to a Filipino mother and an Irish Merchant Marine father. Kirk has said in many interviews that he was abused by his father as a child. As a child and teenager, he showed great interest in his older brother Rick's extensive collection of hard rock records, including material by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and UFO.

One of his biggest influences was Jimi Hendrix and he has performed parts of his songs during his guitar solos. Kirk Hammet took up the guitar for the first time at the age of fifteen, beginning with a Montgomery Ward catalog special and little more than a shoebox with a four inch speaker for an amplifier.

After picking up a 1978 Fender Stratocaster, Hammett attempted to customize his sound with various guitar parts, eventually falling for a 1974 Gibson Flying V. He even took a job at a Burger King restaurant to raise funds for a Marshall amplifier.

Kirk Hammett's musical interests eventually drew him into the fledgling thrash metal genre. In 1982, he formed the group Exodus with vocalist Paul Baloff, guitarist Gary Holt, and drummer Tom Hunting. Exodus was a crucial early player in the Bay Area thrash movement.

Hammett was invited to join Metallica after the 1983 dismissal of the band's original lead guitarist Dave Mustaine for substance abuse. At the time Kirk Hammett was taking private guitar lessons from now famous Joe Satriani. In 2002, he became the first inductee into Guitar World magazine's "Hall of Fame". He has toured with Metallica for more than twenty years and is a role model for many modern guitarists.

Though he is primarily Metallica's lead guitarist, Hammett has written and contributed riffs for Metallica songs since the mid-1980s (particularly in the 1990s during the Load era). One of these riffs, "Enter Sandman", was written in a hotel room at 3:00 am, and became one of Metallica's hit songs. It was the first track and single on Metallica's self-titled breakout album and was ranked 399th on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Kirk has often been criticised for his extensive use of the wah-wah pedal in his solos, but he insists, "The wah-wah is an extension of my personality". Kirk wanted to have guitar solos on Metallica's latest album, St. Anger, but drummer Lars Ulrich and producer Bob Rock thought that the solos didn't sound right in the songs. He later himself admitted, "We tried to put in solos but they sounded like an afterthought so we left them out."

Hammett is happily married to wife Lani (who is half-Hawaiian and half-Sicilian), and lives in San Francisco along with a large collection of movie memorabilia, his two dogs Darla and Hoku, and a few cats, and a goat.


• ESP Flying V
• ESP Mummy
• ESP Ouija
• ESP Skull
• ESP Spider
• ESP Wavecaster (Only 3 in existence)
Gibson Les Paul
• Jackson Randy Rhoads Model
• ESP KH-2 (Main touring guitar) Kirk's signature model guitar is based upon the modifications he made to his M-II. (Kirk's Favorite guitar, nicknamed "Skully" because of the skull and crossbone inlays)


• Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Amp
• Mesa Boogie Strategy 400 Stereo power Amp
• Mesa Boogie Tremoverb 2x12 Combo Amp
• Mesa Boogie Triaxis Pre-Amp
• Marshall Amps


• Mesa Boogie 2x12 Speaker Cabinet
• Mesa Boogie 4x12 Speaker Cabinet
• Marshall 4x12 Speaker Cabinet


• Jim Dunlop Tortex 0.88mm Custom Picks
• Ernie Ball "Skinny Top Heavy Bottom" Strings (.10 - .52)
• He also uses Dean Markley Strings
• Custom Levy's straps
• Rack-mounted Dunlop Cry Baby and expression pedals
• EMB Audio Remote Wah System
• Digitech Whammy Pedal
• Lovetone Meatball Pedal (used on 'I Disappear')


• Kirk Hammett's signature model guitar is available for sale
• Hammett was friends with Primus bassist and vocalist Les Claypool as a child. He also knew Primus's guitarist Ler LaLonde, from Metallica touring with his former band Possessed.
• Thanks in large part to his links with the band, he appeared in Primus's John The Fisherman music video.
• He is a lacto-ovo vegetarian
• He appears on the Echobrain (which is the band of Jason Newsted, ex-Metallica bassist) Record and the Strange Enjoyment for All EP on the track Suckerpunch.

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