Kirk Hammett, guitarist for Metallica, recently sat down with us for an episode of our web series, Ernie Ball: String Theory. The episode is filled not only with some great personal insight into Kirk himself, but also with plenty of his solo guitar playing for your enjoyment.

Here, we present to you the six biggest things we learned about Hammett, his playing and his background throughout the episode. We’ve provided the timestamp for each segment as well, so you can follow along.

#1 – Kirk’s singular purpose in life is to make music  (0:29)

He defines himself through his guitar playing, at one point saying that it was what he “was put on this Earth to do.”

#2 – He approaches guitar as not only a creative tool but an emotional one (0:49)

Kirk says that when he’s stressed out or feeling anxious, he’ll just start playing until he reaches a state of calm.

#3 – The band KISS was his first exposure to rock music (2:01)

While in seventh grade, his friend visited him and brought along a record album. He was first drawn to the image of the band in full makeup on the album’s cover, but soon the actual music inside led him on a road of discovery toward Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, ZZ Top and more.

#4 – Jimi Hendrix was his first musical influence (3:05)

At a young age, Kirk watched a documentary about Hendrix, and was immediately taken by both Jimi’s playing as well as his style and persona.

#5 – Michael Schenker of UFO changed the way he plays guitar (4:32)

His whole attitude changed upon hearing the playing of the UFO guitarist, and Schenker remains a primary influence of Hammett’s to this day.

#6 – Fun is the most important thing (12:32)

Being creative and doing things that are new and exciting are his favorite thing. He loves to find inspiration in new players, and wants to be able to do the same for others.

String Theory

Watch every episode of Ernie Ball: String Theory at our website, featuring such players as J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., Dhani Harrison, Joe Bonamassa, and more. You can also enjoy some of Metallica’s most popular songs in this Spotify playlist.

Guitar Strings

Kirk Hammett plays Ernie Ball RPS Regular Slinky electric guitar strings. Do you? Try a set.

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