Metallica has been around for a long time.
Its been long enough for Kirk Hammett to turn 50, which just seems weird for any rock legend you’ve grown up with the be that old.
I suppose it happens to all of us.
Gear Used when Writing this Post
- PRS CE 24 Electric Guitar
- Line 6 Spider IV 150-Watt Modeling Amp
- Elixir Electric Strings
- Boss MD-2 Mega Distortion
- Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble
- Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler
- GuitarMoose Sticky Picks
- PositiveGrid JamUp App
- Apple iPad
What Kirk Uses
- ESP LTD “White Zombie” Kirk Hammett Signature Guitar
- Jim Dunlop Crybaby Signature Wah
- Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler
- Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
- Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Amp Head
But even while Hammett ages, his guitar work for Metallica is timeless, and has earned him a spot in the upper-echelons of rock guitar stardom.
Particularly in terms of lead guitar, he’s hands down one of the best in the business and his sound is fairly unique and easy to identify.
This is our look into the optimal Kirk Hammett amp settings.
While his rig is complex and expensive, replicating his settings on your own amplifier is pretty straight forward.
And don’t give up just because you don’t have a Mesa Boogie dual rectifier.
Depending on your own gear, you might need to do some tweaking but these settings will at least get you close to Hammett’s tone.
For whatever distortion you’re using, whether it’s from a pedal or your amplifier, make sure the gain is high, around 9 or 10, to make sure there’s plenty of saturation.
As far as the rest of the settings go, try something like this:
The amp settings I used to get a passable Kirk Hammett tone | View Larger Image
I’ve pushed the treble high to account for his bright solos, cut the mids back pretty low and moved the bass to about 70%.
You might need to make some adjustments with the treble and mid knobs, depending on how your amp handles the higher tones.
Here are the numbers:
Bass: 7 / Treble: 10 / Mids: 3 / Gain: 10
You can add some reverb if you want, but I’ve found that these dials work pretty well with or without it.
When trying to replicate Hammett’s settings, the following general rules are what you want to keep in mind if you decide to make your own tweaks:
- High bass
- Low mids
- High treble
If this is how you have the EQ set on your amp, you won’t be terribly far off.
Hammett plays a conventional, heavy rock tone that’s recognizable primarily because of his playing technique and style.
Thus the settings themselves aren’t difficult to replicate.
What kind of distortion?
Hammett uses an Ibanez Tube Screamer, as well as the distortion from his Mesa Boogie (and sometimes Randall) amplifiers.
His distortion is more often produced by those amps, but since he uses the Tube Screamer, that’s a good pedal to go with if you want to replicate his sound.
The mighty Ibanez Tube Screamer | Flickr Image via Roadside Guitars
I used my Boss MD-2 Mega Distortion and turned the “BOTTOM” knob up to get something similar:
Level: 5 / Bottom: 9 / Tone: 6 / Dist: 9 / Gain Boost: 9
Whatever pedal you use, just remember to keep the gain high and dial plenty of low-end in to the EQ with the bass knob.
Questions or thoughts about our Kirk Hammett amp settings?
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Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of gaisler | gigriders.com