Playing Rhythm Like The Masters: James Hetfield

by Andrew Szucs of

Playing Rhythm Like The Masters: James Hetfield

This lesson teaches you how to play rhythm guitar in a style similar to James Hetfield of Metallica. Hetfield’s style incorporates a lot of downstroke picking, palm mutes, simple chord voices and single note riffs.

The chords used here are simple “power chords” that you might hear in a lot of songs. What makes them Hetfield-ish is the ornamentation in between chords. A lot of the ornamental notes and chords are “outside” the scale. This gives the riff that dark metal sound.

Even so, this progression doesn’t really sound like Metallica in the slow version that starts the lesson, where we explain the fingerings. For that, you’ll need to wait for the full speed demonstration. When the synchronization of the distorted guitar and the drums come together to give that classic metal sound, you can see how note choice alone is not the whole style.

This lesson is part of a series that includes profiles of Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, and others.