What Guitar Does James Hetfield Play?

What Guitar Does James Hetfield Play?

Even if you’re not a diehard Metallica fan, there’s no denying that James Hetfield is one of the most iconic and influential guitarists of all time, helping shape the sound of heavy metal with his work in Metallica.

But the question is that what guitar does James Hetfield play?

Hetfield has played several different guitars over the years, both in the studio and live. In the early days of Metallica, he was mostly seen playing Gibson Explorer and Gibson Flying V guitars. However, he has also been known to play a number of other brands, including Jackson, ESP, and Fender.

Currently, Hetfield is mostly seen playing ESP guitars. He has many signature models with the company, including the LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte and the LTD James Hetfield Truckster. Hetfield also has his own line of amplifiers and pedals with ESP, called James Hetfield Signature Series.

After reading this article, you will learn about the guitars James Hetfield played over the years and the ones he plays currently. We’ll also explore some tips for playing guitar like James Hetfield.

What Guitar Does James Hetfield Play Currently?

What Guitar Does James Hetfield Play Currently?

James Hetfield, the legendary frontman of Metallica, is well known for his heavy rhythm guitar sound. Countless guitarists have copied his playing style over the years. But what kind of guitar does he use to get that signature sound?

In the early days of Metallica, Hetfield played a Gibson Explorer. However, he switched to Electric Sound Products (ESP) guitars in the late 1980s, which he has used for most of his career. His current main guitar is an ESP LTD Snakebyte, also known as Iron Cross

It was specially designed for Hetfield. This guitar has a set-neck construction, making it easier for Hetfield to play those complex Metallica riffs. It also has EMG81 and EMG60 pickups, which help create that thick, distortion-heavy sound that is so iconic of Metallica.

So if you’re looking to get that James Hetfield sound, you’ll need an ESP LTD Snakebyte.

What Other Guitars Has James Hetfield Played Before ESP?

What Other Guitars Has James Hetfield Played Before Esp?

James Hetfield is known for his aggressive playing style and unique sound. Hetfield began playing guitar at a young age, and before switching to ESP guitars, he has used the following variety of different instruments to achieve his signature sound.

Electric Guitars

  • Gibson SG Standard
  • Gibson Explorer
  • Jackson King V Custom
  • Electra Flying V
  • Gretsch White Falcon
  • Ken Lawrence Explorer
  • Fender Telecaster
  • Gibson Les Paul Custom

Acoustic Guitars

  • National Resolectric
  • Gibson Chet Atkins Classical
  • Line 6 Variax Acoustic 700
  • 1966 Martin D-28

James Hetfield always makes it sound like an ESP, no matter what guitar he plays. His playing style is so unique that it can make any guitar sound great.

Tips for Playing Guitar Like James Hetfield

Tips For Playing Guitar Like James Hetfield

If you want to play guitar like James Hetfield, you’re in for a treat. Hetfield is one of the most influential guitarists of all time, and his style is unique and instantly recognizable.

Although he’s known for his aggressive playing, Hetfield is also a master of melody and rhythm. Here are some tips to help you get started on your journey to sounding like the Metallica legend:

Start by studying Hetfield’s early work with Metallica. Listen closely to the rhythms and melodies in songs like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Seek & Destroy.” As you become familiar with his style, try to emulate it in your playing.

Pay attention to Hetfield’s use of palm muting. This technique gives his playing an unmistakable crunchy sound. To replicate it, place your picking hand close to the guitar’s bridge and use light pressure to mute the strings.

One of the critical elements of Hetfield’s style is his use of pentatonic scales. These five-note scales are a staple of rock guitar playing, and they’re easy to learn. Use them in your solos and riffs to get that Hetfield sound.

Try to use drop D tuning, which will allow you to play power chords with one finger.

Finally, don’t forget about Hetfield’s iconic tone. He uses a combination of distortion and overdrive pedals to get that signature sound. Experiment with different pedals and settings to find the right sound for you.


If you’re looking to emulate the sound of one of the greatest metal guitarists of all time, you need to check out ESP LTD guitars. The Snakebyte model is specially designed for James Hetfield’s unique playing style, and it’s the perfect choice for getting that signature Metallica sound.

With its set-neck construction and EMG pickups, the Snakebyte is a high-quality guitar that any serious musician will love. So if you’re ready to rock out like Hetfield, get your hands on an ESP LTD Snakebyte.