Getting James Hetfields Sound From Metallicas Black Album

By; Jimmy Rutkowski

Known for their versatile guitar sound, Metallica’s lead man James Hetfield uses everything from Gibson and ESP guitars to classical guitars. Here is an itemized listing of James Hetfield’s rig:

· ESP Explorers
· Ken Lawrence Explorer
· ESP Custom Eclipse
· ESP JH-1 Custom V
· Gibson Explorer
· Gibson Les Paul Custom

· MESA/Boogie TriAxis Preamps
· MESA/Boogie Strategy 400 Power Amps
· MESA 4x12 Recto Cabs
· Roland JC-120 Combo Amps (for clean sounds)
· Diezel VH-4 Heads

Effects and Accessories
· TC Electronics G Major Effects Processor
· MESA/Boogie Custom Graphic EQ
· MESA High Gain Amp Switcher
· Digital Music Corp GCX Switcher and Ground Control Plus Controller
· MXR Phase 100
· Digitech Whammy Pedal
· Electro-Harmonix Bass Micro Synthesizer
· Audio Technica 5000 UHF Wireless
· Furman Power Conditioners
· EMG 81 and 60 Pickups
· Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Strings
· Dunlop .88mm Tortex Picks

What I have below is a way to simulate James Hetfield’s tone for The Black Album, the fifth studio album from Metallica. For all distortion tones use a Metal Distortion Pedal and for all of your clean sounds use your amps clean tone. Metallica has a trademark sound. On your amp, turn the mids to 0 and turn your amps Bass and Treble knobs up between 3 “o” clock and 4 “o” clock.

The set up I have given here is a great place to start to get the sounds that are heard “The Black Album.”

A good Metal Distortion Pedal is essential for the heavy tone.
  • The Boss/Roland Corporation product support group suggests the MT-2 for an extremely versatile pedal. There are a lot of parameters you can control with this pedal. It is great for just about any classic metal need.
  •  If you are looking for a newer modern sound the Boss/Roland product support group recommends the brand new ML-2 distortion pedal. The ML-2 will give you more of a modern metal sound.
A typical setting you can use for the MT-2 is: Gain = 10 o'clock, Low = 4 o'clock, High = 1 o'clock, Mid Freq = 2.5 o'clock, Mid = 2.5 o'clock, Dist = 10 o'clock.
  • ·The wah is necessary for the solos in songs like “Enter Sandman,” and “Don’t Tread on Me.” I would recommend a Dunlop classic Wah pedal.
  • The chorus pedal will be used on the albums clean guitar tones such as in intro to “Enter Sandman,” “Nothing Else Matter,” and “The Unforgiven.” A couple of great chorus pedals to try is the Boss CE-5 Stereo Chorus or the Arion SCH-Z Stereo Chorus pedal.

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