The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Kirk Hammett is a bad guitarist

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/20/2015 Category: Music
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 884 times Debate No: 77895
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




I have started this debate as I personally believe Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist of Metallica, is of inadequate skill compared to guitarists like Mark Morton from Lamb of God.

First round is acceptance and the rest are rebuttals.


I accept. Good luck.
Debate Round No. 1


My first rebuttal entails the evaluation of hammett's guitar playing. I'll keep this brief as in my country it is currently 4am and I want to go to bed.

Kirk Hammett while he does in fact have some skill, he does not have a great deal of it, as a guitar player myself I enjoy songs with some technical tendencies (I.e. sweep picking, alternate picking in riffage, and key change). In Kirk Hammett's 30 years of being the lead guitarist of Metallica, he has done none of these techniques but instead has played sloppy lead fills and simple down picking riffs.

In case if my opponent, does not know of these guitar techniques, I will provide them with songs that include these techniques:

Riff (short repeated phrase usually in metal music but also in jazz).

Best song example of a riff - Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple.

Sweep picking -

This War is Ours by Escape The Fate (Intro only)

Alternate Picking in Riffage: (Moving the pick in an up and down motion while doing heavy riffing).

Waking The Demon by Bullet For My Valentine

Key Change -

Sweet Child o Mine by Guns N Roses (Solo)

Lead Fills - Short solos between riffs used in most Guns N Roses songs.

Down picking - Literally striking downward with the pick, used in pretty much every Metallica song.


Hi pro. Thanks for the interesting topic.

Since I can rebut in round 2 I will do that first and then post my arguments for which I do not think that Kirk Hammett is bad guitarist. Since that is what we argue about.

For the start let me say that I don't like Kirk Hammett and I don't think that He is great. I rank him somewhere between average to decent. But to say that He is bad is exaggeration.

Now I would argue that technical skill is only one of the factors of what makes a great guitar player(or bad). Some of the other factors are versatility, impact, fame, feel, melodic expressions, phrasing, frontmanship, compositional skills, trained ear etc etc.

If you take a look at most top lists of greatest guitar players of all time you will see some very sloppy players on the top 20 places. Like Jimmy Page or Hendrix. While technical monsters like Batio or Rustey Cooley are nowhere to be found.

So Hammett was in the right band at the right time and He was great addition to the Metallica as a lead guitarist. He played and helped to made some of the most influential trash metal licks of all time. He influenced many guitar players and shaped trash metal of that time.

So to call him bad simply because He is not as skilled as someone else is really unjustified. As far as technical skill goes, there is always someone better. There is someone better then Batio or Morse in alternate picking, there is someone better then Becker or Rustey Cooley at sweeping, there is someone more versatile then Guthrie Govan, someone better with harmonics then Eric Johnson, someone faster then Shawn Lane, with better legato then Satch etc etc. Does that mean that those players are bad ? No they are perfectly fine for what they do. And that is creating the music and playing it the way they imagined it to sound.

Playing the guitar should not be a sport. Its an art. Its not about how many notes per second you play but what do you express with those notes.

That being said lets take a look at Hammett`s technique. He is great addition to Hetfield for riffing. I would argue that Hetfield has better timing for riffs though. As far as technique goes its not that advanced. Fast pentatonic solos usually in e minor. Some tapping, nothing too fancy. But He plays it with great style and furiosity and it sounds solid.

I do not find him sloppy, each note is clear to the point. Also Metallica riffs are not mostly simple down picking. Most of the trash riffs are too fast not to be alternate picked.

So I agree that He is not great. I agree that He is technically worse then Mark Morton. But to call him Bad you need much more then that. If He was bad He would not be in Metallica all those years.
Debate Round No. 2


I state my gratitude for my opponent's appreciation of this topic.

While yes Kirk Hammett has in fact present some versatility with his guitar playing, he has not presented versatility as great as guitarists like John Pettrucci from Dream Theater who ranges from power metal to jazz and even to classical. Whereas, Hammett has really just done songs one after the other with similar song structure (Example - seek and destroy - similar song structure to Blackened). The only songs where he has shown a larger degree of versatility is Nothing Else Matters and Fade to Black, both songs have classical fingerpicking and chicken picking.

As for Jimmy Page being "sloppy", I personally have never heard him play sloppily so some song examples would be good. While my opinion on hammett's sloppy playing is present in songs like Seek and Destroy where in the solo he hits a wrong note that is dissonant to the em pentatonic scale.

While it is consensual that Hammett is not technical like Jason Becker or Fredrik Thordendal from Meshuggah, he is also void of being known as a guitar god like Dimebag Darrell or Rhandy Rhoads and in fact has never even been given the remotely the same amount of praise as those two have.

Even in comparison to other thrash guitarist like Kerry King from Slayer or Chris Broderick from Megadeth he is of meager talent. As well as the lead guitarist from Black Tide who is more than half his age can play circles around Hammett, I myself have been playing for 3 years and can already play most Metallica songs with little practice.

While yes the guitar is an art, but art also requires skill as with skill and strong knowledge in music theory can you achieve versatility.

I bid good luck to my opponent in the next round.


I already told you that if someone is better that does not make you bad. Petrucci is not as versatile as Guthrie Govan. There is not way. Govan can literally play anything ever written for guitar by anyone. So Petrucci is bad because of this ? Also Petrucci had academic education so obviously he would know classical and jazz. Petrucci plays different genre being progressive metal which requires a lot more complexity then trash metal . And yeah John Petrucci is monster player and is light years ahead of Hammett.

The point is that Hammett does not need to show anything else since He plays what is given to him and what He wrotes to suit the song structure. He uses fingerpicking because Hetfield wrote it that way and its a ballad so fingering strings there gives better sound then pick. Thats the reason fingerpicking was used. You dont know if Hammett knows more advanced stuff. Maybe He is just not showing it or He is not playing at his full potential.

If you for example take a look at Paul Gilbert in his Mr. Big years, you would think that he suck at technical skill. Thats because there is no place for shreding while playing ballads and pop. And in his racer x years he is a technical monster. So my point is that since Metallica was always popular metal, its lines were never meant to be shredded but to be melodic as possible with great riffs and catchy melodical lead fills to appeal to widest audience. Almost every single Metallica solo can be whistled under the shower. Try to do that with Malmsteens solos .

As for Page being sloppy I cant believe that you are not aware of this after 3 years of playing guitar. Maybe you havent listened to a lot of his live playing. On studio records He is not that sloppy but you can hear it there too ( listen to his hearthbreaker solo, the second part of solo with fast pentatonic runs. ) And on the live He often made mistakes and fluffed notes - the more so towards the end of Zep. It seems there were times that his picking hand, his fretting hand and his brain were all in different places at the same time. But He gets away with it (generally), because for him the guitar is more about feel than technical ability. And public feel that. So nobody thinks that He is bad bcs of some sloppiness .

Haha yeah , that note in Seek and destroy was a bum note. He even apologized for it. But one note is not nearly enough to call him sloppy. Show me more examples of his sloppiness .

Of course that He cannot be compared to Gods like Randy and Dimebag. They were forces of nature. Hammett is just good guitarist for what He does. They were among bests.

My main argument is that Hammett though far from great and overrated is also far from being bad. Its all relative to what He plays. What Metallica plays is simply not that demanding for nowadays standards. But They're the pioneers of what they do. Kirk is an average guitarist,but he's got feel and knows when to show off and when to make a smaller solo and let the others shine.Plus,he is a total beast live and always makes those solos more interesting.

Definitely no bad player.

Good luck in next round Pro
Debate Round No. 3


I must say that my opponent's rebuttal has changed my views on technical guitar playing against playing with soul and emotion and has effectively made me appreciate Metallica as much as I did before I started playing guitar.

However, this is a debate and I might as well continue to oppose. It is a fact that Kirk Hammett started playing guitar at age 15 (same age as slash) which in my opinion is rather late in comparison to guitarists like Zakk Wylde who started at age 8 and Ritchie Blackmore who started at 11. Those two guitarists aside, slash's guitar experience is on par with Hammett's and I must say that the two are rather similar but slash has always written more notable riffs like Sweet Child O Mine and Paradise City while Hetfield wrote most of the guitar riffs for Metallica and Hammett just played along.

That's pretty much all I had to use as rebuttal. I bid luck to my opponent for the final round.


Hi Pro. I'm really glad that you shifted focus from technical skill to a degree. You will do it more in the future. Thats what guitarists with more experience do. Skill is fun but that's all it is. It should only a goal as long as the music you hear in your head is way technically ahead they your current technical skill.
Take the "Death" for example. As Chuck Schuldiner had more technically advanced ideas He would basically change band members on each album.
Also Jason Becker said that He needed to perfect the sweeping since He heard Serrana in his head and though that its impossible to be played on guitar. He made it possible.
I would call those people- constantly progressing composers in a context of complexity of technique.

However there are players that are still good but stay very close to the usually level of their play. For example Adrian Smith and Dave Murray form Iron Maiden. Same with Hammett ( though I consider them better then him ) .

Yeah it might be a bit old to start playing at 15. Or is it ? Satriani started at 14. Shawn Lane at 14, Vai started playing at 13. Petrucci at 12... 1-3 years makes really no difference between those players. And is least important factor in my opinion (unless someone started at 25 :D ).

Yeah Hammett vs Slash I would vote for Slash. But thats bcs I like slash more. Though I like Metallica more then G&R.

The problem of debates as this is is that Pro need to specify in more details in what aspect is He bad and compared to who.

If title was "Hammett is worse guitar player then Petrucci in technical skill" then nobody could argue that. But to call him generally bad player according to widest of standards would be a bit far stretched.

Hammett is overrated and far from great player but I don't think that anyone can objectively call him bad.

Thx for the very interesting debate Pro. Keep them coming and whats more important keep playing and enjoying the guitar. Never make a sport out of it. It loses magic then.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by TripDebates 10 months ago
That is like saying the Beatles are trash. He is awesome
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Kozu 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: First I would like to say I don't know who Kirk Hammett is. Moving on. Perhaps Pro should have made the resolution "Kirk Hammet is a bad guitarist compared to [insert guitarist]", because bad in my book just means "of poor quality". Con makes the right move in distinguishing a lack of technique from poor guitar playing. I'm feeling convinced that Hammett is at-least not a "bad" guitarist because of, 1. his influence on metal and other guitarists, and 2. people believe his msuic sounds good. Pro could have argued that these things don't make someone a good guitarist, but since he doesn't dispute that I won't either. By the time R4 comes around it seems even Pro agrees that technique isn't the axiom of being a good guitarist. So, since I felt Con firmly established that comparing guitarists to determine if their good/bad wasn't the best idea, I vote Con.