Early life (1962-1980)
As a child and teenager, Hammett showed great interest in his older brother Rick’s extensive collection of guitars, Rickenbacker basses and hard rock records, including material by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Status Quo, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and UFO. One of his biggest musical influences was Jimi Hendrix, and Hammett was quoted as saying he wanted to be Hendrix. Hammett has also been known to perform parts of Hendrix’s songs during his guitar solos.
After picking up a 1978 Fender Stratocaster, Hammett attempted to customize his sound with various guitar parts, eventually falling for a 1974 Gibson Flying V. He also took a job at Burger King to raise money for a Marshall amplifier.
 Exodus (1980-1983)
Hammett’s musical interests eventually drew him into the fledgling thrash metal genre. In 1980, he formed the group Exodus with vocalist Paul Baloff, guitarist Gary Holt, bassist Geoff Andrews, and drummer Tom Hunting. He played on Exodus’ 1982 Demo. Exodus was a crucial early player in the Bay Area thrash movement.
 Metallica (1983-Present)
Hammett was invited to join Metallica following the dismissal of the band’s original lead guitarist Dave Mustaine in 1983. This was prior to the release of Kill ‘Em All. At the time Hammett was taking private guitar lessons from the now-famous Joe Satriani. In 2002, he became the first inductee into Guitar World magazine’s “Hall of Fame.
Though he is primarily Metallica’s lead guitarist, Hammett has written and contributed riffs for Metallica songs since the mid-1980s (particularly in the 1990s during the Load era). One of these riffs, used in “Enter Sandman“, was written in a hotel room at 3:15 am, and became one of Metallica’s most popular songs. It was the first track and first single on Metallica’s self-titled “Black Album” and was ranked 399th on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
The bridge for “Creeping Death” was originally an Exodus riff that Hammett took with him to Metallica.
Hammett’s playing style is noted for his extensive use of the wah-wah pedal in his solos. Hammett says “The wah-wah is an extension of my personality”. He also once said, “They’ll have to cut off my leg if they want me to stop using the wah-wah pedal”, Hammett’s use of the wah-pedal hadn’t been featured in recent Metallica solos, but has seen a resurgence in his solos on the new album, Death Magnetic.
Hammett initially wanted to have guitar solos on Metallica’s 2003 album, St. Anger, but drummer Lars Ulrich and producer Bob Rock thought that the solos did not sound right in the songs. He later himself admitted, “We tried to put in solos but they sounded like an afterthought so we left them out”.
 Personal life
Hammett has been married twice. His first marriage to ex-wife Rebecca lasted only 3 years, having ended in 1990, during the recording of the Black Album, which consumed the band members’ lives for almost an entire year.
Hammett now resides in San Francisco with Lani, his second wife, whom he married in 1998. They have two sons, Angel Ray Keala Hammett (September 29th, 2006) and Vincenzo Kainalu Hammett (June 28th 2008).
Hammett’s interests include surfing, cooking, horses, archaeology, cars, science fiction magazines and collecting horror film memorabilia. He is also a vegetarian.
 Other appearances
In 2006, Hammett voiced himself on The Simpsons (“The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer“). He also provided various voices on the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse, including a two fingered fan (“The Curse of Dethklok”), The Queen of Denmark (“Happy Dethday”), and a Finnish barkeep (“Dethtroll”). * He also appeared as a guest in an episode of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast titled “Jacksonville” alongside fellow Metallica member James Hetfield.
Hammett played guitar on the track “Satan” with Orbital for The Spawn: The Album soundtrack released in July 1997.
After performing a set with Metallica at Bonnaroo in June 2008, Hammett played one song with My Morning Jacket and a couple songs with the annual Superjam collaboration, which also included Les Claypool and members of Gogol Bordello playing primarily Tom Waits songs.
He also appeared on the “Kichigai” E.P. by punk band Septic Death. He played additional lead guitar on the title track.
In January 2007, ESP Guitar Company announced the release of a 20th anniversary Limited KH-20 Guitar to celebrate 20 years of relationship with Kirk Hammett (based upon the KH-2 guitar with some modification). There will only be 41 guitars made and the price has been set at $9,999.
- ESP M-II “Zorlac” – This was the starting line for the whole KH series. It features a vertical skull & crossbones as opposed to the horizontal ones featured on today’s KH’s, and an upside down Jackson Guitars style headstock which is what Hammett originally intended. However, Jackson Guitars was not thrilled about this, and threatened law suits if this model ever hit stores. So the headstock was changed to a typical ESP but flipped upside down.
- ESP KH-2 (Main touring guitar) – Hammett’s signature model guitar is based upon the modifications he made to his M-II. (Nicknamed “Skully” because of the skull and crossbone inlays) 
- ESP KH-2 M-II “Boris Karloff Mummy” I – Boris Karloff Mummy I graphic. Hammett owns the rights to the image on it and it will not be released by ESP.
- ESP KH-2 M-II “Ouija” – This guitar contains 2 spelling errors on it. It sports the words “WILLIAM FUED TALKING BAARD SET” but it in fact should say “WILLIAM FULD TALKING BOARD SET”
- ESP KH-2 M-II “Boris Karloff Mummy” II – Boris Karloff Mummy II graphic. Same as the Mummy I but with hieroglyph inlays.
- ESP KH-2 M-II “Fuck You” KH-4 – It’s the same as a typical KH-2, but with a pearloid pickguard, dot inlays, a Roland midi unit (for roland vg8/vg88), and the words “FUCK YOU” written at the 12th fret.
- ESP ESP M-II “Skully” 7-String – Though it belongs to Hammett, James Hetfield mainly used it in the studio for St. Anger, as Hammett does not tour with it
- ESP KH-3 Eclipse – Pushead Spider graphic. It is taken from a classic Les Paul Jr. shape with a floyd rose vibrato and EMG pickups.
- Gibson Les Paul 1968 Custom – Hammett also uses regular Les Paul’s at some performances
- Jackson Randy Rhoads Model RR1T – Custom-Made specifically for Hammett. It is usually tuned one step down from standard tuning, and used for the song “Sad But True“.
- Jackson Soloist Used for the song “The Thing That Should Not Be“.
- Jackson Guitars Roswell Rhoads used for recording “Load“.
- ESP KH-1 Flying V
- ESP KH-2 M-II – Skull & Crossbones II
- ESP M-II Red Frankenstein graphic
- ESP M-II Skull & Crossbones I
- ESP WaveCaster Blue – Wave Machine (Only 3 in existence.)
- Fender Stratocaster 1998 – American black and green Stratocaster
- Gibson Flying V 1974 – Used mainly for recording the first four albums. In 1989 he replaced the stock pickups with EMG 81s. Was the third guitar he ever owned.
Kirk Hammett’s first guitar was a Montgomery Ward brand guitar, with a shoebox and small speaker for an amplifier.
Metallica’s “St. Anger” DVD rehearsals features a new guitar which has “Invisible Kid” written on it, which he uses in the song “Invisible Kid”.
On the 25th anniversary of Metallica‘s Kill ‘Em All, Kirk Hammett appears on the cover of Feb. 2008’s Guitar World sporting his new custom ESP. This model is the KH20, the 20th anniversary model from ESP.
 Amplifiers & Cabinets
- Randall RM100KH signature model (modified version of the MTS series RM100)
- Randall 4×12 RS412KHX
- Randall 4×12 RS412KH100
- Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier
- Mesa/Boogie Mark IV
- Mesa/Boogie Triple Rectifier
- Mesa/Boogie Quad Preamp
- Mesa/Boogie Simul-class 295
- Fender Twin
- Various models of Marshall and Diezel
 Pickups, Effects and other Equipment
- EMG 81 pickups at bridge and neck position
- Rack-mounted Dunlop Cry Baby with expression pedals
- Ibanez Tube Screamer Modded by Keeley
- Native Instruments Guitar Rig 3 control edition
- Lovetone Meatball pedal (used on I Disappear)
- Jim Dunlop Dunlop Jazz III Picks
- Ernie Ball Skinny Top Heavy Bottom (.10-.52) Strings
- Custom Levy’s strap
- Radial Tonebone Hot British distortion pedal
- MXR EVH Flanger
- Line 6 FM4 Filter Modeler
- Line 6 DM4 Distortion Modeler
- Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler
- Line 6 MM4 Modulation Modeler
- Digitech WH1 Whammy Pedal