The Unforgiven Guitar Lesson – Metallica

In this guitar lesson I will show you note-for-note how to play "The Unforgiven" by Metallica.

We will tackle all of the acoustic and electric guitar parts in this The Unforgiven guitar lesson series across 3 separate video lessons.

In the first video lesson I will show you James Hetfield's acoustic fingerpicked intro. The second half of this intro uses the exact same guitar part James Hetfield uses during the chorus.

The intro starts out with a very repetitive and simple fingerpicking pattern based around an A minor chord, but when it gets to the chorus part, the chords move around a lot quicker and recreating James Hetfield's exact fingerings can seem a little bit unorthodox.

In the second video lesson I will cover all of the electric guitar parts including the clean guitar solo Kirk Hammett plays during the intro and chorus, and his clean guitar solo that leads into the main guitar solo. In addition, we will take a look at the heavy rhythms played during the verse and underneath the main guitar solo.

The main guitar solo for Metallica's "The Unforgiven" is considered by many to be one of Kirk Hammett's finest, and in the third video lesson, I will show you how to play it note-for-note!

In this classic guitar solo Kirk Hammett opts to ramp down the technique a bit and focus on melody and letting the solo tell a story of it's own.

That isn't to say that this The Unforgiven guitar solo lesson isn't without it's challenges, there are plenty of them. It just means that here we seem to have Kirk Hammett thinking more about the song structure that he is playing over instead of playing all over the place with reckless abandon. Even though most Metallica fans love that stuff to. 🙂

The techniques involved in learning this solo include double-stop bends, fast alternate picking sequences and shifts, large bends and so forth. Like I said before, he might of ramped down the speed with this solo, but there is still plenty to learn that will challenge most players.

Depending on what your strengths and weaknesses are as a player you may find the bends the most difficult thing to master, or it may be the quick ascending scale licks. Either way, when you get to a section of the solo that is challenging for you to play, simply slow it down and break that section into smaller pieces that are easier to learn.

That method of tackling a technical issue is far better than simply trying to play through the whole solo over and over again. Concentrate on the things that you can't play individually instead doing the whole solo which will probably contain many parts that are easy to you.

If none of the parts are easy to you then perhaps you should wait a bit before tackling a guitar solo that is too advanced for you. Your playing will suffer in the long run if you try to do too much to soon. Good Luck!


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The Unforgiven Guitar Lesson Pt.1 - Acoustic Parts

The Unforgiven Guitar Lesson Pt.2 - Electric Guitar Parts

The Unforgiven Guitar Lesson Pt.3 - Main Solo


  1. erica on October 12, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    my dad and me think that this is one of the BEST guitar solos in the world…. I think that I would learn this and love to play it for him, thanks for all the videos you post… I come here to look for help on all the songs I learn

  2. jedidiah silvertooth on January 18, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    no tabs?

    • Carl Brown on January 20, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Unfortunately, I can’t provide TAB for songs that are not in the public domain due to copyright restrictions. 🙁

  3. Jef de Wit on February 2, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Great song!
    Could you please do the unforgiven 2 as well? Thanks a lot

  4. Matthew Ratliffe on September 26, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    I would like to post my request for Metallica-The Unforgiven II, I think it has some interesting aspects not only with bends, rhythms and solo sections but I would really enjoy your interpretation of the effects presented as well. Thank you again for all of the resources. Matthew

    • Carl Brown on September 27, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Hey Matthew, that would be a fun one. Unfortunately, James gets those bends in the clean riff with a B-Bender installed in a telecaster. I don’t have one of those and it would be difficult to recreate it without it. 🙁

  5. Matthew Ratliffe on April 2, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Hey Carl, great lessons! I was wondering if I could start a request for anything and as many “Breaking Benjamin” songs as you would be willing to do. I feel like they have some great songs that would be excellent for 1 or more guitarists. I know you have really expanded the site and resources and are continuing along with those changes as well. I would like to thank you for everything you and the team you work with do to make available good, to the point guitar resources!

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