Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger names his two biggest guitar influences

As Nickelback release their new get started album, frontman Chad Kroeger recently got rock in a feature with Guitar world counting down the 10 guitarists who shaped his sound. But even though the list includes 10 great rock guitarists, Kroeger says his list will always start with two musicians – Metallica‘s James Hayfield and Panther‘s Dimebag Darrell.

“Every time I talk about my influences, I have to mention Mr. Hetfield,” Kroeger says with reverence. “I love the way he would build a riff and orchestrate a song on my favorite Metallica records. On top of that, his chainsaw vocals and high-pitched screams on tracks like ‘Hit the Lights’ were incredible. If you’ve ever tried singing along to that thing exactly, you’ll lose your voice in three and a half minutes.”

Another tip Kroeger picked up from Hetfield is his down picking, which Kroeger comments on how it adds weight and groove. “It’s so big when it hits – everyone either wants to be air guitars or air drums. I also like to layer things and create that thickness, width and volume in my guitar sound. That’s how you really get the crunch going!”

The Nickelback frontman also revealed that there is a definite Metallica inspiration in their latest hit, “San Quentin.” “In the video for ‘San Quentin,’ the lead single from this new album, I’m playing a black Explorer with EMGs through a Mesa. As soon as you put EMGs into something and run it through a Boogie, you’re definitely going to get it Metallica sound,” says the musician. “It doesn’t hurt that I imitate James to the best of my ability during the chorus with the vocal aggression!”

Nickelback, “San Quentin”

As for his other primary guitar influence, it’s Kroeger’s late friend Dimebag Darrell of Pantera fame. “Between Dime and Hetfield, those are the two biggest influences for me,” confirms Kroeger. “The flavor of Dime’s riffs and solos is second to none. He goes into these bluesy lines that sound like a Southern bluesman, and a second later he instantly becomes a metal shredder with all the harmonics and horse squeals with the bar. When he hits the one on the third fret and pulling it right back into the key with huge vibrato from the whammy bar, that’s such a signature Dime move.”

Kroeger recalled their friendship allowing them to get Dimebag Darrell outtakes. In fact, an outtake was cut up and used to build a solo for the Nickelback song “Side of a Bullet”. “To be able to listen to him and only him and hear his accuracy would just give you goosebumps. It was absolutely amazing,” says Kroeger. “He also had a very influential tone. That Randall had lost every ounce of me. It was all high-end and low-end, that’s it!

Nickelback, “Side of a Bullet”

To see Kroeger’s versions of eight other guitar greats who influenced his guitar playing, check out Guitar World’s full feature here.

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