Enter Sandman

Ready to rock out to some Metallica? Learn the iconic riff of Enter Sandman - one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time!

View the full lesson at Enter Sandman | JustinGuitar

This is so hard but I got this

The finger stretch on this is brutal. To start with I saw the tab in the lesson and figured - hey, easy riff. But holding the fingers in place to have 4th and 5th strings ringing makes it super hard.

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Yeah, I’m wondering if hand geometry is a thing here? I have long fingers, but not a very broad hand, so covering this distance is really hard. When I bend my fingers in they also all tend to converge and point inward.

@jkahn As I’ve got into more practice sessions I’m also finding the finger placement Justin demonstrates a bind!

Playing around during my practice today I’m actually finding that using my first finger to fret the D string much easier, and fingers 2 and 3 to fret the E string maybe my hands are built strangely!! It also seems to create more of a curl on my little finger which is avoiding any accidental buzzing. I’m hoping that I’m not introducing a bad habit? Anyone have a view on that?

No you are not introducing bad habits. We are encouraged to experiment with whatever feels comfortable to us. I have tried your way and doesn’t feel comfortable to me because introducing finger 3 on the E string just didn’t work for me. But that doesn’t make it wrong.

When I first learned this riff (many moons ago) it was with using fingers 1,2 and 3 only, 1 finger per fret. ie Finger 1 covering fret 5, finger 2 on 6, and finger 3 on 7. All the same notes and frets, just different fingering from what James uses.

Experimenting and finding your own way is key to learning the guitar


Thanks Dave, appreciated :+1:

@Notter What @dave.pritchard101 said if you want to play the riff & song comfortably. What you don’t get is the ringing G. But it will still be Enter Sandman.

I can’t easily do the James Hetfield fingering, I end up muting strings. However I practice it occasionally to try to get some more stretch into my fingers. Can’t be a bad thing.

If you want to see him play it live, this is the best video I’ve found: Metallica: Enter Sandman (Trondheim, Norway - July 13, 2019) - YouTube. Camera is right on him while he’s doing the riff.


Mark, Justin makes explicit in this video that he is presenting one possible way of playing the riff (which he believes matches the way the band play it) and that he played differently for years, and that it is cool to mess around and figure out your own way of fingering - so long as you hit the notes it will sound okay.

Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide

Thanks Richard, I’d forgotten Justin said that about how he’d played it differently! The riff works well for me as I described above and all notes are good so will crack on with the next section of the song!

@jkahn - terrific link, thank you. Never gets old listening to it too :wink:

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No it doesn’t :metal: :smile: :metal:
They may have written many better songs, but it’s so timeless and great to play along to.

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Relative to Riff 3 at 9:15 in the video: instead of barre-ing and using fingers 3 and 4, I used the same shape as the first riff, using finger 4 on 4th string, finger 2 on 3rd string, finger 3 on 5th string and finger 1 on 6th and 5th string as necessary. Really close style to opening riff if you play it this way.

Am I the only one that has never heard this song? Mind you I’ve not heard any songs by Metallica as not a fan!

Possibly :rofl: I suggest you listen to the Black Album that features this and also Nothing Else Matters.

Black Album

Its only been around 30 years so its quite new on my scale of listening.



Thanks and I did have a quick listen but not my cup of tea.

Here’s a different take on it from a band that I’ve followed for years, it’s the first track on the Blacklist album, a great accolade for them!

Yes, love their version Darrell.:+1:

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Been working on this riff (5 sessions so far) and finally getting my index and ring fingers to lift/move independently but I just can’t get my pinky finger to stop muting the 4th string. The stretch between the pinky and middle finger is so awkward for by hand.

I don’t particularly like the song but the riff is good practice. Anyone else having this trouble?

Yep. This riff is good practice for quite a few things - alternate picking, having notes ring out well, and… finger flexibility. I had the same problem. Flexibility in particular takes a long time. I had this riff in my daily routine for a month or so, dropped it, and recently came back to it and can finally play the riff with the lesson fingering without string muting a couple of months later.

Thanks for the feedback. Good to hear you had a similar issue and are overcoming it.

I still can’t get the 4th string to ring out most of the time but will keep at it.

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