Herman Li (Chinese: 李康敏; born 3 October 1976) is a Hong Kong-born British musician who is one of two lead guitarists for the power metal band DragonForce. Li has played with the band based in England since it was formed in 1999 by Li along with Sam Totman, who both of them are also the remaining original members of the band. Before DragonForce he was in the black metal band Demoniac.

Herman Li
Li in 2013
Li in 2013
Background information
Birth nameHerman Li
Born (1976-10-03) 3 October 1976 (age 46)
British Hong Kong
GenresPower metal, speed metal, neoclassical metal, black metal (early)
Occupation(s)Musician, producer, streamer
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals
Years active1993–present
LabelsSanctuary, Noise, Roadrunner, JVC
Member of
Formerly of
Chinese name

Early lifeEdit

Herman Li was born on 3 October 1976 in Hong Kong and moved to France, then to England during his teenage years. He speaks English, French and Cantonese fluently.[1]

Playing styleEdit

Li draws influences from rock, all subgenres of metal as well as video game music and often mimics sounds from popular retro games from the late 1980s, early 1990s arcade, and PC games. His playing style consists of fast descending and ascending legato and staccato licks, exotic scale runs, making extensive use of the harmonic minor and Phrygian dominant scale, extreme use of his whammy bar, quick full ascending and descending sweep picking arpeggios, alternate picking and two-handed tapping on the higher frets as well as incorporating many other shred guitar style techniques.[2] Recently, he has started to use a device called the Hot Hand that sits on his right hand like a ring, which causes extreme vibrato when shaken, giving him a greater capacity to emulate certain video game sounds. Li has stated Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Tony MacAlpine guitar playing heavily inspired his own style.[3] Li is left-handed, but plays guitar right-handed.



Herman Li performing live with his signature Ibanez E-Gen guitar

Li uses Ibanez E-Gen guitars, his signature Ibanez models based on his old Ibanez S Series, which was retired from stage at the end of the Inhuman Rampage tour. The EGEN18 has a "Transparent Violet Flat" finish (transparent purple on a flamed-maple top), and the EGEN8 has a "Platinum Blonde" finish (natural wood finish with a flamed-maple top). Both have a rosewood fingerboard and gold hardware. The E-Gen model has many unique features and improvements over a standard S, including its versatile tone selection with coil tap switching for both the bridge and neck pickups, Edge Zero bridge (the EGEN8 has Edge III), custom DiMarzio HLM pickups (the EGEN8 has Ibanez pickups) and an extended scoop on the lower horn of the body, as well as a "Kung-Fu grip" on the upper horn shaped by Li's hand. It is currently Ibanez's flagship model for S body style guitars.

On 9 May 2010 Li announced via Facebook that he had received a custom-made Ibanez 7-string guitar.[4] No details are known yet about this guitar, other than it has seven strings, and it is unknown whether it will be mass-produced for his E-Gen signature line.

Before the E-Gen, he had been known to play Ibanez S Prestige guitars. An Ibanez S470SOL (Japanese build 1995), a seven string Ibanez 540S7 (Japanese build 1991) (used in Revolution Deathsquad, Storming the Burning Fields, before the second verse and in the outro of Heartbreak Armageddon and the bridge section of Operation Ground and Pound), and an Ibanez S540FMTTS (Japanese build 1995). He has also been seen playing an Ibanez S2170FB and an Ibanez S2170FW. He also owns an Ibanez Jem7BSB, which has been used on every DragonForce album for recording rhythm guitar parts, an Ibanez J Custom RG, an Ibanez RG2228 (8-string model), and a PRS Modern Eagle, which he received as a gift from Paul Reed Smith and can be seen in the studio.[5]

Amplifiers and effectsEdit

Li is currently building a brand new rig, as stated on his official website.[6]

Li uses a Kemper Profiler as his primary amplifier.[7]

Popular cultureEdit

Li and fellow band member Sam Totman are featured as performing twin guitar solos of the power metal song "Through the Fire and Flames" which has appeared in several video games. In the Guitar Hero rhythm game series, the song first featured in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as an unlockable bonus song, and later appeared in Guitar Hero Smash Hits and Guitar Hero Live, as well as Rock Band 3 as DLC. The song also featured in Rocksmith 2014.[8]

Notable awards and achievementsEdit

Li has won and featured in the following awards:[9]

  • RIAA Certified Platinum Single "Through the Fire and Flames"
  • RIAA Certified Gold Record "Inhuman Rampage"
  • UK Silver Record "Inhuman Rampage"
  • Music Radar/Total Guitar 2017 – Best Metal Guitarists in the World
  • Metal Hammer Golden Gods 2009 – Best Shredder Award
  • Grammy Awards 2009 – Best Metal Performance "Heroes of Our Time" Nomination
  • Guitar World Reader's Poll 2007 – Best New Talent (winning by 70%)
  • Guitar World Reader's Poll 2007 – Best Metal
  • Guitar World Reader's Poll 2007 – Best Riff
  • Total Guitar Reader's Poll 2007 – Best Solo "Through the Fire and Flames"
  • Terrorizer Reader's Poll 2006 – Best Band "DragonForce"
  • Terrorizer Reader's Poll 2006 – Best Musician "Herman Li"
  • Terrorizer Reader's Poll 2006 – Best Live Act "DragonForce"
  • Metal Hammer Golden Gods 2005 – Best Shredder Award
  • Guitar World Magazine – 50 fastest guitarists


  1. ^ Pinnegar, Shane. INTERVIEW – Herman Li, Dragonforce, August 2014 Archived May 29, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, 100% Rock Magazine, August 27, 2014.
  2. ^ "Herman Li and Sam Totman youtube guitar techniques and instructional". YouTube. Archived from the original on June 18, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2010.
  3. ^ "YouTube – DragonForce - Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  4. ^ "Facebook – Picked up my new..." Facebook. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
  5. ^ "YouTube – In the Studio with... DragonForce". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  6. ^ "Herman Li – Band area of DragonForce Official Site". March 23, 2021.
  7. ^ Magazine, All That Shreds (July 31, 2017). "Herman Li Interview: "DragonForce Doesn't Have The Kill Or Be Killed Attitude"". Welcome To All That Shreds Magazine!. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  8. ^ "Through the Fire and the Flames now playable in Guitar Hero Live!". February 3, 2016.
  9. ^ "Herman Li – DragonForce". Retrieved April 10, 2010.

External linksEdit