By choosing the wrong guitar for metal, you can waste years of your life and never achieve the desired sound. I know this from personal experience as I made this mistake when I was starting out. But have no fear, we will help you avoid this mistake by reviewing the best guitars for metal.
We reviewed more than 30 models and selected 7 of them. Our top pick is the ESP LTD Deluxe EC1000QM. We looked at technical aspects such as pickups and also ones that are user-friendly in terms of weight & scale size. Pickups are an important factor as you want a guitar with high-output pickups that can handle distortion well. We also looked at the fretboard material as you want a model with a rosewood or ebony fretboard that can provide good sustain. Scale length is also an important factor, as you want a guitar with a 24.75″ or 25.5″ scale length that can provide good string tension. Lastly, we looked at the body material and included the models with a mahogany or basswood body that can provide good sustain and resonance.
More features: molded nut, Tonepros locking bridge with stop tailpiece
You can pick your favorite color and that’s only the first thing about this guitar which impresses the market. If you’re already a fan of this brand, this is the best ESP guitar for metal although the manufacturer has many quality pieces.
One of the attractive features for metal players is that the layout allows high speed playing. When you’re doing a solo this guitar makes it easy to impress the crowd with your finger work.
If you’ve been playing metal for a while you know the challenge of the guitar going out of tune easily. With this ESP model you’ll have much less of that frustration: It tunes easily and it keeps your preferred tone for long. You’ll also prefer this guitar’s tone to many others’ on the market as it easily produces that screaming tone synonymous with many metal bands. Part of its magic is the Tonepros locking TOM and tailpiece as well as the EMG pickups. The first items help create epic sustain, while the latter gives increased output which will work well with your amplifier’s input gain. This is how you’ll produce that great distortion and tones metal fans flock to hear. Of course, when you’re not playing at all you want your guitar quiet, and thanks to quality active circuitry, your guitar will do exactly what you want it to when it’s time for someone else to solo on stage.
The brand invests a lot of time on the physical design of the guitar. This is clear in the absence of bumps on the frets. Lastly, it’s even lighter than many other guitars: Great engineering.
More features: black-tweed case with red-plush interior included, hardtail bridge
Just saying that you’re playing a Fender will already impress your fans. Luckily, this guitar impresses in many other ways as well. Firstly, the striking white body will definitely attract attention on stage and it will easily match with anyone’s gear or personal style. The large black scratch plate gives it protection during rigorous playing, but also offsets the white finish beautifully.
Did we mention this guitar was inspired and jointly created by Jim Root from Slipknot himself? You can be sure it has all the features a true metal player needs. The humbucker pickup adds to the quality sound you’ll produce. Pro playing made easy! Along with Fender, Jim made sure this is also a comfortable guitar to play.
In terms of playing your Fender you’ll enjoy the heavy tones produced by this mahogany body. Even the neck is perfect for intense, metal type playing. This is thanks to its flat design which helps you play faster.
This is a heavier guitar than some on our list, but the benefit of the weight is that you feel secure holding it and you know you’re playing a quality instrument. That knowledge alone improves many players’ confidence and play.
A high end guitar doesn’t have to be complicated to play or maintain. Thanks to locking tuners, this one’s restringing is a breeze. It’s also easy to keep it looking great thanks to the provided case with plush interior.
This guitar has quite a striking design so it definitely aids your band in terms of aesthetics. The mahogany wood is always a winner and is a stunning contrast to the black body (or even the cherry and sunburst designs if that’s your preference). Even though it’s a metal guitar it still looks ultra stylish thanks to Mother of Pearl inlays. It’s all about the details, right?
It also impresses because it comes from a leading brand. This is the best Gibson guitar for metal you’ll get these days. You can be sure this brand only sells guitars with expert finishes.
The impressive Dirty Fingers pickups along with humbuckers produce an aggressive tone, perfect for metal music. You’ll enjoy the playing, but you’ll love the sound even more.
A unique feature on this guitar is that the neck has been specially redesigned. This enables rapid players to get access to those high notes easily. A quality instrument makes it easy to impress the crowds and this one does it extremely well.
Of course a good guitar needs protection and in this purchase you get a hard case included. You also need to maintain it if you want to enjoy it for a few years. Thankfully Gibson gives you a polishing cloth and multi tool as well. This is all you need to start your metal career in one purchase.
More features: Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo bridge system
If you want to shred on stage, this is a very good option to consider—that’s what it’s designed to do. Part of its attraction is the neck which enables speedy playing. This neck also has graphite reinforcement, making this a quality built guitar. Playing is further enhanced by the compound radius fingerboard. Even if you’re playing very technical pieces, this guitar makes it easy. The neck also flattens out—another feature which adds to your playing comfort. You’ll be able to play impressive riffs fast which you’ll find you can’t necessarily do on other guitars. A comment many musicians have is that it simply plays great.
The components also include a Floyd Rose bridge and the humbucker pickup is of course a favorite of many players.
The sound that comes out is synonymous with metal music and heavy rock. It’s clear and loud. You’ll be impressed at the power compared to some other metal guitars. The guitar also allows you to customize your sound so you can make a well known song your own or use this guitar to play various genres.
This is one of the heavier guitars on this list, but still a reasonable weight to manage, even during long sessions.
The fret edges can be felt very clearly. Some players prefer them smoother, but this is a matter of personal preference.
More features: Floyd Rose 1000 series bridge system
With a name like Hellraiser you know you’re on the right track. If doom metal is your thing, this guitar will help you create the perfect tones. That’s thanks to the EMG Sustainiac Pick up set.
Note that this guitar is quite unique as it has a total of seven strings. This makes it ideal for pros, but not all newbies. For most players there will be a learning curve before you can enjoy all the impressive features: Both the pickups and seventh string do require some intensive practice sessions before you’ll feel comfortable. The fretboard is also slightly wider, which will take some time to get used to. When you do get the hang of this you’ll see why it’s the best 7 string guitar for metal. The sound is full and you’ll be able to create both low and high tones of high quality. It’s also enjoyable to play once you’re used to it.
In terms of looks however, this is one that will suit anyone. The glossy surface presents well on a stage and will reflect the lights for extra effect.
As it comes from Schecter you can be assured only quality components are included. It will last you a long time.
The surprising thing is that although made mostly for metal, you’ll also get excellent tones for other genres from this guitar. If you love metal, but also enjoy other music, you can invest in this guitar instead of spending money on multiple instruments.
A classic look, but perfect for metal. This is the best Ibanez guitar for metal you’ll find on the market today. Just note that this is a bass guitar, unlike most others on our list. The stunning tones you’ll produce are thanks to the Accu Cast B25 bridge and a humbucker pickup called Bartolinia MK-1.
In terms of looks this doesn’t disappoint as the mahogany and rosewood combination suits most players’ styles. Some metal players may prefer a more aggressive design, but if you’re a versatile musician that loves all genres, this is an excellent option. All your audiences will think you look suave and professional.
This bass guitar is much lighter than some models on our list, making it ideal for younger or smaller players. It’s also ideal for these two groups because it’s such a comfortable guitar to hold and play. This is a five string bass, but even switching from a four string to this design is usually an effortless transition.
We found that it takes some time to break in the strings on this bass. At first they may seem a bit bright, but soon you’ll enjoy the mellow tones players usually want. Thanks to EQ control, you can create the exact notes you want.
Best of all is that this top notch guitar from a world famous brand comes at a very reasonable price. The only thing better would be if they offered you a case too.
An alternative type of music deserves an alternative look. That’s exactly what this uniquely shaped guitar is all about. The odd shape makes a statement even before playing your first note and the beautiful black cherry finish matched to the stunning rosewood fretboard looks stylish & powerful. Even though it’s ideal for rough metal playing the designers still invested time on the small details: The diamond inlays on the fretboard are stunning.
When it comes to sound this guitar won’t disappoint, even if you plan on playing trash metal. Although this is a controversial component, we think the Floyd Rose Special tremolo bridge is an excellent addition to this design. Along with that, B.C. Rich passive pickups will help you sound like an absolute metal pro.
Of course you can string your guitar with any strings you prefer, but we’re quite impressed with the Ernie Ball Slinky’s included in your purchase.
The set neck is also functional, making playing on this quite comfortable. The heel less joint makes for easy transitioning, adding even more comfort to your playing experience.
Although it’s not the lightest guitar around, it’s quite reasonable in weight, making it a viable option for almost anyone; much lighter than some other high end guitars.
A guitar is a long-term investment so you want to spend your money wisely. For heavy metal enthusiasts you need specific features on your instruments. We’ll answer the important questions below and help you determine what’s best for your music career or hobby.
If you’re interested in a new genre you can’t always continue with your old gear. For starters you can’t play metal on an acoustic and even though electric guitars have many similar features, metal music has unique requirements. For this genre you must be able to slide across the frets quickly and you need your guitar to respond when you want distortion. This means you need a uniquely designed neck (smooth and narrow for your fingers to easily reach) and it must have appropriate hardware. Look at the ESP LTD Deluxe EC1000QM above as an example. The pickups make all the difference, which you won’t find on all electric models. Therefore, you won’t get that metal vibe with your acoustic guitar of course, and not even all electric guitars will give you what you want. If you want to perform optimally in a certain genre your gear must align with that goal.
There are many aspects that determine a guitar’s worth and we’ll discuss some of them more in detail below. However, if you quickly want to gauge a guitar for metal playing, some of the main points are:
When you start off with a list of what you’re after, you’ll keep to your budget and get what you want instead of being side tracked by marketing talk.
Yes, aesthetics do matter. You want to be inspired every time you see your guitar, don’t you? Even the right color can inspire. That’s why you should listen to your gut and pick something you love the moment you see it. There are some aesthetics that have practical value too: cutaways make it easier to reach higher notes, but this isn’t essential. If you know you’ll play many fast solos though, you may put this feature higher on your priority list.
Every guitar is different and you need one that matches your personal requirements as well as the genre’s. It’s best to decide what you want before you start shopping. That way you’re not swayed by marketing jargon, but end up picking the dynamic instrument that’s relevant to your musical journey. Here’s what you need to consider.
The size and weight of your guitar will determine how comfortable you feel playing it. If you’re only playing at home you’re probably sitting. As long as you can easily reach high on the neck, you’ll be fine. The requirements change when you perform with a band or on stage often. You’ll get tired fairly quickly jumping around with a heavy guitar such as the Fender Jim Root Telecaster mentioned above. Make sure it’s a manageable weight, while still being of good construction.
The length can be 24.75” or even 25.5”. The shorter the neck the easier playability you’ll have. However, a longer design will add features such as tight response. Longer necks become more difficult to play especially if you have small hands, as it’s challenging to reach everywhere. Bass guitars on the other hand are the whole other deal, so we suggest you take a look at our pick – the Ibanez SR505BM.
The wood of your guitar determines the tone you’ll get. For most experts the preferred wood for metal guitars is mahogany because it resonates well. However, it’s a more expensive option. If it doesn’t fit your budget you can opt for the more affordable basswood. It’s less durable, but does give excellent tone.
As with many features, the bridge is about your personal preference. The Floyd Rose on the B.C. RICH Mk7-WL-TCB Warlock and Jackson Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH are excellent examples: not everyone prefers it, but some love it. If you want sustain, go with a fixed bridge, but a vibrato type will give your play amazing character. Also remember your bridge determines how easy it is to restring.
Brands may brag about the strings they provide, but the ones you receive with your guitar are usually test strings. You should replace them as soon as you can.
From then on replace all strings at once as soon as:
But what to buy? For metal playing you need a thicker gauge, anything above .010-.052. It’s worth investing in high end strings, or else you’ll have to replace them often. Therefore you don’t save money in the long run by buying cheap.
A protective coating will prevent rust and can make your strings last five times longer than usual. Also consider making a visual impression in every way possible and opt for colored strings.
You can only string a seven string guitar with an appropriate set—don’t try to substitute that seventh one from a different pack you have on hand.
These components pick up mechanical vibrations and convert them into electrical signals. Humbucker pickups with two coils are popular among metal players because they produce thick sounds.
You can opt for active or passive pickups with both performing well at high volume; The latter will sound more organic though. This is an important choice if you’re the lead player in your band. Your sound will be very prominent, so decide what you want your audience to hear.
Guitars differ in the number of frets they have. There’s no perfect number, although you should at least have more than 12. In general there will be around 22 on an electric guitar. The more frets the wider your range of notes become, but more isn’t always better: If a fretboard is too long the pickups won’t have an effect on the far reaching ones anymore. Tip on buying: Make sure the cutaway is well placed so you can easily reach upper frets.
The back of the guitar neck can be shaped in a range of forms. A popular choice is the U-neck. Make sure the neck is thin to make it easier to reach and therefore speed up your playing. Look for satin finishes that will help your hand glide along the wood
There are many types of electronic control knobs and switches you can get. Not everything is essential, but volume and tone should be standard. For more advanced playing you will enjoy EQ adjusting and phase switching.
As stated above only you can decide which design you prefer: The shape, color and finish. Don’t pick something because it’s a trend. You have to be comfortable with how it looks so you’ll love showing it off on stage. Remember to look at details such as Mother or Pearl inlays. They enhance the overall look, making them worthwhile investments. Just look at the Gibson USA Flying V 2017 HP above to see proof.
Something as simple as a guitar pick or a guitar strap can determine how well you play. Make sure the strap fits comfortable and doesn’t chafe you. You also want it to slide over fabric without snagging.
Your pick must suite your playing style:
Also note the thumb hold area for a comfortable grip.
Warranties on guitars vary a lot. You can get short ones for a few months, or even lifetime coverage. However, changes to your guitar such as adding a different pickup will affect this or even cancel it completely.
Strings are manufactured in different gauges with some brands even offering hybrids to get the best of both. A heavy string gives great volume and sustain, but know they often don’t work on vintage guitars. A hybrid with a lighter feel works better for your solos.
Strings are also made from different substances. You may get nickel wound steel or pure nickel or even stainless steel. These will affect your tone.
Coatings also make a difference, though this is more related to keeping your strings in good condition. If you’re switching to a seven string guitar you’ll need a unique set of strings.
So, which one of these will you use to impress the crowds—or the neighbors—from now on? Our experts all agree the ESP LTD Deluxe EC1000QM is a definite first since the design facilitates fast playing. You also get the tone metal lovers want and your guitar won’t easily get out of tune. This makes it a wise choice for beginners and seasoned players. And who can resist that classic look?
You also can’t go wrong with the Fender Telecaster. It’s clearly designed in collaboration with a pro that knows the business. It impresses in so many ways! Once again: A guitar that helps you play those complicated riffs like an expert thanks to a slim neck.
Of course, the Gibson USA Flying V 2017 HP impresses in looks and hardware too. The unique design adds the X-factor on stage and with the pickups this brand chose you’re ready for action, playing aggressive tones, without any customization necessary.
The crowds are waiting for you. Which of the guitars will you heavy rock them away with?