Any metal guitarists will agree that it’s more than music – it’s a way of life and playing helps cool off steam by unshackling the inner you. This music genre needs a good guitar investment to go with, and in this article, I’ll be telling some of the best guitars to help channel that beast inside you.
Metal music is intense and powerful and requires great technical skill to play. It’s driven by the aggressive sounds of an electric guitar. If you want to leave your fans in awe, then you need the right tool for the job. Guitars that can help channel the raging, primitive energy deep inside you, and translate it into an unholy roar that will have your audience shiver. There are many guitars of high quality with what it takes to pull off a decent gig, and affordable that you can purchase.
So why not get your hands on a new guitar that will give you that unique metal tone for your audience? In this article, we look at guitars that are ideal for metal music.
The Best Guitars for Metal – Comparison Table
Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK2 Ash
It has a volume and tone control
It comes with a 5-way selector
The neck is made from Maple and has a satin finish
Ibanez Standard RGA42FM
It's compatible with left-handedness
The body has a Meranti material
It has a master tone and volume controls
Switches pickups using a 5-way blade switch
ESP LTD EC-1000 Guitar
It has a state-of-the-art switching capability
The coil-split for single-coil tones is push/pull
It offers a fuss-free performance with the Tune-O-Matic bridge
Epiphone Flying V Electric guitar
Its body is material is Mahogany and the Fingerboard is of Indian laurel
It produces a vintage deluxe sound
Jackson X Series Rhoads RRX24
The finish is Gloss Black
It has one master tone control and a 3-way blade pickup switch
Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster
It has a Jazzmaster signature built together with Slipknot guitarist Jim Root
The Mahogany body provides a thicker tone besides a midrange
The active EMG Daemonium Humbucker pickup delivers the much-needed metal sound
Fast fretwork by the 12-inch radius ebony fretboard
Schecter Omen-8 Electric guitar
It has a Tune-O-Matic guitar bridge system
It has 8 strings
The Best Guitars for Metal – Top Picks For 2021
This real mean green shreddable guitar was unveiled at the National Association of Music Merchants 2020 event. Its body shape is inspired by the Charvel of the early 1990s with a glow green finish and a 25.5-inch scale length making it smaller and lighter. Its neck is made of Maple and comes with a bolt-on and a hand-rubbed satin finish. It also comes with 20 frets and two pickups – the Seymour Duncan JB and Seymour Duncan ’59 humbuckers in the bridge and neck respectively. The 12-16 inches ebony fingerboard radius it displays is great for woodshedding up or riffing down low It has two controls for the tone and volume, and a 5-way selector for switching to all splitting of single-coil tones. This DK2 is an eternal go-to metal guitar for shredders since it’s all about the speed and handling of several metal styles.
- It has the six-in-line original Jackson headstock
- The humbucker pickup pairing is classic
- The playability is exceptional
- It’s not for everyone
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly metal guitar that does not compromise the speed, the Ibanez Standard RGA42FM fits the description. Launched in 1987, this guitar is fast cementing its position as one of the world’s favorite S-style guitars. The body is made of Meranti with a flame maple top, the Neck is a speedy Wizard III Maple while the fingerboard is Jatoba. It has a scale length of 25.5 inches, a 19.9mm thick neck at the first fret and 21mmm at the 12th fret, and it comes with 2 master controls for the tone and volume as well as a 5-way blade selector that offers a wide sweep of the two Ibanez Quantum humbucker located on the neck and bridge and split-coil tones. For aspiring metal players that don’t want to have to worry about adjusting their bridge, it’s hard-tail format takes care of this as it’s stable. This guitar comes in three different finishes – the Dragon Eye Burst Flat, Transparent Gray Flat, and Blue Lagoon Burst Flat.
- The choice of finishes is excellent
- It’s good for making modifications
- It has a classic RG Ibanez design
- The Jatoba fingerboard material may not be ideal for some
This guitar is a heavyweight in the world of metal music genre and comes in a Violet Andromeda finish. It can perform tones of all eras using Fishman’s modern humbuckers. The body and neck are both made of Mahogany and it has a 24.75-inch scale length. Its fingerboard is Ebony and comes with two controls: 2 volume controls and one master tone control that uses a push and pull coil-split. It also has a 3-way toggle switch for your humbucker pickups. The Tune-O-Matic bridge marks it possible to have a fuss-free and solid performance.
- The Fishman modern humbuckers make it superb
- It has a long-term sustain
- It has an incredible balance
This classic never goes out of style with its Gibson Original inspiration design. The Epiphone attempts to recreate the rare 1958 classic and comes with a pair of PrpBucker humbucker pickups on the neck and bridge for a vintage tone. The body is made of Mahogany while the Fingerboard Indian laurel and has 22 frets. It has a scale length of 24.75 inches and provides you with 2 volume controls and one master tone control. The Tune-O-Matic bridge comes with a Flying V String-thru Tailpiece, also the tuners are 18:1 Deluxe. You can play some Waterloo Sunset or have fun playing by sticking it through a Dallas Rangemaster. This Flying V’s slim-taper neck takes care of both shredders and riffers.
- It offers great value and classic styles
- The build is a solid one
- Its Alnico II humbuckers offer great old school steel
- It lacks options for lefties
The Jackson X Series Rhoads RRX24 carries on the metal legacy established by the immortal Randy Rhoads and stands tall among the X Series Rhoads made over the years. Its body is made of Basswood and a through-body Neck made of Maple while the Fingerboard is Indian laurel. It comes with a 25.5-inch scale length, 24 frets, 2 pickups, and controls. It delivers a searing tone using a pair of active Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups that can be amplified by two volume controls, one master tone control, and a 3-way blade pickup switch. For exceptional sustain and a solid intonation, it comes with a special Double-locking Tremolo. This guitar offers a fantastic tone and the playability is ultra-fast and awesome while standing. You can choose from three options – Neon Pink Bevels, Black with Neon Green, and Red with Black Bevels.
- It has a great sustain
- It produces searing tones ideal for high-gain
- It’s specifically meant for metal
The Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster continues to deliver its tenacious tone and eminent playability even in its 4th generation. Fender provided the Slipknot guitarist – Jim Root with a signature pair of active EMG Daemonium open-coils pickups located on the neck and bridge for a full-on sonic assault. The guitar has a Mahogany body which is ideal for a tiger low-end response and an awesome sustain, a Maple neck, Ebony Fingerboard, and a 25.5-inch scale length. Its 12-inch radius fretboard made of ebony has 22 jumbo frets stacked to support your frantic fretwork. The Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster cuts down on electronics leaving you with only a volume control and pickup switch to maximize the tonal assault for your amplifier. It comes in a Polar White finish.
- The modern neck EMG is ideal for heavy playing
- The pickups are great
- It is costly
The Schecter Omen-8 electric guitar is a guitar with eight strings and is heavier than an amp proving to be the best eight-string metal guitar if you’re on a budget. It has a sleek black finish with a basswood body and a maple neck, and a 24-fret rosewood fretboard making it highly playable. This guitar is pretty stable with a 15:1 Schecter tuners’ high-ratio set. The guitar’s string tension is increased by its 26.5-inch scale length which in turn increases the strings’ tuning stability. The guitar comes with a 0.010 string at the top that goes down to 0.069 intending to be tuned from low to high. Regarding electronics, it comes with two Diamond Plus Ceramic Humbuckers that sound heavy while the bridge pickup is slightly harsh. It offers you a 3-way pickup selector together with a volume and tone control.
- The tones and sound are playable
- The look and build is of quality
- The mid-range tones are disappointing
What to consider when buying the best guitar for metal
We all have different opinions when it comes to design. This depends on your preference and how much the guitar’s design appeals to your eye. You may want to go with an insane design like Dean’s if you’re an extrovert or a subtle design that offers a good feel while playing. Make sure you choose a guitar that you’re comfortable playing.
This plays a huge role when it comes to the feel when playing, the string tension, and tuning stability. Scale length is the length between the nut to the bridge on your guitar. You should get a guitar with a longer scale length if you plan on playing music that uses lower turning. If you’re a new player go for a 24.75-inch scale length guitar and if you want a tighter response, the 25.5-inch scale length guitar is great.
The type of your guitar’s top, back, and sides tonewood play a role in the type of sound it brings. Mahogany guitars give a warm, deep, strong, and rich sound that brings out the low-end like on the ESP LTD EC-100. Alder tonewood is a little brighter and can be found on Stratocasters and superstrats. Basswood has a punchy, powerful, and lightweight sound and is mostly found on the cheaper guitar models.
When it comes to heavy music like metal, pickups are outstanding since they push the amp harder. It’s no brainer that you’ll need pickups on your guitar. There are two types of pickups that you can make use of on your guitar; single-coil and Humbuckers. Single-coil pickups have a thinner tone and are ideal for a wide range of styles like rock, blues, country, etc as they are great if you favor lightly driven or clean tones. However, these pickups are not recommended for playing metal as they produce a lot of background noise that’s not good for metal.
You will want Humbuckers on your guitar because of their thicker and punchier tone that is perfect for metal since they effectively get rid of the noise you would hear in a single-coil pickup. You can play your guitar without having to worry about the background noise. Guitars that include two humbuckers are ideal because they produce better metal tones than Stratocaster. For the best metal sound, a guitar with Humbucker pickups will be sufficed.
Passive vs active pickups
Both passive and active humbucker pickups are great for metal with a slight difference in tone and function. The main difference between these two pickups is the use of a battery – an active pickup uses by a battery while a passive is not. Active pickups have a high output and passive pickups don’t due to increased frequency range but are more versatile when it comes to tones. Active pickups such as Humbuckers are the most favored pickups for metal guitars because of their high output. This is because high output pickups naturally produce more gain which allows it to produce a saturated and overdriven tone with less gain from your amp. This means that guitarists don’t have to crank their pedals or amps to reach a higher level of saturation. For starters, we recommend passive pickup guitars.
There are different types of bridges you can choose for your eclectic guitar with the key ones being tremolo or a fixed bridge. A guitar with a tremolo bridge like the Floyd Rose tremolo bridge is ideal for playing many solos while a fixed bridge is good if you don’t want to play many solos as it offers you more sustain and tuning stability. It’s also easier to setup and use a guitar with a fixed bridge, even when you’re changing your strings making it better for beginners.
Number of strings
The number of strings makes a difference in the feel and what can be played on the guitar. Most metal guitars were initially plated on six-strings, nowadays there are even up to nine-string guitars. For a beginner, some songs may need to be played on an 8-string guitar that even a 7-string guitar won’t do it. You can always play a 6-string song on a guitar with sevens strings. Before you choose a guitar, check the number of strings you need to play the song.
Most guitar necks for metal guitars are usually fast, thin, and easy to play. Mahogany necks are a strong choice for metal music. However, a maple neck is also good as it can add a bit of punch and snap to your guitar’s sound. This can work greatly with classic metal. For a shredder, a thin U-shaped guitar with a satin finish is a great combination while for a beginner, the thinner the neck the better the guitar.
In summary, buying a guitar for metal music is a task. All of the guitars highlighted in this review are some of the best guitars for a shredder whether you are aspiring or experienced, also, they give you value for your money. Ensure you choose a guitar that appeals to you, meets your requirements and you don’t go over your budget.
Between Fender and Ibanez, which guitar should I go for?
It depends on the genres you want to play and your preferences like color, shape, and brand. When it comes to metal, Ibanez makes some of the best guitars such as the S and RG series. These models bring the heavy sounds and fast necks that shredders look for. If you’re an extreme metal guitarist, Ibanez has seven-string guitar models which Fender doesn’t have. However, if you’re into classic forms of heavy metal, then Fender is better suited.
Can I use both active and passive pickups on my guitar?
It’s technically possible but not easy to put passive pickups on a guitar with an active pickup. You would need a professional to do so and a lot of modifications would have to be done for this to work.