11 Best Metal Guitars 2021: Hell-Raising Electric Guitars For Metal

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The arms race to build the best electric guitar to play heavy metal shows no signs of abating. It may never cease. As long as there is long hair to increase profit in the service of the extremist rock ‘n’ roll wing, there will be armed instruments to play. If you are eager to open the gap and throw hell on your audience, these are the best metal guitars to play.

Heavy metal guitars stand out for several reasons. Some may have edges sharp enough to cut through steel, while others are only available in glaring neon colors. With that said, you’ll find others in our best set of metal guitars that seem a little more discreet, preferring to save any ‘attack’ just in your ears.

Then there are the metal guitars with an additional string, two additional strings, reverse heads, locking tuners and floating tremolos. There are some things that all the best metal guitars have in common: gameplay, precision and power.

Our Top Pick

Last update on 2022-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top 10 Best Metal Guitars To Buy In 2021

Last update on 2022-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

10 Best Metal Guitars Review

Bestseller No. 1
ESP LTD Arrow Black Metal Electric Guitar, Black Satin
  • Combines the bold Arrow body shape with the killer Black Metal design
  • Comparable in build quality to ESP's LTD Deluxe “1000 Series” instruments
  • Designed with a single aggressive EMG 81 pickup, single volume control, and an EMG TKO kill switch
  • Features a dark and menacing design theme of all-black finish, components, and hardware
  • Features a Macassar ebony fingerboards with no inlays and glow-in-the-dark side markers, and even a newly-designed black metal LTD logo on the headstock
Bestseller No. 2
Learn Heavy Metal Lead Guitar Agressive Shred Techniques
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • --- (Director) - Music Star Productions (Producer)
Bestseller No. 3
ESP Guitars 6 String Metal Electric Guitar, Black Satin, Right (LMHTBKMBLKS)
  • Construction: Neck-Thru
  • Body: Alder; Neck: 3Pc Maple
  • Fingerboard: Macassar Ebony
  • Bridge: Hipshot w/ String Thru
  • Bridge Pickup: Seymour Duncan Blackened Black Winter
Bestseller No. 5
ESP 6 String LTD M-HT Arctic Metal Electric Guitar, Snow White Satin, Right, (LMHTARMSWS)
  • Construction: Neck-Thru
  • Body: Alder; Neck: 3Pc Maple; Fingerboard: Macassar Ebony
  • Bridge: Hipshot w/ String Thru
  • Bridge PU: EMG 81TW White w/ Black Logo *(Pull Volume for Split)
  • Strings: D'Addario XL110 (.010/.013/.017/.026/.036/.046)
Bestseller No. 6
ESP LTD BB-600 Baritone Signature Series Ben Burnley Electric Guitar with Case, See Thru Black Sunburst Satin
  • Designed with Ben Burnley, founder of Breaking Benjamin, to be one of the most versatile signature models ever made by ESP
  • Features a pair of high-quality magnetic pickups (with a set comprised of Seymour Duncan '59 and JB)
  • Also features a Graph Tech Ghost-Loaded Resomax NV bridge and tailpiece that offers an integrated piezo pickup
  • Two output jacks route the signal from the standard pickups to one amp and the piezo pickup to another for incredible flexibility
  • An Eclipse body style, set-thru baritone guitar at 27" scale that downtunes without sacrificing ideal string tension
Bestseller No. 7
ESP LTD Snakebyte Signature Series James Hetfield Electric Guitar with Case, Snow White
  • Designed for James Hetfield, frontman of Metallica and one of the most highly respected rhtyhm guitarists
  • Features set-neck construction at 24.75" scale, with a mahogany body and a three-piece mahogany neck
  • The ebony fingerboard has 22 extra-jumbo frets with a snake inlay at the 12th fret
  • Powered by James' own EMG JH SET active pickups and includes a TonePros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece
  • Available in Black Satin or Snow White finishes, as well as in a lefthanded version
SaleBestseller No. 10
ESP 6 String LTD Phoenix Metal Electric Guitar, Black Satin, Right, (LPHOENIXBKMBLKS)
  • Construction: Neck-Thru
  • Body: Mahogany; Neck: 3Pc Mahogany; Fingerboard: Macassar Ebony
  • Bridge: Tonepros Locking TOM & Tailpiece
  • Bridge PU: Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Ceramic
  • Strings: D'Addario XL110 (.010/.013/.017/.026/.036/.046)

Last update on 2022-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What makes the best metal guitar?

That’s a good question. You can pretty much play heavy metal on any electric guitar, even if you have to get creative. John Baizley and Gina Gleason of Baroness have proved that you can do heavy tones on guitars with single-coil pickups. 

Also, it depends very much on what sort of metal you want to play; a cheap Strat copy can sound amazing for black metal so long as you can dial in enough gain and keep the feedback from squawking too much.

  • Spice up your rig with the 10 best mini-pedals for guitarists
  • Lacking gain? The 10 best drive pedals under $200

Our list of best metal guitars has options that are ideal for all styles, from ‘80s commercial steel to underground doom and death metal. Not all of them are pointy but some get extra marks for sharp headstocks and cutaways. Bonus points are awarded for shapes. But the first thing we’d say to look for is the pickups. 

High-output humbuckers will do the job nicely, because you are going to need to have plenty of gain and harmonics, ideally without any noise. Pickup manufacturers such as DiMarzio, EMG, Seymour Duncan and Bare Knuckle have a wide range of humbuckers that are fit for metal of all styles. Many of the best metal guitars will have something from them.

Secondly, we are looking for a guitar that’s going to perform well, that’s super-playable and comfortable – most will look for something that’s built to shred, but at the very least it has got to be able to handle a riff. Here we are looking for fat jumbo frets to reward a light touch and bending, with a set of locking tuners highly desirable.

Those playing a down-tuned style – say progressive djent or death metal – might need a 7-string guitar (or even 8-string) to do the devil’s work. And then there’s the question of a Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo system; if playing a harmonic squeal and divebombing it into the abyss is crucial to your sound, you are going to need one.

To inspire you in your search, we’ve rounded up 11 of the best metal guitars for you to take your shredding to the next level right now…

What are the best metal guitars right now?

If we are playing the patched-demin jacket percentages and looking at how many styles we can cover with one instrument, we’d take the Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK2 Ash. The combination of the lightweight ash body, the sand-blasted finish with radioactive green flourish is super-cool, while the classic passive humbucker pairing, Jackson playability, and the Floyd Rose 1000 Series tremolo seals the deal.

That said, the ESP LTD EC-1000VA is a close second in this best metal guitars round-up. Its Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers and switching makes it hugely versatile, with enough power to handle whatever ungodly riff you can dream up.

What makes the best metal guitar?

That’s a good question. You can pretty much play heavy metal on any electric guitar, even if you have to get creative. John Baizley and Gina Gleason of Baroness have proved that you can do heavy tones on guitars with single-coil pickups. 

Also, it depends very much on what sort of metal you want to play; a cheap Strat copy can sound amazing for black metal so long as you can dial in enough gain and keep the feedback from squawking too much.

  • Spice up your rig with the 10 best mini-pedals for guitarists
  • Lacking gain? The 10 best drive pedals under $200

Our list of best metal guitars has options that are ideal for all styles, from ‘80s commercial steel to underground doom and death metal. Not all of them are pointy but some get extra marks for sharp headstocks and cutaways. Bonus points are awarded for shapes. But the first thing we’d say to look for is the pickups. 

High-output humbuckers will do the job nicely, because you are going to need to have plenty of gain and harmonics, ideally without any noise. Pickup manufacturers such as DiMarzio, EMG, Seymour Duncan and Bare Knuckle have a wide range of humbuckers that are fit for metal of all styles. Many of the best metal guitars will have something from them.

Secondly, we are looking for a guitar that’s going to perform well, that’s super-playable and comfortable – most will look for something that’s built to shred, but at the very least it has got to be able to handle a riff. Here we are looking for fat jumbo frets to reward a light touch and bending, with a set of locking tuners highly desirable.

Those playing a down-tuned style – say progressive djent or death metal – might need a 7-string guitar (or even 8-string) to do the devil’s work. And then there’s the question of a Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo system; if playing a harmonic squeal and divebombing it into the abyss is crucial to your sound, you are going to need one.

Metal Guitar Buying Guide

In this section, I will be mainly focused on providing you precise information regarding the aspects you should look at before purchasing metal guitars, especially those that cost less than $1000!

To begin with, one of the most important things about metal guitar is the following:

Playability

The word “playability” is often used by the guitarists to explain how easy is to play on a certain guitar. There are many things that make a specific guitar to be easy to play with, so let’s explain the most important features.

Fretboard

If you’ve had a chance to see an electric guitar, the first thing you may have noticed is their fretboards that have a slight curve. Well, you should understand the radius rating of the fretboard, since the radius isn’t the same, but it varies depending on guitar designs. Namely, do not be surprised if you see a modern guitar with a radius of 16″ or more, even though, most of the vintage radius are low, in general, they stretch between 7″.

So, you may likely be curious about how does the radius of the fretboard affects the guitar’s performance? To keep things short, I would tell you that a high radius fretboard will let you have an option to set a lower string action and be capable to perform extreme string bending without dealing with the strong chocking out on the hump of the fretboard. Basically, the lower the radius, the more clearance the string will take to keep on vibrating without chocking out at higher bends.

Frets

In general, the best frets are those called “jumbo frets”, so, the metal guitar of your dreams should have this kind of frets. The reason is pretty simple though because jumbo frets tend to offer some kind of combination between low action and easy bending. In addition, they will offer you a stable grip on the strings when bending.

Cosmetics

Although the look of your guitar will not define your capabilities, still, having a guitar that has an aggressive look is always a great option, since metal music is extremely associated with aggressively-looking guitars!

Electronics

The beauty and the benefits of owning a metal guitar are that the electronic options are indeed numerous, or let’s use the word “endless” since it is more precise. So, I’d suggest you pay attention to the electronics, and choose a guitar that has more pickups and knobs, because that guitar will offer you greater control over the sound, and this is crucial, right?

Bridge and Tuning Hardware

First of all, let’s make a distinction between the most common type of bridges. For your information, there are fixed-type and tremolo bridges. Fixed-type bridges are known for their ability to provide the guitarist extremely high tuning stability, and they are widely used by the beginners. On the other hand, tremolo bridges are used by the professionals because they allow the guitarist to make extreme bending and get the beloved, “bombing” effect.

Wood

Did you know that the wood may affect the sound quality and depend on whether it is made of quality wood or not, the durability will be affected respectively?

For example, most of the metal guitars are made by Mahogany due to its ability to offer surprisingly rich and deep tones. But, if you want to keep tight on budget, then I’d suggest you prioritize those metal guitars whose construction is made by basswood. Additionally, the audio of those guitars is pretty deep and has balanced resonance.

Pickups

Finally, we can’t end this subsection without mentioning the pickups, because they are very important. Namely, there are two types of pickups, such as Active pickups and passive pickups. Active pickups provide better, overall control and are ideal for higher gain options, while the passive pickups perform without batteries and they are known for delivering a wide range of metal tones. If you want to play metal, we recommend you check out our list of the best guitar pickups for metal list.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the ideal type of string gauges for electric guitars?

Although everything depends on your taste, I will try to offer you a simple explanation regarding this question. For instance, if a specific metal guitar has lighter string gauges, then, that guitar will be easier to play, would allow you to have an easier bending of notes and fretting, however, there are a few disadvantages as well. These gauges tend to produce less volume and sustain, as well as they can break more easily. On the other hand, heavier gauge electric guitars are harder to play and require from you to put more finger pressure to fret and bend notes, however, they produce more volume and sustain and get the most tension out of the guitar neck.

Can you give me some tapping tips?

Of course, but first of all, we all have to be grateful of Eddie Van Halen, due to the fact that he was the one responsible for the popularization of tapping. Moreover, you can often see that numerous players begin to tap by using their middle fingers, although some of them use the index finger. But, to get the best out of your guitar in terms of tone, Id suggests you use the tip of your nail instead of the skin of your finger. Yes, it will be a bit strange and hard, but later, you won’t have difficulties and the sound quality will always be great.

What should I look for in metal guitars?

I’ve answered this question at the “Buying Guide” section, so, if necessary, you can re-read and get all the information needed regarding this topic.

Set neck or Bolt-on?

Let’s make something clear. This solely depends on your style and taste. Some people prefer set-neck and claim that this type has better sustain in comparison to bolt-on necks. In general, bolt-on necks are cheaper and way easier to repair and manufacture, and both of them have their own pros and cons.

Are metal guitars that cost less than $1000 worth it?

Of course they are. In fact, most of the intermediates and beginners are playing on guitars that cost less than $1000.

Conclusion

I hope that I’ve helped you gain a better understanding of the qualities of the guitars mentioned in this article, and maybe you’ve already chosen your next guitar. If, by any chance, you haven’t, then keep in mind one thing – although all of them are different from each other in many aspects, at the same time, they share multiple things in common including a powerful audio reproduction, versatility, and durability. Hence, no matter which one you choose, I think that you will be satisfied with the guitar. If you want a normal guitar, you can read our guide about electric guitars under $1000.

Also, do not hesitate to contact me and share your experience with me in case you’ve made an actual purchase because I always want my audience to be well-informed and satisfied with their purchase!

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