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The Ultimate Guide To Metal Guitar

Having played Guitars for over 15 years in which mostly I played metal and also associated with some bands, I deduced that it matters much what the player considers the best metal guitar to be like.

Though there are certain guitars that absolutely seem near to perfect for majority of the players playing metal.

All the guitars included in this list are exceptionally famous as all of them are priced less and deliver lots for the price.

This is the recent update and I have taken into account all the genres in metal so that whichever style of metal is your preference, there is surely going to be something for all to chip on.

What makes a superb metal guitar?


How playable the neck is? (fret board, radius, finishing)

When deciding to buy the best metal guitar, two most essential parts that must be paid attention to are the neck and the pickups.

This is all the more essential for the metal guitar players, as they require a quick and playable neck and fine humbucker pickups that shall give a rich metal tone that slits through the mix, and gives passionate sound.

What makes a good neck?

Metal Guitars Necks Selection

If you are a metal guitar player, having a superior and swift neck is an important factor.

The perfect neck should give the comfortable feel and play swiftly in your hands.

Nearly every style of metal music will require you to utilize the entire neck while playing and be really quick.

Though you aren’t mangling that much on the fret board but the possibility of your riffs being fast are still there, and a comfortable neck can ease this.

A good and playable guitar neck has :

  • Perfect finishing
  • Comforting fingerboard radius
  • Thin neck
  • Superior Tonewood
  • Long scale length
  • Cutaways (technically they aren’t a part of the neck, yet it has great impact while playing the higher notes.)

Let us have a closer look at each point,

Perfect Finishing

Wonderful Finish Of Fret and String On Electric Guitars

While selecting any category of guitar, it’s necessary that the finishing of the neck and the fret board give you the best feel.

There are some sorts of finishing where your fingers get stuck and gives a restraining feel.

Something which isn’t good at all for the metal guitar players who needs to make quick movements on the neck and the fret board.

You should aim to find a neck that is quick and swift and neither should it deliver any sticky feeling, so that you are able to have an easy and fast play.

We can have further discussions regarding all the other categories of finishing, and the distinction among them for really long, but we must keep things to the point and relevant.

Satin Vs Glossy which one is good for metal music

Notable Points :

  • There exists multiple guitar finishes like the lacquer, nitrocellulose, polyurethane lacquer, shellac and there are many more.
  • The two categories in which we segregate the guitar’s finishing are- Gloss and Satin.
  • Among the metal guitarists, the satin finish is more popular as it gives amazing feeling to majority players because it is non-sticky. Many players also think the satin necks to be really quick.
  • Raw guitar necks also do not stick and are a superb alternative. On a personal note, I too believe that with the raw guitar necks you can play really fast.
  • For some people the glossy neck tends to be comfortable, as for many of them after having played for some time, the stickiness vanishes.
  • Telling whether the neck is sticky or not is really an easy affair, or what kind of feeling it delivers just by going through the reviews on the internet. Though you get the best information only when you try things in person.

You basically need to keep in mind that the satin necks and raw necks are the best you can spend on.

Though I guess you shall derive great satisfaction by choosing the gloss neck.

Lots of guitarists play with the guitars having glossy neck and in case it seems sticky to you, you can simply treat or polish it with sandpaper.

There are numerous tutorials online that teach you how to do it. For more in depth information you can go through the online videos available.

Fingerboard Radius

Fingerboard Radius Explained

Fingerboard Radius refers to the measure of the arc of the finger board across the breadth.

Maximum fingerboards of the guitars aren’t flat rather curvaceous, though the flat fingerboards allow easies shredding.

The very first thing that you take notice of when you lift up a new guitar and start playing it, is the radius of the fret board and hoe comfortable is it in playing.

As stated before, the flatter the fret board you can shred easily and the reason for it quite basic.

You can set the radius of the flat fret boards with lower action as compared to the curved fret boards.

When you do it with lower action you save lots of time and efforts as you do not have to press down each string and lift and press down again.

You may think that it isn’t such a great deal, yet with low action it not just improves the pace of your playing but also improves your longevity of playing time without depreciation.

Thin Neck

Much like the other parts this one too is according to one’s taste.

Maximum metal guitar players agree to the fact that you can play really fast on guitars that have thin neck and that’s the reality.

Yet there are a handful of metal guitarists who opt for the guitars having thick neck and the reason is unknown.

As per my personal taste I cannot withstand a thick neck and playing fast on them is really a tough task.

For more ease, you can just select one of them in any local store and try them to understand what suits you well as you have to play it frequently the comfort of the neck matters a lot.

Good Tone Wood

How Guitar Woods Effects Your Playability - A brief guide

Selecting the correct wood for the guitar isn’t that grave decision, yet it does require your adequate attention.

The tone of your guitar is mostly affected by the pickup and amp that you select.

Though, it doesn’t imply that you won’t pay heed to the wood type of the guitar.

There may be doubts in your mind that what difference does the type of wood bring in any guitar?

Well, this doubt pops up in many heads and you are not only the one.

After watching some of the online videos I assure that you shall take note of the slight distinct tone of each.

There are also some woods that destroy the sound.

There are certain types of woods that the metal guitarists classify as perfect with the Mahogany wood being the most popular one.

All sorts of dense woods tend to be superb as it delivers dark and intense tone.

Each guitar that is mentioned in the list has woods that works great for metal music.

Scale length of Guitar

What is Guitar Scale Length - Brief Explanation

Usually the metal guitar players prefer longer scale length for their guitars.

When the scale length is long you have more space between each fret. Isn’t it a good thing?

The answer to this question is related to your choice.

Mostly the longer scale length causes increased tension, plus you also get extra room while you are playing the higher notes.

Such variances have a great influence on faster playing.

When the scale length is long, there is greater tension in the strings that brings the notes to pitch.

Guitars that have short scale length bend easily.

Have this in your mind while down tuning and this will not be an issue.

Do not consider the string tension as an inferior thing, as it is required for low action.

In case the string is not held tightly in position, they shall not collaborate with the fret board and buzz.

Though you do not need to have greater tension in a guitar having longer scale length.

The scale length isn’t the only deciding factor regarding tension.

For decreasing the tension one can shift to a lighter string gauge.

However, many metal guitarists opt for larger strings, to achieve the dark metal tone.

Cutaways

This simply refers to the indent in the lower portion of the guitar that provides easier access to the higher parts of the fret board of your guitar.

There isn’t any guitar included in the article that does not have cutaways as without them playing in the high range is quite difficult.

The Pickups

Humbucker Pickup

As we have already discussed about the components essential for a perfect guitar neck, let’s focus on the next essential part that is the guitar pickups.

They are a really major part of any guitar as these manage a huge part of the tone prior to them hitting your remaining signal chain.

Good pickups are required to create superb metal tone though you can create typical metal tones with not so good metal tones.

For a standard metal guitar you will definitely require the humbucker pickups.

We have multiple humbucker alternatives from which we can select, yet initially we shall discover what does a humbucker means.

Note:

In the earlier times, bands such as Metallica, Sabbath and many such brands used the single coils.

Checklist as to why the humbuckers are the supreme pickup option for the metal:

  • They cut down the humming background noises.
  • They produce thick fleshy sound and credit goes to the good bass response.
  • Greater congestion and deformation.
  • Greater accomplishments.
Professional Sealed Humbucker Pickups Set for Gibson Epiphone Les Paul Guitars

As we know now, that humbuckers are the best pickup choice, let us know which all are the best ones?

The answer to this again basically depends on your taste and preference.

Though I am thankful that there aren’t that many options for you to select from, as then the decision making would be really tough.

Another good stuff about the pickups is that you can swap them out, which means that in case you don’t like your original choice, it can be easily replaced.

The difficulty in doing this is related to your setup and can vary.

The Humbuckers preferred by me are:

  • EMG 81
  • Duncan Blackouts
  • Fishman Fluence KSE
  • Seymour Duncan Black Winter

These are some of the most renowned humbuckers and delivers what they promise.

Till now being used to playing frequent guitars, you all may be having some knowledge that as the amp creates majority of the sounds.

The pickup you opt to use isn’t that great deal and in reality the fact is true to a large extent.

Yet, you must opt for the best that you can acquire within your budget, as the low cost budgets aren’t that good as the high price ones.

The low cost ones also tend to create barriers regarding the feedback and poor quality builds which can at times stop functioning.

You must have in mind that to accomplish good tones, they must be well-made and brands that do not lay stress on this factor will end up producing not so good products.

Which Guitar Brands Are Best For Metal ?

Guitar Brands Favorable for Metal and Rock Genre

Does The Brand Matter ?

To provide you an actual view, I should let you know that the brands are basically not worth much.

Most of the profits that I make are by purchasing and re-selling the stuffs on eBay and on having known the quality of the branded goods and the non-branded ones.

I can assure you that maximum non-branded stuffs are equally good as the branded ones.

Talking of guitars though, I prefer going with the top brands and suggest the same to avoid the non- branded guitars.

It is so because guitars are an exceptional product.

Let Us See Why ?

The guitar manufacturing companies are basically required to produce standard guitars so as to stay in the competition, and maintain their share of business in the market.

Like, there are certain brands the guitars of whom guitarists purchase due to the look of the guitar, or due to the brand value and name.

Ibanez Metal Guitars Brands

I do not have any intentions to criticize the brands that are gradually destroying their goodwill and image by removing the corners recently.

By searching online you shall discover about these brands and shall definitely not mention any of them in my article.

Just give a think and you will see that maintaining the stature is highly essential for the guitar companies as their guitars are sold based on this factor.

With utmost efforts and convincing a guitar gets sold in a store and within seconds someone from the surrounding informs you that the particular guitar isn’t worth purchasing.

The guitar producing companies must always maintain their brand image as failure in doing it results in people losing their faith with the brand at a faster pace.

It isn’t absolutely that we do not have numerous new producers in the market producing to die for guitars that will prove their mettle and are sufficient to compete with rival brands and will mark their presence in the market over time.

Yet we have so many new manufacturers, I would not advise you to buy one of them if you have ample budget for one that has been ruling the market for a long time.

The new products carry a greater risk as despite the reviews being good on the internet, you can have a basket of issues.

There may be problems regarding the guitar’s manufacturing, related to the refund policy if the quality of the guitar isn’t up to the mark or in accordance to your expectations.

Yet, if you have enough experience regarding how a guitar is built, then the complications are reduced as you know very well which factors must be focused on.

To the least, in case you opt for buying a guitar from a recent manufacturer, ensure that you test the guitar well personally and do the maximum research you can do.

Important Accessories (Floyd roses, extra tone knobs, kill switches, etc.)

Floyd Rose Locking Tremelo or Guitar locking vibrato arm

Floyd Rose Tremelo

As stated before, a metal guitar that gives you the perfect feel, is the best for you.

There isn’t any one guitar that can be considered as the best and with much dismay there maybe circumstances wherein you are required to give up some specific qualities that you may wish to have in your guitar if you are tight on budget.

Till now, whatever I have stated as the best in each segment is according to the usual consensus of the people as they consider them to be the best.

Extra Tone Knob increases volume drastically

Extra Tone - Knob

Like people agree that mahogany is the best tone wood to opt for, same way satin and raw necks are best type of guitar necks and also that thin necks are good as compared to the thick necks.

But talking about the especial accessories, your choice matters the most.

We do not have any universal choice in this segment and you individually decide whether you want a particular accessory on the guitar or not.

Kill switch In Guitars

Extra Tone - Knob

Few accessories are quite common that rest, like the Floyd roses is one of my favorite.

I quite a lot, enjoy performing the Floyd tricks, as they are simple fun though it’s painful that I cannot just alter the tunings with much ease.

Do your share of research work prior to buying any of them, as it is easy to understand the good and bad by reading about them.

Yet, it’s best if you try yourself in a store before actually purchasing it.

Note: According to me special accessories are things that aren’t usually present on a guitar.

Low action

I have already touched upon this subject, yet I intend to elaborate some of the pros and cons of low action guitars and also the reason as to why maximum metal guitarists are inclined towards the low action guitars.

Low action is apt for the metal guitarists and for ones who require quick playing and licks as it needs minimum efforts.

Note: Action refers to the measure between the fret board and the strings.

By low action it means that the strings are near to the fret board and similarly higher action implies that they are at a distant.

Let us take a glance at the key merits and demerits of low action, for metal nearly all prefer the low action.

You must also bear in mind that few guitars don’t have the action accurately adjusted and it is possible that you will have to do it yourself.

Good

  • Good for quick action playing.
  • Your hands do not wear off easily.
  • Slight touch to each fret enables playing them.

Not So Good

  • There is buzzing among the strings against the frets if you play hard
  • As the action is low, bending the strings is tough
  • Hard to play with a slide
  • When the strings bend, few necks may fret out, which means that the note may die. 

The basics have already been covered properly now, and with all these information you will be surely able to select a perfect metal guitar for yourself.

Though, there are still few things about which I would like to elaborate all of which plays some role in the designing and playing of a good metal guitar.

Strings

Electric Guitar Strings

As for now, strings aren’t your main focus, as they are easily replaceable once you have your guitar, yet it’s beneficial to bear in mind that the strings affect the tone of your guitar and similarly the playability of your guitar too.

There are numerous online videos that assist in what type of strings are worth buying.

As per my suggestion, you should keep this in mind too while buying the guitar.

Bridge design

Electric Guitars Bridge Design

The foremost thing to notice about your bridge is the feel you get while playing.

It is possible that you may dislike palm muting on Floyd rose, each bridge is distinct and has separate pros and cons.

According to me, the perfect bridges are those that eliminate crosstalk.

Go for a guitar you will continue with

This advice is worth considering prior to purchasing a guitar, it may sound certain but you must think that will you require the guitar in future too.

For example, few years ago, I bought an Ibanez S series 7-string which was an amazing guitar, but it wasn’t really the one that was perfect for me.

Jumbo Frets

Jumbo Fret In Telecaster Guitar

These frets are composed of thick wires rather than the normal ones due to which fret is at a distance from the fret board.

It is feasible for the metal guitar players as jumbo frets produce fleshy tone.

It elevates the sustain too and plus support the bending notes.

Frets also provide a scalloped feel ( by scalloped guitar neck we mean where the neck is bended down until U shape is formed) to the guitar.

Scalloped feel gives a bit of advantage to quick playing as you do not need to touch the fret board again and again while shifting your fingers from one note to another.  

Best 7 guitars under 500$


As we have gone through the pointers that makeup a standard metal guitar, now we present before you a list of best guitars under 500$ that best deserve your time and money.

I haven’t specified the prices, as the guitar prices have fluctuations every now and then though I assume that none of them should cross the 500$ mark until it is one such that I mentioned as the borderline product.

The article has a variety of guitars in their basket because it’s curated keeping in mind the taste of every type of metal guitarists.

This also implies that there is something in store for all of you.

Some key point of every guitar in this list are specified over here and also the specifications.

Apart from this all the guitars included in this list are brand new guitars, in case you wish to have a used guitar, we have a segment very next after this one that includes such options too.

Let us now start,

Shecter Omen Extreme 6

Best Schecter Guitar OMEN-6 6-String Electric Guitar, Black

Dual cutaways

Mahogany wood body

Scale length- 25- ½ “

Rosewood fingerboard

Vast frets

It uses Schecter diamond plus high-output alnico humbuckers

Tune-o-matic-type bridge

Jackson Soloist SLX

Jackson Soloist SLX Electric Guitar

Twin cutaway

Basswood body

Glossy neck and body finish

Great frets

Duncan structured humbuckers

Floyd rose

Ibanez RG6003FM

Ibanez RG6003FM Electric Guitar For Metal

Maple “wizard III” swift neck

Mahogany body

Heavy frets

Firm bridge

Vast pickups

Jackson JS32TQ – body

Jackson JS32TQ Dinky DKA

Basswood body

Large frets

Rosewood fret board

Satiny neck and glossy body finishes

25.5” scale length

Jackson high output humbuckers

Ibanez RG470ahm

Ibanez RG470AHM Metal Genre

Wizard III maple neck

Ash body

Maple fret board

Vast frets

Quantum neck pickup(H)

Quantum middle pickup(S)

Quantum bridge pickup(H)

Dual lock tremolo bridge

Cosmo black hardware

Separate case

ESP LTD- 401QM

ESP LTD EC-401QM Electric Guitar Satin

Cutaways

Mahogany body

Glossy neck and body finishes

24.75” scale length

Large frets

EMG pickups, bridge-81 and neck-60

Secured bridge

Schecter guitar research C-1 Platinum

Schecter Guitar Research C-1 Platinum Electric Guitar Satin

Mahogany body

Rosewood fingerboard

Jumbo frets

EMG81/85 humbuckers

Tune-o-matic bridge

25.5” scale length

ESP LTD EC-1000-body

ESP LTD EC-1000

Cutaways

Mahogany wood body

Satiny neck and body finishes

24.75” scale length

Great frets

Seymour Duncan pickups

Rooted bridge

ESP LTD MH-103

ESP LTD MH-103

Vast frets

Basswood body

Floyd rose

25.5” scale length

ESP exclusive pickups

Final Words


Our Metal Guitar Reviews and Personal Experience

Let us now have a quick summary of the points that contribute in making a good metal guitar.

  • Opt for the finish that gives you the maximum satisfaction.
  • Go for thin neck guitars as they enable faster playing.
  • Have adequate focus on the tone wood as thick woods tend to generate meaty tones.
  • Ensure that you get humbuckers and try them to decide that suits you the most.
  • Ensure your guitar has lower action as then you can play easily.
  • In case you are thinking of purchasing a brand of which you aren’t that aware, it’s best to perform adequate research and personally buy the brand.
  • Exclusive accessories are your choice and be aware of the merit and demerit of each.
  • In case you are about to buy a second hand guitar, prefer buying it face-to-face and prior to the purchase check the guitar thoroughly.

I put in my best efforts to make this Ultimate Metal Guitar Guide as useful as I could have for you and deliver essential information avoiding the extra and not that useful stuffs.

I expect that it is handy to you too.

If you feel like I should make some changes, or don't agree with any of my points or want to share your experience feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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