WANT TO MAKE IT REIGN IN BLOOD, FEEL LIKE TEARING UP SOME BLOODY ROOTS OR RIDING THE HIGHWAY TO HELL? YOU’RE GOING TO NEED A HEAVY METAL GUITAR MADE FOR RIFFING. WE DISCUSS THE TOP 8 BEST METAL GUITARS AVAILABLE AT PMT ONLINE AND INSTORE TODAY
We all need the right tools for the job, which is why as heavy metal guitarists we strive so hard to find the best metal guitars money can buy that suit our playing style, help us achieve those bone-crushing riffs and huge lead runs but can also keep up with our speedy playing and down tuning antics. Whatever genre of metal you like to play (bonus points if you get all the song references in this blog) there’s a metal guitar out there that’ll appeal to your style of playing and your unique needs. So today, we’re going to look at the 8 best metal guitars we think you’ll love to play spanning an array of styles, shapes and brands (in no particular order).
THE TOP 8 BEST METAL GUITARS FOR HEAVY METAL PLAYERS
1. ESP EC-1000T CTM SW SNOW WHITE
Well, we can’t talk about the best metal guitars without including ESP electric guitars, can we? There are many guitars in the metal world synonymous with that scene, most of them are in this blog, but ESP are consistently heralded as one of the go-to brands, utilised by everyone from Mastodon to Bullet For My Valentine, Metallica to Slayer, Nightwish, Parkway Drive, Saxon and so many more artists it would be impossible to have them all here. It’s safe to say if you pick one of these guitars up, you’re ready to rock out in the heavy metal world. The ESP EC-1000T CTM SW Snow White is one of our favourites here and easily one of the best heavy metal guitars money can buy – they also won’t break the bank either! For under £800 you get an incredible single-cutaway guitar with premium quality features, superb active EMG 81/60 pickups in the bridge and neck positions that will provide bone-crunching distortion and a menacing, yet elegant guitar that plays and looks like a dream. Comfortable 3Pc Mahogany neck with Thin U profile, gold hardware as well as full-body, neck and headstock binding add to the playability and prestige of the guitar. The Tonepros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece are professional appointments ensuring reliable playability for the shredders out there. overall, you'll find it difficult to get hold of a better-looking guitar in this price bracket. A true workhorse that really sings. View all ESP Guitars HERE.
2. GIBSON EXPLORER TRIBUTE 2019 SATIN EBONY
Well, obviously we can’t have a best metal guitars blog without the Gibson Explorer! This particular Gibson Explorer B-2, Satin Ebony features Gibson’s highest output pickups to date, offering a huge amount of power and a more aggressive tone overall. The original Gibson Explorer has been played by a myriad of guitarists thanks to its particularly menacing look, but just like almost every Gibson guitar on their roster with humbucking pickups, it transfers particularly well in a heavy metal scenario. The Dirty Fingers + pickups are the most aggressive pickups Gibson has ever produced and they really stand out in the mix thanks to the fact they’ve been specifically calibrated for their positions to increase the tonal quality, response and interaction with each other. This means you get a harder sound when you throw some distortion at the guitar and a higher gain monster to deal with – perfect if you want those crushing riffs and intense lead lines. The all Mahogany body offers a darker, warmer tone with plenty of midrange bite – ideal for big solos that you want to stand out from the mix. If you like your classic heavy metal, this is by far one of the best metal guitars for that 80s sound, but it will still sound fresh for the more modern styles too. Also, it’s a Satin Ebony finish, so it looks really Metal! View all Gibson Explorer guitars HERE.
3. CHARVEL PRO-MOD SAN DIMAS STYLE 1 HH
Thanks to Van Halen’s domination of the music scene in the 1970s and 80s, the Southern California metal scene exploded and guitarists everywhere were clamouring to get the same sound as the virtuoso guitarist. The guitar of choice was the Charvel. These stylish, and often in-your-face designs included fluorescent colours and crazy colour schemes, but above all – great playability and amazing tonal versatility. The Charvel Pro-mod San Dimas Style 1 HH HT M Snow White in particular is a great option for hair metal fans and those who want to bust out those huge screaming solos and pinched harmonics that last for days. The Charvel Pro-mod San Dimas Style 1 HH HT M pictured here in Snow White perfectly encapsulates the mood of the 80s heavy metal scene and the So-Cal scene effortlessly, both in looks and in tone. The combination of devastating Seymour Duncan JB and '59 humbuckers offer great tonal versatility whether you’re rocking out in high gain, or chugging along with gritty distortion. The fact you can split each humbucker into single coil pickups on the volume pot via a push/pull switch opens up more sonic options. The Speed Neck with rolled fingerboard edges makes it extremely comfortable to play whether you're practising at home or rocking out on stage. A great sounding and extremely fast-playing guitar that metalheads and speed metal enthusiasts will appreciate. Want to be able to dive-bomb and utilise a Floyd Rose Tremolo? Check out the Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1 HH FR MN Tobacco Burst - an incredible guitar for the metallers out there.
4. JACKSON JS1X DK MINION
It wouldn’t be the best metal guitars blog without having the Jackson brand in here. Jackson create guitars for heavy metal guitarists and they do it extremely well, combining great-sounding electronics with great design, fantastic finishes and some really interesting shapes. The likes of Scott Ian from Anthrax has been a Jackson player for decades and the brand can count hundreds, if not thousands of guitarists on their roster, including the likes of Mick Thomson, who has a range of Jackson signature models – so you’re in good company. The Jackson JS1X DK Minion is an essential metal guitar, offering a smaller scale option for those who want to be able to riff with ease. The Jackson JS1X DK Minion Amaranth FB seen here in Neon Green features everything you need to conquer the heavy metal scene. The Poplar body is particularly resonant bringing out the solos and lead runs. The Maple speed neck is comfortable to play and has been designed for, well, speed! The smaller scale makes it a lot easier to play than a regular-sized guitar whether you're a beginner or seasoned pro. You have two pickups to play with, High Output ceramic magnet humbuckers, both of which have been specifically designed to provide incredible tone, power and articulation whether you’re playing clean or playing through a cranked amplifier set to high-gain bliss. A reliable 6-saddle string through bridge helps make it a serious contender for best metal guitar as it allows you to enjoy fantastic tuning stability even after you’ve completely bent the strings into oblivion. A fantastic players guitar for heavy metal enthusiasts. Check out the full range of Jackson JS Series guitars HERE
5. FENDER JIM ROOT TELECASTER EBONY FRETBOARD, FLAT WHITE
Fender themselves would probably be first to admit that they’re not widely associated with heavy metal (as we know it today), or at the very least you wouldn’t usually associate Fender with the genre of music as your first point of call. Heavy Rock, yes. Blues, most definitely. Grunge and fuzz-drenched stoner rock - without a doubt. However, it wasn’t really until Slipknot guitarist Jim Root, an accomplished blues player and protégé on the guitar decided to bring custom Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars to the Slipknot stage did the heavy metal world raise some eyebrows and really discuss just how well these guitars worked in the heavy metal live arena. The Fender Jim Root Telecaster Ebony Fretboard, Flat White in particular is a highlight from Fender and one of the best metal guitars you could hope to play. Designed in close collaboration with Jim root, the signature guitar takes the classic Telecaster guitar and completely strips it back to its raw basics. A single three-way switch, a single volume knob and a hard-tail Stratocaster bridge ensures no-fuss, high-performance playing whilst the huge sounding EMG 60 (neck) and 81 (bridge) humbucking pickups with brushed nickel covers offer up all the power and metal tonality you could ever need – these things will melt faces! The sleek white finish, with contrasting ebony fingerboard and black tuning pegs really set this guitar apart from the Fender range whilst the modern “C” shape neck is fast and easy to play whether you’re busting out huge riffs or intricate lead lines. Whether you like Slipknot or not, this guitar needs to be on your "must try" list.
6. SCHECTER OMEN EXTREME-6 ELECTRIC GUITAR
The Schecter Omen Extreme-6 Electric Guitar in Ocean Blue Burst hails from one of the best heavy metal guitar brands around today, offering players of all levels a world of options ranging across a variety of price brackets. This particular guitar sounds as good as it looks thanks to the combination of a beautiful Quilted Maple top, superior hardware that can withstand decades of touring and the inclusion of powerful Schecter Diamond Plus humbuckers. You have a huge range of tonal versatility built in as these pickups are designed for shredding and huge raucous sounds whilst remaining warm and articulate at all times. These responsive pickups easily reproduce your playing dynamics and are the perfect choice for metal players and those who want to utilise complex chording and fast lead playing – especially when coupled with the superior access to upper frets - a great design feature. A 3-way switch allows you to dial in your perfect tone and the push-pull pots installed within the tone and volume knob creates even more sonic options as you can split the humbuckers into single coils. A Tune-O-Matic fixed bridge with string through body encourages the best tone transference possible and maintaining tuning stability. Schecter guitars have really outdone themselves with this model.
7. PRS SE CUSTOM 24 CHARCOAL BURST ELECTRIC GUITAR
The PRS SE Custom 24 Charcoal Burst Electric Guitar is the perfect option for and often used by metal guitarists who prefer a faster playing action. The likes of Mark Tremonti and Periphery guitarist Mark Holcomb have their own signature PRS models - so you're in good company with this style. This is an affordable solid-bodied guitar, inspired by the classic PRS Custom 24 providing players with rock-solid performance and incredible sound for a budget-friendly price tag. We think this is one of the best metal guitars as the solid Mahogany back piece, capped with a Maple top provides the warmth for chords, but the snap and articulation you need for riffs and solos. The set of two 85/15 "S" humbucking pickups which can be coil tapped ensure you have plenty of tonal versatility and deliver a powerful output whether you’re playing clean or busting out some bone-crunching distortion. You have easy access to the 24 frets and a wide thin neck which is totally comfortable to play wherever you are on the fretboard.
7. IBANEZ IRON LABEL FRIX6FDQM BLACK MIRAGE GRADATION
Last but not least we have the Ibanez Iron Label FRIX6FDQM Black Mirage Gradation, which is easily one of the best metal guitars in terms of playability, design and price. At £799 you get a workhorse of a guitar ready to help you bust out some huge riffs, intricate leads and screaming solos. It’s an Ibanez guitar, so it’s been designed to offer superb playability and comfort – something the brand does extremely well. In addition, it’s also a PMT exclusive! You can’t get this anywhere else! The Ibanez Iron Label FRIX6FDQM features a contoured inner side so it’s more comfortable whilst you’re playing whether stood up or sat down. A super-fast Wizard III neck offers a speedy experience when you’re flying around the neck – ideal for shredders. Speaking of shredding, you’ll enjoy the tonal options on offer with the 2 Humbucking DiMarzio Fusion Edge pickups which have been designed for high gain applications. The Ebony fretboard finish and Black Mirage Gradation are awesome to look at and really come to life underneath stage lights. Ibanez have done it again, perfectly creating extremely professional guitars that are designed for the road and decades of use.
WANT SOME CHEAP METAL GUITARS THAT DON'T SUCK?
Watch our video below to see some of the best cheap metal guitars for beginners that don't suck!
Dagan takes us through his favourite 6 best metal guitars for beginner guitarists and those who want a cheap electric guitar for shredding, that doesn't suck! Shop a full range of electric guitarsand some of the best metal guitars available today at PMT online or call in to your local PMT store today to try them out for yourself.