8 Of The Best Metal Guitars For Ear-Crushing Performance

By Monica | Product Reviews

Aug 25
best metal guitars

It would be difficult to achieve those ear-crushing sounds if you don't have the best metal guitars. These particular rigs will ensure that your performance will blast the mix right away.

Some people think that any guitars are fitted for the metal and rock genres. Specifically, they think that as long as they crank the amp to the maximum, their sound is already acceptable. But the truth is, it will not always be the case, even if you have a distortion pedal with you. You should remember that the quality of the guitar will always be the boiling point.

Of course, choosing a good guitar for metal is not just about the physical design. Most of us have been used to see metal players using pointe guitars as if they are tools for self-defense.

In this article, I will give a comprehensive rundown to all the top-rated metal guitars on the market today. Later on, we will also discuss the important components that you should look for a guitar if you want it to take the world of metal. Let's get started.

Best Metal Guitars: Full Reviews

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If you want a professional level rig, then you should opt for the Gibson USA Les Paul Studio. You could always go for the regular Gibson guitar, but definitely, their Les Paul Studio has breath-taking feats and qualities. It is an excellent piece that delivers you optimal sounding which is iconic to Les Paul models. But I should remind you that this guitar still sits at a reasonable price range.

The Gibson USA Les Paul Studio T 2017 has excellent sound performance, thanks to the combination of the 498T and 490R humbuckers. They give an authentic and unflavored sound to the guitar, with enough aggression to make you standout . The coil and wirings of this instrument have a superb design, too. They make this guitar a flexible machine for the metal genre.

I also noticed that this guitar is not that heavy, compared to most of its counterparts. It is highly comfortable to play with. Meanwhile, it also has a slim-taper neck construction that makes it an ideal choice for fast-paced playing styles. It is really a perfect option for the metal genre!


Pros:

  • Flawless and distinct sounding
  • Clear sound production
  • Comes with two humbuckers
  • Slim and comfortable construction
  • It has a hard case

Cons:

  • Nothing seems off here

Let's take a look at this product...

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Gibson USA Les Paul Studio T 2017 Electric Guitar, Ebony
  • The 2017 Les Paul Studio T benefits from our Ultra-Modern weight relief that offers endless sustain and comfortable playing, with a slim-taper neck profile is ideal for fast yet comfortable playing.
  • A combination of 490R and 498T humbuckers provides genuine Gibson tones with a hint of modernity and aggression, wired to comprehensive controls and coil splitting for outstanding sonic versatility.
  • This versatile performer is delivered in a classic Gibson brown hard-shell case, along with a premium leather strap, a Gibson multi-tool, and a polishing cloth.

If you want an excellent alternative for the Gibson USA Les Paul Studio T 2017, then I will recommend you the Jackson Pro King V KV . From the get go, I know already that it is an awesome instrument. From its pointed body alone, anyone can easily determine that this guitar is made for metal and rock genres. Moreover, Jackson is a top-tier manufacturer of heavy metal guitars. In fact, it is quite difficult to select a product from them because they are all brimming with quality.

You could choose their Soloist and Rhoades for impressive shredding. But if you want something new and innovative, you must pay your attention to the Jackson Pro King V KV . Just by merely strumming it, this guitar is already screaming metal. You also need to take into account that this device has a body made from nato. The latter has the same quality as mahogany.

Meanwhile, this instrument comes with Duncan Distortion humbuckers. Therefore, you can really guarantee that this guitar will have a sonic presence in the mix. It also features an ebony fingerboard that houses 24 frets. With this, you can solo all you want!



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Jackson Pro King V KV - Quicksilver
  • " Body Body shape: V Body type: Solid body Body material: Solid wood Top wood: Not applicable Body wood: Nato Body finish: Gloss Orientation: Right handed Neck Neck shape: Speed neck Neck wood: Maple with graphite reinforcement Joint: Neck-through Scale length: 25.5"" Truss rod: Standard Neck finish: Oiled <"

The Ibanez GRGM21BKN is a fine guitar that is well suited for metal and rock genres. It has a compact design, which is quite the first for Ibanez. The price is directly proportional to its size, as it is an entry-level guitar. But despite this, this guitar remains to be a solid choice, even for intermediate players already. I can always remember the Ibanez Destroyer with this guitar due to its crunchy and thick tones.

The Ibanez GRGM21BKN features a maple neck that has a slim profile and low tension. It is a 22-inch neck that works well with players that have small hands. Despite this, this Ibanez guitar has been designed to have the same quality as those GRG models. I can assure you that its sonic capabilities are not lame and flimsy. If you set this one right, it would certainly break your ears!

This one is using Infinity R pickups for sound production. Therefore, it is not really surprising if its sonic frequencies are distinct, clear, and compelling. It also sports a Poplar body, which is pretty decent already, considering its price.


Pros:

  • Ideal for beginners and intermediate players
  • Great sounding
  • Quality selection of tonewoods
  • Compact design makes it comfortable to hold and play
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • The nut produces fret buzz (but it is fixable)

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Ibanez GRGM21BKN 3/4 Size Mikro Electric Guitar - Black Night Finish
  • The first Ibanez compact guitar
  • 22" scale Maple neck offers low tension and small size
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Set-up like the full-size GRG models
  • Left-handed model available model (GRGM21BKNL)

I can confidently say that the ESP Kirk Hammett is an all-metal gear! It has a professional design, components, and sound that makes it extremely flexible and playable at the same time. In fact, I could have placed this one on the first spot and replace the Gibson Les Paul. But I was just taken aback by its price. It is definitely not a tool for half-hearted players. This is a weapon that fits those who wants to take on the grand stage!

The ESP Kirk Hammett KH-2 is using a body made from Alder. Meanwhile, its neck and fingerboard are crafted from maple and rosewood respectively. Moreover, it will be impossible if you do not notice the array of skull crossbone inlays on the fingerboard. These components make the guitar impressive, both on its performance and performance.

The sound it produces is full, crunchy, and overwhelming. The natural distortion that it produces is an indicator that the EMG 81 and EMG 60 pickups are both on a whole new level. Each of the pickups has their Gotoh Tuners for a guaranteed versatile performance. Meanwhile, the ESP Kirk Hammett KH-2 is using an authentic Floyd Rose locking nut and bridge, too!


Pros:

  • Professional-grade metal guitar
  • It has high-quality components
  • All the necessary controls are present (with 3-way switch)
  • Ultra explosive sounding
  • Sleek but classy design

Cons:

  • It is expensive (amateurs might need to step away from this)

Let's take a look at this product...

ESP Kirk Hammett Signature KH-2 Black
  • The ESP Kirk Hammett KH-2 has an Alder Body with a Maple Neck and Rosewood Fingerboard with Skull & Crossbones Inlays
  • It has a Bolt-On Neck with a 25.5" Scale, 24 Extra Jumbo Frets and an Extra Thin-U Neck Contour
  • It has a Floyd Rose Original Bridge and Locking Nut
  • The Pickups are active EMG 81(b) & EMG 60(n) and comes standard with Gotoh Tuners
  • The Controls are Vol/Vol/Tone with a 3-Way Switch

If you want to step up your game, switching to a 7-string guitar is a logical choice. It will practice and hone your skills as a player. At the same time, it can also showcase your deep love to the metal genre. I know it is quite difficult to find 7-string guitars. That's why it took time before I found the ESP LTD MH-417. Many guitar forums, including in Reddit, have mentioned this instrument. That's why I tested this rig by myself.

Just by merely looking at this instrument, you can already sense its ability to drive highly intense and intricate sounds. The mahogany alone proves that this one is dedicated to every serious player out there. Just like the ESP Kirk Hammett, the ESP LTD MH-417 also has a Rosewood fingerboard and Maple Neck. It also features a TOM bridge, which adds to its playability.

The ESP LTD MH-417 has a slim profile. It is a great choice for those players that are having a hard time using standard-size guitars. It would be great if you can try this instrument for yourself and see how it fits you. Don't worry. The sounding of this guitar is great already, thanks to its EMG 707 and EMG 81-7 pickups.



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ESP LTD MH-417 Black Satin 7 String Electric Guitar
  • The MH417 BLKS has a Mahogany Body with a Maple Neck and Rosewood Fingerboard
  • This guitar comes equipped with TOM Bridge
  • It has a Neck-Thru Construction and a 25.5" Scale, with 24 Extra Jumbo Frets and a Thin-U Neck Contour
  • The Pickups are active EMG 81-7(b) & EMG 707(n) and comes standard with Grover Tuners
  • The controls are Vol/Tone with a 3-Way Toggle

For those who are looking for a metal guitar that has an intimidating guitar, you need to see the B.C. Rich Warlock Mk1. The guitar's unorthodox appearance makes it amusing and exhilarating to use. It emanates the idea that this guitar is solely made for heavy rocking and crushing on the stage. But of course, this entire rig is not just about looks at all.

You should know that the B.C. Rich Warlock has been in the market for more than three decades already. Even the Kerry King of the legendary Slayer band has been able to play this instrument. It has been on every hard rock, thrash, and death metal scenes. And up to now, this particular guitar is still able to withstand the competition.

This guitar is using EMG pickups which enable exquisite and reverberating sonic capabilities. It can produce powerful resonance without having to tweak it too much. Its mahogany body, rosewood fretboard, and maple neck guarantee its tonal stability and presence will always be there!


Pros:

  • Comes with three-position controls
  • It has Ernie Ball strings
  • Tested and proven instrument
  • Playable and user-friendly
  • Great for live performances

Cons:

  • The design is not suitable for everyone's taste

Let's take a look at this product...

B.C. Rich Warlock Mk1 Electric Guitar, All New 2017 Model, Black
  • Guitar featuring iconic B.C. Rich Warlock bolt-on body, classic "NJ" style headstock featuring gloss black finish
  • All-new precision built 2017 Mk1 Series receive final set-up and inspection in USA
  • Mahogany body with Rock Maple Neck and Rosewood fretboard ensure tone, stability, and excellent playability
  • High output B.C. Rich design humbuckers coupled with Volume, Tone and 3-position selector controls
  • Equipped with Ernie Ball strings to provide durability and optimum performance

As I mentioned earlier, Jackson is an outstanding manufacturer of metal guitars. Therefore, it is not surprising to me anymore if I found myself being indulged in one of their instruments again. I have to applaud the quality of the Jackson JS32 Rhoads. Despite its affordable price, its quality is not deteriorated. It remains to be swift and deadly, even if an amateur were to use it.

I personally like the Jackson JS32 Rhoads due to its sleek construction. It has the iconic body shape that screams that it is really made of metal. Specifically, this one has a poplar body and graphite-reinforced maple neck. You will never have trouble playing with this guitar has its 16-inch rosewood fingerboard has a compound radius design. Meanwhile, the Jackson humbuckers that are integrated into this instrument will assure you that you will sound like a true metal player!


Pros:

  • Patented Floyd Rose tremolo bridge
  • Available in multiple designs
  • Excellent sounding
  • Comfortable and easy to play
  • Hand-made assembly and construction

Cons:

  • First-timers might find difficulties in using this instrument

Let's take a look at this product...

Jackson JS32 Rhoads Electric Guitar, 24 Frets, Bolt-On Neck, Rosewood Fingerboard, Satin, Black with White Bevels
  • King V body style
  • Bolt-on maple neck
  • 25-1/2" scale
  • 12"-16" compound radius fretboard
  • 24 jumbo frets

Another name that you should recognize in the guitar community is the Schechter. Famous for their Hellraiser series, the Schecter has been a formidable manufacturer of various types of guitars. They have their distinct taste and design, which makes them good rivals with Ibanez, Gibson, and other big players in the industry. But of course, they can't hold the ground without proving themselves.

One of their prized opuses is the Schecter Guitar Research Omen Extreme FR. This particular model is quite complex, as its features traditional characteristics of metal guitars. But at the same time, its means of sound production is out-of-the-box. The Omen Extreme FR is capable of handling fast-paced playing style. It can create crushing sounds even without the aid of a distortion pedal.

I particularly noticed that this instrument has a compelling low end. Because of this feature, this guitar is an excellent accompaniment for bass guitars. Of course, it is perfect for making rhythms, too. Meanwhile, the rest of the frequencies are crystal-clear and distinct. You will certainly love this guitar, especially if you want to mimic old-school metal songs!

Pros:

  • Diamond Plus pickups produce powerful and crushing sounds
  • Decent construction
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Ideal for both amateur and professional players
  • Appealing design and aesthetics

Cons:

  • It is not lightweight as most people are saying

Let's take a look at this product...


How to Choose a Metal Guitar

If you are going to choose a battle ax, you will always have to check their specs and designs. After all, you cannot guarantee that any guitar has the right capabilities to cater an intricate genre like metal. Some other players sometimes overlook this matter. As a result, they would end up with the wrong instrument. After that, they would drop down negative commentaries about the guitar they bought because it cannot sound metal. That's truly despicable in my opinion.

If you don't want to become an eyesore or crybaby in this field, you better start learning the ropes now. In this way, you won't like a clueless kid when you go shopping for metal-suited guitars. Try to take a look at the guidelines that I have listed below. They are the basic things that you should put on your checklist whenever you want to get a guitar ideal for the metal genre.

Pickups

pickups

Every seasoned metal players would agree that pickups can indicate the quality of the guitar. In fact, many consider this component as the unifying factor. Specifically, a guitar that is meant for metal and rock genre should have humbucker pickups. Yes. I do agree that single coil pickups are still usable in metal. However, this genre usually requires a thick and beefy tone. The sharp sounding of a single coil pickup could not generate such tonal characteristic.

Moreover, it is notable that humbuckers don't produce annoying hums that are pretty common with single coil pickups. You can choose an active pickup if you want to achieve high gains and control. Meanwhile, a passive pickup can still do these feats without using any batteries.

Tonewood

Tonewood

The quality of a guitar can also be determined through the tonewood that is used in its construction. Particular tonewoods work for specific genres. For metal, the best choice is mahogany. Why? Well, mahogany can help you create those resonating and deeply rich sounds. Poplar, nato, and maple bodies are also acceptable. However, their overall tonal quality is incomparable the mahogany. You could also opt for basswood. But this particular material is not so common today, even if it is a cost-friendly option.

Scale Length and Neck Size

Playing metal songs require flexibility in the player. Of course, you cannot really showcase your skills if you are uncomfortable with your guitar. One of the key indicators for comfort is the scale length. Specifically, if you want a playable guitar, it should have a scale that measures 24.75 inches. Meanwhile, a 25.5-inch model will certainly give you ultra-responsive capabilities.

If you have small hands and reach, never pick those guitars that have long scales. You are just making yourself suffer. Better go for compact guitars. Even if they are small, you can guarantee that they can still scream like a beast.

The playability of the guitar could also be assessed on the design of the neck. For me, it is easier to play guitars with thin and flat necks. They don't stress my hands too much. Moreover, they improve my accuracy in hitting the notes. I am not saying that this particular neck profile is the best option. But if you are not comfortable with jumbo and standard size guitars, guitars with slim designs are great alternatives.

Electronics

An electric guitar is always dependent on its circuitries and electronics. If the rig has a flimsy setup, you cannot expect that it can produce those screeching and ear-crushing sounds. Fortunately, the options are limitless when it comes to guitar electronics. Ideally, those guitars that have a high number of pickups will give you tonal prowess. Meanwhile, the presence of knobs and switches is necessary for overall control to your playing. Phase switches, kill switches, EQ, and coil tapping is among the electronic components that your guitar should have.

Bridge

There are two major classifications for the bridge: the fixed and tremolo. Fixed bridges will provide you tuning reliability and stability. They are the ideal choice for amateurs, as they don't have a complicated setup. On the flipside, tremolo bridges enable users to lower and raise the pitch of the strings simultaneously with the use of an arm. We typically call this as the "whammy bar." With this capacity, tremolo bridges are great for bending, which is great and usable for many metal genres.

Design and Cosmetics

Okay. I know this one will not really affect the sound and playability of the instrument. However, if you want to be distinguished immediately as a metal player, your guitar should look edgy and intimidating. There are various body designs that you can see on the market today. Therefore, your options are pretty endless here.

Conclusion

Among all the selection of best metal guitars here, it is clear that the Gibson USA Les Paul Studio T 2017 is the undisputed winner. It comes with two active humbuckers (490R and 498T) that produce clean but crushing sounds. It has a standard profile that makes it very playable, even for novices. Meanwhile, its mahogany body has an integrated Ultra-Modern weight reduction system. With this, playing this guitar for extended periods won't be toiling. Even the electronics are great, too!

But of course, you should still check all the guitars that I have featured here. You will have to consider your preferences and needs in choosing. In this way, you can get the instrument that can give you utmost comfort and satisfaction.

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About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don’t want to drop my zeal–especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!