You are currently viewing 5 Best Metal Guitars Under $1000 – Axes With Brutal Tones

Last Updated on March 2, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

Author: Santiago Motto

Aka. Sandel. Telecasters and all-mahogany Martins lover.

Besides that, Sandel is a professional writer, guitar player, confessed guitar nerd, and all-things-guitar consumer. He has been playing for 25 years which makes him a nineties kid with serious low-tuning youngster years, and a pop palate for melodies, ballads, and world music.

Whenever Santiago is not pouring all that experience and love for the instrument into articles, you can find him playing live shows supporting his music and poetry books as “Sandel”. If he’s not doing either of those, you can also find him gigging with his band, “San Juan”, writing, reading, or enjoying the Sun.

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Editing & Research: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).


displays Schecter Hellraiser C-1

Best Overall Metal Guitar Under $1000 – Schecter Hellraiser C-1

Reviewer: Santiago Motto

Sound
Playability
Overall Quality
Value For Money

Summary

Pros:
-Super comfortable contoured body
-Active pickup system provides really aggressive sound
-Beautiful quilted maple top
-All-mahogany construction
-Neck that works well with shredding & riffing

Cons:
-No tremolo system
-Batteries for active pickups required

Who is this guitar for?
This electric guitar is perfect for those who need a powerful bridge humbucker, locking tuners, and impeccable tuning stability on an affordable guitar that looks killer on stage too.

4.9

How Schecter Hellraiser C-1 sounds:

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Best for Shredding – Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550

displays ibanez genesis Ibanez rg550

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Edge tremolo for uncanny stability
  • Modern V8 and V7 pickups ensure versatile & mean tones
  • Contoured basswood body for comfort
  • 24 frets, ultra-thin Super Wizard neck
  • 16.9” radius allows all bends imaginable

Cons:

  • Because of the dual-locking tremolo, changing tunings takes more time
  • The retro fluorescent color might not be for everyone

Who is this guitar for?

This is a shredder’s guitar. Yes, the maple neck and fingerboard will make notes sustain and cut through the mix like few other guitars will.

 

Best for Riffing – Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Fishman Fluence pickup system for ultimate versatility
  • 24-fret easy-access mahogany neck
  • Ebony fingerboard for increased snap and growl
  • Traditional Les Paul looks to rock the stage

Cons:

  • No tremolo system
  • The Fluence active system requires a battery for operation

Who is this guitar for?

Those who play with high gain and want something more than just a one-trick pony will find the Prophecy series and this Les Paul in particular very interesting.

Best 7 String – Sterling By Music Man JP70

displays Sterling By Music Man JP70

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • 25.5” scale on a 7-string guitar plays more comfortably
  • 24 easy-access frets for limitless shredding
  • Control simplicity for ease of use
  • Outstanding build quality

Cons:

  • Nyatoh body can seem cheap compared to mahogany
  • No floating tremolo system

Who is this guitar for?

Beginners who want to dive into the 7-string territory will find this guitar perfect to learn how to tame the extra oomph. Also, seasoned players can shred on this on a nightly basis.

Best for Small Hands – Charvel Pro Mod So-Cal Style 1

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Made in the USA
  • Floyd Rose original tremolo for tuning stability
  • Dual Seymour Duncan pickups with coil-tapping possibilities
  • Perfect neck shape for small-handed players

Cons:

  • Because of the floating tremolo system and locking nut, changing tunings takes more time
  • Not an active instrument

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for any player with smaller hands looking for a great guitar that can do the heavy thing and also sound great as a Strat.

Compare The Key Specs:

graphic compares 5 Best Metal Guitars Under $1000

About Metal Guitars

According to Spotify, the world’s largest music-streaming platform, Metal music has the most loyal fans in the world. Metal bands are still ruling the stages around the world with their Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo guitars and making audiences go insane.

Yet, not everybody can afford a stunning high-end guitar to play metal on…

But, are there other metal guitars that can fit the bill at an affordable price?

Well, we did the hard work for you and went into a very competitive market to look for the best metal guitar to play outrageous metal tones without breaking the bank.

These are the five best guitars for metal music under $1000.

If that’s the budget you handle, your next shredding machine is definitely on this list!

Check our electric guitar brand guides:

5 Best Ibanez Electric Guitars

5 Best Gibson Electric Guitars


Our Reviews of The Top 5

Keep These 3 Key Things In Mind When Choosing:

This might come as a surprise; most people will tell you that electronics and pickups are the cheapest things to change on your electric guitar. Yet, when you step into the territory of high-gain settings, electronics do make the difference (a lot more than the body’s tonewood). Therefore, make sure your guitar has all the features you need in the electronics department; turning a passive guitar into an active one is costly and difficult.

Some metal bands carry on the legacy left by Nü Metal and tend to have a drop-D, drop-C, or even Drop-A tuning. If that’s the case, you have to rule out a Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo from your choice. Yes, unless you install a D-tune to it (which will lock it into a single-action tremolo) it’s going to be a nightmare to keep the tremolo system in tune for a show.

Finally, some guitars are made for metal exclusively, perhaps with a pair of active pickups that roar at all times. If that’s the case, you’ll enjoy very little versatility to play other styles. Therefore, if you’re going to play metal and other genres, make sure your guitar is not a one-trick pony.

Find our picks for the Best Metal Guitars Under $500 here.

Best Overall – Schecter Hellraiser C-1

displays Schecter Hellraiser C-1

Specs

Body StyleModern Stratocaster
Body WoodMahogany
NeckMaple, Set
Neck ShapeThin “C”
Fretboard24, Extra Jumbo frets.
Rosewood fingerboard. 14″ radius.
NutGraph Tech XL Black Tusq nut
Nut Width1.653″
PickupsEMG 89 Humbucker
EMG 81 Humbucker
Controls2 x volume
1 x master tone
3-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
BridgeTune-O-Matic Bridge with String-through body
TunersLocking tuners

The Schecter C-1 Hellraiser is our top pick because it is a take-no-prisoner righteous metal electric guitar that can cover all the sonic ground you need and then some.

To begin with, the quintessential combination of a mahogany body (with a beautiful quilted maple veneer top) and a mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard gives you the real metal machine feel for chugging rhythm and the bigger-than-life power chords.

Yet, this wood combination, so common to a Les Paul, is made into a contoured body that allows you to access the higher frets easily and sits comfortably with a strap.

Speaking of which, the string-through-body construction and the addition of locking tuners allow you to tune this guitar to whatever need you have preserving sustain and tuning stability at all times.

Furthermore, those bigger-than-life chords will sound even bigger because this electric guitar comes with an active set of ferocious pickups. Let me tell you that, if you’ve never played active pickups before, you’ll find them quite a challenge. Nevertheless, they’re a one-way ticket to precision and power.

Finally, the other aspect of this guitar that makes it the queen of our podium is that it looks and feels amazing. The set neck construction is perfectly finished, and the crosses on the fretboard as well as the binding on the body are eye-catching, to say the least.

If you want the ultimate metal electric guitar to riff your way into stardom, this might be it. Works lie magic for mean riffs from speed to thrash metal.

Find our picks for the best thrash metal guitars here.

Another solid sound demo:

Pros:

  • Super comfortable contoured body
  • Active pickup system provides really aggressive sound
  • Beautiful quilted maple top
  • All-mahogany construction
  • Neck that works well with shredding & riffing

Cons:

  • No tremolo system
  • Batteries for active pickups required
What others are saying:

I opened the box and was struck with awe. It was exactly as I had envisioned it, the high quality photos did it no justice at all. The high shine and black cherry color, highlighting the curved maple top. Oh yeah, and the gothic iron cross inlays and matching mother of pearl trim.

Well I played it straight out of the box, did some tuning and she was good to go. Ran her threw some minor scales and chord progressions and all seems well. Never had active pick ups before but suffice to say I am impressed. Tones sound good, seems a bit flat, however the sounds are much cleaner and a bit more crisp. – Andrew from MN

Who is this guitar for?

This electric guitar is perfect for those who need a powerful bridge humbucker, locking tuners, and impeccable tuning stability on an affordable guitar that looks killer on stage too.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

Progressive metal players who abuse the tremolo system and need a super-shredder guitar might want to look elsewhere first. That being said, there’s a double-locking tremolo version too but it goes over the $1000 mark.

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Best for Shredding – Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550

Specs

Body StyleModern Strat
Body WoodBasswood
Neck5-piece Maple/Walnut
Neck ShapeSuper Wizard
Neck ThicknessFrom 1st fret: 0.67″ (17mm) & 12th fret: 0.74″ (19mm)
Fretboard24 Jumbo frets. Maple fingerboard. 16.9″ radius.
NutLocking nut
Nut Width1.69″ (43mm)
PickupsV7 (H) neck pickup Passive/Ceramic
S1 (S) middle pickup Passive/Alnico
V8 (H) bridge pickup Passive/Alnico
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
5-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
BridgeEdge Locking Tremolo bridge
TunersGotoh tuners

The first thing to say about the RG550 is that to metal shredders and ‘80s lovers; it’s just as iconic as the Gibson Les Paul or the Fender Stratocaster. Moreover, the model we picked comes in dazzling Desert Sun Yellow which activates the ‘80s mojo right from the box.

That being said, this guitar is not only the best shredder on the list because of the looks, the 5-piece Super Wizard neck is as fast as it gets. Moreover, with 24 frets and a 16.9” radius, you can shred and bend your way to metal stardom every day.

While you’re at it, Ibanez’s proprietary Edge double-locking tremolo keeps things in tune. Furthermore, you can dive bomb with it or take harmonic overtones to the stratosphere and go back to normal tuning in a heartbeat.

Although Ibanez is a guitar brand known for making amazing modern electric guitars, the bolt-on neck construction on this metal guitar is finished with an old-school metal plate that retro lovers will value and cherish.

That being said, the metal plate is the only retro thing on this model that debuted in 1987 and has been overhauled to meet modern needs.

This Ibanez guitar stays in tune like a beast thanks to the excellent Ibanez Edge bridge, locking nut, and Gotoh tuners.

Speaking of which, the Desert Sun Yellow finish will cut through the smoke and lights of the stage as well. Shredders, let’s shred!

How this guitar sounds:

Pros:

  • Edge tremolo for uncanny stability
  • Modern V8 and V7 pickups ensure versatile & mean tones
  • Contoured basswood body for comfort
  • 24 frets, ultra-thin Super Wizard neck
  • 16.9” radius allows all bends imaginable

Cons:

  • Because of the dual-locking tremolo, changing tunings takes more time
  • The retro fluorescent color might not be for everyone
What others are saying:

This is the a reissue of the original RG550 Ibanez made in the late 1980s. As soon as I took it out of the box it was like being reunited with the first real electric guitar I ever owned. PURE JOY! The color is absolutely stunning and loud but tasteful, almost orange, but red. The looks are a head turner. The quality of electronics, frets, knobs, etc are second to none. It instantly became my favorite guitar, and I own some other very nice guitars. Scott Leininger at Sweetwater was great, keeping me updated on ordering progress because there is a rather long wait for this guitar. He called me the day it came in and it shipped out the next day. THIS GUITAR IS WORTH THE WAIT, ORDER IT NOW BEFORE IT’S GONE AND YOU MISS OUT! – Tom from Sacramento, CA

Who is this guitar for?

This is a shredder’s guitar. Yes, the maple neck and fingerboard will make notes sustain and cut through the mix like few other guitars will.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

Those looking for a guitar that can cope with changing tunings fast or want an active pickup system might want to look somewhere else.

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Best for Riffing – Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy

Specs

Body StyleLes Paul
Body WoodMahogany
NeckMahogany
Neck ShapeAsymmetrical Slim Taper
Fretboard24 Jumbo frets.
Ebony fingerboard. 12″ radius.
NutGraph Tech NuBone XL Blacknut
Nut Width1.692″
Pickups2 x Fishman Fluence Epiphone Prophecy Humbucker
Controls2 x volume (push/pull coil-split)
2 x tone (push/pull vintage/modern)
3-way toggle pickup switch
Scale-Length24.724″
BridgeEpiphone LockTone Tune-O-Matic Bridge with Stopbar Tailpiece
TunersGrover Locking Rotomatics

I know what you might be thinking right now: Les Paul guitars are for classic rock, not for heavy metal tones. Well, you might be right about that, but this is no ordinary Les Paul. Indeed, this Epiphone guitar has been finely tuned to make it the diva of metal guitars.

Let’s begin by saying that the traditional Les Paul body shape featuring a maple top on a mahogany body and a set-neck mahogany neck remains untouched. That being said, the contour on the back makes it more comfortable than any traditional Les Paul guitar. Moreover, the neck offers an ebony fretboard (full of those defined, spanking treble-oriented tones) and 24 frets.

Yes, you read that right; the beautifully ornamented, utterly comfortable, and thin slim-taper guitar neck has 24 accessible frets.

Yet, this guitar’s surprises don’t end there since Epiphone joined forces with Fishman for the guitar’s electronics. You might think this is a regular, two-pickup guitar with a bridge humbucker and an identical neck pickup.

Well, think again, because this guitar oozes an active preamp system that can turn your guitar’s sounds into spanking California-ready single coils using coil tapping or traditional PAF sounds lifting the tone knob.

Finally, the neck position on this guitar can do bluesy tones as much as metal sounds while remaining in the Les Paul territory. So, any metal guitarist whose middle name is Riff will find this an outstanding instrument.

To be honest, this guitar is the best effort I’ve seen so far in creating a metal machine while respecting a traditional shape and feel.

How this guitar sounds:

Pros:

  • Fishman Fluence pickup system for ultimate versatility
  • 24-fret easy-access mahogany neck
  • Ebony fingerboard for increased snap and growl
  • Traditional Les Paul looks to rock the stage

Cons:

  • No tremolo system
  • The Fluence active system requires a battery for operation
What others are saying:

I have played nothing but acoustics most of my life and decided to try and get into the electric side of things. After a ton of research into something versatile, fairly priced, and awesome to play, I landed on the Les Paul Prophecy and I can truly say this guitar makes me regret staying away from electrics for so long! When I say versatile I mean I haven’t found a genre this guitar can’t do! I can play John Mayer’s Slow Dancing in a Burning Room one minute and then play Devastator by For Today the next, and maybe a little jazz in between. Acoustic is a little limited in that sense so I am just blown away by how the music world just opened up to me! I am by no means an expert player, but man I can’t say anything bad about this guitar. – Quentin

Who is this guitar for?

Those who play with high gain and want something more than just a one-trick pony will find the Prophecy series and this Les Paul in particular a very interesting choice

Who is this guitar NOT for?

Shredders who need ultra-fast necks and double-locking tremolos might find this guitar a little short in that category.

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Best 7 String – Sterling By Music Man JP70

displays Sterling By Music Man JP70

Specs

Body StyleJohn Petrucci Signature JP70 Double Cut
Body WoodNyatoh
NeckHard Maple
Neck ShapeJP
Fretboard24 Medium Jumbo frets.
Rosewood fingerboard. 16″ radius.
NutPlastic nut
Nut Width1.95″
Pickups2 x Sterling by Music Man Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
3-way toggle pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
BridgeModern Tremolo
TunersLocking tuners

John Petrucci is a man who needs no introduction. With his electric guitars in his hands, he has toured the world multiple times with his solo performances and with Dream Theater.

This metal guitar is the affordable version of his signature with /Music Man Guitars, which is among the best metal guitars on the planet. This version we’re reviewing now is not that far away and makes a killer choice for those looking for a solid guitar on a budget.

To begin with the maple neck with a rosewood fretboard is a known combination. Also, the nyatoh body is a more affordable replacement for mahogany the feel of the guitars doesn’t badly suffer from it.

Speaking about translation, the dual humbuckers made by Sterling are round and powerful keeping the guitar’s tone clear enough to cut through the mix.

The controls on the guitar are rather simple; you get a master tone and a volume knob. These match the overall build quality of the guitar which is absolutely spotless.

In that vein, the neck shape is surprisingly comfortable for a 7-string guitar and Sterling has managed to keep the scale length at 25.5” instead of going for 26” or longer like other brands. Likewise, the 16” radius and the 24 frets are killer for those playing guitar like John with countless lead lines and solos.

Finally, the hardware is finished up with locking tuners and a traditional single-action tremolo that might be enough for metal leads on a distorted amplifier.

Whether you’re John’s fan or not, this makes a great guitar with outstanding build quality that’s also great for beginners for its simplicity.

Find beginner friendly metal guitars here.

How this guitar sounds:

Pros:

  • 25.5” scale on a 7-string guitar plays more comfortably
  • 24 easy-access frets for limitless shredding
  • Control simplicity for ease of use
  • Outstanding build quality

Cons:

  • Nyatoh body can seem cheaper than mahogany
  • No floating tremolo system
What others are saying:

This is a fantastic guitar. Just as good as a jp7 minus a few specs here and there. Sounds amazing and plays like a dream. Neck is very thin and smooth for easy movememt on fretboard. Holds tuning better than any guitar ive had without a Floyd rose. The mystic dream color looks way better in person than it does in pictures. – Austin. from MA

Who is this guitar for?

Beginners who want to dive into the 7-string territory will find this guitar perfect to learn how to tame the extra oomph. Also, seasoned players can shred on this on a nightly basis.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

Die-hard Petrucci fans will find his higher-tier signature models closer to his sound. Also, shredders who need the floating tremolo system for pyrotechnics will find this metal guitar a tad short in that category.

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Best for Small Hands – Charvel Pro Mod So-Cal Style 1

Specs

Body StyleModern-St
Body WoodAlder
Neck2-piece maple w/ graphite reinforcement
Neck ShapeSpeed Neck
Fretboard22 Jumbo frets.
Maple fingerboard. 12″-16″ compound radius.
NutLocking nut
Nut Width1.685″
PickupsSeymor Duncan SH-6n Distortion Humbucker
Seymor Duncan TB-6 Distortion Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume (push/pull coil split)
1 x master tone
3-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
BridgeFloyd Rose FRT-O2000 double-locking tremolo (recessed)
TunersCharvel-branded Die-cast

This guitar is a trip to the best days of the hair metal Sunset Strip revolution. Yes, it is the perfect recreation of the outrageous Frankenstein guitars that appeared after Eddie Van Halen ripped the fabric of reality with his guitar playing.

To begin with, since Charvel is owned by Fender, the neck shape on this guitar is perfect for guitar players with smaller hands. Moreover, the maple neck with an ebony fretboard is the perfect mix to achieve a true metal feel. And the pickups offer a full, and round tone with a rich midrange and screaming highs that can cut through any mix. Yes, all this makes this a chainsaw of a guitar.

Speaking about the pickups, the dual Seymour Duncan passive pickups in the neck and bridge position make this Charvel Pro Mod So Cal a thunderous guitar that can make a statement on any stage.

Furthermore, it is very versatile since the tone knob offers coil-splitting capabilities turning the humbuckers into single coils. With the coil tapping and the bolt-on neck, this Pro Mod So Cal can recreate the Stratocaster sound and feel too.

Finally, the original Floyd Rose 1000 bridge is perfect for dive bombs, vibratos, and anything in between.

This Charvel Pro Mod So Cal offers top-notch build quality with enough features and versatility to make it a great guitar for all genres.

That being said, plug it into a dirty guitar amp and you’ll be in heavy metal heaven.

How this guitar sounds:

Pros:

  • Made in the USA
  • Floyd Rose original tremolo for great tuning stability
  • Dual Seymour Duncan pickups with coil-tapping possibilities sound mean & versatile
  • Perfect neck shape for small-handed players

Cons:

  • Because of the floating tremolo system and locking nut, changing tunings takes more time
  • Not an active pickup instrument
What others are saying:

This is my first guitar I have ever bought and it looks, feels, and plays great. I highly recommend this for beginners like me. – Bryan

Find more great electric guitars for small hands here.

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for any player with smaller hands looking for a great guitar that can do the heavy thing and also sound great as a Strat.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is for shredders, metal players, rockers, and virtuosos. Those looking for increased sustain or more simplicity in the design and controls might be better off with a string-through-body design.

Discover our 5 best Charvel Guitars of 2023

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Runner-Ups That Just Missed The Top 5


Buyer’s Guide – FAQ

What Should You Know Before Buying?

Let’s divide this section into three important things you must know before setting foot in the music store or browsing online for your new guitar.

Budget

The best metal guitars will have price tags way in the thousands. That being said, you can find affordable options that aren’t “cheap electric guitars“. Be budget-conscious and try only guitars you can afford or you’ll be disappointed.

What’s Your Metal Guitar For?

Although a musician’s career is a long and winding road, it is useful to know what you’ll be using the guitar for. In case you want a lot of bedroom playing, buy a shape that’s comfortable to play sitting down (say goodbye to Explorers and Flying V). On the other hand, if you’re going to play on your feet a lot, mind the body’s contours and the guitar’s weight and balance.

Important Accessories

Are you going to take your guitar on the road a lot? If that’s the case, you need a case. At this price point, though, companies like PRS Guitars, for example, offer a reinforced gig bag for models like the SE Custom 24, or any other PRS SE. Some, like Charvel, offer a hard-shell case, and others brands don’t have case options.

How to Choose The Right Metal Guitar for You

Let’s go through some of the main concepts you need to understand to narrow your search.

Pickups

image reveals How different electric guitar pickups sound

First, for metal, going with a guitar that has at least 1 humbuckers is wise. Single-coils just can’t handle the thick and growling tones of metal that well.

But what about passive vs active humbuckers…

·         Passive Pickups – Passive pickups are wounded magnets that translate string movement into electric current. The better the pickup, the more faithful the sound will be. For example, the Charvel Pro-Mod So Cal comes equipped with Seymour Duncan passive pickups which are top-notch pickups for any guitar and thus, sound utterly clear and powerful. Passive pickups sound more natural than actives.

·         Active Pickups – Active pickups require a battery to operate and give the signal and aggressive extra boost. This technology was developed by brands like EMG and they are even more transparent than passive pickups. Active pickups distort more easily and sound more compressed than passive pickups.

Finally, many metal electric guitars like the Charvel, Kramer, and Ibanez have coil-splitting capabilities hidden under the tone knob or the volume knob expanding the instrument’s sonic capabilities. This means that you can split humbucker and access single-coil like tones with it. This adds versatility and might be worth it for some players.

Find our full electric guitar pickup types article here.

Body Styles

image displays Different electric guitars

The shapes and body styles in the metal guitar world are endless. You can go onstage with a crazy-looking BC Rich guitar or stick to a Les Paul shape like the Epiphone Prophecy, or go for the super-strat shape like the Charvel Pro Mod.

Do shapes change the guitar’s sound? The answer is definitely yes. That being said, they don’t alter the sound as much as the body’s material. Yes, a laminated maple body will sound more midrangey and snappy than a mahogany body that delivers that low-end growl.

So, hear the guitar unplugged first and pay special attention to the tonal characteristics of the body before plugging it in.

Find our full guide of electric guitar anatomy here and guide to electric guitar body types here.

Neck Shapes & Sizes

This graph reveals most common guitar neck shapes

Yet, the neck and fretboard are game-breakers for many of us because much of what makes the guitar comfortable or not to play is in this department.

In that vein, for example, the Ibanez Super Wizard neck is a super slim neck than feels super smooth to shred.

If you want something a bit thicker, test some D or C-shaped necks out. Get a guitar that feels good for you. If you want, dive deeper into guitar neck shapes here.

Fretboard & Frets

compares Medium vs extra jumbo frets

For those who aren’t into soloing, lead metal work, and shredding, a rosewood fretboard might be a perfect choice. That being said, there’s no other tonewood that can cut through a dense mix as maple can. Finally, the middle ground between these tonewoods is ebony which has some snap and sweetness combined.

In the frets department, what you need from a metal guitar are taller frets that allow you to play effortlessly, so at first, test Extra Jumbo and Jumbo frets out. Mediums can also work for some players, but tiny frets can make bends difficult and make you push harder which slows you down when playing fast.

Scale Length

photo reveals what is guitars scale length

Although not a topic people talk about a lot, the scale length is crucial to tuning stability and the feel of the guitar.

On one hand, we have the Gibson school which makes 24.75” scale for their guitars. With this scale length, bends sound sweeter, it’s easier to fret a note, and the neck becomes more maneuverable. The other side of this scale length is that you have reduced tuning stability.

On the other hand, the Fender school makes 25.5” guitars. This small difference makes the guitar gain in tuning stability and tension, which is great for metal players and shredders. The other side of the 25.5” scale is that bends tend to sound different and notes can be a bit harder to fret.

Finally, PRS Guitars is right in the middle with 25” scales.

Bridge

photo reveals different guitar bridge-types

The final category is bridges. These pieces of hardware are not at all a minor part; on the contrary, they affect tone, sustain, and can open up a whole new way of playing.

To begin with, guitars with a Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo or similar allow the player to pull off crazy dive-bombs and unlock the full creativity but can’t take drop-tunings and offers reduced sustain. Also, if you cut a string live, you can’t continue playing since the floating bridge will go completely out of tune.

Secondly, we have the string-through-body construction which helps sustain drastically and can handle any tunings.

Finally, we can talk about the tune-o-matic bridge like you find in Les Paul guitars like the ESP LTD EC1000, for example. Sustain-wise, it’s the middle ground between a floating tremolo and string-through-body construction.

It’s a good idea to test different bridges out to find out which works and feels best for you. For example, when palm muting, the feel of the bridge can make a difference.

What Kind of Strings You Should Use for Metal Guitar?

Although the taste in strings varies a lot, it is recommended that shredders use 0.008 to 0.010 strings on a metal guitar. On the other hand, rhythm metal players can choose to go above that to ensure the chugging sound using 0.11 and 0.12 strings.

Are Yamaha Guitars Good for Metal?

Yamaha Electric Guitars are not necessarily well known for their metal electric guitars, but they have been creating guitars that handle metal for decades. For example, their SG models can handle metal like a breeze (SG2000 model was used by ripping rock icons like Carlos Santana). In recent years, the best ambassador for these dual-humbucker, tune-o-matic bridge guitars is Phil X.

You can see him rocking them in this backstage video at the Bon Jovi World Tour below.

What Guitars Does Slipknot Use?

The guitars Slipknot uses are:

Mick Thomson

·         Jackson Pro Series Signature Mick Thomson Soloist

·         Ibanez MTM Stormtrooper

·         Jackson Signature Carbon Fiber

·         B.C. Rich Mick Thomson Signature M7 Warlock

·         Jackson King V Custom

·         Ovation MT37-5 Acoustic

Jim Root

·         Fender Jim Root Signature Series Telecaster

·         Fender Jim Root Stratocaster with EMG pickups

·         Fender Jim Root signature Jazzmaster Electric Guitar

·         Backstage Custom Charvel San Dimas HH model built by Fender

·         Jackson SL1 Soloist Black guitar

·         PRS Private Stock Black (Based around the Standard 24)

·         Maverick JR-4

·         1981 Gibson Flying V

·         Gretsch Brian Setzer model guitar

What Guitars Metallica Uses?

Metallica’s guitars have changed a lot throughout their amazing career. One thing has remained a constant, though, the aggressive active EMG humbuckers.

Yes, while Kirk Hammett plays mostly ESP super Strats with active EMG pickups, he has recently signed a deal with the Gibson Company and can be seen rocking a Gibson Les Paul with a Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo or a tune-o-matic bridge.

James Hetfield, on the other hand, has remained true to ESP Explorers (Snakebyte) most of his career with the recent addition of some ESP Les Paul guitars as well. He’s always playing tune-o-matic or string-through body bridge guitars

Can Any Guitar Be Used for Metal?

The answer is yes, any guitar can be a metal guitar. That is a lesson that the great late Eddie Van Halen taught us with his famous Frankenstein guitar (which hangs at the MET now). So, as long as you can install at least one powerful humbucker, you’re ready to play heavy metal.

Moreover, you can always catch Yngwie shredding the night away on his single-coil-equipped Fender Stratocaster.

Is A Stratocaster Good for Metal?

Squier Bullet Stratocaster displayed for readers
Even cheap HSS Stratocasters like Squier Bullet Stratocaster can handle some metal.

Speaking of the Stratocaster, it is the ultimate case of a versatile guitar. Yes, in the hands of SRV, it created the most amazing blues tones. Yet, the dual guitar work of a band the size of Iron Maiden is based on a dual Fender Strat combo. Moreover, Fender Guitars even makes electric guitars for Slipknot!

So, the answer is yes, whether it has a rosewood fingerboard, or a maple fingerboard, you can always shred the night away with a good Strat. If it feels like it’s not enough, though, just go bananas like Eddie and create your own Frankenstein guitar! Who knows, maybe someday it’ll hang in the MET too.

Is Les Paul Good for Metal?

epiphone les paul special vintage edition displayed for readers
Les Pauls can usually handle metal like a breeze. (Epiphone Les Paul Special VE)

Gibson electric guitars have always been associated with rock and metal. For example, the classic Les Paul sound has propelled bands the size of Aerosmith, Guns n Roses, and Led Zeppelin, or rocked the world in the hands of Zakk Wylde and Randy Rhoads backing up the Prince of Darkness, Mr. Ozzy Osborne.

Furthermore, Black Sabbath (perhaps, the heaviest band of all time?) built a dark sonic empire using a Gibson SG.

There’s something about the density of the mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard that’s growling, menacing, and fully metal-ready.

Finally, the tune-o-matic bridge on a Gibson Les Paul accommodates all tunings and is perfect to play metal night after night.


Conclusion

Buying an affordable metal guitar doesn’t necessarily mean buying a cheap metal guitar.

Yes, we explored the best metal guitars under $1000. These are guitars that won’t break the bank but are built with impeccable craftsmanship and offer great metal tones to play night after night.

Furthermore, some of them offer top-notch pickups/accessories like Fishman Fluence, Seymour Duncan, and EMG pickups.

Don’t settle for anything else than a metal guitar that will rock your world.

Try the ones on this list and walk home with your dream ax.

Happy playing with your new affordable metal machine!

Santiago Motto

Aka. Sandel. Pure Telecasters and all-mahogany Martins lover. Besides that, Sandel is a professional writer, guitar player, confessed guitar nerd, and all-things-guitar consumer. He has been playing for 25 years which makes him a nineties kid with serious low-tuning youngster years, and a pop palate for melodies, ballads, and world music. You can connect with Santiago on LinkedIn or just email him.
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