7 Best Metal Guitars of 2024

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For those about to rock, first off, we salute you! Secondly, we're here to help you make an informed decision while perusing the best metal guitars on the market today.

Who says that heavy metal machinery can't be beautiful? The electric guitars featured on this list run the gamut from the entry-level axes to fine instruments fit for seasoned vets.

Our top pick is the Gibson Flying V for its iconic design, powerful tone, and outstanding playability, delivering the perfect balance of power and style.

So get ready; soon, you'll be turning your amp up to 11 and holding a pointy guitar of your very own.

Quick Summary of the Best Metal Guitars

  1. Gibson Flying V (Most Iconic Metal Guitar)
  2. Epiphone Explorer (Middle of the Road/Best Intermediate Metal Guitar)
  3. Jackson JS Series King V (Best “High Flying” Axe)
  4. Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Electric Guitar - Blue Metal Chameleon (Most Budget-Friendly)
  5. Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR-S (Best Modern Metal Guitar)
  6. ESP LTD EC-1000 Baritone Guitars (Best Baritone Metal Guitar)
  7. Kramer Baretta (Bombs Away! Best Shredder)

Best Metal Guitars

1. Most Iconic Metal Guitar – Gibson Flying V

Gibson Flying V

SPECS

  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Frets: 22, medium jumbo
  • Pickups: Burstbucker Humbuckers

No guitar is more instantly recognizable or synonymous with heavy metal than the Gibson Flying V.

With its classic design, mahogany body, and slim, fast-playing neck (featuring a beautiful rosewood fingerboard), the Flying V has long been a staple of axe-slingers arsenals around the world.

The Burstbucker humbucker pickups help capture the classic Gibson tone that's made the Flying V such a popular guitar for over half a century.

For all these reasons, this guitar holds our top spot as the best metal guitar on the market today.

2. Middle of the Road/Best Intermediate Metal Guitar – Epiphone Explorer

Epiphone Explorer

SPECS

  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Indian Laurel
  • Frets: 22, medium jumbo
  • Pickups: Probucker Humbuckers

Not quite ready to invest in a Flying V? Keep it in the Gibson family with the Epiphone Explorer.

The Probucker humbucker pickups help shape this guitar's classic crunchy tone and match well with its resonant mahogany body and super sleek Indian Laurel fingerboard.

Its Grover mini-tuners offer tuning stability. This is truly a great metal guitar for mid-level to expert players.

3. Best “High Flying” Axe – Jackson JS Series King V

Jackson JS Series King V

SPECS

  • Body Material: Poplar
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Amaranth
  • Frets: 24, Jumbo
  • Pickups: Jackson High Output Humbuckers

What's a "Best Metal Guitars" list without an offering from Jackson?

Jackson guitar's unique body shape has been a draw for metal guitarists for decades now, and the JS Series King V's super fast bolt-on maple neck and powerful humbuckers provide soaring metal tones at a shockingly affordable price point.

With its eye-catching angular design, double locking tremolo, and 24 jumbo frets for incredible upper fret access, this is an electric guitar made for heavy metal.

4. Most Budget-Friendly – Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Electric Guitar - Blue Metal Chameleon

Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Electric Guitar - Blue Metal Chameleon

SPECS

  • Body Material: Poplar
  • Neck Material: Roasted Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Jatoba
  • Frets: 24, medium nickel
  • Pickups: Classic Elite Humbuckers

The first guitar on our list to feature "metal" in its name, the "Blue Metal Chameleon" Ibanez GIO GRG121SP Electric Guitar, is a budget-friendly axe with a sleek style and high-octane attitude.

The Classic Elite Humbuckers and five-way switching offer versatility in the way of tone shaping fit for virtually any style, and its contoured body shape and playable roasted maple neck make it an ideal instrument for guitarists looking for great tone and great value.

5. Best Modern Metal Guitar – Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR-S

Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR-S

SPECS

  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Material: 3-piece Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Frets: 24, extra jumbo
  • Pickups: Sustainiac/EMG 81 Humbucker

This guitar is named Hellraiser.

Truth be told, I was very tempted to end this entry there, as any guitar that goes by the name of Hellraiser is an obvious asset to any "best metal guitars" list. Schecter has long made fantastic metal guitars, and the Hellraiser is just the latest example.

Its unique "ultra access" heel carve offers great access to the upper register of the instrument, accentuated by its 24 extra-jumbo frets.

The Floyd Rose 1000 Series Tremolo bridge provides reliable stability, and its Sustainiac/EMG combo pickups feature a special sustain circuit that provides electromagnetic feedback that will go on for as long as you want it to. Simply put, the Hellraiser is a shredder.

6. Best Baritone Metal Guitar – ESP LTD EC-1000 Baritone Guitars

ESP LTD EC-1000 Baritone Guitars

SPECS

  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Material: 3-piece Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Macassar Ebony
  • Frets: 24, extra jumbo stainless steel
  • Pickups: Fishman Humbuckers

When low E simply isn't low enough, it's time to turn to the world of baritone guitars. These extended-range guitars help you hit thunderous lows, and the ESP LTD EC is ready to help bring the thunder.

With its super playable thin u neck, LTD locking tuners, "tune o matic" bridge, and Fishman active pickups, this metal machine is made for sustain. The ESP LTD EC has it all look, tone, and feel.

7. Bombs Away! Best Shredder – Kramer Baretta

Kramer Baretta

SPECS

  • Body Material: Alder
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Maple
  • Frets: 22, jumbo
  • Pickups: Seymour Duncan JB Humbucker

Looking like it was conjured from a 1980s hair metal daydream, the Kramer Baretta is a quintessential metal guitar.

Aesthetically the Baretta fits the bill with its eye-catching reverse headstock and outrageous body paint jobs, but it's the hardware that makes this a must-have for metal players.

The Floyd Rose Double Locking Tremolo is ideal for dive-bombs, squeals, and shrieks while keeping your guitar in tune thanks to the Floyd Rose LRT-L40 Trem Stop.

Super sleek, fast, and fun, the Kramer Baretta is a worthy addition to any arsenal.

Best Metal Guitars Buyer's Guide

When buying a guitar for playing metal music, it's important to look for specific features that will help achieve the heavy and aggressive sound associated with the genre.

Some of the key things that people look for when buying a guitar for metal include:

Body Construction

A solid body guitar is preferred for playing metal because it can withstand the high volume and distortion levels without producing unwanted feedback.

Humbucker Pickups

Humbucking pickups are commonly used in metal guitars because they can provide high output and sustain while reducing unwanted hum and noise.

While it's possible to get a good, aggressive, and crunchy sound with passive pickups, they're typically not found on guitars in this genre.

Fast & Furious

A fast and thin neck allows for quick and precise fretting, which is essential for playing fast and complex metal riffs.

Low action refers to the distance between the strings and the fretboard, which affects how easy it is to play fast and complex riffs.

You'll want to make sure you have easy access to the highest notes on the fretboard too, which is where a well-sculpted heel can come in handy.

It's About "The Look"

Metal is about attitude, and metal guitarists tend to gravitate towards extreme design, often preferring guitars with sharp angles, pointed headstocks, and dark finishes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of metal guitar should I buy?

This depends on your budget, playing level, and personal preferences.

Some popular types of metal guitars include solid-body electric guitars, extended-range guitars (such as 7-string or 8-string guitars), and aesthetically heavy metal guitars (such as V-shaped guitars).

Some popular brands include Jackson, ESP, Ibanez, Schecter, Gibson, and Dean. However, there are many other brands out there, and it's important to choose a guitar that fits your personal preferences and playing style.

What should I look for in a metal guitar?

Some key factors to consider when buying a metal guitar include the quality of the build and materials, the tone and sound of the guitar, the playability and feel of the neck and fretboard, and the style and aesthetics of the guitar.

What type of pickups should I choose?

The type of pickup you choose for your metal guitar can have a big impact on its sound and tone.

Some popular options include active pickups (such as EMG pickups) and passive pickups (such as Seymour Duncan pickups).

It's important to choose pickups that are suited to the style of metal you want to play.

What type of strings should I use for a metal guitar?

The type of strings you choose for your metal guitar can also affect its tone and playability. Many metal guitarists prefer heavier gauge strings (.011 or .012 gauge), which can provide a fuller sound and better sustain.

The Bottom Line

Like any aspect of making music, there's no one-size-fits-all. It's important to trust your instincts and try out different guitars before deciding which is the one for you.

Whether you're looking for a timeless beauty like the Gibson Flying V or looking to unleash your inner Van Halen with the Kramer Baretta, it's best to take the time to play these instruments before you invest.

You'll know when you find "the one," and soon, so will your bandmates...and neighbors.

Interested in rock guitars as well? Check out our review on the best rock guitars!

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