The Top 7 Best Metal Guitars Under $1000

The loud and epic chaotic sound of the guitar. Amplified to 10…no amplified to 11! Intense and powerful and, of course, distorted. This is Heavy Metal and we are here to talk about the best metal guitars under $1000. 

In the grand scheme of musical genres, heavy metal is so unique because the guitar is a key element in creating the sound. When you first think of metal, you think of the guitar and the aggressive sounds it produces. 

From the tight rhythms to the high volume of heavy distortion being played at speeds faster than lighting…..Metal is a way of life!

Best Metal Guitars Under $1000

So what guitars are out there that are of high quality and perfect to play metal on while all staying under $1,000? 

In this article we will discuss the best metal guitars and review all the details that you need to know. 

We will be focusing on guitars that have hum buckets and produce a very tight and punchy sound when coupled with distortion. 

These guitars will also feel comfortable to play so you can slide your hands on the neck quickly. 

Here’s our review for the Top 8 Best Metal Guitars under $1,000.

1. ESP LTD EC-256 Electric Guitar, Black

First on our list for best metal guitars under $1000 is from ESP. This ESP LTD model is absolutely stunning to look at. It’s just a beautiful looking guitar. The EC-256 model has that classic single-cutaway design and the black with the gold hardware is so pleasing to the eyes. 

Featuring ESP designed LH-150 passive pickups which is perfect for Heavy Metal and, of course, shredding. 

These guitars have a set neck construction and body along with three controls for volume and tone and a three way toggle switch. 

ESP’s feature high quality craftsmanship and a very affordable price make this is a perfect main guitar for your metal playing. 

With a thinner neck and easy access to the high frets it’s ideal for heavy music. The high treble switch will give you a great solo sound especially when the distortion kicks in. 

The LTD has 22 jumbo frets, your hands will be loving the ability to play comfortability on the neck. Tuning is very stable on this guitar so when you tune it, you will be amazed. 

The strings that the guitar comes with may be too heavy for a guitarist’s liking, but you can also change those out. 

Even though this looks like a Gibson Les Paul, there are differences. For example, the body is thinner and it’s a little lighter. 

If you are looking for a great guitar that plays metal at an affordable price, then this may be the one for you.

Pros

Pros:

  • Amazing price 
  • Beautiful craftsmanship. 
  • Classic single-cutaway design. 
  • Jumbo sized frets. 
  • Thin and lightweight. 
  • Easy to play neck for shredding. 

Cons

Cons:  

  • Strings may be too heavy depending on the guitar player. 

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2. Jackson JS32 King V Electric Guitar (Gloss Black)

What could possibly be more metal than a Flying V shaped guitar? But why is that shape great for metal guitar players? Traditional Flying V guitars weren’t intended to be designed for metal. 

Guitar players such as Randy Rhodes picked one up and incorporated a very aggressive playing style. That helped popularize this model for metal guitar players. Besides that, it has an ominous look that is great when playing live.

The Jackson JS32 King V model has two high-output humbuckers. With a Floyd Rose tremolo, you can do a lot with this guitar. 

Again, we have 24 jumbo frets which allow your hands to move around freely and get to the places you want to get to in no time. 

The action you will see is super low and the V design actually gets more comfortable to play as you get used to it. 

With the dual humbuckers and the three way switch, you will get a lot of heavy sounds out of this guitar. 

At the great price, this is perfect to make your primary guitar. 

Pros

Pros:

  • Under $300.
  • Classic Flying V design. 
  • Dual humbuckers. 
  • Jumbo frets.
  • Floyd Rose double locking tremolo.
  • Sharkfin inlays. 
  • One piece maple neck. 

Cons

Cons: 

  • Flying V shape may take some getting used to playing. 

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3. Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Electric Guitar (Black Cherry) 

The Schecter Hellraiser makes our list of best metal guitars under $1000 for good reasons. First of all, it’s called Hellraiser…..if that’s not metal then I’m not sure what is. 

This is thus far one of the more expensive guitars that we have covered. Available in clack cherry, black, and white, this guitar is gorgeous.

These guitars feature a set-neck and a quilted maple top. With locking tuners, rosewood fingerboard, and gothic cross inlays, you will be in the mood to play metal in no time. 

The EMG active pickups are designed for maximum flexibility and gives you a very fat sounding tone. They sound great in regular humbucker or single coil mode. 

With lots of punch, aggressiveness, and clarity, this makes it a perfect guitar to lead the way in your metal band. 

If you want to drop the tuning to D, C, or even B….then this guitar will be able to handle it. 

Turn the volume up on this guitar, get some high gain going, and you will experience a fantastic tone that, when matched with an easy playability, makes this a great guitar for your metal needs. 

Pros

Pros:

  • Slim and comfortable neck. 
  • Able to get a full range of clean and distorted sounds. 
  • Split humbucker and single-coil capabilities. 
  • Great sustain and articulation. 
  • High quality tuning machines. 
  • Gothic cross inlays on fretboard. 

Cons

Cons:

  • String gauge may need to be changed due your likeness. 

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4. Charvel Joe Duplantier Signature San Dimas Style 2 HH Electric Guitar

Charvel has been around since 1974 and was acquired by Fender in 2002. Created from Nato wood this guitar features a sleek satin white finish. 

These guitars became popular in the 1980’s by their association with the famous hard rock and heavy metal guitarists. 

You wouldn’t think that you can get a metal sound with a telecaster style guitar, but with this you absolutely can. 

With 22 jumbo frets, this guitar also has locking tuners keeping your guitar from going out of tune. 

This guitar has a Duncan designed humbucker on the bridge and one by the neck with a master control and 3 position toggle switch. 

The neck will feel super fast to your hands allowing for a smooth and comfortable play.

The Sam Dimas model guitar is for you to relive those great days when metal ruled the world. You can still play other genres with this guitar such as jazz, blues, and grunge, but it’s perfect for metal above all else!

Pros

Pros:

  • Beautiful satin white finish. 
  • Made from Nato wood. 
  • Jumbo 22 frets. 
  • Duncan designed humbuckers. 
  • 3-position toggle switch. 
  • Locking tuners. 

Cons

Cons:

  • Action may need to be adjusted. 

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5. Squier by Fender Contemporary Active Stratocaster Electric Guitar

This awesome Squier has made our list for best metal guitars under $1000. Most maybe would not have expected a Fender to make the list of best metal guitars, but this one has great features that we couldn’t pass over.

Not only is it at a great price, but you will enjoy dual humbucking pickups which gives you that modern and very aggressive tone. 

With a cool reverse headstock, this Stratocaster has the jumbo frets and the Floyd Rose tremolo system. You will be able to achieve that metal style vibrato while retaining your tune.

If you want those crunchy rhymes and the ability to do those soaring solos then this is the one for you. 

Consider this a Super Strat of sorts, but it’s a very nice looking guitar that has its own unique personality.  

With a thicker body and black chrome hardware this is a bang for your buck if you’re looking for a heavy metal guitar. 

Pros

Pros: 

  • Dual humbucking pickups. 
  • Jumbo frets. 
  • Floyd Rose Tremolo system.
  • Black chrome-plated hardware. 
  • Thin and comfortable body. 
  • Classic Stratocaster shape. 

Cons

Cons: 

  • Neck is unfinished.

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6. Ibanez GRGA 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar

Ibanez really makes great guitars for metal music at a super affordable price. This model has a beautiful maple neck and 24 frets. With Ibanez’s signature body style you will be able to easily access those high frets. 

What’s great about Ibanez is that they build guitars for all players from the beginners to very advanced guitarists. They know what they are doing!

From a visual standpoint, these guitars are appealing to the eye. This model features a quilted maple art grain with a beautiful arched top. 

The jump frets are what is going to allow you for aggressive play for your power chords and helps with smooth and fast playing. 

With a 3 way switch and two humbuckers, you will be able to get a variety of different tones with this guitar. You also will get the Floyd Rose tremolo in your arsenal. 

Pros

Pros:

  • Great neck for fast playing. 
  • For beginners and advanced players. 
  • Floyd Rose Tremolo. 
  • 3 way switch.
  • Solid construction. 
  • Affordable price. 

Cons

Cons: 

  • Pickups may eventually need an upgrade for optimal metal sound. 

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7. Jackson JS Series Dinky Arch Top JS32Q DKA Transparent Purple Burst

The Jackson JS makes our list of the best metal guitars under $1000. This is a beautiful looking guitar in a transparent purple burst. 

With black hardware, die-cast tuners, and shark-fin inlays on the fretboard this is a perfect metal guitar. 

The dual humbuckers on the neck and the bridge, you can get super chunky and heavy while also reaching some super thick tones. 

Another great feature in Jackson guitars (as similar with the Ibanez) is that you can upgrade the pickups to make the sound even better.

Great for beginners, intermediates, and advanced players, Jackson guitars have been used by such bands as Megadeth, Def Leppard, and Iron Maiden. 

Pros

Pros: 

  • Dual humbuckers. 
  • 3 way switch. 
  • Floyd Rose Tremolo. 
  • Shakfin inlays. 
  • Black hardware and die-cast tuners. 
  • Great for beginners and advanced players. 

Cons

Cons: 

  • Pickups may eventually need an upgrade for optimal metal sound. 

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Best Metal Guitars Under $1000 Buyers Guide 

So, there are a lot of options out there to fulfill your heavy metal guitar playing desires. What’s even better is that these are very affordable. 

Some that we reviewed are more expensive than others for good reason. However, there is something for everyone and for various price points under $1,000. 

With that said, let’s take a look at some questions that will help you make your purchasing decision that much easier. 

What makes a guitar a heavy metal guitar?

For playing heavy metal there are some characteristics you want to look for to ensure your guitar is ready to rock in a heavy way.

Typically, you want to look for guitars with humbuckers. All the guitars that we have reviewed come with dual humbuckers with one on the neck and one by the bridge. 

Humbuckers have a bigger and fuller tone. This is where you get that punchy and tight tone when used with distortion. 

Guitars with jumbo frets (as also mentioned in our reviews) will assist with playing metal. The larger frets get you close to the fretboard for playing lead and using such techniques as vibrato. 

Blues and jazz guitars have small frets which are more ideal for playing chords. 

The Floyd Rose tremolo will also assist you with that vibrato and is an essential for metal guitarists. 

The sleek and overall feel of the neck is a plus as it will allow you to move up the fretboard for fast transitions. 

You’ll notice all the guitars we reviewed give you access to most high frets which again is crucial for your solos. 

What is the best tuning for metal?

Any tuning can work for heavy metal so this really just comes down to preferences. The metal bands would use Standard E tuning or tune a half-step down to E flat. 

The most common tuning for modern metal is a form of Drop D (D-A-D-G-B-E). This is where the low E string is tuned to D which gives those power chords a very heavy feel. 

Bands will also drop the tuning even lower to Drop C# (C#-G#-G#-F#-A#-D#) and even Drop C (C-G-C-F-A-D) which are common in modern metal.  

What techniques do I need to play heavy metal guitar?

 

Power Chords – Power chords are easy to learn and they are composed of just two notes. They are super easy and fast to move up the fretboard and are used regularly in metal riffs. 

Palm Muting – This is where metal gets that aggressive feel. Placing the palm of your picking hand to where it’s lightly touching the strings by the bridge will give them that heavy “chug” sound. 

Vibrato – We have mentioned this quite thus far but it’s essential for heavy metal guitar playing. This is performed when bending the strings very rapidly. 

Hammer on’s and pull offs – These are used very frequently when playing solos. Both of these techniques let you tie the notes together smoothly and quickly with no space between them.  

Fast Playing/Shredding – This is a no-brainer but to play metal effectively, you must learn how to play with lighting speed and accuracy. 

What string gauge is best for metal?

Due to the fast playing and the frequent palm muting, you are going to want a medium to higher gauge string to endure the shredding and quick playing. Most metal guitarists will start with a minimum gauge of 10 and go from there. 

If you would like our recommendation for guitar strings, you can check out our article on guitar accessories here: best guitar accessories

What guitar picks are best for metal?

Similar to the gauge of the strings, you want to look for guitar picks that are going to be medium or heavy. 

Now I have known some metal guitar players to use thin picks, but more often than not they are using medium or heavy guitar picks. 

We also have an article on guitar picks that you can check out right here: best guitar picks. 

Best Metal Guitars Under $1000 Conclusion

So there we have the best metal guitars for under $1,000. There are really some fantastic options out there.

If you love guitars in general, then just looking at these options is just awesome. 

Heavy Metal is such a great genre of music. It’s rock and roll on steroids. It’s aggressive and relentless. Getting to achieve that sound is an amazing feeling and we hope that you have been able to hone on some great guitars to help you get there. 

Thank you for ready and as always HAVE FUN! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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