Since the invention of the electric guitar, there probably hasn’t been any other genre that made the instrument so popular as metal did. In fact, the instrument is quite often synonymous with this genre, making it next to impossible to write music without the sound of distorted electric guitars. So today’s topic is – best guitars for metal.
And with this said, it’s only obvious that some of the biggest innovations in the world of electric guitar came from metal music. This goes both for playing and the instrument itself.
It was the metal guitarists who pushed the boundaries and brought some of the best and most useful additions to it. Therefore, metal-focused guitars often have the most versatile set of features, as well as some interesting aesthetically-pleasing traits.
But as you can already assume, these metal-oriented guitars can often get really expensive. In fact, they’re even popular among players of other genres, especially due to their versatility. But while they have always come with some big price tags, there are still some great examples of decently-priced examples. With this said, we’ll be looking into the best guitars for metal under $500.
Last update on 2023-06-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
While not as big as some other brands that large guitar-playing audiences are used to, Schecter still has some pretty awesome stuff to offer. And if we’re talking about reasonably-priced instruments and metal music, they have their amazing Omen series as a fine example and a worthy contender for any best guitars for metal rundown.
Here we’d like to take a closer look at Schecter’s Omen-6, which is a very potent instrument with some essential but quality features.
One of this guitar’s main advantages is its simplicity. This is, of course, accompanied by some great ergonomic features, as well as an amazing tone. In some way, Schecter Omen-6 is a “stripped-down” metal guitar with some quality essentials in there.
It has a classic double-cutaway body with a nicely designed heel and access to higher fret areas. Aside from the basswood body, we have an amazing maple neck with a rosewood fretboard with 24 frets. On top of all this, we have a Tune-o-Matic bridge without a tailpiece, but rather with strings going through the body.
The instrument is equipped with two Schecter Diamond Plus pickups and standard controls for tone and volume, as well as a 3-way switch. It’s a fairly versatile yet simple one.
Schecter Omen Extreme-7
But we would also like to include yet another example from this same exact Shecter series. Up next, we have their Omen Extreme-7. And what’s really exciting is that this is a pretty great 7-string guitar that’s below the $500 mark.
Although similar in its overall design compared to the Omen-6 model, the body here is made of mahogany, while the neck has the same construction featuring maple and rosewood. It also has a string-through-body variant and a Tune-o-Matic bridge, as well as Schecter Diamond Plus pickups, although these are accommodated for 7-string guitars.
Additionally, you’ll also find a very useful change with its controls. There are two volume controls for each of the pickups, one master tone (treble roll-off) control, as well as a “push and pull” feature on the tone knob for coil-tapping.
This way, you get a far more versatile configuration, even those “jangly” bright tones that may come in handy for other styles of music as well. Once again, we have a fairly simple guitar with no special “bells and whistles.” Nonetheless, it still retains some of the essential qualities that metal players adore, as well as an extended range with its 7 strings. One of the best guitars for metal in this price range, for sure.
Ibanez is, without a doubt, one of the best electric guitar manufacturers of all time, and their rich catalog features some of the best guitars for metal. And their very versatile arsenal is especially known for those virtuoso-friendly instruments with some amazing ergonomic features.
These are especially popular among metal players, and we’d like to explore their RGA42FM model here. Of course, just like a huge portion of Ibanez’s arsenal, this is yet another great take on the whole Super-Strat concept with amazing features and great ergonomic qualities.
First off, this guitar comes with a mahogany body that also has a maple top. This is one of the most interesting qualities considering the price level. Additionally, the body has indents on both the front and back of the body’s cutaways.
And although it features bolt-on construction, it’s designed in such a way to allow easy access to higher frets. While we’re at it, the guitar comes with a nice maple neck with a Wizard III profile and a jatoba fretboard with 24 jumbo frets.
The guitar comes with 2 humbuckers, which is a pretty common formation. However, we have a 5-way pickup selector switch and some of those “in-between” combinations that bring “sparkling” bright tones. This is all accompanied by a very reliable fixed bridge, allowing great tuning stability.
ESP LTD Eclipse EC-256
Being ESP’s subsidiary, LTD has brought some pretty awesome instruments at a fairly reasonable price level. One of such examples is their Les Paul-style guitar, the EC-256 Eclipse model, up next on our best guitars for metal list.
Although bearing the classic single-cutaway design that we all know, it has a somewhat more “modern” and “sharper” twist to it. Additionally, the cutaway goes deeper and has an indent on the backside of the body, which is super-useful for lead sections.
Both the body and the neck are made of mahogany, and it’s all accompanied by a nicely done jatoba fingerboard with 22 frets and ESP’s unique-looking “flag” inlays. And this instrument really is such eye candy for the lovers of metal aesthetics. On the edge of the body, we have a nice-looking binding that especially looks great with the guitar model’s black satin variant.
This is all accompanied by two amazing humbucker pickups and individual volume controls for each pickup, as well as a master tone control. What’s more, we even have a nice coil-tap feature to add in some diversity with the 3-way pickup selector switch.
ESP LTD Viper-201B
But knowing that they make some pretty awesome metal-oriented guitars, we couldn’t help but include yet another one of ESP LTD instruments in here. Now, we have something a little different now on the best guitars for metal rundown.
The Viper-201B not only puts a nice twist to the classic SG double-cutaway body design, but it’s also a baritone guitar. This means that it comes with a longer scale length, in this case, a total of 27 inches. With such a guitar, you’ll be able to have those lower tunings without your strings feeling like rubber.
What’s also amazing is that the guitar also comes with a set-in body and neck configuration, all while keeping the price below the $500 mark. The body here is made out of mahogany, while the neck is a 3-piece maple one that comes with a roasted jatoba fretboard and 24 extra-jumbo frets.
Other than that, the guitar keeps that pretty simple dual humbucker configuration, along with one volume pot, one tone pot, and a 3-way switch. We also have a standard and reliable Tune-o-Matic bridge with a stopbar tailpiece. Although fairly straightforward, ESP LTD’s Viper-201B is a very useful 6-string guitar for those who prefer to go with lower tunings.
Jackson JS32 Dinky
In case you need a nice lead guitar for pretty much any metal subgenre, but don’t feel like spending a lot, you can’t ever go wrong with Jackson’s JS32 Dinky model, possibly the best budget option on our best guitars for metal under $500 list.
In fact, getting so many features and qualities at its price is basically a steal. The JS32 is a Super-Strat guitar that comes with a poplar body, maple neck, amaranth fretboard, 24 frets, two humbuckers, and a Floyd Rose-style bridge. It’s all rounded up with a locking nut, ensuring tuning stability even with heavy tremolo use.
But that’s not all. The guitar also comes with some very meticulously designed body features that ensure easy performance. What’s more, some of the variants even come with an arched top, making the guitar very aesthetically-pleasing.
The guitar rocks two stock Jackson pickups with high output, making it very useful for sculpting those heavier tones.
Squier Jim Root Signature Telecaster
It’s amazing to see what Squier has to offer for the price, even if we’re talking about signature models. We’d like to take a closer look at the Jim Root Signature Telecaster guitar, which comes as a more affordable version of the Fender’s model. And yes, even a Tele can be one of your best guitars for metal.
With a price tag right under the $500 mark, the instrument comes with some “unconventional” features. After all, you don’t often see a Telecaster with two humbuckers, especially not those that have a higher output and which are designed for metal music.
What’s more, this guitar comes with a mahogany body, which is yet another departure from the classic Telecaster design. However, we have a maple neck with an Indian laurel fretboard, as well as a 12-inch fretboard radius and a scale length of 25.5 inches.
It’s a pretty simple guitar that comes in handy for heavy riffing sections, although it can do pretty well with some leads as well, especially with its very comfortable neck. What’s also interesting is that the guitar only comes with one volume knob and no tone knobs, which can ensure a really sharp and heavy tone, especially with the bridge humbucker.
Dean has been pushing the boundaries in the world of electric guitars for many years now. And their now-classic Razorback does this both in the terms of design and performance. In fact, the model was originally done as a collaboration between the company and none other than Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell.
The body brings a very bold twist to their classic ML model. But despite the legacy and some awesome features on it, the guitar is not that expensive at all. The classic mahogany body and the maple neck with a rosewood fretboard are the first sign that this is a pure metal shred machine.
With its two specially designed humbucker pickups and basic volume and tone controls, you’ll be able to make this guitar play anything from smooth overdriven tones and up to heavy screaming leads.
This is all accompanied by some mind-bending visual features, including the razor inlay on the 12th fret. With this guitar, you’ll be the meanest metalhead around. It’s clear from the get-go that this fella is one of the best guitars for metal.
Epiphone 1961 G-400 Pro
What’s so great with all the classic SG guitars is that they can be useful for plenty of different genres. In case you’re looking for something that’s perfect for classic metal, yet it comes useful for plenty of other metal subgenres, we’d recommend Epiphone’s classic G-400, especially the 1961 Pro variant. And this guy will wrap up our best guitars for metal under $500 list.
Taking the classic design, material choices, and sonic properties of the classic Gibson SG models, you just can’t go wrong with this instrument.
From top to bottom, this guitar has the essential features that everyone’s looking for in an SG. The set-in neck and body construction allows not only for easier performance in higher fret areas but also adds to the instrument’s sustain.
The body is pretty thin and light, making it super-easy to use, and the guitar is rounded up with classic vintage-oriented hardware. Epiphone’s classic Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers and the classic control configuration will offer a lot of versatility in your tone-shaping process.
What’s more, the guitar’s SlimTapper “D”-shaped neck will ensure smooth performance, even for the pickiest virtuoso metal players. It’s a classic guitar brought in a pretty affordable package, giving you to option to have an almost professional level instrument within a reasonable price level.