As much as people want to trot out that an artist is more important that his tools, when it comes to heavy metal music guitarists, the tool is usually part of the artist’s appeal. You can technically use any guitar to play heavy metal music, and all you need is an FX box and an amplifier with enough gain, but sometimes you really want the kind of guitar that not only sounds metal, but actually looks metal. The kind of axe that tells people you play music that will destroy their eardrums and question their faith. If you’re looking for that kind of guitar, here are a few that could help narrow down your search:
Gibson Les Paul Studio T
The Les Paul is already a popular choice for guitarists whose tastes lean more towards the heavier side of music, owing to the deep, rich sound that comes from having mahogany body and neck. But the Studio T does one better for metal aficionados because it looks and sounds metal. They come with Gibson 490R and 498T pickups that sound crunchier than BurstBucker Pros, and a stop bar tailpiece that provides solid tuning stability. The only downside to the Studio T is the absence of a whammy bar. A couple of my friends who play like to use the Les Paul. In fact when I was getting my car windows tinted at MasterShield in Palm Desert, a fellow customer and I made small talk about Gibson’s most popular models.
Jackson King V
With its sharp V-shaped body, the Jackson King V is most likely the only guitar in this list that automatically looks “metal” to people’s eyes regardless of how familiar they are with guitars. The angular shape, the presence of duncan distortion pickups, and a whammy bar make it obvious that this guitar was made primarily for heavy riffs and blistering licks. It’s not just about the looks, though. The duncan distortion pickups are perfect for a growling sound when paired with the right FX box, and the King V has a Nato body that provides deep, solid tones similar to a mahogany body.
Instead of a specific model, we’re going with an entire brand line. Namely because Ibanez guitars are so synonymous with heavy metal that it’s easy for people to assume that the brand is exclusive to metal players. Some of the notable users of Ibanez guitars are metal guitar gods such as Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen.The most iconic Ibanez guitars are probably the Ibanez Destroyer, which has been used to create Van Halen’s debut album, and the Iceman. But newer additions like the RG and the S are also great choices.
Schecer is known for making great, premium-looking guitars that are still reasonably priced. Many of their guitars are favored by metal shredmeisters due to their sharp, angular shapes with deep cutaways that make it easier to reach the higher frets. The most popular one in their lineup is the Hellraiser. Its name alone already makes it suitable for heavy metal, but its use of a mahogany body, floyd rose pick ups, and a tremolo bar further drive home the point that this is the guitar to wield if you want to shred like the masters.
The Dean ML was not originally associated with metal music, but was already very popular during the 70s and 80s. It was overshadowed by the super strat designs that many metal guitarists sported at the time. What really made the Dean ML so synonymous with heavy metal is the late Dimebag Darrell, who wielded a Dean ML he won from a contest when he played lead guitars for Pantera. Dimebag loved the Dean ML’s resonance and sustain, and its use of a mahogany body and neck along provided deep tones while the maple top also helped improve the highs. Other notable users of he Dean ML include Michael Amott of Arch Enemy and Dave Mustaine of MegaDeath.