If you’re really into metal, you know that having a quality guitar is not only necessary, but those guitars are often expensive, and not every musician can have the privilege to own one that costs a lot of money.
Well, you shouldn’t worry either, because, In this article, I will offer you the 5 best metal guitars under $1000.
I’ve chosen each of them precisely, after I’ve made an in-depth analysis, and trust me, you will barely feel that you’re playing in a guitar that costs less than $1000, because their build quality and the performance is indeed strong!
Intrigued? I’d suggest getting into action right away so that you can see what I’ve prepared for you!
The 5 Best Metal Guitars Under $1000
5. Epiphone Les Paul Special II
The Epiphone Les Paul Special II is a well-known metal guitar on the market that has received hundreds of positive reviews and critiques by the guitarists, since this unit combines an affordable price with a great performance, and as you know, this does not often happen!
Speaking of the design, the Les Paul Special II comes in 3 colors of which you can choose from, including the “Ebony” which I’m currently reviewing, the “Heritage Cherry Sunburst”, and “Vintage Sunburst”, so, feel free to choose the one you found the most aesthetically pleasing, since all of them are unique in their way, and share the same performance!
In addition, this particular model has a handsome-looking, mahogany body with a 24.75″ scale length that is composed of a Rosewood fretboard, bolt-on mahogany neck and 22 frets with simple dot inlays. When you see it as a whole, I think that you will be very satisfied with the overall build quality, since this unit is indeed solid and allows the guitarist to have a comfortable playing session and packs a higher level of playability!
Moving on, when choosing a metal guitar, one of the most essential things is the hardware, right? Well, let’s see what does this guitar has to offer for you!
Well, the manufacturer has implemented open-coil humbucking pickups, of which one is set at the neck, whereas, the second can be found at the bridge.
But, keep in mind that both of them are controlled by a master volume rotary knob and a master tone, as well as a three-way toggle switch which is something that I absolutely favor due to the fact that you will a chance to choose between the two humbuckers any time you want!
If you think that this is all, well, no, it isn’t! Epiphone has set sealed machine heads at the headstock, and nickel buttons on one side, while on the other, you can also find a Tune-O-Matic style bridge and stop bar tailpiece, whose purpose is to ensure excellent adjustability and sustain so that you can always make this guitar perform exactly as you’d like!
When it comes to the audio, this guitar will surely impress you, because there aren’t many guitars in this price range that perform so nicely. To be more precise, except metal, you can play blues and classic rock without any problems, since its humbuckers are strong enough to output heavier tones, and let’s not forget that you can always boost its performance by having just a decent amp that will ensure a higher level of clarity and warmth!
Overall, the Epiphone Les Paul Special II deserves your attention, especially if you want to keep tight on budget while looking for a guitar that will surely boost your experience thanks to its exceptionally strong capabilities and qualities!
4. Fender Contemporary Active Stratocaster HH
The Fender Active Stratocaster HH can be considered as a top choice, for everyone who is interested to have a highly-capable guitar that is specifically tailored for metal and heavy rock, while having strong electronics and components which will help you fulfill your potential. Sounds interesting? Let’s see what else you can expect from it!
Aesthetically speaking, I would like to inform you that this unit is available in 6 colors of which you can choose from, and even though I’m currently reviewing the black-metallic one, feel free to switch because all of them look superb!
This unit sports an attractive, black-metallic body that employs the fascinating, double-cutaway shape, and from the moment you take it out of its box, you will notice that this guitar is simply meant for metal!
Furthermore, this guitar has a C-shaped, bolted-on, maple neck that will allow you have a quick and effective playability, and even let you shred which is excellent, however, let’s not forget its Rosewood fretboard that is followed by 22 jumbo frets since this part will play a huge role in providing you stable string grip and easy bending!
In terms of the hardware, the Active Stratocaster HH packs trio of single-coils and a duo of active humbuckers set at the neck and bridge, but, let’s not forget that all of them are controlled by a master tone pot, master volume and with the included, three-way selector switch!
I would also like to mention that you will never face difficulties adjusting the guitar according to your preferences, due to the fact that the included, standard die-cast set tuners are flawless in their job, and therefore, I think that you will appreciate having such a quality guitar.
But that’s not all! The manufacturer has included a licensed Floyd Rose tremolo as well, so, I can easily say that this guitar is simply made for metal because it has a wide range of onboard effects, so you can opt to get everything, starting from slight vibrato and up to divebombs!
Now, let’s talk a bit about the sound quality.
First of all, I have to admit that this model is incredibly powerful because you will have an opportunity to play metal rhythm and lead, thanks to immersive heavy output, but let’s not also forget the presence of its active pickups which will dramatically improve the sound quality and your experience with this guitar!
In conclusion, I strongly recommend you consider the Fender Contemporary Active Stratocaster HH, because it looks as good as it performs, and in case you ever decide to purchase it, I’m sure that you will unlikely regret that decision!
3. ESP LTD EC-1000
The ESP LTD EC-1000 is among the most widely purchased metal guitars that cost less than $1000, however, its performance and look says entirely the opposite. I’m sure that you’ve seen its name multiple times on the Internet, and if you didn’t know what’s so special about it, then this is the right time since now you will understand everything!
To begin with, the design. The LTD EC-1000 sports a glossy, all-black, set-thru mahogany body that has has a 3 pc, mahogany wide neck that is followed by 24-extra jumbo frets, which by default means that this guitar is not only comfortable to hold but at the same time, you will have a huge freedom in terms of playing since you will have a convenient grip and easy string-bending, exactly as you’d like from a guitar made by this manufacturer!
Speaking of the hardware, the EC-1000 employs two aggressive-active EMG humbuckers – a 60 at the neck, and the second, 81 at the bridge, but, if we take these two components aside, you can also find an individual volume control for each pickup, a three-way switch and a master tone knob. Additionally, the manufacturer has implemented a so-called TonePros Locking Tune-O-Matic bridge along with a tailpiece whose purpose will be to dramatically enhance the tuning stability and sustain, and honestly, when I see this guitar from this aspect, I have to admit that I’m indeed satisfied!
Moreover, the audio quality is very strong, in fact, the EC-1000 does a highly effective job in outputting clear tones, and once you start playing, you will also find the EMGs satisfying due to the fact that they do add intensity and detail to the audio. Once you get in the heated moment, where you have to make solos, the EMG 60 set at the neck will help you achieve excellent results!
Finally, the LTD EC-1000 would be an extremely good option for you, especially if you’re looking for a guitar that will provide you consistent performance, smooth playability and nothing less than a professional sound without spending thousands of dollars!
2. Yamaha RevStar RS720B
The Yamaha RevStar RS720B is a truly unique electric guitar that incorporates an easy to hold and play, contoured body, strong hardware with custom-wound pickups and a sleek design that can satisfy even the most demanding guitarists on the market, and if these attributes depict how should your next guitar look and perform alike, then congratulations, you’ve found it!
Design-wise, this particular model features an ash-grey, mahogany body that holds a flamed maple top, brass baseplate with wound polyurethane wires, 22 jumbo frets, a Rosewood fretboard and honestly, from the moment you touch this guitar, you will feel the excellent craftmanship of Yamaha!
In addition, the RS720B is very comfortable to play with, and the reason is pretty simple, starting fro its flat top, its forearm contour and its heavy contoured back that has double cutaways. When you combine all these things into one, you shouldn’t be surprised at all, why is this guitar widely used by the beginners, intermediates, and professionals!
When it comes to the hardware, Yamaha has incorporated custom-wound VT5+ Tron pickups, locking die-cast tuners, a Tune-o-Matic bridge, and a fantastic and genuine Bigsby B50 tremolo. But hey, that’s not all! This guitar lets you have multiple tonal options, thanks to its three-way switch, its multiple tone controls, and the master volume. Hence, I have to admit that the manufacturer has done a really good job since you will enjoy the given freedom of being able to have greater control over the tones!
If you’ve been curious regarding the sound, well, thanks to the presence of the VT5+ pickups and the vibratio, the sound is unbelievably clean, the details are indeed strong, whereas, its strings are good enough to offer you a smooth performance, and the produced tones are suitable enough to suit most of the tastes, including yours!
According to those who have already purchased this guitar, except for playing metal, you can also opt to experiment in different music genres, including Blues, Jazz or Rock, since the versatility of this unit is indeed superb, which by default means that you will never feel restricted in terms of playing.
Last but not least, since you will play metal most of the time, I think that you will especially favor the pickups because they are one of the biggest highlights regarding this guitar, aside from the comfort and its sound quality!
To summarize, I would definitely recommend you consider the Yamaha RevStar RS720B as your next purchase, and if you ever decide to purchase it, you will assure yourself of its potential and find out what makes this guitar different from the others on the market!
1. Schecter Hellraiser C-1
The Schecter Hellraiser C-1 is a pure class, and at the same time, this guitar is widely used by the guitarists on the market, due to the fact that the build and audio quality does not feel like you’re playing on a guitar that costs less than $1000, and therefore, this is one of the reasons why I’ve listed this unit to be #1 choice for you!
From a design perspective, the Hellraiser C-1 looks magnificent! Starting from its classic double-cut, mahogany body with carved top, and all the way up to its eye-pleasing mahogany, 3-piece set-in neck, and fretboard! When you view this unit as a whole, you will be stunned of its overall build quality and the comfort you receive in a return!
For your information, the fretboard is made of Rosewood and has a very nice, 14″ radius which is something that I particularly like, mainly because of the fact that you will have an opportunity to bend a wide area of the pitch to work with! On the other side, its gothic cross inlays do add even more beauty to its already beautiful appearance, and for now, I don’t have remarks regarding the body. So, let’s take a look at the hardware.
The Hellraiser C-1 has composed of EMG Active 81TW/89 pickups, TuneStyle Tune-o-Matic bridge with a thru-body string attachment, as well as tuners, which will offer you nothing less than great stability!
Additionally, you can also find a three-way pickup switch which definitely comes handy, since you will never feel restricted in terms of pickup configuration!
In terms of the sound, the sound produced by this guitar is nothing less than spectacular. The reason is very simple since the Hellraiser C-1 outputs a very powerful sound, whereas, the tones are exceptionally versatile so that you can switch in between the single coil and humbucker modes without having difficulties at all!
Also, since you will primarily use this guitar for metal music, I’d like to mention that you will instantly notice its aggressive, yet big sound, and as a matter of fact, you can search on YouTube and see by yourself some videos made by those who are playing with this guitar. I’m sure that you will be surprised and incredibly satisfied with this guitar!
In the end, the Schecter Hellraiser C-1 is a must-have product, so give it a try especially if you’re a metalhead that loves deep and aggressive tones!
Metal Guitar Buying Guide
In this section, I will be mainly focused on providing you precise information regarding the aspects you should look at before purchasing metal guitars, especially those that cost less than $1000!
To begin with, one of the most important things about metal guitar is the following:
The word “playability” is often used by the guitarists to explain how easy is to play on a certain guitar. There are many things that make a specific guitar to be easy to play with, so let’s explain the most important features.
If you’ve had a chance to see an electric guitar, the first thing you may have noticed is their fretboards that have a slight curve. Well, you should understand the radius rating of the fretboard, since the radius isn’t the same, but it varies depending on guitar designs. Namely, do not be surprised if you see a modern guitar with a radius of 16″ or more, even though, most of the vintage radius are low, in general, they stretch between 7″.
So, you may likely be curious about how does the radius of the fretboard affects the guitar’s performance? To keep things short, I would tell you that a high radius fretboard will let you have an option to set a lower string action and be capable to perform extreme string bending without dealing with the strong chocking out on the hump of the fretboard. Basically, the lower the radius, the more clearance the string will take to keep on vibrating without chocking out at higher bends.
In general, the best frets are those called “jumbo frets”, so, the metal guitar of your dreams should have this kind of frets. The reason is pretty simple though because jumbo frets tend to offer some kind of combination between low action and easy bending. In addition, they will offer you a stable grip on the strings when bending.
Although the look of your guitar will not define your capabilities, still, having a guitar that has an aggressive look is always a great option, since metal music is extremely associated with aggressively-looking guitars!
The beauty and the benefits of owning a metal guitar are that the electronic options are indeed numerous, or let’s use the word “endless” since it is more precise. So, I’d suggest you pay attention to the electronics, and choose a guitar that has more pickups and knobs, because that guitar will offer you greater control over the sound, and this is crucial, right?
Bridge and Tuning Hardware
First of all, let’s make a distinction between the most common type of bridges. For your information, there are fixed-type and tremolo bridges. Fixed-type bridges are known for their ability to provide the guitarist extremely high tuning stability, and they are widely used by the beginners. On the other hand, tremolo bridges are used by the professionals because they allow the guitarist to make extreme bending and get the beloved, “bombing” effect.
Did you know that the wood may affect the sound quality and depend on whether it is made of quality wood or not, the durability will be affected respectively?
For example, most of the metal guitars are made by Mahogany due to its ability to offer surprisingly rich and deep tones. But, if you want to keep tight on budget, then I’d suggest you prioritize those metal guitars whose construction is made by basswood. Additionally, the audio of those guitars is pretty deep and has balanced resonance.
Finally, we can’t end this subsection without mentioning the pickups, because they are very important. Namely, there are two types of pickups, such as Active pickups and passive pickups. Active pickups provide better, overall control and are ideal for higher gain options, while the passive pickups perform without batteries and they are known for delivering a wide range of metal tones. If you want to play metal, we recommend you check out our list of the best guitar pickups for metal list.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the ideal type of string gauges for electric guitars?
Although everything depends on your taste, I will try to offer you a simple explanation regarding this question. For instance, if a specific metal guitar has lighter string gauges, then, that guitar will be easier to play, would allow you to have an easier bending of notes and fretting, however, there are a few disadvantages as well. These gauges tend to produce less volume and sustain, as well as they can break more easily. On the other hand, heavier gauge electric guitars are harder to play and require from you to put more finger pressure to fret and bend notes, however, they produce more volume and sustain and get the most tension out of the guitar neck.
Can you give me some tapping tips?
Of course, but first of all, we all have to be grateful of Eddie Van Halen, due to the fact that he was the one responsible for the popularization of tapping. Moreover, you can often see that numerous players begin to tap by using their middle fingers, although some of them use the index finger. But, to get the best out of your guitar in terms of tone, Id suggests you use the tip of your nail instead of the skin of your finger. Yes, it will be a bit strange and hard, but later, you won’t have difficulties and the sound quality will always be great.
What should I look for in metal guitars?
I’ve answered this question at the “Buying Guide” section, so, if necessary, you can re-read and get all the information needed regarding this topic.
Set neck or Bolt-on?
Let’s make something clear. This solely depends on your style and taste. Some people prefer set-neck and claim that this type has better sustain in comparison to bolt-on necks. In general, bolt-on necks are cheaper and way easier to repair and manufacture, and both of them have their own pros and cons.
Are metal guitars that cost less than $1000 worth it?
Of course they are. In fact, most of the intermediates and beginners are playing on guitars that cost less than $1000.
I hope that I’ve helped you gain a better understanding of the qualities of the guitars mentioned in this article, and maybe you’ve already chosen your next guitar. If, by any chance, you haven’t, then keep in mind one thing – although all of them are different from each other in many aspects, at the same time, they share multiple things in common including a powerful audio reproduction, versatility, and durability. Hence, no matter which one you choose, I think that you will be satisfied with the guitar. If you want a normal guitar, you can read our guide about electric guitars under $1000.
Also, do not hesitate to contact me and share your experience with me in case you’ve made an actual purchase because I always want my audience to be well-informed and satisfied with their purchase!