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Best Guitars for Death Metal: 10 High-Performance Models

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best guitar for death metal

If you’re looking for the best guitar for death metal – don’t worry, we got you covered! In today’s article we’re going to highlight ten of the most popular, affordable and reputable models used in this genre. You’ll see that good gear doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars and it’s totally possible to find a great guitar at a decent price.

We are going to focus on some the greatest guitars in the world that are used by death metal musicians on a daily basis. That includes models by such brands as ESP LTD, Ibanez, Dean, Charvel and many more. And of course, all of the guitars mentioned below are perfect for shredding and fat riffs!

Feel free to check out the list below. In the next section, we’re going to have a closer look at each of these models. There will be a few sound samples included too, so make sure to check them out as well.

10 Best Guitars For Death Metal – List

1.ESP LTD KH-602See on Amazon
2.Jackson JS32See on Amazon
3.Ibanez GRGA6See on Amazon
4.Charvel Pro-Mod San DimasSee on Amazon
5.Dean Stealth Floyd FMSee on Amazon
6.Jackson JS32 RhoadsSee on Amazon
7.ESP LTD EC-1000See on Amazon
8.Schecter 431See on Amazon
9.Squier Contemporary Active JazzmasterSee on Amazon
10.ESP LTD SnakebyteSee on Amazon

1. ESP LTD KH-602

ESP LTD KH-602 - Best Guitar For Death Metal

If you’re looking for the best guitar for death metal, the KH-602 is the way to go. This signature model of Kirk Hammett (Metallica) is one of the coolest and best sounding shredding machines of all time.

The guitar is equipped with a set of EMG Bone Breaker pickups which offer an extraordinary, fat sound. In addition, this model has an extremely comfortable ultra-thin neck which is perfect for fast solos. On top of that, there’s a Floyd Rose bridge, which is absolutely necessary for this kind of music.

The ESP LTD KH-602 may not be the cheapest guitar on the market, but it’s definitely worth every cent. I highly recommend checking out the demo below.

2. Jackson JS32

Jackson JS32 - Best Guitar For Death Metal

In comparison with the previous model, this Jackson is far more affordable. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest guitars on today’s list. Despite of the price, it still offers a really good quality and it’s recommended for both amateur and more advanced musicians.

Jackson decided to use a mix of poplar and maple for this guitar. And since poplar is one of the less expensive wood materials in the world, JS32 is available at a reasonable pricing. Of course, it’s not the best wood type in the world, but for the vast majority of players it should be more than enough.

I think that the Jackson JS32 is perfect for death metal guitarists who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on new gear. Feel free to check out the demo below.

3. Ibanez GRGA 6

Ibanez GRGA 6 - Best Guitar For Death Metal

Another really cool and cheap model which is a perfect entry-level death metal guitar. If you don’t know much about guitars yet and you’d like to finally learn more about it, the Ibanez GRGA 6 will be ideal for you.

The guitar is really good looking and in terms of appearance, it’s similar to the KH-602 mentioned earlier. It may not have the Floyd Rose bridge, but to be honest – it is not necessary if you’re an amateur. I think that it will be really tough to find a better guitar at this price level. Considering that, the GRGA 6 is actually a bargain.

Here’s a quick demo.

4. Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas

Charvel Pro-Mod

Another really cool and versatile guitar which is perfect for death metal. If you haven’t heard about Charvel, make sure to check out my separate article about this guitar brand. They manufacture high quality guitars specifically for rock and metal players.

The HSS pickup setting which includes Seymour Duncan pickups gives you access to a wide range of different tones. Whether you’re into fat riffs or fast, melodic solos – this Charvel will definitely help you achieve that. It may not be cheap, but it’s definitely worth the money. I highly recommend checking it out!

5. Dean Stealth Floyd FM

Dean Stealth Floyd

One of the coolest looking guitars on today’s list. This Dean guitar not only looks fantastic – it sounds awesome too. If you’re not familiar with this brand, you should definitely check out one of my previous articles about them.

In general, most of guitars made by Dean are great for metal genres. Out of my experience, their necks are really thin, so they’re perfect for shredding. Undoubtedly, choosing this axe will be a great choice for all death metal guitarists out there.

6. Jackson JS32 Rhoads

Jackson JS32 Rhoads - Best Guitar For Death Metal

Another really good and powerful sounding guitar by Jackson. In comparison with the previous JS32 model, this particular guitar is a bit upgraded and it has a little bit different body shape. Nevertheless, it’s still a axe that will be ideal for death metal.

Again, it will be really tough to beat this guitar at this price level. It features a basswood body, which is pretty lightweight in comparison with other woods. In addition, it has two high-output humbuckers which are perfect for heavier tones.

7. ESP LTD EC-1000

ESP LTD EC-1000 - best guitar for death metal

A really versatile and powerful guitar that can be used in a wide range of genres. Although the EC-1000 is recommended mainly for rock and metal guitarists, it’s totally possible to play some lighter tunes on it as well.

The EC-1000 is one of the most popular mid-level guitars manufactured by ESP LTD. It’s not only a great guitar for beginners, but also a great tour and studio companion for more intermediate players. Bear in mind that it’s completely made of mahogany, so it’s a bit heavier than poplar or alder guitars.

Anyway, in my opinion this guitar is one of the best guitars for death metal that you could possibly choose. I highly recommend checking out the demo below.

8. Schecter 431

A really cool budget electric guitar suitable for a lot of metal genres. This Schecter looks good, sounds good and doesn’t cost a fortune – isn’t it all that really matters? I think that it will be really tough to beat it at this price level.

The manufacturer decided to equip this guitar with a Tune-O-Matic bridge and two Schecter Diamond Plus humbuckers. In addition, it’s made of basswood, so it’s pretty lightweight. Undoubtedly, the Schecter 431 is a great choice for all-level players. I’m sure that even more advanced guitar players are going to love it!

9. Squier Contemporary Active Jazzmaster

To be honest, I never thought that Fender and Squier are capable of making good guitars for metal, but this new Jazzmaster totally blew my mind. I have to admit that for me it’s one of the coolest guitars released to the public in the recent years.

Why is it so cool? Well, if you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you probably know that I’m a massive fan of Jazzmasters. I just love their vibe, look and sound. But they are usually not equipped with high-output humbuckers – and that’s a game changer! In addition, this Squier has a beautiful matching headstock and a really comfortable neck.

Here’s a quick demo – I highly recommend checking it out.

10. ESP LTD Snakebyte

ESP LTD Snakebyte

A signature model of James Hetfield (Metallica). Although this is not a cheap guitar, it’s definitely worth the money. While ESP KH-602 mentioned earlier is great for lead guitarists, this particular model will be ideal for rhythm guitarists.

The overall quality of ESP LTD guitars is simply amazing. Their attention to detail is really on point. You can be sure that if you choose this Japanese manufacturer of guitars, you won’t be disappointed. I highly recommend checking out this guitar even if you’re not a fan of James Hetfield and Metallica.

FAQ – Metal Guitars

Can any guitar be used for metal?

To be honest, there are no limits when it comes to guitars and metal. As long as you use a lot of gain and distortion, you can try to play it on any electric guitar.

Can you play metal on a Strat?

It’s totally possible to play metal on a Strat. Playing metal is not only about guitars – it’s also about the amps, pickups and guitar pedals. Of course, if you plug in your classic Stratocaster to a regular amp, it will be tough to achieve a metal tone. But once you start using the right equipment, everything becomes much easier.

Feel free to check out my article about achieving the Swedish death metal tone.

Is Fender good for metal?

Yes, as long as you’re using the right set of guitar pedals and amps. To be honest, it’s all about the gear! While it’s possible to use Fender guitars for metal, their necks aren’t suitable to everyone. Most guitars recommended for metal usually have extremely thin necks, while Fender guitars usually have a bit thicker necks. That’s why playing really fast solos on them may not be as comfortable as on the vast majority of guitars designed for metal. In the end, it all comes down to your preference.

Is Jackson good for metal?

Absolutely! Jackson is a leader when it comes to rock and metal guitars. Their instruments are made for shredding and they usually feature powerful pickups and really slim necks which are perfect for shredding. Undoubtedly, choosing Jackson is a good choice if you’re a death metal guitarist.

Can you play blues on a metal guitar?

Yes! There are no limits when it comes to guitars. You can play blues, jazz and even folk music on a guitar that’s designed for metal. In the end, it’s all about having fun.


I hope that you enjoyed today’s list of guitars and you took your time to check out the sound demos above. All of the guitars mentioned in today’s article will be perfect for rock and metal. Undoubtedly, each of these guitars can be called as the best guitar for death metal.

Which guitar would you choose? Let me know in the comments section below, I’m really curious! Personally, I think that I’d stick with the ESP LTD – I used their gear in the past and it was one of the most comfortable guitars I have ever played.

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