Top 5 Best Electric Guitars For Metal Music Under 500 Dollars
Pedal To The Metal
Metal music to me has always associated with two things - huge sound and fierce looks. And those two things are exactly what guitar players that play metal music are looking for when choosing their guitars.
- Sound - As metal players tend to play with overdrive or distortion 99% of the time, these guitars are made from more resonant woods with higher output pickups that gives you a massive wall of sound, but it also must be capable of decent clean tones when the players tone it down.
- Looks - As much as metal guitar players hate to admit it (at least some of them), for metal guitar players the looks of a guitar really does matter. Various shapes, colors, paintjobs - all these things are part of their style and stage act.
Of course, if you try hard enough, you can get a good metal sound out of every electric guitar (with the right pedals and amps everything is possible), but in this article I have selected five guitars that, in my opinion, gives you the best features for playing metal music and that doesn't cost more than 500 dollars.
And these guitars are:
- Schecter Stealth C - 1
- Kramer Pacer Classic
- Ibanez RG450DX
- Jackson JS32 Rhoads
- ESP LTD M - 100FM
Schecter Stealth C-1
Schecter has been one of the leading metal and rock guitar manufacturers for some time now and the C-1 Stealth model is one of their most popular guitar models for affordable price.
Price: ~ 500$
Body and neck: The body of this guitar is made from mahagony and the neck is also made from mahagony with rosewood fretboard. This combination of woods is pretty common for metal guitars and gives you a nice warm all around sound with plenty of low end and middle frequencies and accentuated high frequencies. The neck is glued into body (set neck) for better sustain and has ultra access neck young that gives you easy access to higher frets. It has a thin C shape, that is comfortable and sits great into hand.
Hardware: Stealth C-1 has Schecters own designed custom hardtail bridge that, in combination with string thru body and Schecter standard tuners, gives you stable tuning and great sustain. The fretboard has 24 extra jumbo frets that are great for fast chord changes and solos.
Electronics: This guitar comes equipped with Schecter Diamond series SuperRock - II humbucker pickups with high output magnets for big, open sounding chords and furious solos. The pickups can be controled with a master volume control and a master tone control, which is also a puss/pull potentiometer for engaging coil split feature (disable a certain amount of pickup windings) for cleaner sounds, and the three-way swith lets select each pickup separately or both of them together.
Sounds and Playability:
The Schecter Stealth C-1 has certainly got a metal sound, that is for sure. The bridge pickup will give a great overdriven rhythm sound tha's got a lot of bite and grit. Both pickups together will give you a decent enough clean tone and the bridge pickup has great lead tone with excelent sustain. The guitar plays great, it has a comfortable thin neck shape with fast action. The weight of this guitar is somewhere between a Telecaster and Les Paul guitars. Comes in four colors: Satin Red, Satin Black, Satin Silver and Satin White.
Check out Schecter Stealth C-1 in action
Kramer Pacer Classic
Kramer guitars ruled the guitar world in the 80's when the glam metal scene was at its peak and almost every guitar player seemed to have a Kramer guitar in their arsenal. After the grunge scene came along, nobody seemed to be interested in these guitars anymore, so the company dissapeared, but has made comeback in recent years and are once again offering great guitars for metal and the Kramer Pacer Classic is no exception.
Body and neck: The body of this guitar is made out of the mahogany with the neck and fingerboard being made out of the maple. The mahogany gives you warm, open sound with good low and middle frequency response while the maple neck gives you a boost in high frequencies. Combining these two together gives you a well balances sound with pleny of punch and bite for metal music. The neck has a slim C shape, which feels comfortable and sits great in hand, and is attached to body with screws (bolt-on).
Hardware: The Pacer Classic is equipped with a licenced Floyd Rose tremolo bridge that gives you access to perform dive bombs and other cool sound effects that were so common in almost every guitar solo from 80's metal bands. The locking nut along with premium die-cast tuners gives you more improved tuning stability. The fretboard has 22 medium jumbo frets, which is an industry standard.
Electronics: This guitar comes with two high output humbuckers that have Alnico V magnets. The pickups are controled by two volume controls, each for separate pickup and a master tone control. The pickups can be selected separately or put tugether by a three-way pickup selector.
Sounds And Playability:
This guitar is just a dream come true for those guitar players that are into 80's metal music. The Pacer Classic seems to replicate those big, massive 80's guitar tones with ease. The bridge pickup gives you a great sounding rhythm tone while the neck pickup offers screaming lead tone. Both together with some added delay and chorus, this guitar gives you a great clean tone. The playability is also amazing. The neck is fast and more that apropriate for blazing solos. Kramer Pacer Classic weights around 8 pounds and comes in three colors - Black, Candy Red and Pearl White
Check out Kramer Pacer Classic in action
Ibanez is know as one of the main metal guitar manufacturer and endorses and supports many metal guitar players. The RG450DX is a feature packed guitar at afforable price.
Body and neck: The body of RG450DX is made out of mahogany with the neck being made out of a three piece maple (meaning that three pieces of maple are glued together which makes the neck stronger) with rosewood fretboard. Just as with the Kramer Pacer, the combination of these woods gives you a well balanced sound with rosewood adding a bit more middle frequencies. The neck is attached to the body with screws (bolt-on) and has a Wizard III neck shape whick is kind of slim C shape and sits comfotable in hand.
Hardware: Ibanez has equipped this guitar with its own Edge-Zero II tremolo bridge with locking nut that gives you great tuning stability along with standard Ibanez tuners. The neck has 24 jumbo frets.
Electronics: This guitar has Ibanez made quantum pickups that have the H-S-H configuration (Humbucker in the bridge, single coild in the middle and humbucker in the neck). This kind of setup offers a variety of tones. The pickups are controled by a master volume and master tone controls and switched with a five way pickup switch.
Sounds and Playability:
The Ibanez Rg450DX is probably the most versatile guitar on this list. It gives you many tones - great overdriven rhythm tone with bridge pickup, a cool clean tone in second position which enables the middle pickup and one coil from the bridge pickup and also in the 4th position that gives you middle pickup with one coild of the neck pickup. The third and fifth positions gives you great lead tones. The playability of this guitar is also excellent. Its pretty lightweight with fast neck.
Check out Ibanez RG450DX in action
Jackson JS32 Randy Rhoads
Jakson is a well know metal guitar manufacturer and such guitar players like Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Andrian Smith (Iron Maiden) and Scott Ian (Anthrax) each have their own signature Jackson guitar. This guitar is a more afforable version of the famous metal guitar player Randy Rhoads signature model guitar.
Price: ~ 300$ - 340$
Body and neck: The body of this guitar is made of basswood with the neck being made out of maple with rosewood fretboard. The basswood is a light wood and has a well balanced, all around tone to it with slight boost in middle frequencies. In combination with the maple neck, this guitar has an overall well balanced sound. The neck is attached to the body with screws (bolt on) and has a thin neck shape with compound radius meaning that the neck gets flatter as you go up the fretboard for more comfortable fret access.
Hardware: This guitar has a Floyd Rose locking bridge with tremolo and Jackson die cast tuners that give you great tuning stability. The fretboard has 24 jumbo frets.
Electronics: The JS32 RR has two high output Jackson humbuckers for rocking tones and a master volume and master tone switch. The pickups can be selected with the three way switch.
Sounds And Playability:
This guitar is a real rock and metal machine. The bridge pickup gives you great rhythm tone with overdrive/distortion. Both pickups together has a great clean tone and the neck pickup has awesome lead tone. The playability is great and one cool feature in this guitar is the compound radius. Comes in two colors - Satin grey and Black with white bevels.
Check out Jackson JS32 Randy Rhoads in action
Esp Ltd M-100fm
ESP is one of the most known metal guitar makers and their guitars are played by many big name metal guitar players.
Price: ~ 330$
Body and neck: M-100FM has a basswood body with flamed maple top and a maple neck with rosewood fretboard. The combination of those woods gives you a well balanced guitar tone. The neck on this guitar is extra slim and flat, making it great for fast solo runs and lightning fast solos. The neck is added to the body with screws (bolt on neck).
Hardware: This guitar has a Floyd Rose licenced tremolo bridge with locking nut and ltd die cast tuners for great tuning stability. The fretboard has 24 extra jumbo frets.
Electronics: This guitar is equipped with ESP designed humbuckers with a master volume and tone and a three way switch for choosing pickup.
Sounds And Playabilty:
Thsi guitar is just a lethal weapon for lead guitar players. The neck is great for solo playing. The sounds you can get out of this guitar are also great. Comes in two colors - See thru black and see thru black cherry.
Check out LTD M-100FM in action
These five guitars would be my first choice, if I would go looking for a guitar for metal music and had a limited budget. They all have their own unique qualities and are good guitars. Of course, there are many other brands and models out there like B.C. Ritch Mockingbird Contour, Schecter Omen Extreme 6, PRS SE Standard, the entire JS32 Jackson series and other guitars.