Best Guitar For Death Metal

For the best Death Metal guitar, consider higher-end models like ESP E-II FRX and Schecter Reaper 6, mid-range ones like Dean Dave Mustaine VNMTX and Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL2, or budget options like Yamaha PAC112v, all known for their dark, thick tones, mahogany construction, heavy gauge strings, and tuning stability.

GuitarKey FeaturesSuitable for
Yamaha PAC112vSolid Alder body, Balanced tone and resonanceBeginners
Ibanez RG421Mahogany body, 24-fret thin, flat neck for fast playingAggressive styles of music
Jackson JS32 Dinky SeriesHigh-output ceramic-magnet pickups, Double-locking tremolo bridge for tuning stabilityMid-range budget
Dean Dave Mustaine VNMTX25.5-inch scale length, Dual humbucker pickupsHeavy metal tones
ESP E-II FRXActive EMG pickups, Floyd Rose bridge for stability and aggressive tonesHigh-end Death Metal performance


An Overview of the Role of Guitar in Metal Music

Like the cogs of a machine, every element in metal music has a role to play, contributing hugely to the final output. The rhythmic drum beats, the melancholic verses, the high octave screeching—everything has its part. But none are quite as significant as the Guitar. The hard and heavy riffs, the melodic harmonies, and the gut-wrenching solos give the genre its raw and aggressive edge.

Importance of Choosing the Right Guitar for Death Metal

Choosing the right guitar for Death Metal is like picking the right weapon for battle. The guitar is your extension, your voice in the band. It should reflect your tone, play style, and aesthetic preferences.

Understanding Death Metal

The History and Significance of Death Metal Music

Death metal emerged in the 1980s as an underground genre, led by bands like Possessed, Death, Venom, and Obituary offering a more intense and brutal sound.

The Unique Characteristics of Death Metal Sound

Death metal is characterised by its dark, thick, and resonant tones. It usually incorporates fast tempo, low-tuned guitars, high levels of distortion and often complex song structures.

Essential Traits of A Good Death Metal Guitar

Active Pickups vs Passive Pickups

Active Pickups: Pros include higher output, less noise, and more control over tone color. Cons are dependence on a power source and they are more expensive.

Passive Pickups: Pros include a classic tone, resistant to feedback, and no need for a battery. Cons are susceptibility to noise, less control over tone color, and possibly weaker output.

The Role of Wood in Guitar Tone

Mahogany is a favored wood for many Death Metal guitarists, known for its warm, dark, and punchy tone. But options like Alder and Basswood are also common and could offer a slightly different tone profile.

Scale Length and Its Impact on sound

Guitars with longer scale lengths (like the 27-inch Agile Interceptor PRO 727), enable you to use lower tunings without the strings becoming too loose, which is often preferable in Death Metal.

Importance of Frets and Neck Width for speed and playing comfort

A thin, flat neck, such as the "Wizard III Maple neck" on the Ibanez RG421, allows for fast and comfortable playing, vital for the rapid note changes often found in Death Metal.

Proper Bridge Type and Tuning Stability

For tremolo use and tuning stability, many players prefer a Floyd Rose double locking tremolo system. Others may opt for a fixed bridge for its simplicity and solid tuning.

Top 5 Guitars for Death Metal

  1. Yamaha PAC112v: An excellent beginner-friendly model made out of solid Alder, providing a balanced tone and resonance.

  2. Ibanez RG421: Known for being able to handle aggressive styles of music, the Ibanez RG421 features a Mahogany body with a 24-fret thin, flat neck for fast playing.

  3. Jackson JS32 Dinky Series: A decent mid-range option, featuring high-output ceramic-magnet pickups and a double-locking tremolo bridge for solid tuning stability.

  1. Dean Dave Mustaine VNMTX: Aside from its striking aesthetics, this guitar features a 25.5-inch scale length and dual humbucker pickups perfect for achieving those heavy metal tones.

  2. ESP E-II FRX: A high-end Death Metal guitar with active EMG pickups and a Floyd Rose bridge for excellent stability and aggressive tones.

Accessories That Enhance a Death Metal Performance

The right Amplifiers for death metal

Choosing the right amplifier is crucial for achieving the high-gain tones typical of Death Metal. Amps such as the Peavey 6505 and the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, are widely used within the genre.

Pedals that can elevate your performance

A few quality pedals can greatly impact your tone. Overdrive pedals help boost your signal for more gain, while a noise gate can help manage unwanted feedback.

Essential accessories for care and maintenance

A good guitar deserves proper care, including a proper guitar stand, guitar polish, and a set of Allen wrenches for adjustments.

Types of guitar picks best suited for death metal

Heavier gauge picks are often favored as they allow for a meatier and more aggressive attack on the strings.


Whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or a seasoned pro, the right guitar can make or break your Death Metal performance. Choose wisely and make sure it suits your playing style, aesthetic preferences, and most importantly, your budget. The Yamaha PAC112v, Ibanev RG421, or the high-end ESP E-II FRX could be your ticket to melting faces!


Can I play Death Metal on any guitar?

While you technically can, certain guitars are simply better suited for the genre due to their construction and components.

What is the difference between active and passive pickups?

Active pickups have a built-in preamp powered by a battery while passive pickups do not. Active pickups offer more output and less noise than passive, but the latter are often preferred for their natural, organic tones.

What role does an amplifier play in a Death Metal performance?

An amplifier is essential in achieving the high-gain, distorted tones typical in Death Metal. Certain amps, like the Peavey 6505 or Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, are used extensively within the genre.

Key Takeaways:

  • Death Metal, an underground genre that originated in the 1980s, requires unique guitar specifications for its distinctive, heavy sound.
  • Guitarists seeking dark, resonant tones often prefer Mahogany guitars for their warm, punchy tone.
  • Death Metal commonly involves tuning guitars to C standard or drop C, requiring heavy gauge strings to achieve the desired sound.
  • Reliable and durable guitar options like the Yamaha PAC112v, Ibanez RG421, and used Schecter Omen-6 could be ideal for beginners on a budget.
  • For intermediate players who are ready to invest a bit more, the Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL2 or Agile Interceptor PRO 727 offers superior specs.
  • The higher-end options such as ESP LTD EC-1000 and ESP E-II FRX provide professional-quality features and excellent performances.
  • The Floyd Rose double locking tremolo system is preferred by many Death Metal guitarists for its tuning stability and comfort of use.
  • A fast-playing neck design, such as a “C” or modern flat oval shape, aids in faster play which is beneficial for Death Metal techniques.
  • Choosing guitars with neck-thru construction might offer better sustain, which is essential for the heavy chord progressions in Death Metal.

6 Death Metal Guitar Riffs For Beginners

Additional Questions

Which guitar is best for death metal?

When it comes to playing death metal, **electric solid-body guitars** such as those produced by Gibson, Ibanez, ESP and Schecter are highly recommended. These types of guitars are favored by many professional metal guitarists because they have the heavy, fat sound that’s perfect for the genre.

What guitar is best for heavy metal?

For heavy metal genre, **Ibanez, Gibson, Fender, Kramer, Kiesel/Carvin, Jackson, Charvel, Schecter and ESP** brand guitars are often a great pick. They offer the robust and sharp tone that’s key for hard-hitting riffs and speedy solos in heavy metal.

What guitar do most metal guitarists use?

Most metal guitarists tend to use **electric solid-body guitars**, primarily from manufacturers like Ibanez, Gibson, Fender, Kramer, Kiesel/Carvin, Jackson, Charvel, Schecter and ESP. These guitars are known for their ability to produce the powerful, distorted sound essential to metal music.

What is the best cheap guitar for death metal?

Finding a cheap guitar for death metal largely depends on what you define as “cheap”, but typically, affordable models from brands such as **Ibanez, Jackson or ESP LTD** are solid options. These offer decent quality for their price and the necessary gritty tone for death metal.

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I'm Johnny, the guy behind Guitar Manifesto. I've been playing guitar since my teens and now that I'm in my 40s, I'm all about sharing what I've learned to help you become a better guitarist.

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