Listen up, metal players. When in the music store looking for your next set of strings to shred, it’s important to be considering the gauge, the price range, and the quality. For the best guitar strings for metal, read on to know more!
If you’re the sort of individual who’s a real fan of music, then you know that the metal genre can be really loud and dynamic! Musicians of this specific sound rely heavily on chunky power chords, drop tunings, bends, dive-bombs, and even shredding!
What this essentially means is that the band, or the guitarist to be specific, can do a fair amount of beating on his gear.
For the gigging artist, this can be a tall order, especially for your guitar strings! And nothing can bug you out more than breaking your strings in the middle of a guitar solo you’ve worked for months on!
Now, it’s important to invest in the right type of strings for the genre you are playing. Being quite different from blues and country in terms of attack and style, metal guitar players can be quite aggressive! This is why they need to have a reliable pack of strings whenever they are out gigging or recording in the studio.
In this feature, we are going to be looking at some of the best available strings on the market today.
But first, what exactly are we looking for in a good pack of guitar strings for the perfect metal tone?
I’ve tested several guitar strings, and the names mentioned in this feature are some of the ones that stood out for several reasons. It produced a distinct guitar sound that’s ideal for low tunings and aggressive playing.
Let’s have a look at the buying guide!
Buying Guide (Best Guitar Strings For Metal)
The guitar community can be the most interesting thing in the world! For players, nothing beats the thrill of learning new stuff from other artists. Almost the same goes for their gear! You can search on Google for some of the most interesting topics that are to be found on forums and community discussions.
There is a lot of talk regarding guitars, amps, and pedals. But rarely do aficionados talk about guitar strings!
It’s often overlooked, as players who are new to the instrument don’t seem to be that interested in learning everything there is to know about the guitar – let alone strings!
If you’ve always wanted to learn more about the said part of your rig, then you’ve come to the right place!
Paint a mental picture of this one:
So you’ve taken the time to learn a thing or two about your instrument. You’ve also managed to play for quite a while using your electric guitar.
You explore different genres, in the hopes of finding the sound that will suit you.
You’ve decided to go full-on metal!
Since you are starting to get the hang of it, you’ve noticed the several different nuances of your favorite players. They tend to hit the strings pretty hard, and they drop-tune their guitars!
In an attempt to sound like your favorite artist, you try and do the same.
But without having knowledge of strings, you do so without taking caution! And your strings break!
This is why having general knowledge about strings, gauges, and materials used is crucial.
These gauges simply pertain to the diameter or thickness of a guitar string. When people buy string packs, they usually refer to them via the thinnest gauge. They are also sized in 1/1000th of an inch, making a 10-gauge string 0.010 inches.
Now you’re probably wondering why string gauges matter.
You see, depending on your skill level and playing style, a specific string gauge will work best and sound best for you. While there are no necessary rules in terms of gauges, there are still some considerable guidelines you may want to look into.
Thinner strings usually produce and give emphasis on the high-end or treble. This can make it the best choice for country or for musicians looking to highlight their top-end nuances.
Thin string gauges can also appeal to jazz or blues players, considering that they are fairly easy to bend. Since you will be needing to be articulate to be expressive with each individual note, thin strings are the way to go.
Thicker string sets on the other hand mostly appeal to metal or rock players. This is because they give emphasis on the “oomph” factor on the lower-end or bass. This also makes it better for drop tuning. Tight articulation and chunky chords are often associated with this genre, and you will definitely need tighter or thicker strings to produce a certain punch or bite during riffs or chunky power chords.
If you’re seeing yourself as a versatile musician on the other hand, then hybrid gauges may be the thing for you. This is commonly a mixture of string gauges that are usually found in separate packs. This could work well if you want to highlight certain tendencies of your playing, like a bright treble for cutting in a band mix, or a tight low-end for punchy chord progressions.
In terms of materials used on these strings, you are most likely to find stainless steel, cobalt, nickel, or copper. These materials each produce their own tonal characteristics. Some even provide extra protection against sweat or moisture, prolonging your string life.
Another thing you’ll need to consider is your budget. Usually, strings aren’t that at all expensive, but there are some brands that are much more affordable than others.
With all that out of the way, let’s get into our list of some of the best electric guitar strings for metal!
Ernie Ball Slinky M-Steel (10-46)
Spearheading our roundup is arguably one of the most famous guitar string brands on the market today!
Ernie Ball Slinky M-Steel boasts their patented Super Cobalt alloy wrapped around a Maraging steel hex core wire. It is said to produce a tighter low-end response, to go along with a fuller and richer tone. It also boasts a patented winding of steel, making it almost last longer than common strings at this price point.
They also claim that these strings are the most expressive and the loudest, so best be sure to check it out and try it for yourself to see if it’s true! After all, Ernie Ball strings are considered one of the best out there.
Dunlop DHCN Heavy Core NPS Electric Strings (10-48)
These nickel-plated steel offerings from Dunlop gained a reputation in the metal scene due to its “heavy core for heavy tone” tagline!
Dunlop created this offering, particularly for drop tuning. They also say that these strings are packaged with three levels of moisture protection, and are known to be sealed in a Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor bag.
It offers gauges of .010, .013, .017, .028, .038, .048, and is capable of covering low-end terrain while sustaining your clarity, making it ideal for lower tunings.
D’Addario NYXL1254 Nickel Wound Heavy (12-54)
Our first 12s are from D’Addario!
These strings are made to be able to withstand whammy bar dives and even extreme bends! Artists like Tosin Abasi from Animals As Leaders have been relying on D’Addarios to help produce their signature tone.
One of this pack’s strengths is well… its strength. Their strings are made from premium high carbon steel, known to deliver tuning stability and break resistance.
In terms of sound, this pack offers accentuated mid-range frequency response, all while keeping low-end and high-end rather stable.
DR Strings DDT-11
This pack, from the name itself, is definitely appealing to metalheads and heavy chuggers!
DDT offers Accurate Core Technology™ (ACT™), a coated hexagonal core wire that locks the nickel-plated steel wrap wire in place. This technology is said to be capable of increasing stability and maintaining intonation at any tension. Tone is balanced for all frequencies, with a slight punch on the low-end.
Elixir Nanoweb Heavy Gauge Guitar Strings (12-52)
For most guitar players, Elixir has established quite a reputation for having some of the most long-lasting strings available today.
Here we have their offering for bottom-end tightness and tone! The Nanoweb Heavy offers Nanoweb coating, a material from Elixir making the strings produce a somewhat bright and balanced tone. This characteristic can be a good option for recording!
Feel and texture are also some of the sought-after characteristics of this pack and can come a bit pricey so if you’re just starting out, you can always consider other options or save up!
Ernie Ball 2214 Mammoth Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings
Wrapping up our list is another mighty offering from Ernie Ball!
The Mammoth Slinky comes from their Slinky series, which is known for incorporating quite a variety of gauges into a single pack.
This pack offers a tin-plated hex steel core and a nickel-plated steel wrap. This makes the strings produce their signature balanced tone. It also offers a patented winding of bronze wire tightly wrapped around the lock twist of ball end for reduced slippage and breakage.
Changing Your Strings
This method can usually be different, depending on the type of guitar you own.
A popular method for Stratocaster users is to be found in this video.
For Les Paul fans, on the other hand, you can check out this video.
The Wrap Up
By now, you should have a general idea of how strings work out for the player. It can be entirely depending on your genre, your playing style, and your skill level! But one of the most important factors you should always consider is the feel. A good string gauge for you should help inspire you to play more and have fun!
After all, spending more time learning your instrument can be a way to explore and know what type of strings and gauge will work for you.
Just remember to always keep track of your progress, identify what works for you, and you should be well on your way to becoming the next rockstar!