Top 10 Best Metal Guitars

Which are the best metal guitars in the history of music? Your votes have been counted, and the results are in - so which guitars made it to the top 10?

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Metal is a demanding genre for a guitarist.

You've got to be able to shatter bone with low-frequency roars, play with a hard-and-fast attitude and fly up the fretboard for shred-tastic solos while looking like a true metal master. You can't swear by any old guitar for a job like that.

On Wednesday we asked UG readers to nominate and vote for the best metal guitars ever. As usual, the results are pretty stellar, and almost every model is attached to a well-known metal guitarist name to help give you an idea of what they sound like in practice.

How would you improve this list? Are any guitars missing that deserve to rank higher? Join the debate in the comments and settle the score once and for all.

10. Zakk Wylde Bullseye Les Paul

When you're shredding on behalf of the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, you've got to have a guitar that goes beyond the call of duty. Wylde's aggressive style could only be matched by the Bullseye Les Paul. It sounds great, and who could forget the black and ivory-shaded graphics?

9. Schecter C1

There's a few variants of this particular Schecter, but they're all damn good. Common praise for the guitar says it's great for down-tuning and sounds super tight - perfect for low-range metal action.

8. Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstrat

Always one to tinker and tweak his guitars, Eddie went a giant step further when he tried to merge a Fender with the genes of a Gibson. The result was the Frankenstrat. He even added extra switches and pickups to confuse copycats, but it's probably best known for the awesome paint job.

7. Dave Murray's Stratocaster

The Iron Maiden guitarist likes to keep things simple and has been hanging a classic Stratocaster from his neck since the mid-70s. It's been tweaked with various custom pickups, and the neck has a flatter soft V-shape with a satin back, according to Fender.

6. Dave Mustaine's Jackson King V

The Megadeth frontman has since switched to ESP then Dean guitars, but he's well known for rocking Jacksons back in his youth. In 1986 Jackson started producing his signature series King V guitar, which became one of their best-selling models in history.

5. Dimebag Darrell's Dean From Hell

Dean Guitars were huge around 1980, but it took a certain Pantera guitarist to ensure their name lived on with the same reverence until today. The "From Hell" model was his favorite; blue with lightening bolts and with such an authentic metal style that it appeared on the cover of Pantera's "Cowboys From Hell" album.

4. Fredrik Thordendal's black Ibanez 8 string

The Mesuggah guitarist loves his 8-string Ibanez, which has been customised with a Lundgren Model 8 pickup. He used to use Newborn guitars too, but intonation problems nudged him to commit exclusively to Ibanez. He's known to tune the guitar down to F because it helped match the vocal range of singer Jens Kidman.

3. Randy Rhoads Polka Dot Flying V

Legendary guitar maker Karl Sandoval has hand-crafted axes for the likes of Eddie Van Halen and George Lynch, but he's best known for the Polka Dot Flying V. Randy set the specifications for this guitar which only cost $740 in the end not bad for the third best metal guitar ever.

2. Tony Iommi's Gibson SG Special 'Monkey'

Tony Iommi has trusted the sturdy Gibson SG ever since the bridge on his old white Stratocaster failed while recording the debut Black Sabbath album. His particular SG has apparently been plagued by tuning problems and noisy pickups, but he stuck by it anyway. So why the 'Monkey' part of the name? Simple: his version has a monkey sticker on the front.

1. James Hetfield's EET FUK Explorer

To many, Metallica are the definitive metal band - and for frontman James Hetfield to swear by this model, it's a fair call to say the EET FUK is the definitive metal guitar. Explorer guitars weren't half as well known before he started rocking them at the front of their bone-crushing live shows, and even when he's not using the EET FUK, he'll often use guitars that look the same. His relationship with the Explorer could be one of the great love stories in rock.

What do you think of the final top 10 and the ultimate winner? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

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203 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Finetic
    But what about [obscure guitar] that [obscure guitarist] plays?! This list sucks.
    qrEE
    @Finetic - Chuck Schuldiner's BC Rich.
    tonello
    BC Rich gives you cancer.
    vinay.
    I can't believe you posted this. Chuck Schuldiner was and will always be my hero. He was born with a tumor in his brains which eventually killed him at about the age I am now. Chuck proudly played his BC Rich guitars and I think that he had a beautiful sound. I actually don't see why a BC Rich guitar couldn't be on a list of best metal guitars. But then again I didn't vote, so I won't judge the list. I do judge your comment though. You're hurting people with a remark like that, you hurt me. Then again, you've got a green +3 for your post, so apparently people around here like what you said. I guess I should be downvoted for placing an apparently inappropriate or offensive remark. Sorry for that.
    YouGetALifetime
    I cant believe they didnt mention Petrucci's MusicMan or Satriani's Ibanez
    Dariolosso69
    They play more like progressive rock not metal.
    journeywes
    Van Halen isn't Metal
    broken ipod
    You really could argue that Van Halen is/was a heavy metal band though. They released some heavy stuff considering the release dates for several of their albums (late 70's) and had some influence on both rock and metal. Really though, there was a pretty blurred line between heavy metal/ hard rock back in the late 60's to 80's.
    Dimarzio45
    I agree. The definition of today's "Metal" concept is much different from, say the 80's Metal. It could also be called "80's Bubble gum ROCK"...so it's tough to classify Van Halen/EVH. But, with today's standards said in mind, their last album, I've heard a ton of metal-style licks with EVH...
    twiggy3634
    I don't really listen to Meshuggah, but that drummer was killing it. He steals the show from the guitarist half way into the video.
    MaXiMuse
    That's not the drummer from Meshuggah but from Fredrik Thornendal Special Defects. His solo-project
    MetalHeadMat
    That's a Ran Guitar. Just in case you didn't know what brand it was. Also not like Death or Chuck Schuldiner is an everyday household name, (besides mine) but I think his B.C. Rich Stealth should've been on this list. It's pure metal. The shape, the single soul crushing pickup, pure black paint job, it's one of the most metal guitars I've ever seen. In my opinion of course.
    sonofgkex
    Only problem with this is no Jackson Kelly that Friedman plays, Those are soooo sick. Also, Metallica blows. Bring it on
    cgmetallica1981
    These lists DO suck though, they never have any material even remotely past entry-level.
    Guns N' Chains
    Had to down vote you based on avatar. Go Pens! Haha.
    TDWP33
    Had to down vote you based on stupid down vote. Go me! Haha Just messin
    Metallidethium
    Fleury with the shut out today . This comment by the Flyers fan also proves that nothing worthwhile comes out of Philly fans' mouths.
    mop10893
    I hate both teams. Go Rangers (although they're sucking pretty bad right now). Back on topic, This is a decent list. I feel like the Meshuggah guitarist's axe shouldn't be on here, but other than that, it's pretty good. Also, I was one of the people who said Hetfield's guitar was the best, so it's pretty awesome that it won.
    Laslow
    'List of ten metal guitarists and their signature guitars' .....
    PRSTremontiSE
    Exactly, the fact that two strats made a list of the best metal guitars is ridiculous; there is nothing metal about a strat.
    SGofawesome
    I'm pretty sure you just got downvoted for not saying anything. Can't win, can ya?