Metal, whether black, thrash or death, is an important element of the world music’s ecosystem. Within this single genre, hundreds of tropes persist that allows people listening to it to open themselves up to the world. The emotional burden carried by the heavy tones and sustained sound is dissipated into the world through sonic force, instead of physical force.
Metal allows relief of those harder to handle and rationalize emotions that so many of us feel day to day. Dozens of teens and grown men and women start listening to and playing metal every day. A way to escape the stress of everyday life, helping us all survive day in and day out. This is why it is important to keep the music as high quality as possible. The best instruments, the best amps, the best distortion, accessories, and just as importantly, the best guitar strings for metal are needed to support the healthy habit that is heavy metal music.
5 Best Guitar Strings for Metal
Ernie Ball Beefy Slinky Nickel Wound Set, .011 – .054
There is a virtue to a thickness that few other than bass players and metal players can understand. Easy to grab, hard to manipulate and a true pleasure to strain for while playing to get them to sound just right. Beefy means a challenge, but it also means more satisfaction when done just right. I mean can you imagine the amount of happiness you will feel when the full sound of the chord escapes the amp and envelopes the cheering crowd, fully knowing that it took you a little time to get used to it, but now you are reaping the benefits? Yeah, it would feel awesome. This is why I am suggesting you get Ernie Ball Beefy Slinky Nickel Wound Set 0.011-.054. This is an extremely well-made set of strings, a little on the thick side of gauging, with a nickel winding that will produce an excellent, vibrant sound that will serve to enhance the dark, heavy sound of your guitar further. These strings were designed for heavy use and sustain, which means that you will be spending the next few months fully enjoying the benefits of good strings, without having to think about the new ones. Do have a backup set just in case though.
GHS Strings R+RM Nickel Rockers, Rollerwound Pure Nickel, Medium
Back in 1964, the GHS started making their own strings, ones they felt they had the potential to produce a superior sound to anything on the market. A few years later, in 1968, Black Sabbath, arguably the first-ever metal band, formed. Is this a coincidence? Entirely. So why bring it up? Because I feel like there was a rapid rise of demand for music that accurately reflects the sentiment of many young people of the day. No more was heavy blues-rock good enough, the population needed to hear something stronger, better, harder, and thus metal was born. GHS has been making strings dedicated to this genre ever since then and, as expected, has not produced a single set that would disappoint a player. The GHS Strings R+RM Nickel Rockers, Rollerwound Pure Nickel medium string might not be the thickest gauge strings available, but they definitely have some of the thickest sound available on the market. The strings are sturdy, able to take any kind of punishment you are willing to dole out, for as long as it takes. Or a few months as it is to be expected. These few months will be some of the most satisfying, easy to play, metal music you will have produced with your instrument though. I especially recommend this to beginners, but these will work just as great for professionals as well.
DR Strings Tite Fit Electric Round Core 11-5
There are things that are better when they are thicker than when they are slim. Fortunately, there are also exceptions to the rule that prove your predispositions and superstitions wrong, which means that you are shown that sometimes even a medium gauge can perform just as well as a heavy-duty gauge. The proof is in the sound and in the durability of the guitar strings, even in the face of heavy metal odds. The DR Strings Tite Fit Electric Round Core 11-50 medium gauge string set is one of those rare items in the musical world that stands out and proves that bigger, does not mean better. Well, let me fix that, since everybody in the music world knows that. These strings are the slender contenders that stand out among their thick rivals as the best strings for metal. The fullness of sound they have is something rarely seen in this gauge range, and the durability of the strings themselves, lasting as long as they do through as much use as they do, is something of a legendary feat. The affordable price of the strings is something of a bonus, one that beginner guitar players with metallic ambitions and shallow pockets will appreciate as much as I am right now. A solid choice no matter how you look at it.
D’Addario NYXL1254 Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Heavy
If there are companies that have dedicated all of their 50 years of existence to the creation of strings dedicated heavy-duty, there are also manufacturers who have dedicated about three centuries to producing high-quality strings that play, sound, and last like the treasure a dragon hoards in its cave for 300 years. Since I am not a brave knight willing or ready to dive into such an abode with confidence to pick up strings, let me just tell you of the legend and you can go ahead and go dragon fighting for them yourself. D’Addario NYXL 1253 Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, heavy strings are a heavy gauge set that behaves and stays intact the same way that a set of supernaturally beefy strings would. These were designed with two things in mind – to satisfy your needs of sweaty, heavy-duty performance with beautiful sound and to endure the corrosion that comes as a result of such heavy-duty use. The result is a great set of strings that you and I would both be honored to have, which is why these strings are a little more on the expensive side. The dragon is a jealous owner so no wonder right?
Dunlop DHCN1060 Heavy Core Nickel Wound Guitar Strings, 7 Strings
Somewhere in the sunny side of the world we lovingly refer to as California, sometime about 50 years ago, some instrument manufacturer called Dunlop decided to start their operation as a guitar string manufacturer. They did not know that they would be successful, all they knew was that they wanted to make good strings, superior strings, after learning of many different ways to make strings. So they set to work and started producing and a lot of musicians started picking up their merchandise, as it happens in open markets, and suddenly, 50 years later, they are one of the most well-known guitar string manufacturers producing some of the best strings available on the market. The Dunlop DHCN1060 Heavy Core Nickel Wound Guitar Strings, all 7 of them, is a high-quality product of exceptionally good sound, especially if you are trying to play metal on them. The heavy core of these strings makes them incredibly durable, giving them a long lifetime and a strong resistance to corrosion. Those very same cores also make the effect of sustain feel stronger, and fuller so that when you play your heaviest, dirtiest metal riffs, you feel even more empowered. The fact that there are 7 strings in this set makes it even more beneficial if you have a 7 string guitar of course. If you don’t, it might be a little bit of a waste.
So what makes you want to pick up strings dedicated specifically to metal? If you are a beginner in the genre and are simply looking to replace your current strings for no other reason than sounding metal then heed my advice – do not be in a hurry. The strings you have currently are perfectly adequate to perform the heavy, sustain-induced sounds that you would like to hear more of. Going ahead and buying new strings simply because you want to sound more metal will only result in you spending more money, having two sets of strings and not really sounding much more metal than before.
The idea behind picking up strings specifically designed for metal is to use them right. This means you have to be able to play the strings that you already have well enough to invest in the strings dedicated to a single genre. Practice with what you have – probably a medium gauge set of strings. These will help you master all of the techniques required to play the guitar well, as well as techniques that are mostly exclusive to metal, with ease. You will be able to practice without putting too much strain on your fingers and eventually, once you are capable enough with the guitar, you will not have a problem moving on to heavier gauges (if you prefer them). When you finally get the metal exclusive strings, you will have a lot of an easier time playing them, and way more fun hearing and bringing out the different sounds of your new strings.
What are the best guitar strings for metal?
A great question if I have ever heard anyone ask. Well done random person on the internet who I am assuming asked the same question I did when I was first buying guitar strings. To be honest, nobody really knows and a lot of people say that it is entirely up to the individual. I think that is not necessarily the case. While there are many types of guitar players, all of whom enjoy playing a certain way, most metalhead guitarists have one thing on their mind: heavy.
At least initially, until their mastery of the instrument allows them to see them beyond the basics. “Heavy” as such implies both sound and style of play – riffing, fast-paced picking, and in general punishing strings by striking the chords a little more heavily. This means that both light and medium strings will have an issue lasting a long time, succumbing to wear and tearing after a short period.
I believe strings, also known as the largest gauge strings available, are the ones best fitted for this type of player. The sound that these strings produce has an incredibly full feeling, and while it takes more effort to utilize them right and they might end up tiring your fretting hand easily, they will take the punishment of your heavy hand for a long time before finally succumbing.
This does not mean that only the largest gauge strings are good for metal. Just like any genre, everyone has their way of playing, and if you are not a heavy-handed guitar player who goes through strings faster than sonic can run then you have a world of options open to you.
Optimization is important when attempting to perform music of the highest quality. You need to tailor as many details of your instruments as possible to achieve the best possible sound you can within the limits of your genre or your very own music. Pickups dedicated to metal that love to produce heavy, sustain-filled sounds. Tonewoods lend themselves easily to the heavy sounds. Amps that don’t just play, but declare your music unto the world.
And just as importantly, the guitar strings for metal to share your soul with the world. Still, while optimization might sound as an important part of musical performance, especially for a sound as genre-specific as metal, it really is not. Fortunately for the average mortals, metal is a very accepting genre, allowing people of all walks of life and sound to join in, without much worry and deliberation.
While the best strings specifically for metal might enhance your musical performance in one way or another, the reality is that any strings can be used to play the sickest, darkest, and scratchiest metal sounds. You don’t have to dump your favorite type of strings that you have been using to play jazz or rock and roll to get into the world of metal. The sounds you so much covet and desire to play are easy to achieve with simple tools. This is why metal is one of the most popular genres of music in the world today – the ease of accessibility, both in how it sounds and how it is played, guarantees that all with an aptitude for heavy music will find themselves easily joining in to the heavy metal party.
The style you play is relevant in picking out guitar strings and for metal, I would definitely agree on equipping strings that are “heavy.” A personal pick I would recommend is the D’Addario EXL160. This goes well with bass and won’t hurt your pocket.