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Best Epiphone Guitar for Metal 2021

We tested seven guitars and found the Les Paul Custom Classic Pro to be the best Epiphone guitar for metal. However, because that type of guitar can be difficult to find, our second pick is the SG Special VE.

A guitar styled after the classic Gibson model may not seem like one of the best metal guitars, but Epiphone is actually a great contender for the best metal guitars. It’s one of the top companies for electric guitars. You can also check out the best PRS for metal.

Deciding on the best Epiphone guitar for metal depends on the sound and budget. You want suitable wood, fast necks, tuning stability, and hot pickups for metal. Affordability is a bonus because it isn’t easy to find a top-quality guitar for cheap.

We’ve been in the business for more than a decade and have tested all kinds of guitars for many music genres. I’ve been playing guitar for fifteen years in various bands. I also earned my degree in Music Industry.

As far as my favorite picks go, you can’t go wrong with Les Paul. It’s one of my favorite guitars for metal. The Les Paul guitar, combined with a high-gain amplifier, is an excellent duo for a thick guitar sound.

There are different reasons that you might pick a particular guitar over another. Some guitars are just better for certain types of sounds, for example. That’s why we have different “Best For” categories here. While one guitar might be the best choice for technical fingering, it might not be the best choice for really thrashy chords.

Keep on reading if you want to find out what the best Epiphone guitars are for metal music. We’ll talk about a bunch of high-quality guitars that you can’t go wrong trying out and potentially buying.

Best Epiphone Guitars in our tests

7 Best Best Epiphone Guitar for Metal

Epiphone Les Paul Custom Classic Pro

Epiphone Les Paul Custom Classic Pro

If you choose one stock guitar for metal music, you should go with the Les Paul Custom. I’ve talked about it a little already because it’s an excellent pick. Not only is the look and feel of the guitar the same as the classic Gibson Les Paul, but it also has an unmatched, overall sound quality.

Epiphone uses ProBucker pickups on this version of the Les Paul guitar. They’re versatile and helpful if you don’t play one type of music all the time. Epiphone used top-notch material to create them, ensuring the sound that the pickups produce is well above its price range.

The guitar also has a few controls, allowing you to switch between its PAF-style pickups. The neck pickup provides a sound more akin to a Fender Stratocaster that’s useful for solos, and the bridge pickup is more warm and throaty.

A push-pull switch near the volume knobs can change the ProBucker pickups to single-coil pickups, allowing for more bite on the neck pickup and smooth midranges from the bridge pickup. If you buy the Pro version instead of the Standard, you’ll also get a tone knob near the neck pickup that doubles as a phase switch and works in both single or humbucker pickups mode.

Not only are the pickups great, but the body of the Les Paul Custom is also high quality. It’s made of a solid mahogany body — either an ebony fingerboard or a rosewood fretboard depending on the model — and there’s a push-pull coil tap for versatility. Combined, all of these features make for a well-rounded and versatile guitar sound. 

If you can find a version of the Les Paul Custom with open-coil pickups, like the Les Paul Classic Custom Pro, buy that version. Open-coil pickups are much better for metal and hardcore music.

Pros

  • Comes with a lifetime guarantee from Epiphone.
  • Solid mahogany build and fretboard options.
  • You have complete tone control with the split-coil and phase options.
  • With the control knobs, you can switch between double and single coil, letting you swap between a sound excellent for power chords and the cleaner single coil sound.
  • The two color options, black and white, work well no matter what style of music you play.
  • You get an excellent quality guitar for a reasonable price.
  • The D-shaped neck is ideal for fingers of all sizes.
  • The Tune-o-matic bridge lets you adjust the intonation of every string individually just by tightening or loosening the screws of the corresponding string.

Cons

  • Weighing in at around 7-8 pounds, it’s a heavy guitar to hold.
  • You’ll need to go through an initial setup process to get all the features to work correctly.
  • The Epiphone Les Paul is quieter than the Gibson Les Paul.
  • Wood cut quality can be a minor issue depending on where you buy it.
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SG Special

SG Special

Another legendary guitar, the SG is a favorite among rock and metal guitarists alike, and for good reason. Although there are several models for this type of guitar, we’re going with the Special because it’s easier to find and has a great sound.

Although not originally designed for heavy metal, the metal community has adopted it. Like the Epiphone Les Paul, it has a mahogany body and a mahogany neck, as well as a Tune-o-matic bridge. The fretboard is made of Indian Laurel wood, which is similar to a rosewood fretboard

The guitar features P90 pickups that blend single coil and humbucker pickups. They also have a coil-tap feature, letting you split up the humbuckers to get a unique single-coil sound.

This guitar is an excellent choice for any guitar player into metal and experimenting with other sounds. It’s a great bridge to different genres because of how flexible the sound is. The pickups give the player a wide range of tones that can let you go from extreme metal to jazz, for example.

It’s an iconic guitar made famous by metal guitarists and hard rock guitarists like Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and Angus Young of AC/DC. Epiphone teamed up with Tony Iommi to create the signature Epiphone P94 Iommi SG, an excellent guitar that’s incredibly difficult to find nowadays.

Pros

  • It has excellent quality and playability straight out of the box.
  • It’s a good choice for both inexperienced players and metal guitarists who’ve been onstage for years.
  • It’s much lighter than the Epiphone Les Paul.
  • It also features a D-shaped neck, making it a good shape for people with smaller than average fingers.
  • The pickups are precise and responsive.
  • As a budget version of the Gibson SG, its performance is outstanding for the price.

Cons

  • If you wind the strings incorrectly, they’ll detune faster than the Epiphone Les Paul.
  • Some customers note issues with the nut.
  • Some online retailers have raised the price dramatically, so be careful when you shop around.
  • Although it’s lighter than the Les Paul, it’s still a heavy guitar compared to guitars from other companies.
  • This guitar is a great choice for metal musicians, but those who play incredibly heavy metal music might find the SG a bit too warm in tone.
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Epiphone Explorer

Epiphone Explorer

Initially created in 1958 before metal music even existed, this guitar took a while to catch on. It debuted as a Gibson design, but now Epiphone has its own version. It’s also an incredibly iconic guitar shape. Many associate its design with hard rock and heavy metal music even though it was originally popular with classic rock bands like U2 and Eric Clapton.

Nowadays, even modern bands like Bring Me The Horizon use this type of guitar. Lee Malia, part of Bring Me The Horizon, is a metal guitarist and a huge fan of the Explorer. He has a collaboration with Epiphone, which produces a guitar modeled after his.

Both Epiphone and Gibson make these guitars with mahogany, just like the Les Pauls. Despite the somewhat unwieldy design, the hefty body helps create a thick, deep tone. It also feels nice to hold and is well-balanced, especially when played on a strap. It also allows any metal guitarist decent access to the upper frets, letting you reach higher notes.

The Explorer features a SlimTaper neck and an Indian laurel fretboard, both of which help create spectacular playability. The Grover tuners, LockTone bridge, and the stopbar all help to stretch out the musical sustainability.

Even though there are a lot of positives, there are also a few negatives. The setup on our electric guitar is excellent for bends, but even the slightest touch can affect buzz. Downtuning can get a bit messy. You also may need to polish the frets further because they’re a bit rough at first.

Pros

  • The humbucker pickups are great for both clarity and bite, even when the gain is high.
  • It’s suited for all sorts of techniques, including arpeggios, riffs, and chord strumming.
  • The pickups can shift between dark, heavy sounds and brighter, lighter tones really well.
  • You’ll find a good place for rhythm with a girthy, open sound with a bit of bite in the middle position.
  • The Explorer keeps its tune very well, so you don’t have to tune it all the time.
  • The body’s design gives metal guitarists better access to higher-pitched notes, letting you get to a much higher neck position.

Cons

  • Downtuning is a bit of an issue, especially if you bend notes a lot in the music you play.
  • You may need to polish the frets.
  • The guitar’s shape might not appeal to every player, even though I’m a pretty big fan of it.
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Prophecy Flying V and Flying V

Best Epiphone Guitar for Metal
Source: www.sweetwater.com

Of course, we need to mention this iconic guitar. The Flying V is one of the most recognizable guitar shapes, and it’s a well-known symbol of both hard rock and metal. Believe it or not, despite its genre-specific shape, players of every genre have used this electric guitar, including classic rock legend Jimi Hendrix.

Although you can’t match the Gibson Flying V’s quality, the Epiphone version comes very close, especially if you need to stick to a budget. When you search for this guitar, you’ll come across the Prophecy, which is a range of electric guitars designed with heavy metal music in mind.

There are Prophecy versions of the guitar’s we’ve mentioned already, but they’re more challenging to find. For the Epiphone Flying V, it’s easier to locate the Prophecy version online, so I’m mentioning them both here.

The non-Prophecy Flying V features a set of ProBucker humbuckers and tuners with an 18:1 ratio, giving you some excellent tuning stability. The Flying V has a mahogany body and a SlimTaper C-shaped mahogany neck with an Indian laurel fretboard. The bridge is a LockTone, and the nut is Graph Tech.

With an angular design based on the 1958 classic, you’ll have a stylish-looking guitar that’s incredibly powerful for metal music. Like many other guitars on the list, the mahogany construction allows the instrument to have a very impressive sustain and a punchy midrange. Because the wood cuts away on either side of the neck, guitarists have complete access to the frets, letting them access an incredibly high neck position.

Pros

  • The design of the body and neck lets guitarists have unrestricted access to all of the frets.
  • The C-shaped neck lends itself well to fast shredding without being incredibly skinny.
  • The build quality for both the Prophecy and non-Prophecy is exceptional.
  • Volume and tone control is good, letting you alter the pickups, volume, and tone with a three-way pickup selector and knobs.
  • If you don’t just stick to heavy metal music, you can use this guitar for other genres.

Cons

  • This guitar’s shape may not appeal to every player, but it’s still a great look.
  • Another issue with the shape is that you can’t play it comfortably unless you’re standing up. You can’t sit with it like an acoustic guitar.
  • If you’re a left-handed player, you may not be able to play this version of the Flying V because almost all of them are for right-handed players.

Les Paul Special II

Les Paul Special II

This Epiphone Les Paul is technically an entry-level guitar, but it doesn’t act like one. The guitar has a flat, mahogany body, and it’s heavy, weighing in at just under 10 pounds. That makes it lighter than a Gibson Les Paul but heavier than the Epiphone Les Paul Custom. However, depending on where you purchase this guitar, you may end up getting one that uses different wood. Make sure to check the specifications of the guitar before you buy.

The neck of this guitar is made of mahogany, and it has a rosewood fretboard. They’re bolted together, which is a bit unusual for the overall aesthetic. Also, because of the price point, it comes with a plastic nut.

This electric guitar also has a stopbar made from nickel as well as a LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge. Near the neck, the Special II has a 650R humbucker and a 700T towards the bridge. Both are high output pickups. Their ability to play heavier genres of music is excellent, and they’re higher quality than the ones you might expect to find on a budget electric guitar.

As for volume and tone control, the Les Paul Special II only comes with one of each, unlike the more expensive Epiphones or a Gibson Les Paul. Although that’s a little more limiting than other guitars, many metal guitarists don’t adjust their volume and tone all that often.

When it isn’t plugged in, the Special II has a loud acoustic resonance, which could be a good or bad thing depending on what you want. It probably won’t impact your tonal quality when plugged in, but it could affect unplugged practice.

Pros

  • Like the previous Epiphone Les Paul, this one also comes with a lifetime guarantee.
  • The flat body style makes it easier for guitarists to wrap their hands around and reach higher notes.
  • If you start playing with this guitar, it has enough versatility to come with you throughout your musical journey.
  • The guitar itself is an excellent quality instrument for the price.
  • The color options are good, and you may even be able to find it in its flame maple color.
  • Even though it isn’t a Gibson, it still carries the same top-notch sound of Gibson guitars.
  • Because it’s geared mostly towards people buying their first electric guitar, it’s very easy to pick up and start playing.

Cons

  • At just under 10 pounds, it’s a heavy guitar to hold and play.
  • If you aren’t a beginner, you might need to swap out the plastic nut.
  • Not all Special II guitars have the same type of wood. Double-check before you buy.
  • The fret ends a bit rougher than we’d like them to be.
  • The three-way switch to toggle between the different pickups is between the volume and tone knobs, not by the neck like it usually is on other guitars.
  • It doesn’t have a pickguard.
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Les Paul Studio

Les Paul Studio

Another addition to the iconic guitar name is the Les Paul Studio. Although it isn’t up to the same standard as the Custom or Special that I’ve talked about already, it’s still a solid choice. This one is geared more toward intermediate players looking for the best they can get with a modest budget.

Like the other Les Pauls from Epiphone and Gibson, this guitar’s body is made of mahogany. It has a maple veneer instead of a maple cap, meaning that it’s a smaller sheet of maple wood glued to the top of the mahogany instead of a thick piece.

Unlike some of the other Epiphone Les Pauls featuring a rosewood fretboard, the Studio has a Pau Ferro fingerboard instead. That’s because many laws have made rosewood much less practical. The neck features a 1960’s SlimTaper D shape, similar to the other Les Pauls I’ve talked about so far. It also has jumbo frets and a GraphTech nut.

You’ll find some models of the Les Paul Studio with open coil pickups and others with covers. The most recent addition to the lineup came out in 2020; it features covered pickups, making the guitar sound a bit more like the Standard. The Les Paul Studio has a standard three-way pickup switch with two volume knobs. The two tone setups are one-inch potentiometers.

Pros

  • Compared to the Gibson Les Paul, the Les Paul Studio is much lighter.
  • The mahogany body gives the guitar a rich, full tone, even when unplugged.
  • The slim, tapered neck feels super comfortable when playing.
  • When plugged in, the Alnico Classic humbuckers produce a very clear, throaty sound, especially with gain. 
  • If you want a guitar with a few different color options, this one has a good selection.
  • This Epiphone Les Paul, like its Gibson cousin, has trapezoid-shaped inlays instead of dots, making it look even more like a Gibson Les Paul.
  • The bridge features a LockTone ABR Tune-o-matic bridge and a Stopbar tailpiece that can sustain its tuning for extended periods.

Cons

  • The Alnico Classic pickups aren’t quite as good as the ProBuckers on Epiphone’s other electric guitars.
  • This Les Paul isn’t built for metal music and is more suited towards jazz and blues.
  • The fingerboard no longer features rosewood.
  • You may need to replace the bridge as time goes on, especially if you play a lot.
  • Unfortunately, with the Studio, there isn’t push-pull coil tapping like there is with other models.
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Prophecy Les Paul Custom Plus EX

Prophecy Les Paul Custom Plus EX

Okay, I said I wouldn’t mention another Prophecy, but I think this one deserves a place here because it’s an excellent choice for metal music. Like I talked about already, the Epiphone Les Paul Custom is a wonderful choice for metal musicians, just like all the other Epiphone Les Pauls.

However, if you want something that can handle metal music, the Prophecy EX version of the Epiphone Les Paul is an outstanding pick. They’re much more difficult to find than the standard Les Paul, but if you can find one, get it.

Its EMG 81/85 pickup set is hot and has a high output, and many metal guitarists consider this type of pickup the best choice for extremely heavy music. Epiphone finished the guitar with a quilt maple top, making it look shimmery under the right light. It has a slightly thinner D-shaped neck that’s topped with a beautiful rosewood fingerboard.

Pros

  • The guitar features a mahogany body and neck.
  • The looks and features make it one of the best guitars for metal.
  • It comes with some of the best pickups for metal music.
  • The quilt maple top looks beautiful and is perfect for many different music genres.
  • You can play it comfortably while sitting or standing.
  • It holds its tune well, even if you play it for a while.

Cons

  • It’s incredibly difficult to find nowadays, which is why I put it last on this list.
  • Again, the guitar is quite heavy compared to other guitars, including other Epiphone guitars.
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Buying Guide: How to choose the right Epiphone Guitar?

When you’re looking to buy any new guitar, whether it be an electric or acoustic guitar, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Before setting out and purchasing a guitar, do a little bit of research. Find out what you want and how much you want to spend.

Features

Whether you’re buying your first electric guitar or are a pro player, you’re going to want to be able to test all the instrument’s features. Make sure you have an idea of what you want out of the guitar, too. If you’re going to play metal music, buying an acoustic guitar is a bad idea.

Remember that the more features your guitar has, the more expensive it’ll be. If you want extra features like locking tuners, more control knobs, better pickups, a case, or even a strap, it’ll cost you more.

Problems

If you can, test out the guitar before you buy it. That might mean going to a store, but it’s always recommended to play the guitar first. If you’re going to buy online, that’s fine. Just make sure that there’s a return policy, and check the warranty. You might need to exchange or return it.

Sometimes, guitars get damaged in the mail. Even legendary Gibson guitars can get damaged during transportation, so double-checking how your mail carrier transports instruments can be a good idea. You may also want to look into places that sell cases and guitars and request that they ship a guitar to you in a case.

When looking at a guitar in person, look at the pickups, bridge, nut, and anything that comes into direct contact with the strings. The strings are the primary source for sound, so you’ll need to make sure that nothing abnormal is close to the strings. You’ll also need to check the frets. Make sure that they’re polished and smooth and that you can slide your hand up and down the neck without feeling them too much.

FAQ

Are Epiphone Guitars Good for Metal?

Yes, Epiphone guitars are excellent choices for metal music. Even though they’re inexpensive, they’re built with quality and care.

Conclusion

Out of all the guitars I’ve reviewed today, my favorite is the Les Paul Custom. It’s the best all around and can handle anything you throw at it. Whether you only play metal or dabble in other genres, this Les Paul is excellent. If you can’t find it or it’s unavailable, the SG Special is my next favorite.