As a metal guitar player, you know how important it is to choose the best guitar strings for metal. They will help you play the guitar with ease and speed. The type of strings you choose for your instrument can be dependent on the type of music you play and your preference: some players may prefer heavier gauge strings, while others may want lighter ones.
In the case of metal strings, most guitarists prefer a heavier set because the style is often played with drop D or C tunings. A heavy gauge will ensure that you get a punchy distorted sound. However, there are lots of different subgenres of metal so it isn’t always the case.
In this article, we will review some of the best guitar strings for metal, as well as discuss which are the factors you must keep in mind when shopping for the product and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
Also Read: The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings
Best Guitar Strings for Metal in our Tests
DR Strings DDT 11-46 gauge is a string set that is suitable for heavy metal and hard rock. The gauges of the strings are in the range of 11-46, which means this product can be used in multiple tunings. DR Strings uses its own patented coating process to create a long lasting string that has high visibility and an excellent feel. This is an affordable option for guitarists who want to focus on playing their instrument instead of worrying about having to replace strings all the time.
- Gauges: 11, 15, 19, 32, 42, 54
- Coated Hexagonal Core Wire
- Improved for Drop Tunings
- Nickel Plated Steel Strings
- These are heavy strings, suitable for the drop tunings that are so popular with metal guitarists.
- These strings are very durable.
- Very affordable metal strings, priced at only $7 by the time this article was written.
- Hexagonal core string coating for longer-lasting performance.
- May not be very suitable for standard tunings.
The DR Strings DDT 11 are excellent at what they offer, especially because they are so affordable while at the same time being very durable. Metal players will probably have to change their set less often with the DDT 11 due to its coated hexagonal core wire and several technologies employed to improve durability.
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The D’Addario NYXL Extra Heavy 12-60 guitar string set is trusted by many guitarists out there. We chose this gauge setting because it is optimized for C tuning, especially good if you play a heavier metal genre as the strings will better stay in tune and last longer. Furthermore, the break-resistant high-carbon steel core and plain steel alloy technology will ensure durability.
- Gauges: 12, 16, 20, 34, 46, 60
- Break-Resistant High-Carbon Steel Core
- Plain Steel Alloy Technology
- Optimized for C Tuning
- Material: Plain Steel/Nickel Wound
- These are one of the best metal guitar strings when it comes to staying in tune throughout your performance.
- These heavy-core strings are excellent for drop C tuning.
- Enhanced mid-range response and brighter tone.
- Great for whammy bar dives and bends since these strings stay in tune no matter how heavy you’re playing.
One of the best strings for those playing in drop C tuning due to its heavy bass strings, the D’Addario NYXL Extra Heavy 12-60 does a pretty good job regarding playability and durability. We like the fact that several technologies are employed so as to make these strings more durable and suitable for heavy playing with techniques such as whammy bar dives and bends.
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Of course, we all know Fender. The legendary instrument manufacturer based in Corona, California offers some of the best products in the music industry. The Fender 250’s 11-49 strings are a versatile set designed to work for any genre, including all of the different styles of metal. You can’t go wrong with those.
- Gauges: 11, 14, 18, 28, 38, 49
- Suitable for Drop Tunings
- Great for Whammy Drops and Bends
- Material: Nickel Plated Steel
- Plain and simple strings, these are one of the most versatile sets on the list and will work for any genre possible, including alternative tunings such as drop C.
- Excellent for techniques such as whammy drops and bends.
- Even though 11’s are on the heavier side, the playability with these strings is still very comfortable.
- Made out of nickel plated steel.
The Fender 250’s 11-49 will simply work for anything. For beginner metal guitarists that haven’t decided their style yet or don’t wanna risk going with thicker strings, this is a solid choice. However if you’re putting these strings on a newly-bought guitar, we recommend taking it to a luthier for adjustment, since your instrument probably came with a light gauge set of strings.
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The DRP12 is a set of strings that are designed for metal guitarists that want to play Drop C tunings. They are very affordable and feature heavy gauge bass strings for optimum performance when playing heavy styles of metal. With the 12-64 gauge, your sound will be as impactful as possible.
- Gauges: 12, 16, 20, 34, 46, 64
- Suitable for Drop Tunings
- Consistent Tone
- Material: Nickel Wound
- The heaviest set of strings on the list, excellent for metal music and heavier genres that need drop tunings to be used.
- The sound of these strings is quite punchy and bright.
- High-carbon core steel wire technology for more consistency in your tone.
- Great ability to stay in tune.
- Quite affordable.
These drop tune heavy signature strings are the best choice for heavier styles of metal (doom, metal, djent, etc). You can play with pretty much any drop tuning without any loss of tension. The only drawback is that it is not as versatile as other options on the list and may not work for other music genres. The playability is also kinda heavy.
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Our last electric guitar strings on the list is the Dunlop Heavy Core. These hybrid strings are designed for dropped and lowered tunings, but still maintain a great deal of easy playability and versatility. Furthermore, these are also extremely affordable, priced at $5 by the time this article was written. It is one of the cheapest options there is.
- Gauges: 10, 13, 17, 28, 38, 48
- Designed for Dropped and Lowered Tunings
- Unique Core Wrap and Proprietary Wrap Ratios
- Material: Nickel Plated Steel
- Designed for dropped and lowered tunings but will also perform well on standard tunings.
- Despite being on the heavy side, these strings are easy to play.
- Quick attack and defined low-end.
- One of the most affordable guitar strings there is.
One of the best strings with the best value, the Dunlop Heavy Core is priced at only $5 and they are definitely worth a try if you haven’t made up your mind yet. We recommend this set for beginners who are looking for a cheap set to try dropped and lowered tunings, as well as experienced guitarists who want something affordable with quality.
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How to choose the right guitar strings for metal?
There are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for metal guitar strings. Every set is made differently and offer different features, but without a doubt there’s an option for you.
When it comes to the gauge of strings, heavier will sound punchier. The most commonly used gauges are 9s, 10s, and 11s. 11s are the heaviest and will give you a great tone for playing metal or rock. For players who prefer lighter strings, there are some options available. Some guitarists may prefer to use 8s because they want a very light feel when playing the guitar for long periods of time.
If you play in drop tunings, you will probably benefit from using a heavy gauge string. Drop tuning is when you tune your guitar down one or more steps below standard tuning (EADGBE). If you play in drop C (CGCFAD), for example, you will need to use a heavier gauge string (10 or 11) to avoid having the strings break. Strings that are too light can break more easily because they are under more tension.
The material of the string is also a factor you must consider when shopping for strings. Some materials may be better suited for certain genres. In general, nickel-wound strings are considered to be the best option for metal because they provide a bright and powerful tone, but you can find strings in a wide range of different materials, such as cobalt.
Some people may have an allergy to certain types of metal such as nickel, which may make the experience of playing unpleasant. In this case, we suggest going with stainless steel.
The coating on the string is also important. Coated strings tend to last longer than uncoated, which means you will have to change them less often. Some people also feel that coated strings are more comfortable to play. Coated strings, however, tend to be slightly louder than uncoated strings.
The last factor you should consider when buying a string is the price. The price of a string varies depending on the type of material it is made of, the coating and other factors. Cheaper strings may not be as durable as more expensive ones. So, if you are looking for a long-lasting string, you may have to spend a little more money than usual.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Heavier Strings Better for Metal?
In general, heavier strings are better for metal because they have more tension and so the sound is brighter and more powerful. This means that your guitar will resonate with a lot of depth, which is very important in metal music. However, if you prefer the playability of a lighter gauge, it is totally ok to use a lighter set.
Another benefit from heavier strings is if you’re playing on tunings such as drop C as they will stay in tune better and also sound more impactful in that cases.
How Often Should I Change My Strings?
You should change your guitar strings as often as necessary. There is no specific rule about this, but you’ll know when it’s time to change them because the sound won’t be as bright or powerful anymore. You might also want to change them if you notice any corrosion on the strings.
As a rule of thumb, if you only play at home, you can get away with replacing it every other month. If you play live gigs, you may need to change your strings every week.
How Can I Make My Guitar Strings Last Longer?
You can make your guitar strings last longer by wiping them down after each use. You should also wipe down your fretboard and neck with a dry cloth, especially if you’ve been sweating a lot. Make sure to keep your guitar stored in a safe environment, away from humidity or temperature changes.
Can You Play Metal With Light Strings?
Sure, you can play metal with light gauge strings if you prefer the playability offered by them, but it will require that you make adjustments to your guitar. In order for your guitar to produce the same sound as it would when using heavier strings, you will need to adjust the action on your guitar.
These are the best metal guitar strings in our opinion. The perfect choice for your particular use case will highly depend, as we discussed, on your playing style and your priorities. If you want to use drop and lowered tunings, for example, go with a heavier gauge. If you want something versatile, stay in the middle. Shredder? Lighter gauge strings are the best choice.
Make sure to research extensively so as not to choose the wrong strings for your guitar. Remember to always take care of your instrument by cleaning your strings with a cloth or lemon oil after every session. These steps will ensure that your strings give you the best sound and last for a long time.
How to Buy
You can find the link to each product at their respective titles on the list. We hope you liked the article. Feel free to contact us if you have any suggestions or questions. Happy playing!
Ian Sniesko is an experienced music producer and musician who loves to share his knowledge about the best audio equipment for making and enjoying great music. For the past 6 years, Ian has written extensively about the audio equipment industry and has contributed to many of the top music magazines.