Best Guitar Strings For Metal – Review of Best Options

Best Guitar Strings For Metal – Review of Best Options

Whether you're new to metal or have a lot of experience in the genre, you probably know that the right strings are absolutely necessary to achieve the tone you want. However, finding the best guitar strings for metal can be a challenge -- after all, the market is just about saturated, and it can be hard to tell what strings are best for you without actually trying them out for yourself.

Finding the right guitar strings for metal can be a journey unto itself. However, in order to help you out, we've collected seven types of electric guitar strings that sound great when playing metal. In the following sections, we'll take you through our choices and tell you a little about each one.

Our Picks - Seven Best Guitar Strings for Metal

Make

Model

Rating

Price

Ernie Ball

Regular Slinky Cobalt

D'Addario

NYXL 1046

Dunlop

Heavy Core

Elixir

Strings 19102

Ernie Ball

Mammoth Slinky

Fender

Yngwie Malmsteen Signature

D'Addario

EHR310

Review of our Top Picks

Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Cobalt -- Best All-Around

Important Features

  • Gauges from 10-46 are heavy enough for monster output but flexible enough for string bending
  • The cobalt gives you a seamless connection between strings and pickups
  • Additional lock twists on unwrapped strings reduce string slipping and make breaking less likely
  • Despite their quality build, these are still fairly affordable strings

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Cobalt alloy makes these electric guitar strings unique in terms of output
  • Unique build offers a balanced frequency response for a full, rich sound
  • This is a very reputable manufacturer of electric guitar strings
  • Excellent feel makes them comfortable to play, even for longer sessions

Cons

  • While they aren't extremely expensive, they also aren't the cheapest guitar strings on the market
  • Some players have said that they lack the deep, heavy sound that they want

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Ever heard of a cobalt string? Cobalt strings were pioneered by Ernie Ball, one of the leaders in guitar string technology. Cobalt creates a stronger magnetic connection between pickups and strings than any other string material. And if you rely on high-output pickups like most metal players, you'll appreciate this extra boost.

These strings are also smooth to the touch, making playing a more fun experience. Cobalt string sets are supple yet durable, making them great for string bends and dive-bombing.

Our Star Rating

We think the Slinky Cobalt string sets are the best all-around option. We give them five out of five stars.

D'Addario NYXL 1046 -- Best Skinny Top/Heavy Bottom

Important Features

  • The unique high-carbon steel core is made with a "fusion twist" process that increases both clarity and output
  • Skinny top/heavy bottom design (10-52 gauge) helps ensure every played note can be heard by your audience
  • Enhanced mid-range tone response is ideal for most types of metal
  • According to the manufacturer, they stay in tune 131% longer than standard electric guitar strings

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • These strings are designed and made in the USA
  • Unique build style gives you incredible tuning stability
  • D'Addario is one of the most reputable manufacturers of strings around
  • These strings can stand up to incredible stress, making them ideal for playing metal

Cons

  • Some players might not like the skinny top/heavy bottom design
  • These are some of the most expensive guitar string options on the list

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Ernie Ball isn't the only guitar string superbrand to make this list. D'Addario is another well-known maker, and we especially like this string set. It's used by Misha Mansoor of the band Periphery.

These strings are somewhat unique in that the string set order has a skinny string at the top and a heavy string at the bottom. These guitar strings have a high-carbon steel core made with a special process that helps increase output. They also are made to be durable and stable, so you'll be able to bend strings and play aggressively without worrying about losing tuning stability.

Our Star Rating

We think these are the best skinny top/heavy bottom strings on the list. We give them four out of five stars.

Dunlop Heavy Core -- Best for Drop Tunings

Important Features

  • The special drop-tune friendly design may be especially important for some players
  • Heavy steel cores give you the powerful, loud tone you need
  • This is a set for seven-string guitars, although you can find Heavy Core strings for just about every guitar type
  • The balanced tonal output is good for rhythm or lead

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • These are some of the more affordable string sets on the list
  • Heavy gauges and quality heavy core results in powerful sound
  • Many guitarists have said they have a good, played-in sound and feel even when just put on
  • These strings deliver the tight low end that metal players often need

Cons

  • Some users have said that these strings break easily
  • Some players may find the heavier gauges to be an adjustment

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Depending on the genre you play, you may or may not have experience drop tuning. However, many metal players frequently drop-tuned, and with drop-tuning comes the challenge of creating an ideal tone.

These extra heavy strings (10-48) help give you the presence and snarl you need to stand out on stage. They are made with heavy steel cores and Dunlop's special nickel wrap technology to give you a balanced tone with a special focus on the midrange and low end.

Our Star Rating

We think these are the best strings out there for drop tuning. We give them three and half out of five stars

Elixir Strings 19102 -- Best Coated Option

Important Features

  • A lighter gauge makes these a great option for players who stay away from heavy guitar strings
  • Optiweb coating makes these strings soft to the touch and protects them against corrosion
  • Crisp output adds some clarity to heavy metal solos
  • The coating reduces finger squeak and other string noise

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Longer string life will save you money over time
  • A medium gauge makes string bending easier
  • The coating improves playability and feel, and it also reduces string noise
  • These strings are used by professional players and are generally well-reviewed

Cons

  • Some players may find the feel of coated strings to be a little unnatural
  • These guitar strings may be too light for players who prefer heavy strings

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Elixir guitar strings are known for their long life and excellent playability. You may or may not like coated strings, but if you want to get more life out of your guitar strings, you might want to give them a try -- coating on wrapped strings and anti-rust plating on unwrapped strings helps protect them from corrosion over time.

These medium-gauge strings (11-49) are also a little lighter than some on the list, making them a good choice for those who don't like playing heavy strings. It's also worth noting that these are not your typical nickel wound strings -- they are wrapped with nickel-plated steel.

Our Star Rating

We think these guitar strings are the best-coated option on the list. We give them four out of five stars.

Ernie Ball Mammoth Slinky -- Best Heavy

Important Features

  • Heavy gauges are ideal for dropped tunings, which many heavy metal players use
  • Thicker strings translate to a thick, powerful tone
  • The slinky string feel makes this set very comfortable to play
  • Powerful low end combined with high output means that this set pairs well with hot pickups

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Heavy gauge set delivers powerful, punishing tone when needed
  • These strings come from a line of guitar strings used by many professionals
  • They are great for drop tunings
  • Despite their heaviness, these strings remain easy to bend

Cons

  • Some players may not like the unusually heavy string gauge on this set
  • Some players have said that these strings quickly start to deaden

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

For some players, heavy metal requires heavy strings. We've already mentioned Ernie Ball strings here, and we think they're one of the best brands in the business. These heavy strings may be too much for some players -- their gauges range from 12-62.

Because of the string heaviness, Mammoth Slinky guitar strings are great for players who routinely use drop tunings. Wrapped strings have nickel-plated steel wrap, while unwrapped strings are made of high-carbon steel.

Our Star Rating

We think these are the best heavy strings on the list. We give them four out of five stars.

Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Signature -- Best Lighter Gauge

Important Features

  • Nickel-plated steel wrapped strings offer a classic metal tone
  • Unique ulle tends to increase sustain and improve tone
  • They offer incredible playability and make string bending easy
  • They are especially compatible with tremolo systems

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • These are optimal strings for players who value speed
  • The clear, crisp output provides great definition
  • Bullet end offer standout tone
  • Tinner gauge makes them easier to bend

Cons

  • Players used to heavy strings may find these too light
  • Some players have said these strings have a too-thin sound

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

These strings are a little lighter than some on the list, but if you're a shredder, we think you'll like their incredible playability. These strings range from 8-46 gauges, and like most Fender electric guitar strings, they are made of nickel-plated steel.

These strings also have another unique innovation -- bullet ends. Each string has a bullet-shaped end (instead of a ball end) which helps increase sustain and improve tone. They work well with a tremolo system, making them a great choice for heavy metal players.

Our Star Rating

We think these are the best light gauge strings on the list. We give them four out of five stars.

D'Addario EHR310 -- Best Half Round

Important Features

  • Gauges range from 10-46, making these on the lighter side
  • A Flatter playing surface gives these strings a faster feel
  • Steel strings are wound with stainless steel for a clear, articulate output
  • Unique string construction creates a sound and a feel that many players of all genres seem to like

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • These strings combine round-wound tension with flatwound feel
  • Reduced string noise is a pro for many heavy metal players
  • Like most D'Addario strings, these ones seem to be very well-liked
  • They create a unique tone that many players seem to like

Cons

  • Some players have said that these strings accelerate fret wear
  • In some cases, players have reported receiving strings with kinks in them

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Looking for something different? This set of strings is half-round, meaning that each string has the smoother feel of a flatwound string combined with the tension of a roundwound string.

If you've never played strings of this type, it may take some getting used to. However, the flatter playing surface means you get an extra-slick feel and reduced string noise.

Our Star Rating

We think these are the best half round strings on the list. We give them four out of five stars.

What Should You Know Before You Buy?

Like we mentioned earlier, choosing guitar strings for any genre of music can be a challenge. But there are some things to consider before you make your selection. Here's what to keep in mind before you buy it.

What Material?

String material is one of the most important considerations to make. Most electric guitar strings have a steel core, but the wrap wire alloy makes a huge difference in tone and feel.

Many strings are wound with pure nickel. These strings have a warmer tone with less midrange. Nickel-played steel is more common in strings designed for metal, as the sound tends to be a bit sharper and clearer.

Some strings use cobalt alloy winding, which can increase sound output -- a plus for many metal players.

Coated or Uncoated?

Players from every genre run into issues of string longevity. Each time you play, dirt and debris get stuck on your strings. This causes corrosion, which can deaden your sound and lead to early string breakage.

Coated strings tend to last longer, but some players don't like the feel -- it all depends on your preferences.

Choosing a Gauge

String gauge is also critically important. If you often drop-tune, you might need heavier strings. If you have a light touch, a set of lighter gauge strings may sound better. Many metal players tend to lean heavier in terms of gauge -- these strings tend to produce the rich, beefy tones that you so often hear in metal songs.

In Conclusion

We think you can't really go wrong with any of the strings on this list, but our top choice is the Ernie Ball Slinky Cobalt set. The combination of comfortable feel with high-output cobalt winding makes these strings great for metal players. That said, if you want a heavy tone to match your heavy metal, you might like the Ernie Ball Mammoth Slinky or the Dunlop Heavy Core. Take your time looking, and you'll almost certainly find the right strings for you. Happy playing!

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