Love metal but are reluctant to purchase a super expensive metal guitar just yet?
Whether you are a hesitant beginner or someone who’s just a little short on budget, there’s no reason for you to settle with a guitar that does not deliver your needs.
An inexpensive guitar does not mean that it has to have cheap qualities. All it takes is a bit of research and a sensible list of priorities. Because believe it or not, there are plenty of impressive guitars out there that do not hurt your wallet.
Of course, you can’t expect to have the best of the best with a humble budget. But if you’re looking for a practical guitar that can produce a legit metal sound, you’re bound to find a good guitar.
To help you get started on your search, we’ve made a list of the 10 best metal guitars under $500 – a sensible budget for anyone who’s looking for quality and practicality.
10 Best Metal Guitars Under $500 in 2021
ESP LTD EC-256
Do you love metal but aren’t so keen about purchasing a guitar that screams heavy rock and metal? The ESP LTD EC-256 knows how to rock, but it has an elegant design that’s fit for all musical styles and genres. If you’re looking for a versatile guitar, then this is the best choice for you.
The ESP LTD EC-256 makes an excellent metal guitar because of its humbucker pickups. The pair of ESP LH-150 bridge and neck humbuckers offers a wide range of tones, from clean and crisp tones to serious rock distortion.
And if that doesn’t take your breath away, perhaps its ultra-thin neck contour could convince you of how easy and comfortable it is to play a metal tune.
- Features a push/pull tone pot for coil splitting
- Perfect for delivering awesome licks and solos
- Comfortable to hold
- Fits your hand like a glove
- And easy to play for a beginner’s hand as well
- A well-built versatile guitar that’s compatible with any music style or genre
- Needs a bit of adjusting to lower the action on the strings
Are you looking to go all out with a guitar that’s made to turn heads? You need a guitar with an edgy Rhoads shape like the Jackson JSR2. This super cool guitar will complete your hardcore metal look, but make no mistake – this guitar isn’t all about the looks.
The Jackson JSR2 can deliver a metal sound that’s as mean as it looks. It is specifically built for speed and heavy tone – perfect for those who like to let it rip.
- Comes in great quality
- Holds the tune really well despite its humble price
- Pickups produce a great metallic sound
- The trim bar stays in tune even with heavy use
- Quality of the materials are compromised
- Could be better at a slightly higher price range
ESP LTD KH-202 Kirk Hammett Electric Guitar
Calling out Kirk Hammett fans out there- you need to check out this guitar. If you’re looking for a guitar that could deliver that familiar Kirk Hammett vibe you know and love, the LTD KH-202 is the guitar to look out for.
This guitar has a simple and elegant design with very good build quality. I like that this guitar has a slim neck, making it easy to play even for beginners.
- Despite its heavy-looking build
- Perfect for traveling
- Sports a slim neck that can accommodate smaller hands and beginners who are just starting out
- Minor issues with craftsmanship and quality control
Are you in search of a guitar that fits well for both the beginner and the well-seasoned guitar player? Schecter knows exactly what you need. Their OMEN-6 is built to accommodate players of all levels, and it is also very versatile as it is compatible with other types of music styles and genres.
For a very humble price, you can also enjoy one of Schecter’s premium pickups, the Diamond Plus – a pickup that can definitely deliver that metallic tone you require. Overall, I think that this is the go-to guitar for anyone who wants to get the best value for a pocket-friendly rate.
- Has all the basic features of a metal guitar for a much more affordable rate
- Not too heavy
- Not too light
- Has a perfect size as well for different types of players
- Great action and intonation despite its very humble price tag
- Quality of craftsmanship needs improvement
Dean Vendetta XM Electric Guitar
Dean Guitars have been around for 40 years and they are considered to be one of the finest custom guitar shops in the world. Their expertise in the world of guitars is evident with the Vendetta XM.
Made from lightweight paulownia material, this guitar makes a great travel buddy for musicians who are always on the road. But that’s not all – the Vendetta XM also has the Dean humbucker pickups. Dean guitars are best known for their unique vintage tones, and the Vendetta XM definitely has it.
- Lightweight despite its size
- Perfect for the traveling musician
- Comes with the premium Dean die-cast tuners for solid tuning and mechanics
- Features the Tune-O-Matic bridge for better intonation
- And customization of your tuning preference
- Pickup buzz as well as buzzing on the 4, 20, and 24 frets
ESP LTD EC256FM Electric Guitar
Looking for a guitar that offers more flexibility? Your wish has been granted. The ESP LTD EC256FM has everything you need. It comes with individual volume controls for each pickup, and it also has a tone know with a push-pull control to split the pickups.
Apart from being an overall well-built guitar, what I enjoyed most about the EX256FM is its versatility. It has a pure and rich sound but it can also rock out to other tunes whether it’s country, blues, hard rock or fusion.
If you also want a metal guitar that can follow you along no matter what your music style is at the moment, this is a very good choice.
- Produces good quality sound that is compatible with a variety of music styles
- A no-frills guitar that has everything a beginner might need
- as a bit of buzz on the frets
- Adjustments needed
Dean Michael Angelo Batio MAB4 Gauntlet Electric Guitar
Michael Angelo Batio is one of the most renowned shredders of all time. Did you know that his techniques and command of scales was purely self-taught? Now, you can also learn a thing or two from him with the MAB4 electric guitar.
This guitar has all ingredients that make Michael’s secret to better guitar playing. It has a beautiful body, and an even more irresistible fingerboard that’s built for increased sustain and easy fingering.
But what I like about this guitar is the fact that the pickups are wired in an HSH pattern, providing a variety of single and dual-coil sounds – perfect for anyone looking for more metallic sounds.
- Has a good pickup and action for a very affordable price
- Features a super cool graphic detail
- Perfect for anyone who wants to sport a true heavy metal look
- Able to hold the tune for a longer period than most guitars in the same price range
- A bit on the heavy side compared to other guitars on the list
Schecter Omen Extreme-FR Electric Guitar
Here’s another Schecter guitar that is bound to steal metalhead’s hearts. The Schecter Omen Extreme is a guitar with all the basics at a very affordable price. Guitars of all experience levels can now enjoy the sound of a premium quality guitar for a pocket-friendly price.
Whether you’re thinking of buying a guitar for practice, or as a gift for a beginner, this is a very good choice of guitar.
- A solid
- Well-built guitar with a comfortable double-cutaway basswood body
- Attractive and easy to play at the same time
- Comes with dual Schecter High-Output Alnico humbuckers give a wide variety of tones
- Also has the Floyd Rose Tremolo that will help you stay in tune for longer
- A little bit on the heavy side compared to other guitars on this list
Jackson JS32T Kelly – Viola Burst
Looking for another show-stopper guitar just like the Jackson Rhoades guitar? Here’s another guitar from the same maker that’s built to steal the show. Its beautiful Viola Burst finish, paired with an interesting body shape, makes it a very interesting guitar to look at.
But this guitar isn’t just about its looks – it can also produce a great metallic sound. The JS32T Kelly comes with 2 humbucking pickups that guarantee a richer, beefier tone.
- An attractive and unique guitar with all the basics covered
- Comes with 2 humbucking pickups to help you produce better sound quality
- It is considerably heavy compared to a lot of other guitar options
Dean MLX Electric Guitar
Think that the Jackson JS32T Kelly was out of this world? You haven’t seen anything yet. If you are a fan of brighter colors, the Dean MLX is the choice for you. It sports a beautiful basswood body with a bright Braziliaburst finish.
Apart from the super fast and easy 22-fret maple neck, the Dean MLZ also comes with a pair of dean humbuckers with 2 volume controls – basically everything you need to create a personal metal sound.
- Comes with a super unique and eye-catching shape and design
- Has plenty of features for a very fair and pocket-friendly price
- Quality of craftsmanship could be better especially for its price range
How To Choose the Best Metal Guitar Under 500 dollar
There is a long list of factors to consider when choosing the best metal guitar for you. A good electric guitar for metal should be able to produce that distinct sound metalheads know and love. Which is why it is crucial that you find one with all the right features.
Finding the right components for a heavy metal guitar may sound intimidating, but there are a few tips that could make your shopping experience a little bit easier.
One of the very first things you should look at is the guitar’s pickups. A humbucker pickup will give your guitar a thicker and fuller tone, while an active pickup allows you more control over the sound – both are great for the heavy metal genre.
The second thing you need to look out for is the guitar’s electronics. There are plenty to choose from so pick one according to your personal preference.
After figuring those out, it’s time to think about comfort and playability. You’d want a guitar that is easy to play – especially if you are just starting to learn how to play the guitar.
To do this, you need to look at the size of the guitar, the shape, and the type of bridge you think you’d like. A fixed bridge is usually the better choice for a beginner.
We may not be an expert in the heavy metal genre, but we know what a good guitar should be like. We think that the ESP LTD EC-256 is a great pick for this type of music. Aside from its uniquely attractive appearances, this guitar has high-end features at a super affordable price.
The ESP LTD EC-256 can handle all music genres really well, all thanks to its ESP LH-150 Humbuckers. As we’ve mentioned, having a really good pickup is key to finding the best metal guitar and the one on this guitar passes our very high standards.