What are the Best Guitar Strings for Metal?

IMAGERECOMMENDED PRODUCTSPRODUCTFEATURES
  • Gauge range from .010 through to .052
  • Nickel plated steel winding material
  • Light top and a heavy bottom
  • Gauge range from .010 to .052
  • Skinny top and a heavy bottom
  • An affordable price point
  • Gauge range from .011 through to .054
  • Nickel plated steel winding material
  • Carefully designed for drop tuning
  • Gauge range from .012 through to .054
  • Nickel plated steel winding material
  • Designed for drop tuning
  • Gauge range from .012 through to .056
  • Iron/cobalt alloy winding material
  • Designed for meaty, dense sound

Metal Guitar Strings Reviews

D'Addario NYXL1052 Nickel Wound Guitar Strings

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  • Gauge range from .010 through to .052
  • Nickel plated steel winding material
  • Light top and a heavy bottom
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D'Addario NYXL1052 Nickel Wound Guitar Strings Review

When it comes to finding the best strings for metal music, these D’Addario NYXL1052 Nickel Wound options represent an excellent starting point for your search, offering excellent sound and great resistance against tuning issues.

The strings actually serve as something of a hybrid option, with a gauge range from .010 through to .052, meaning they have a light top and a heavy bottom.

Crucially, for those with an interest in playing metal music, the high carbon steel alloy used for these strings provides them with the necessary level of strength.

Although they are not the cheapest strings on this list, they are made by a very reliable company, which has been making instrument strings for hundreds of years in total.

These particular strings have a nickel-plated steel winding material that makes these the best strings for metal if you are already used to playing with softer strings.

Ernie Ball 2215 Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Guitar Strings

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  • Gauge range from .010 to .052
  • Skinny top and a heavy bottom
  • An affordable price point
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Ernie Ball 2215 Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Guitar Strings Review

Next, if you are looking for the best electric guitar strings for metal with a skinny top and a heavy bottom, at an affordable price, the Ernie Ball 2215 strings may be the ideal choice.

The gauges for these particular strings are .010, .013, .017, .030, .042 and .052, making them a similar option to the D’Addario NYXL1052 strings.

The Ernie Ball brand has a strong reputation within hard rock and metal circles, being favored by the guitarists from a wide range of bands, including Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Led Zeppelin.

In terms of materials, the strings have a tin-plated hex steel core, along with a nickel-plated steel winding. They produce a balanced sound, with heavy bass strings that function well when playing aggressive metal music, but with enough versatility to play other styles of music perfectly well too.

DR Strings DDT-11 Drop-Down Tuning Nickel Plated Steel Strings

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  • Gauge range from .011 through to .054
  • Nickel plated steel winding material
  • Carefully designed for drop tuning
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DR Strings DDT-11 Drop-Down Tuning Nickel Plated Steel Strings Review

As the name suggests, the DR Strings DDT-11 Drop-Down Tuning Nickel Plated Steel Strings have been specifically designed to provide stability even with drop tuning.

This quality makes them ideally suited for playing heavy metal music and explains why they are the preferred choice for many metal guitarists.

The gauges for these particular strings are .011, .015, .019, .032, .042 and .054, which means both the thinnest and thickest strings are thicker than the corresponding strings on both of the aforementioned sets. These are among the very best guitar strings for metal enthusiasts who want robust strings for touring.

Utilizing a steel hexagonal-shaped core, which is coated with nickel plated steel, these strings are hand-crafted and yet remain relatively inexpensive.

The DR Strings brand itself also enjoys popularity within metal and heavy rock circles, in part because they were the preferred choice of the legendary Pantera guitarist, Dimebag Darrell.

Dunlop DHCN1254 Heavy Core "Heaviest" Guitar Strings

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  • Gauge range from .012 through to .054
  • Nickel plated steel winding material
  • Designed for drop tuning
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Dunlop DHCN1254 Heavy Core "Heaviest" Guitar Strings Review

For those who are looking for seriously heavy strings, the Dunlop DHCN1254 Heavy Core range is widely regarded as offering among the very best guitar strings for metal.

The range is broken down into a number of different options, named “Heavy”, “Heavier” and “Heaviest”, with the latter being especially well suited for this genre of music.

The strings have gauges of .012, .016, .020, .032, .042 and .054, meaning even the thinnest of the strings is thicker than the equivalent on any of the aforementioned options, and the same is true of the thickest string too.

Dunlop’s DHCN1254 Heavy Core strings have a steel core, with a nickel plated steel winding material. They have been specifically designed to provide excellent sound with drop tuning, while also feeling smooth under your fingers.

Their ability to withstand aggressive playing styles is another reason why they are among the best strings for metal.

Ernie Ball 2726 "Not Even Slinky" Electric Guitar Strings

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  • Gauge range from .012 through to .056
  • Iron/cobalt alloy winding material
  • Designed for meaty, dense sound
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Ernie Ball 2726 "Not Even Slinky" Electric Guitar Strings Review

Finally, our list of the best guitar strings for metal concludes with the second Ernie Ball entry. The brand’s 2726 Not Even Slinky Strings are expressly designed with metal and similar music styles in mind.

One of the interesting things to note is that these are the only strings on this list to deviate from the nickel-plated steel winding material.

Instead, these metal guitar strings utilize an iron and cobalt alloy, which provides a more dense and meaty sound on the lower notes of the guitar, while also providing long-lasting toughness.

The gauges of the strings are .012, .016, .024, .032, .044 and .056, which means this is officially the thickest set of strings on our list, beating the Dunlop strings mentioned above.

As a result, these are very much the ideal choice for those who really want a high output, durable set of strings for thrashing.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Find the Best Guitar Strings for Metal

For new guitarists or those who are experimenting with heavier music genres for the first time, you’ll want to find the best electric guitar strings for metal. In this buyer’s guide, we will provide you with information about the thickness you need to be looking for, as well as the best materials. 

Should Metal Guitar Strings Have Thicker Gauges?

Guitar string gauge refers to the diameter or thickness of the guitar strings and this is measured on a scale of 1/1000th of an inch.

The gauge of a set of guitar strings may be laid out individually, but some companies instead simply refer to the gauge of their thinnest string e.g. you may see a set of strings described as .09 or .010.

When it comes to metal music, you are going to want to use thicker gauges, which means sticking to string sets of around .010 and above. Ideally, you may want to go even thicker than .010. Generally, thicker strings work better for metal because they are able to withstand more thrashing play styles, they produce greater volume and are better suited to drop tuning, which is especially common within the metal genre.

What Materials Should Metal Guitar Strings Use?

Of course, you also need to consider the material for your strings and there are two separate things to check here: the core material and the winding material. For the purposes of playing heavy metal music, you are usually going to want a steel core material. Some people do also use titanium, but this is less common.

For the winding material, however, you have a bit more freedom to experiment. The main options here are steel, nickel, or nickel plated steel.

Many of the best metal guitar strings combine a steel core with a nickel plated steel winding material, so this is a safe option, but the other options mentioned are all perfectly viable too. Meanwhile, some metal-influenced guitar strings on the market utilize more experimental alloys, like iron/cobalt.

Ultimately, when it comes to materials, the best bet to try different combinations and see what you like.

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