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When it comes to buying the best bass guitar for metal, there is a lot to consider, including the main features, the number of strings, and what you should be looking for in terms of the ability to really shape your sound so that you can play those killer metal bass lines.
In this buyer’s guide, we aim to provide you with the most important details, allowing you to make a more informed decision and purchase a bass guitar that is well-suited to playing heavy metal music and similar styles.
What is the Best Bass Guitars for Metal?
Bass Guitars for Metal Reviews
For those looking for the best 5 string bass for metal, the Ibanez Bass Workshop SRMS805 represents an extremely good option and is fully equipped with a multi-scale fretboard. Put simply, this means the bass side of the instrument has a longer scale than the treble side and the result is greater pitch accuracy and optimum tension in the strings.
A walnut/mahogany body helps the bass to deliver a killer tone, while Bartolini BH2 dual-coil pickups ensure this is produced with excellent clarity. Meanwhile, the equalizer controls help to give you complete command over your sound, which is ideal for metal music, where making subtle adjustments can have a big impact.
The Ibanez Bass Workshop SRMS805 Bass Guitar is a very good heavy metal bass guitar, which is versatile enough to play other styles too. It enjoys excellent build quality, while it is available with a range of sublime finishes including the ‘Deep Twilight’ color option or the lighter ‘Brown Topaz Burst’, depending on your personal preference.
If you have a little more money to spend, one of the best metal bass options on the market is the LTD B-1005 model from The ESP Guitar Company. As with the aforementioned Ibanez SRMS805, the ESP LTD B-1005 is a 5 string bass guitar, with a multi-scale fingerboard, providing optimal string tension and superior tone.
The bass guitar is equipped with Nordstrand Big Splits pickups. In terms of tone, the LTD B-1005 excels when used to play metal music, but it will also sound great when playing rock and even pop music too.
ESP’s LTD B-1005 Multi-Scale Bass Guitar is equipped with bass, treble, mid, volume and balance controls, along with an active/passive switch, allowing you to truly customize your sound. This, combined with its pleasant appearance and excellent tone, ensures it is arguably the best bass for metal players looking for professional quality.
Those seeking a more budget-friendly option may instead be attracted by the Schecter Stiletto Extreme 4 Bass Guitar, which is one of the best metal bass options for when you need to be able to move around the fretboard quickly – in part because of the fast maple neck and rosewood fingerboard.
Schecter Diamond pickups help to deliver great clarity of sound, while it is also worth noting that the Stiletto Extreme 4 benefits from active electronics and 2-band EQ. This configuration helps to provide the instrument with exquisite tone, while also protecting it from issues like signal degradation.
Both right-handed and left-handed options are available, and the 4 string bass is aesthetically appealing too, ensuring it will look at home within any metal band. Ultimately, the Schecter Stiletto Extreme 4 is a great choice for those who want a reliable bass guitar, which sounds great to play metal music with.
For those seeking an affordable 4 string metal bass guitar from a reliable manufacturer, the Yamaha TRBX304 could be the perfect option. Combining great sound with attractive looks and great ergonomics, this model is also versatile enough to play other music styles too, including rock, pop and blues.
The TRBX304’s body is crafted from quality mahogany, with a glossy finish, and four color options are available, allowing you to purchase the guitar in red, blue, green or white, depending on personal preference and the aesthetic you are looking for. M3 ceramic dual coil pickups help to provide excellent clarity of sound, free from unwanted humming.
Equipped with 2-band active EQ controls, you will have the ability to adjust your sound, while
Finally, the most affordable option on this list is the Jackson Spectra JS3 Bass Guitar, which places it among the very best bass for metal options if you are operating on a more limited budget, or if pricing is a top priority for you.
Bass, mid, treble, master volume and pickup blend controls ensure you have plenty of scope to customize your sound and get it just the way you need it. The body of the bass guitar is made from poplar and has a glossy finish, and the guitar is available in your choice of either black, silver or metallic red.
The fingerboard includes jumbo frets, which helps to enhance playability, while two active humbucking pickups help to deliver the kind of tone you want. All of this combines to make the Jackson Spectra JS3 Bass Guitar a great option for metal players who want an affordable guitar that does not require you to sacrifice too much in terms of sound quality.
Buyer’s Guide: Find the Best Bass for Metal
What Features to Look For
To find a good metal bass guitar, it is important to look out for the right features. You are going to want to make sure the body and neck are made from high-quality materials, such as mahogany, while you will also need to decide between an active or passive guitar. The former will have an on-board preamp, while the latter will produce output from the pickups alone. This also means you need to prioritize pickup quality on passive bass guitars.
It is important that your bass guitar includes EQ controls, as this will allow you to properly shape your tone. You will also need to think about the size of the guitar and the thickness of the neck, as these impact playability.
Furthermore, when looking for the best bass for heavy metal, you may encounter bass guitars with a multi-scale fretboard like ESP LTD B-1005 and Ibanez Bass Workshop SRMS805. This should be visibly clear, because the top and bottom strings will be different lengths, and the setup can improve intonation and optimize the tension in the strings, resulting in greater durability.
4-String vs. 5-String Bass
One of the most significant decisions you will have to make is whether to opt for a 4 string or 5 string bass guitar. While this will partly come down to personal preference, there are some key things to consider.
As a general rule, 4 string bass guitars like Schecter Stiletto Extreme 4 and Yamaha TRBX304 are easier to play. This is because the strings tend to be slightly further apart and the neck is often a more convenient size. However, for metal, the additional fifth string can actually be very valuable, because it allows you to reach notes that you would otherwise need to de-tune your bass to reach.
For this reason, many heavy metal bass guitar options will be 5 string models, but 4 string basses are still perfectly viable. Moreover, if you already have significant experience with a four-string bass, it is also worth thinking about whether or not the transition to a 5 string model will cause unnecessary problems.
How to Dial Your Perfect Tone
To play good bass for metal, you need to create the right tone and the EQ controls on your bass are the best place to start. Generally, for metal music, you are going to want your bass and mids relatively high, while treble can be added as you see fit. Distortion pedals can also help you to get the best possible sound.
You should try to invest in a bass guitar with high-quality pickups, and you need to be working with a good amplifier too. Finally, it is important to change your bass guitar strings regularly too.
Which Strings to Opt For?
Of course, in addition to changing your strings once they start to display signs of wear and tear, you also need to make sure you are using the right strings. In terms of material, you are probably going to want to avoid nickel, but nickel-wound steel will work perfectly well. A more ideal option, however, may be stainless steel.
The best metal bass guitar strings will also have a thicker gauge and this will typically be in the .050 to .105 range. It may also be worth looking out for strings that are specifically designed for metal music, and you should also note that if you are not used to playing with thick strings, there may be an adjustment period needed.