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The Best Guitar Strings For Shredding | Metal And Downtuning

There are a few things to consider when deciding which are the best guitar strings for shredding. Obviously, we are looking at electric guitar strings. Let's take a look at the factors influencing our decision first to get a feel for what we are looking for.

 

Gauge

The gauge you choose for your strings is important for any genre. Metal and other heavy styles are no different in this respect. You will want lighter strings on your high strings for lead guitar. Conversely, you will want the bottom strings to be a bit thicker. This allows you can get a good chug from your palm mutes and stability in those notes. This is one of the most important points for defining the best guitar strings for shredding.

A 10-52 gauge is a pretty good reference point for metal. It is a good gauge for standard or E flat tuning but if you plan to drop-tune further you may need to go for something heavier. This is because it can be hard to get good tension on light gauge strings causing ‘floppy strings’. If you plan to play in C standard or anything lower it is worth getting 11’s or heavier to prevent this problem

To make it simple all the strings listed in our top picks are 10-52 gauge or similar. Most are also available in heavier gauges. You can navigate to these through the product links quite easily.

 

Durability

This one may not apply to everyone but many of us can get a bit carried away with how hard we play at a live show. I know I am very guilty of this. There is nothing worse than breaking a string during your set especially if you don’t have a guitar tech. Many of our top picks have technological advances to help battle this problem. Strings such as the Ernie Ball Paradigm and D’Addario XT are particularly suited for guitarists that play hard.

 

Tone

A pronounced low end is common amongst pretty much all of the sub-genres of metal. Most sets in our top picks are fantastic for heavy stuff and have a warmth for their cleans. However, you may play a lot of light distortion or you want really bright clean tones. In this case, you may be better suited to something like D’Addario XL strings. They are capable of getting chunky but are a bit less suited than our top picks for heavy distortion.

*Please note that these reviews are for 6 string guitars. Most models have an equivalent for 7 and 8 strings if you have one of those types of guitars.

A Quick Look At The Best Guitar Strings For Metal
The Best Overall Guitar Strings For Metal
product Image NYXL STRINGS
D'Addario NYXL
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The Most Durable Guitar Strings For Metal
Paradigm strings product image
Ernie Ball Paradigm
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The Best Budget Guitar Strings For Metal
Darco Guitar Strings Product Image
Darco Strings
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The Overall Best Guitar Strings For Metal

D'Addario NYXL

Pros
  • Amazing stability
  • Durable
  • Huge range of gauges
Cons
  • Expensive

These strings tick all the boxes for metal strings. They are durable with a break-resistant carbon steel core and steel alloy binding. This manufacturing process also makes these strings very stable. They maintain tuning very well.  They also have a thin tin coating for corrosion resistance. This means that they will last a long time between string changes.

The nickel-plated winding offers greater magnetic properties. This results in more mid-range presence for extra crunch. An important frequency range for heavy genres. This also provides a higher output which is perfect for pairing with hot pickups. Hot pickups are often used in guitars intended for metal.

Another great thing about these strings is they come in many different gauges. This means we can find a perfect set for any tuning. There are 10-52 sets for standard tuning and you can get all the way up to “Extra Heavy” strings if you plan to tune to B or lower.

product Image NYXL STRINGS

The Most Durable Guitar Strings For Metal

Ernie Ball Paradigm Slinky

Pros
  • Incredibly durable
  • Stable tuning
  • Classic Ernie Ball Slinky tone
Cons
  • Pricey

These are the perfect strings if you love the iconic tone of Ernie Ball strings. They’re also perfect if you are a serial string breaker. I know that I am guilty of getting a bit overzealous playing sometimes. These strings are perfect for me to help prevent string breaks.

These strings last a long time meaning you can go longer between string changes. You will maintain a good tone between changes too. They are also rust, break, and finger oil resistant. There’s little chance of you impacting the lifespan of these strings in a negative way.

As with any strings, they will eventually dull or break so make sure you also have some spares just in case. Yet, with these strings, you get the luxury of waiting longer between changes. There is also a lower chance of breaking strings at an important time.

Paradigm strings product image

D'Addario XT

D'Addrio XT Product image
Pros
  • Tough
  • Stable tuning
  • Nice tone
Cons
  • Less impressive that NYXL from the same brand

These are another great option for long-lasting strings. You may prefer the tone of D’Addario strings to Ernie Ball. If this is the case these strings are a perfect choice for heavy-handed players.

They are built to last with an extended lifespan treatment. This treatment makes the strings maintain their tone up to 4 times longer than traditional uncoated strings.

They also have fantastic tuning stability and break resistance. You can avoid having to tune between every song or replace a string during your set.

A nice touch for these strings is that they come in a resealable pack. This packaging helps avoid exposure to elements if you change one string at a time because of a break. This helps the rest of the pack to remain fresh for when you finish changing the string set later.

The Best Guitar Strings For Down Tuning

DR Strings DDT Drop Down Tuning

Dr Strings DDT Product Image
Pros
  • Well priced
  • Reliable
  • Sound great
Cons
  • A limited number of different gauges

DR Strings is a smaller brand when compared to most of our other top picks. They are a manufacturer that specializes in strings for heavy music. They even have signature model strings to match your favorite artists. One example is the Dimebag Darrel Electric Big Heavy.

We have chosen the DDT strings as our top pick for down tuning for a few reasons. One reason is the design. The coil wire for these strings is hexagonal. This provides excellent stability for low tuning. To accompany this, these strings are also reasonably priced. You would be unlikely to have to pay more than $10 for these ever.

Another reason these strings are awesome is that they maintain their tuning (providing you have a quality guitar). This is the case even if you’re changing tuning a lot. This means you can switch between a standard and drop tuning during your set. You will have no worries about your strings detuning in any case.

Ernie Ball Skinny Top Heavy Bottom

Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Product Image
Pros
  • Cheap
  • Reliable
  • High Quality
Cons
  • Less impressive than more expensive Ernie Ball strings

It is right there in the name for these strings. You want a heavy bottom for an in your face tone and tight strings with lower tuning. Having skinny top strings means you can solo easily too. These are the perfect gauge for standard and dropped D tuning. The strings will be tight at these tunings and you could even get away with going as low as C tuning. Only if you don’t mind having the strings a little looser.

Ernie Ball is one of the biggest names in guitar strings and used by artists of every genre. You can trust that any string set of theirs designed for a specific purpose is trustworthy.

These strings are pretty tough and reliably stay in tune. They cost almost half as much as the Paradigm model from the same brand. If you can trust yourself to play a little softer you can save some money buying these strings.

The Best Throwaway Guitar Strings For Metal

Darco Nickel Electric Guitar Strings

Darco Guitar Strings Product Image
Pros
  • Incredibly cheap
  • Reliable
Cons
  • Nothing fancy

It is a good idea to have a new set of strings on your guitar for each show you play. If you bought an expensive set of strings for every gig the cost of this can add up quickly. This is especially true if you play a lot of shows.

Darco strings are a great option if you like the idea of having a fresh set of strings for every gig. At less than $4 a set, they save you from having to spend a fortune on strings while doing this. You miss out on some bells and whistles such as coatings or other fancy technology. What you still have is great tone and reliability. 

These strings are also a great option to have as spares in your guitar case in case you break a string while playing. Just make sure you get the same gauge as whatever other strings you may be using. These strings come in a wide range of gauges so this shouldn’t be a problem.

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Hi, I'm Chris, the owner, creator, and head writer for InciteMusic.com 
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