Best guitar strings for Heavy Metal

Drop D Heavy Metal Guitar Strings
Generally, heavy rock = heavy strings. Heavier (or thicker) gauge strings tend to give a fuller more bass-rich sound when played hard and also take the pounding of heavy strumming. The downside is that they're harder on the fingers, especially for beginners, and are more difficult to bent when playing lead. 11 gauge string sets are the most popular for pro Heavy Metal. (See here for discussion of what gauges mean!) Fortunately there are many options for the heavy metal guitarist, with many guitar string brands offering ‘hybrid’ string sets. These are typically heavier strings at the low end (6th,5th and 4th strings) for a driving rhythm sound coupled with lighter strings on the top strings (1st, 2nd and 3rd) to make playing lead easier. Heavier strings are also much better for dropped tuning (aka detuning), with dropped D being the most popular. Here’s some examples of some great heavy metal or hard rock strings, to compare the gauges:

String number

1

2

3

4

5

6

String note*

E

B

G

D

A

E

Guitar String Brand

String gauge / 1,000s of an inch

D'Addario EXL140 XL

10

13

17

30

42

52

Dunlop Zakk Wylde

10

13

17

36

52

60

Ernie Ball Beefy Slinky (Optimal for Drop D tuning)

11

15

22

30

42

54

Ernie Ball Power Slinky

11

14

18

28

38

48

Ernie Ball Heavy Top Skinny Bottom

10

13

17

30

42

52.

Rotosound Roto Blues

10

13

17

30

42

52

Rotosound Roto Reds

11

14

18

28

38

48

GHS Boomers

12

15

24

40

52

 

*note shown for standard EADGBE tuning.

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