The 3 Best Acoustic Guitars For Metal Players: Skinny Necks, Giant Sounds!

By Christoper Horton •  Updated: 12/14/22 •  16 min read

Finding acoustic guitars for metal guitarists can be tricky. We like thin necks, and easy playability on our electric guitars, and that can be rare on an acoustic model. Today we pick our top three shred-worthy acoustics

The Best Acoustic Guitars For Metal: Finding A Good Match

As a guitarist that focuses on Metal primarily, you might not think you need an acoustic guitar! I was certainly like this for the first few years that I played guitar. I liked the feel of an electric, and the booming sounds that came out of my high gain amp. I never even wondered what the best acoustic guitars for Metal would be! I was perfectly content with my electric guitars.

But then I joined a band, and we started working on a set list, and the songs that would eventually be our album. We wrote some really heavy riffs, and had some very fast songs that blended Punk and Metal together perfectly. But our singer had written a new song, on his acoustic guitar. This was not a new thing, at all.

He had written a ton of songs and riffs on that guitar, and it was our job as a band to speed them up and make them heavy. He was really good at putting simple chords together, and then we would take those ideas and make them heavy, chugging that low E string and power chords. But this time he said ” No, this one is staying softer. Even Metallica has a ballad on every album!”

Our singer had a good point, but at that time I had became very used to my Ibanez guitars. They had slim necks, jumbo frets, and a longer scale. That was what I was used to playing every day. I was at a loss when it came to finding the best acoustic guitars for Metal, because I had never really tried. But clearly, it was time to find one that worked for me. I finally decided on an Takamine, and I still have that guitar.

That was a long time ago, and back then there were very few acoustic guitars that would mimic the “feel” of an electric guitar. As I have grown older, I find that I really enjoy the sound of an acoustic guitar, and I use them in the studio all the time! There is a difference between a guitarist, and a musician. I find that I enjoy playing all kinds of genres now, although Metal will always be in my heart as my #1.

So what are we looking for when it comes to the best acoustic guitars for metal? Because the world of guitars has become much larger, with tons of affordable brands. We are looking for a very specific set of features, and the goal today is to find acoustic guitars that still have the “feel” of your electric guitars. Features like:

Finding 3 guitars that fit all of those specs and features was impossible. But we did find what we think are the best acoustic guitars for Metal players through a little bit of compromise. We also tried to keep these in a budget that is under $1000. Especially since these may not be a guitar that you use all the time. But then again, you may really enjoy the acoustic, even if you primarily play the heaviest of metal! Because the acoustic is a different instrument than your electric.

But I DO Play Metal, Why Would I Ever Need An Acoustic Guitar?

If you are a songwriter, and acoustic guitar is an amazing tool. Because it makes you think in a very different way, since everything is stripped down. You do not have a bunch of effects and distortion to rely on. You only have the notes, and the chords. So writing on an acoustic can be very inspiring, especially if you need a good “hook” for a song.

Acoustic and electric guitars are completely different animals. They are in the same gene pool, but contain totally different DNA. So if you have hit a roadblock in your guitar playing, maybe an acoustic is what you need to provide a different view of the guitar as an instrument!

Acoustic guitars can make you think differently, and approach playing in a totally unique way. The techniques you use when playing your electric, will not always translate over to acoustic. But as a songwriting tool, sometimes simple is the best! You might surprise yourself with what you come up with, and maybe learn a new technique entirely!

There is a lot to consider when choosing an acoustic guitar. The wood choice matters much more than a solid body electric guitar. You also want to look for a “solid top” acoustic guitar. This means the top is all one piece, and these sound louder and have better tone. Finishes matter as well, and you don’t want thick poly paint covering your acoustic guitar, you want it to ring out and vibrate.

Now, with all of that said, let’s dive into the best acoustic guitars for metal players! We went through all of the features, and tried out hundreds of neck shapes to get this list down to the 3 best. These are in no particular order, and each of them will appeal to a different type of player. We will explain who these guitars will benefit the most, and break down why they are the best.

Here are the 3 best acoustic guitars for metal guitarists!

#3 Ibanez ALT20: The Perfect Blend Of Electric And Acoustic!

best acoustic guitars for metal

When we first set out to find the best acoustic guitars for Metal guitar players, Ibanez came to mind immediately. Ibanez has been on the cutting edge when it comes to making guitars that are primed for heavier music. Ibanez created the first mass-produced 7 string guitar with Steve Vai. You see so many Metal artists using Ibanez guitars, for a good reason!

Ibanez electric guitars are known for having skinny necks, and a flat fretboard radius that makes it easier to play fast and heavy. The now-famous “Wizard” neck is the preferred tool for many guitarists that like to shred. The company has always made great budget acoustics, but the Ibanez ALT20 is a budget monster!

The Ibanez ALT20 checks almost all of the boxes when it comes to the best acoustic guitars for Metal players. It definitely has a vibe that makes it look and feel modern, but it also has a great tone. Sapele is a popular tone wood for acoustic guitars, because it has a rich bottom end. You also get very pronounced treble response from Sapele. All of your frequencies are covered, even a warm midrange.

The electronics are very basic, but this is still in the “budget” realm of guitars. You have a simple EQ setup, and it was much more responsive than I thought it would be. The T-Bar “under the saddle” pickup has great response to dynamics. But you also have to be careful, since these type of pickups are so sensitive. You can hear if something it knocking against the body of the guitar and they tend to feedback at loud volumes.

But the real star of the show is the neck. This is modeled after an Ibanez RG electric guitar neck, and even has the same headstock shape. This feels like you are playing an electric guitar, without a doubt. It has a modern C/D carve and it is flat enough to get the action low enough to shred!

Most acoustic guitars will have the body joined around the 15th fret, making solos in the higher register pretty much impossible. Even with a cutaway, my acoustic guitar doesn’t get much higher than the 17th fret. With the cutaway on the Ibanez ALT20, you can get all the way up to the 21st fret with ease. Everything you can play on your electric, can be played on this guitar.

The neck also has a much flatter radius than most acoustic guitars. The 15” radius allows the action to be almost as low as an electric guitar. The frets are also bigger than you would usually find on an acoustic, so doing bends feels natural and easy. The 25.5 scale also feels familiar, and this is what ties the neck all together. It feels and plays just like an electric in every way.

So if you were wondering what the best acoustic guitars for metal players are, start right here! This is as close to being an actual electric guitar as an acoustic can be. By far, this is one of my favorite acoustic guitars, and I think I might buy one for the studio. The transition from my shred machines, to this acoustic feels natural and easy. This is a STEAL at this price, and it plays way above the price point!

This guitar is definitely for the metal player that is just now getting into acoustic guitars. Maybe you are like the person in my intro story? Maybe you only need it for a few songs. Even if you just want to have an acoustic guitar laying around to experiment with, the Ibanez ALT20 is perfect for just about any metalhead that wants to chill.

#2 ESP TL6 Acoustic Guitar

best acoustic guitars for metal

The Ibanez above is a great start to diving into the best acoustic guitars for Metal players, but the ESP TL6 is definitely next level when it comes to quality. ESP/LTD like Ibanez, knows how to make a guitar that is primed for heavy music. But how well does that translate over to acoustic designs?

The ESP TL 6 is one of the best acoustic guitars for Metal because it is a hybrid of sorts. It feels very much like an electric guitar when you are holding it, but once you plug it in you get a full bodied acoustic sound. This guitar definitely bridges the gap between electric and acoustic, and the features are unreal at this price.

Since the ESP TL6 is more of a hybrid guitar, I was not expecting much from the sound when it was unplugged. I was pleasantly surprised that it still produced a pretty decent amount of volume, even unplugged. I also tried really hard to make it feedback when I plugged it in, and I did not succeed. So feedback is no issue with this guitar.

The body is thin, and its actually a little smaller than my Les Paul in width. So you will definitely feel like you are playing an electric guitar. The neck is also a dream to play, and it feels just like an ESP Eclipse if you are familiar with that neck shape. Can you shred on it? Absolutely you can shred, all the way up and down the neck. The cutaway is generous and allows you to reach the upper frets with ease.

The flat 14” radius is just like what you find on most ESP/LTD guitars. The frets are not quite jumbo, but they are large enough that you can really dig into some bends. The neck-feel was the most important factor when choosing these best acoustic guitars for metal guitarists., the ESP does not disappoint. This is by far the closest that you can get to an electric style neck.

The Fishman Electronics are a huge step up from the basic Ibanez ones that we tried on the other guitar. It already has a pretty bright tone, with a lot of midrange. Dialing it in was pretty simple, though. I kept the EQ dials at noon, and then just “added to taste”. The sound is great, and it would definitely stick out in a full band mix. Add some compression for a boost, and you can solo with a full band.

So what’s the catch with this one? It is definitely a good deal for the money. It checks most of the parameters that we set for the best acoustics for Metal players. It seems to check all of the boxes, and it looks absolutely stunning. So what’s the deal with this one?

This guitar is going to be for a specific type of player. This is a stage guitar, first and foremost. What I mean, is this would be the guitar you grab for the one or two acoustic songs in your setlist. It will also be great to record with. But being plugged in is where you get the full experience of this guitar. Unlike the Ibanez, it simply isn’t loud enough to stand on its own as an “acoustic guitar”.

But if you gig, or need a direct acoustic for the studio then this is definitely for you. As a stand-alone instrument, it is just “good” and definitely not loud enough to hang with full size acoustic guitars. So if you plan on plugging in for most performances? The ESP TL6 is a fantastic choice. If you plan on using a mic to record it, this is not the guitar for you.

ESP LTD TL-6 Thinline Acoustic-Electric Guitar Black

Best of both worlds! ESP's TL Series are specially designed thinline transducer-electric LTD guitars featuring their Acoustic Resonant Chamber. The TL-6 comes with premier components like a Graph Tech NuBone-XB nut and saddle, Grover tuners, and Fishman pickup technology.

#1 Schecter Orleans Stage Acoustic

best acoustic guitars for metal

You know you have a diverse and strange list when the Schecter Guitar is the most “traditional” out of the bunch! While it may be the closest to being a standard acoustic, it has a lot of the features that we are looking for. Schecter is another company that is know for making guitars catered to the Metal crowd, but the acoustic version is actually rather tame in comparison.

However, this is one of the best acoustic guitars for metal because of some very choice details and features. One of those features is the incredibly comfortable neck shape. But like so many other Schecter designs, there are some definite head-turning features.

Schecter is much better known for making electric guitars, so the fact that acoustic ones exist may be a shock to you! The Schecter Orleans Stage Acoustic has been around for a while, and there are several versions of this guitar, even an Avenged Sevenfold signature model. But what makes this one of the best acoustic guitars for metal players?

Well, you should feel at home with the brand and quality. You get a solid spruce top, which is a great balanced tone. Due to the body style, this is a loud guitar as well! The Flame Maple sides and back add a touch of class, and varies from model to model. The headstock is a 3×3 and a little extreme looking, but I like it it a lot. It makes the guitar stand out a little.

The Fishman Pickup System is one of the best, and it gives you all kinds of control when you plug it in. These Fishman Systems sound great with a little extra midrange dialed in, and some reverb. The control layout is basic, and simple, but it gets the job done. So the Orleans Stage sounds great plugged up, or all by itself…what about the neck?

The neck is very familiar if you have ever played a Schecter guitar before. The thin C profile feels very comfortable in your hands. It feels a lot like an electric guitar, but not quite like any of the others on this list. It is not as extreme, and you do not have the same access to the upper frets that the other choices on this list provides. This “feels” like an acoustic guitar, but the neck makes it much easier to play.

So who is this guitar for? I think this would be a good fit for the Metal guitarist that already has an acoustic guitar, but wants something a little easier to play. You don’t have to fight with the Schecter at all. It plays with a low action, and a flat radius, a lot like your electric guitars. But you will definitely “know” this is an acoustic, unlike the ESP/LTD above.

This is the best acoustic guitar for Metal players to me, because it blends a lot of the things the other two on this list have to offer. It is easier to play than most acoustics, and it feels and looks just like your “aesthetically Metal” electric guitars. For someone like me, this is a perfect blend of modern and traditional. It sounds great when you mic it up, but the Fishman electronics also sound great plugged in.

Schecter Guitar Research Orleans Stage Acoustic

Top rated! The lightweight Schecter Orleans Stage acoustic-electric guitar features a solid spruce top along with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, Fishman electronics, bone saddle and Grover tuners. A special Vampyre Red Burst satin finish and abalone multi-ply binding will make it a standout visually to match it's sweet sound.

The Best Acoustic Guitars For Metal Guitarists: Wrapping up…

Acoustic guitar players have been popping up a lot in my Instagram feed lately. These are people that usually post videos for shredding, and I think the change of pace is nice. These usually Metal-focused guitarists are probably inspired by people like Polyphia, who have started using acoustics for a lot of songs.

Finding the best acoustic guitars for Metal was no easy task. Acoustic guitars are steeped in tradition and heritage. Some companies like Martin Guitars have made guitars the same way for over 100 years. Electric guitars are the same way with some brands like Fender and Gibson. There is something cool about having a piece of history.

But I am glad that we managed to find some really interesting acoustic guitars that buck the tradition trends. I would have like to include some of the Fender Acoustisonic guitars, as they fit the bill for sure. But the price was entirely too steep. If your budget allows, those Fenders are some of the best options for Metal guitarists looking to cross over.

My point from the beginning remains the same. If you are a Metal guitar player that has never used an acoustic to write songs, or experiment with…it might be time to do that. It can be fun to wade in uncharted waters, and be completely vulnerable without any distortion to hide behind. Sometimes, it can definitely make you think differently and maybe you might write some cool new riffs!

  1. Schecter Guitar Research Orleans Stage Acoustic

    Top rated! The lightweight Schecter Orleans Stage acoustic-electric guitar features a solid spruce top along with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, Fishman electronics, bone saddle and Grover tuners. A special Vampyre Red Burst satin finish and abalone multi-ply binding will make it a standout visually to match it's sweet sound.

  2. ESP LTD TL-6 Thinline Acoustic-Electric Guitar Black

    Best of both worlds! ESP's TL Series are specially designed thinline transducer-electric LTD guitars featuring their Acoustic Resonant Chamber. The TL-6 comes with premier components like a Graph Tech NuBone-XB nut and saddle, Grover tuners, and Fishman pickup technology.

  3. Ibanez ALT20 Dreadnought Acoustic

    Built with a compact Dreadnought body, a 15.7” fingerboard radius, tight string spacing and a 25.5” scale neck, the ALT20 is designed to provide a seamless transition from electric to acoustic. Whether you’re looking to delve into the world of acoustic guitar or just seeking a quieter practice option while maintaining the feel of an electric guitar, the Ibanez ALT20 has you covered.


Christoper Horton

Christopher has been playing guitar, bass, and piano for 28 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. Chris has toured for years with several bands and music projects across the United States. He worked in Los Angeles as a studio musician and engineer working with many genres, but mainly Pop, Rock, and Metal. In between giving private lessons, he is usually recording under his various projects at home in Georgia. Christopher plays Schecter Guitars, BOSS Amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.

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