The 9 Best Electric Guitars For Shredding
Do you love shred guitar? Are you looking to buy a new electric guitar specifically tailored to this style? You’re in the right place.
Whether you’re just starting to shred or a longtime shredder looking to upgrade your axe, there’s a guitar for you.
With so many guitars on the market, there are several options to consider. Humbuckers or single coils? Standard bridge or Floyd Rose? Of course, there are also core considerations like budget, playability and versatility.
Below we’ve picked our nine favorite electric guitars for shredding. We’ll cover every issue to help you find the best shredding guitar faster than you can sweep pick an arpeggio!
Ready to shred? Let’s get started!
The 9 Best Shred Guitars
- Best Les Paul Style Shred Guitar – ESP LTD EC-1000
- Best Shred Guitar With Floyd Rose – Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR
- Best Premium Shred Guitar – Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty
- Best Shred Guitar for Metal – PRS SE Mark Holcomb
- Best Playability Shred Guitar – Ibanez RG550
- Best Shred Guitar for Small Hands – Ibanez S Series S670QM
- Best Headless Shred Guitar – Strandberg Boden 6
- Best Shred Guitar for Low Gain – Fender Player Stratocaster
- Most Versatile Shred Guitar – Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1
ESP LTD EC-1000 – Best Les Paul Style
The ESP LTD EC-1000 is essentially a Les Paul designed for metal heads featuring a thinner neck and body and EMG active pickups.
Read our ESP LTD EC-1000 Review
If you’re looking for sustain, it’s tough to beat a Les Paul style guitar. For around $1,000, this ESP Eclipse is one of the best options available.
One of the best features of the Eclipse is its set neck, which allows for greater sustain than bolt-on designs. A sharp cutaway also makes reaching upper frets a breeze, which is a must for shredding.
For pickups, the EC-1000 uses EMG 60 and EMG 81 humbuckers. Hard rock acts like Metallica have used EMG pickups for years for their hot output and aggressive sound. They also have excellent note definition, assuring all those fast notes don’t get lost in a blaze of fury.
If you’re looking for a solid, affordable Les Paul-style guitar for shredding, you can’t go wrong with the ESP LTD EC-1000.
- Aggressive sound
- EMG pickups may not be for everyone
- Possible risk of headstock break with Les Paul style guitars
Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR – Best Shred Guitar with Floyd Rose
If you're someone who loves gut-wrenching dive bombs and face-melting heavy metal riffs, then definitely consider this guitar with its Floyd Rose tremolo, EMG bridge pickup and Sustainiac neck pickup
For lightning fast speed, endless sustain and precise tuning stability, the Schecter Hellraiser raises the bar.
The Hellraiser’s sleek design was based entirely on feedback from players, so it’s been optimized for peak performance in the real world. A slim SLS profile neck with a compound-radius fretboard allows for the kind of fast and furious playing shredders love.
Many shredders also prefer Floyd Rose tremolo tailpieces for their solid tuning stability. Being able to execute wide bends and dive bombs while staying perfectly in tune is a must for the modern metal guitar player.
One of the most unique features of the Hellraiser is its hot-rodded pickups. An active EMG 57 humbucker in the bridge reacts like an overwound vintage PAF, while the Sustainiac pickup in the neck offers just what the name implies: endless, glorious sustain. A 3-way toggle switch lets you blend just the right amount of sustain and feedback for your playing.
The Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR offers a wide variety of tonal control and playability for a little over $1,000. For price and functionality, it would be hard to find a more well-made guitar, especially for shredding.
- Fast, slim neck
- Tuning stability
- Unique tonal options
- Possible learning curve with Sustainiac pickup
Ernie Ball Musicman Majesty – Best Premium Shred Guitar
The Music Man Majesty is John Petrucci's signature guitar featuring a modern shape designed for maximum playability and tone versatility with the piezo pickup.
This beast of a guitar was designed in collaboration with legendary Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci, so you know it can shred!
With the use of premium tonewoods, including a maple-capped African mahogany body, Petrucci and Ernie Ball spared no expense in making the perfect tone machine. A mahogany neck-through design allows for peak sustain and playability.
The Majesty’s hardware is also impressive. Schaller locking tuners with a floating vibrato bridge ensure perfect tune even with massive whammy bar bends. The stainless steel frets may last you a lifetime.
Tonally, the Majesty’s pickups are ready for any style. Its DiMarzio humbuckers can range from articulate cleans to massive gain perfect for shredding. As a bonus, there’s even a piezo in the bridge for access to amazing acoustic sounds!
If price is no object and a highly versatile and well-made guitar is what you’re after, the Ernie Ball Musicman Majesty may be for you. If it’s good enough for John Petrucci, it must be really, really good.
- Impeccable construction and materials
- Wide variety of tones and functionality
- Steep price tag, but worth it
PRS SE Mark Holcomb – Best Shred Guitar for Metal
The PRS SE Mark Holcomb is an excellent value featuring Mark Holcomb's signature Seymour Duncan Alpha and Omega pickups that are ideal for high gain metal and hard rock music.
Read our full PRS SE Mark Holcomb Review
For a great signature guitar at a modest price-point, you can’t go wrong with this selection from the venerable Paul Reed Smith.
Designed for Mark Holcomb of the prog-metal band Periphery, this SE model is a more affordable version of Holcomb’s popular PRS signature guitar. Specialized for Mark Holcomb’s highly technical, drop-tuned shred style, this guitar features an ebony-capped maple neck with a 20’’ fretboard radius for wide bends and quick picking.
The Holcomb SE comes equipped with a set of signature pickups dubbed “Alpha” and “Omega,” Semour Duncan humbuckers designed for specific tone uses. The Omega bridge pickup is aggressive and punchy in the mids, while the neck Alpha boasts fat and rich tones while retaining pick clarity. The ability to split each humbucker into single coils comes courtesy of a push-pull tone knob.
Whether you’re a fan of Periphery or just looking for a quality PRS guitar, the Mark Holcomb SE may be the perfect shred guitar for you. For just under $1,000, it’s a great guitar at a great price.
- Fast neck
- Coil-splitting pickup options
- Some players report issues with the stock plastic nut, a cheap fix
Ibanez Prestige RG550 – Best Playability Shred Guitar
The Ibanez RG550 Genesis Collection is a reissue of the iconic Ibanez RG 550 from 1987. It's a high-quality Japanese made guitar that features a stunning neon finish, thin maple Wizard neck, and Ibanez V7/V8/S1 vintage pickups.
Read our Ibanez RG550 Genesis Review
Ibanez has been the shredder’s brand of choice for years, from legends like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani to modern string-benders like Tosin Abasi. This guitar – first built in 1987 – is a legend in its own right.
Part of the Genesis Collection, the Prestige’s original one-piece “Wizard” maple neck has been upgraded to a five-piece combination of maple and walnut. The upgraded material makes it easier to execute blazing fast single-note runs and arpeggios.
With its 3 pickup configuration, the Prestige offers no shortage of great tones. Modern V7 and V8 humbuckers in the neck and bridge offer maximum bite and clarity even in high-gain situations, while the S1 in the middle position gives you a high-output single coil. Geared for harder rock and metal styles, these pickups are perfect for shredding while retaining versatility.
If you’re looking for a classic guitar that emphasizes comfort and playability, look no further than the Ibanez Prestige. For just around $1,000 new, it’s a no-brainer.
- Pickup options
- Bright paint job may not be for everyone
Ibanez S Series S670QM – Best Shred Guitar for Small Hands
The Ibanez S670QM features and thin body and neck making it extremely comfortable to hold. Ideal for shredders or players with small hands.
This guitar is another great option from Ibanez, and it comes at a lower price point.
Featuring a Wizard III maple neck and a mahogany body, the S670QM gives you a fast playing surface with great tone. And with its sleek, ultra-slim design, your shoulders will feel as light as your fingers! If you’re a guitar player with small hands, then this could be an excellent option for you.
The S670QM features the same HSH pickup configuration as the Prestige, employing a pair of Quantum humbuckers to go along with a single coil in the middle. The combination of the ceramic humbuckers with an alnico single coil gives you a wide range of tones that also play nicely together.
Another cool feature of the S670QM is its Edge Zero II Tremolo bridge. The knife-edge trem’s stud lock function ensures tuning stability. Its low profile also stays out of the way of aggressive palm-muting and other shredding techniques!
For around a half a grand, the Ibanez S670QM is a great option for beginning and advanced shredders alike.
- Tuning stability
- Electronics could be upgraded if desired, but not necessary
Strandberg Boden 6 – Best Headless Guitar for Shredding
The Strandberg Boden is one of the premier headless guitars that started to gain mainstream attention among metal guitar players. They offer excellent playability, build quality and specifications.
Looking for something so unique it will take your head off? Look no further than the Strandberg Boden 6.
Strandberg guitars are designed in Sweden with the goal of giving you the most comfortable playing experience. The ergonomic design features a headless EndurNeck that relieves weight. Also, no more headstock breaks, a common fear among Les Paul-style guitar owners.
The Boden’s swamp ash body is chambered, allowing for stunning resonance and more weight relief. Its roasted maple neck offers a smooth playing experience with a defined, bright attack. And a multiscale fingerboard gives each string its own scale length, allowing easier bending of high strings and better intonation for low strings.
While the Boden’s body design is impressive, Strandberg did not skimp on the electronics, either. Two passive Suhr humbuckers are controlled by a Strat-style 5-way blade switch. The switch allows for coil-splitting options not common in most double humbucker guitars.
If you place a premium on comfort and are looking for something different, the Strandberg Boden 6 may be for you. With its ultra-unique design and vast tonal options, the Boden 6 definitely stands apart from the pack.
- Ergonomic design
- Multiscale fingerboard
- Premium electronics
- May take some time to get used to the different shape and feel
- More expensive
Fender Player Stratocaster – Best Shred Guitar for Low Gain
The Fender Player Stratocaster is a Mexican made strat that rivals that of an American Strat at much more affordable price.
Read our Fender Player Stratocaster Review
Shred on a Strat? Yes! Fender has updated this classic design with its Player Series to give players great playability and tone for an affordable price.
One modern enhancement to this Player Strat is its modern C shape maple neck, which is finished with satin polyurethane for a sleek, comfortable feel. The 9.5’’ fingerboard also sports 22 medium-jumbo frets, one more than some classic Strats.
The Player Strat retains the classic 3 single coil pickup configuration with a 5-way switch. These Alnico 5 pups will deliver all the well-known Strat tones players have loved for decades.
These Player Series Strats do exactly what the name implies – give players a solid, classic guitar that will get the job done. While it may not have as wide of a range of tonal options as some of the other guitars on this list, it’s a classic design for a reason: It just works.
- Classic design
- Only single coils, but can swap one out for a humbucker if desired
Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1 – Most Versatile Shred Guitar
The Charvel Pro-Mod Sand Dimas guitar is an excellent value featuring authentic Seymour Duncan pickups and Floyd Rose Tremolo for under $1,000
We’ve featured some highly versatile guitars on this list, and this sleek axe from Charvel is no exception.
Charvel’s S-style guitars have been played by legendary shredders from Jake E. Lee to Guthrie Govan. Part of the reason for that is a compound-radius fretboard that flattens out from 12’’ to 16’’ as you move up to higher frets. This allows for effortless playability no matter where you’re at on the neck.
But the San Dimas’ best feature may be its deceiving amount of tonal options. Boasting a pair of Seymour Duncan JB and ‘59 humbuckers, the San Dimas also gives you a 3-way switch and push-pull tone pots. A no-load tone pot is also removed from the signal path when turned all the way up, giving you 6 possible tonal options.
Finally, a Floyd Rose bridge and nut ensure tuning stability. If you’re looking for a highly versatile guitar under $1,000, look no further than the Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1.
- Tuning stability
- More weight than other guitars in this body style
How to Choose the Best Shred Guitar – Buyer’s Guide
Materials and Build Quality
Depending on your budget, materials and build quality will vary from guitar to guitar.
Every guitar included on this list is a well-made, solid instrument that should provide years of use for professional and amateur players. However, there are differences.
For a guitar like the Musicman Majesty, no expense was spared with the selection of tonewoods, electronics and hardware. A highly skilled and respected technician like John Petrucci would accept no less.
Many of the more affordable options like the Ibanez S Series and Fender Player Strat were made overseas with less premium materials. That doesn’t mean these are “worse” guitars than a more expensive option; they just have less frills.
For most players, a guitar ranging from $500 to $1,000 should do the job perfectly well and provide years of enjoyment. For those who put a premium on higher quality materials and can afford it, the more expensive guitar will be worth it. But certainly don’t feel the need to go in debt to finance a guitar out of your budget when there are plenty of great, affordable options available!
For some shredders, the simplicity of 2 humbuckers in a Les Paul-style guitar will be enough. Some may be content with just single coils. Others will want more options.
Several of these guitars include both humbuckers and single coils, or the option to split humbuckers into single coils. For many players who have to cover a wide variety of styles, this option may be the best of both worlds.
For those looking to branch out even further, the Hellraiser offers a unique Sustainiac pickup that delivers infinite sustain. The Music Man Majesty offers a piezo for acoustic sounds. Experiment and decide what works best for your style of playing.
A slim, fast playing neck is a must for shredding. All of these guitars are optimized for fast and easy playability, though some of the materials differ.
The Musicman Majesty features a mahogany through-neck design. The Ibanez Prestige Wizard neck is made of a 5-piece combination of maple and walnut. The Mark Holcomb features an ebony fretboard.
While the quality of wood does make a difference, much of neck wood and construction is about personal preference. Some may prefer a traditional Strat-style neck, while others will love the modern ergonomic design of the Strandberg Boden’s EndurNeck. Maple will tend to be brighter, while mahogany and ebony will be a bit darker.
Number of Frets
Since much of shredding is done on higher strings, some players may want a greater number of frets so they don’t “run out of room.”
The Fender Players Series Strat offers 22 frets, while many Strats come with 21. The Boden 6 comes with 24 stainless steel frets. In fact, with the exception of the Charvel, every other guitar on this list has 24 frets.
The number of frets you need will differ from player to player, but when in doubt, it’s always good to have more.
This is another topic that can be as much about personal preference as it is about functionality.
For many, the traditional look of a Les Paul-style or Strat-style guitar is exactly what they think a guitar should look like. Others may want something different.
The slim style of the Ibanez guitars has proven popular because of its lightweight and easy-to-access fretboard. PRS has also managed to make guitars that look simultaneously classic and modern, while retaining peak functionality.
For something completely different, the ergonomic design of the Strandberg Boden 6 provides the player with comfort and speed in any position. Find what is most comfortable and appealing to you!
There is a guitar listed here for almost any budget.
If you can afford premium options like the Musicman Majesty or the Strandberg Boden 6 and that is what you want, go for it!
But even the cheapest guitars here – The Ibanez S Series and Fender Players Strat – are quality instruments that would be perfectly suitable on stage or in the studio.
The majority of guitars featured here can be found for a little under or over $1,000, which is around what you should expect to pay for any quality guitar.
For most players, buying a mid-priced guitar that you can grow with is the best option. Later on, if you want to swap out pickups, try different wiring, hardware or other upgrades, it’s still cheaper than buying a new guitar.
Bottom line: Choose the guitar that best fits your budget and playing style.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Shred on Any Guitar?
The short answer: Yes! If you’ve got the ability and desire, the equipment is no obstacle.
If you want to hear some really old school shredding, listen to a classical guitarist take on Paganini, or “Flight of the Bumblebee”! Other nylon-string shredders include Paco de Lucia, and modern duo Rodrigo Y Gabriela.
For steel-string acoustic shredders, check out fingerstyle virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel. Or listen to modern percussive players like Andy McKee. Both play standard, acoustic six-string guitars.
If you’re looking to shred on electric guitar, you can’t go wrong with any of the nine listed here. These guitars are certainly geared more toward hard rock and metal styles, but literally any electric guitar will work as long as you have the desire and technique.
Are Fender Stratocasters Good for Shredding?
Yes Fender Stratocasters are good for shredding. A notable shredding legend who is knowed for using Fender Stratocasters is Yngwie Malmsteen. The Swedish guitarist has been using Strats with a scalloped fretboard and higher output pickups since the ‘80s.
Along with Malmsteen, no player is probably as widely associated with the term “shredding” than Eddie Van Halen. Indeed, EVH’s original “Frankenstein” guitar was basically a heavily-modded Strat-style guitar.
Are PRS Guitars Good for Shredding?
The Mark Holcomb Signature is just one example of a PRS guitar that is great for shredding. The Maryland-based company also makes a signature model for legendary shredder Mark Tremonti of Creed and Alter Bridge fame.
Many of the guitars PRS makes offer dual humbuckers, slim necks and cutaways to access higher frets. All of those features are perfect for shredding.
Of course, we can’t forget the OG Latin shredder – Carlos Santana. Carlos has a long-running partnership with PRS guitars that speaks volumes about the quality of their instruments.
What Makes a Guitar Good for Shredding?
While we established above that any guitar could be used for shredding, there are certainly some factors that help make it a little easier.
Probably the most important factor is the playability of the neck. An extra wide “baseball bat” style neck with super jumbo frets might be great for the blues, but it can make shredding an uphill battle.
All of the guitars listed here come with slim, comfortable necks that allow for super fast playing and wide bends.
Another crucial factor is higher output pickups. Humbuckers, whether active or passive, are usually good for this, though single coils definitely have their place. Most of the guitars listed here offer a mix of both and will perform equally well with high gain and clean tones.
Finally, the comfort level of a guitar can greatly enhance the shredding experience. Shredding is often a highly technical exercise, so you want your hands to be as comfortable as possible. An ergonomic design like the Boden may help to avoid injury, while the slimmer design of the Ibanez will lessen shoulder strain.
Recap of the Best Electric Guitars for Shredding
|Best Shred Guitar||Best For|
|ESP LTD EC-1000||Best Les Paul Style Shred Guitar|
|Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR||Best Shred Guitar With Floyd Rose|
|Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty||Best Premium Shred Guitar|
|PRS SE Mark Holcomb||Best Shred Guitar for Metal|
|Ibanez RG550||Best Playability Shred Guitar|
|Ibanez S Series S670QM||Best Shred Guitar for Small Hands|
|Strandberg Boden 6||Best Headless Shred Guitar|
|Fender Player Stratocaster||Best Shred Guitar for Low Gain|
|Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1||Most Versatile Shred Guitar|
As with all of this advice, go with what works for you. Choosing a guitar is a highly personal decision, so go with what YOU like, rather than what you think is the most trendy or expensive instrument. After all, it’s going to be your guitar.
We hope this list will help you narrow down your search for the ultimate shredding guitar. Have fun, and happy shredding!