The Top 10 best nu metal guitarists

(Image credit: Jeremy Saffer)

Diamond Rowe, hotshot guitarist with Atlanta, Georgia nu core band Tertrach, makes no secret of her love of nu metal. “A lot of people who grew up on it are now in emerging bands,” she says. Tetrarch themselves are one of them – songs such as I'm Not Right and Freaks put a modern spin on that instantly distinctive sound. Which is why we've asked Diamond to pick her favourite guitarists from the original nu metal boom. Are you ready?

Dan Donegan (Disturbed)

“He is the unsung hero of Disturbed. His solos are super tasteful and his riffs are unconventional. I don’t think he gets as much love as he should. One day, I was messing around learning the riff to Stricken, it’s a learnable riff, it’s not like it’s tech death, but I’m like, ‘Man the timing of this riff is weird!’ You don’t think about it, but he is really talented.”

Wes Borland (Limp Bizkit)

“He had a huge hand in revolutionising nu metal because of his riffs. The riff in Nookie is killer, you don’t think about it because Fred Durst is the main guy, but it’s a killer riff. That’s the thing with a lot of these nu metal bands, they had such strong, star power singers, they tended to be overlooked. None of them, except for Dan Donegan, really soloed so they didn’t have these moments out front.”

Brad Delson (Linkin Park)

“He’s not a super upfront or technical guitar player. But in band like Linkin Park, where you have a rapper, a singer, a turntablist, you have all these elements that you have to fit somewhere between. It added the grit, and he did a good job of finding that place within, finding the groove and the pockets between the rapping. That’s not an easy job to do.”

Greg Tribbett (Mudvayne)

“Greg was the sole guitar player in Mudvayne and was responsible for all of those crazy rhythm guitar parts, and infamous nu metal start-stop riffs. A lot of Mudvayne choruses had the alternating octave and bar chord riffs, but he always figured out how to do them in super cool and memorable ways.”

Steph Carpenter (Deftones)

“He has a very sexy way of playing guitar. Nothing crazy, but he builds chords that sound ominous and vibey and he has an interesting way of moving around songs. He might have a song where he plays the same three or four chords the entire song, but the way he makes the song vibe with those three or four chords... like I said very sexy band.”

Head & Munky (Korn) 

Head is not what you would consider to be a “technical” guitar player but I personally think it takes a certain spirit to write those unsettling guitar parts and melody lines that he has been able to create. He took a very unconventional approach to guitar at the time and turned it into memorable hooks which is why we all can sing back the intro guitar part to Falling Away From Me or Freak On A Leash. The way he and Munky came up really weird, creepy sounds to lay on top of each other on a verse… no one had done that before and still, no one does that.”

Jim Root (Slipknot) 

“He has the most comparable style to my personal playing in the sense he is a very versatile player. He can write really sick grooves and also fill out sections with textures that give a really creepy, skin crawling vibe. There’s no end to his creativity and he doesn’t allow himself to be put into a box.”

Daron Malakian (System Of A Down)

“You cannot compartmentalise that band. Very chaotic, very all over the place, but still had that bouncy nu metal thing going on. No one has ever sounded like that and I don’t think they ever will. That band did their own thing and Daron and Serj [Tankian] are the two big parts of that.”

Robb Flynn (Machine Head)

“When you think of nu metal guitarists, Robb Flynn probably doesn’t come to mind for many. But a lot of his early guitar riffs had those nu metal grooves to them. But what was always so cool about his playing is that he was able to take the nu metal and mix it with thrash to kind of create his own thing.”


Dannii Leivers

Danniii Leivers writes for Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, The Guardian, NME, Alternative Press, Rock Sound, The Line Of Best Fit and more. She loves the 90s, and is happy where the sea is bluest.