The Iron Cross SW is a beast thanks to those great sounding (and great looking) EMG JH humbuckers. The JH pickups have a lot of output thanks to the active design but they aren’t just about their bark and bite and can quite happily handle lower gain and clean tones with style. Heavily overdriven tones retain lots of clarity and tightness, perfect for low tuned power chord chugging or palm muted single notes and lead tones are just as silky smooth as the EMG81 in the KH-WZ model. Of course it can scream too if required and can really push a lower gain amp into impressive break up tones by pushing the front end hard with the volume all the way up!
Very few Metallica fans will ever be able to afford the ESP version of the Iron Cross guitar and the LTD version does an extremely impressive job of producing an affordable alternative that matches almost all of the hardware and ethos of the original while retaining much of the high quality build of the original. Of course this can’t match all aspects of the ESP version but I’m sure it’ll come close enough for most people to justify its respectable and very fair asking price. The design, hardware and playability all add up to a very appealing guitar that’s well worth checking out for both fans and non-fans of James Hetfield alike. Oh, and you get a case with this one, too!
We’ve given the Iron Cross an extra half star on account of the more complicated construction involved in this style of guitar and the way it compares with a far more expensive original but, to be fair, both guitars were so good that it was a really close call. Either would be great value.