The Iron Cross SW is available both as one of the super high-end ESP range and also in the company’s Far Eastern produced (and thus more affordable) LTD series. Our review version was the LTD model and right from the start let me say it represents superb value for money. Bear in mind that the ESP original retails for around the price of a second hand car, while this LTD version is just over four figures, yet features almost identical hardware and construction. That’s great value!
The LTD Iron Cross is the latest James Hetfield signature model and features a single cut LP-Style solid mahogany body with a maple top, 22-fret mahogany neck with ebony fretboard, set-neck design and moulded nut. The guitar features a pair of active EMG JH signature humbuckers, with a three way switch, volume and independent tone controls. A further three way switch sits onto of the upper bout of the body in a traditional LP-style but is redundant and purely for visual flair. Hardware is completed with a Tonepros Locking TOM bridge and tailpiece, 22 XJ frets and LTD locking tuners. For reference, the ESP version features a bone nut and Schaller locking tuners – in all other respects the hardware is identical.
The James Hetfield Guitar Iron Cross features a very memorable white finish with three back stripes across its top, black scratch plate and the large, metal Iron Cross attached to the back behind the tailpiece. The single cut body is bound with a double black line around its circumference that adds an extra level of class to the design. It’s certainly a memorable look, although I can see a number of buyers being put off by the use of the Iron Cross. The fretboard features some very well executed flag inlays that culminate in a further Iron Cross design across the 11th, 12th and 13th frets.
As with the KH-WZ model, this James Hetfield Guitar Iron Cross features a very subtle JH logo on the headstock that doesn’t scream ‘signature model’ and thus limit the potential market for the guitar too much. This more subtle approach to artist branding looks far more classy and widens appeal far more than a name sprawled across the neck or 12 fret ever would!
The body design is more compact and modern looking than a traditional single cut shape and seems very sleek and contemporary, especially when matched with the wave topped headstock design.