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"Developing a clean pickup that had dynamics, that had power."There’s always an anniversary of some albums, I love the fans paid attention to that more than I do. If it’s an anniversary, it means important. Black album, seems like not too long ago but it is a while ago. You know, we started off and just wanted to be four guys jamming in a room and not having to check in or clock into the factory. The fact that it's, you know, thirty-four or thirty-five years later, we're still out there touring and having a good time at it.
There’s a lot to be grateful for, a lot! Hooking up with the right people business-wise you know, obviously the right companies in the right people share the vision of what we want. Love inventors, love people that go out of the box, out of the norm and want to do things to help an artist make a vision come true.
Besides all of the crunch and super heavy stuff the clean sound is super important to me. Developing a clean pickup that had dynamics, that had power. I love the passive pickup dynamic but I love the power in the active pickup so combining those two together, we did it we tried many many many things so it was like a two year process to get the Het Set together. I’ll tell you, we’re recording right now and there's number one guitar, there's the number two guitar, there’s the number three, you know and here's the third track guitars that just sound different - they all sound different. When I get a guitar, I don’t even second guess, obviously put the Het Set in it and then we'll see what the guitar sounds like because I know what the Het Set sounds like.
I remember at the NAMM show just walking around going and seeing all this stuff and going up to somebody at ESP saying “Hey, can you guys make an explorer type shape?” “I want the headstock bigger, I want it to look like a hockey stick” and they’re like “we can do that” and that was the beginning of a relationship, me asking them saying yes.
"It’s just an awesome weapon."
This one here, it came out of the car world, rat rods and you know people taking old cars restoring them. The last thing they can afford is the paint. The paint has history with it, with the different layers of paint and then when this guy owned it, it was white and then red you know, being repainted and its kinda over the years just worn down and worn through so this was basically from a car.
The Iron Cross came out from an idea I had an old seventy four Gibson Les Paul and there was a motorcycle I was building the time, the saga, and this was an iron cross we were putting on the tanks, the gas tanks and had a couple extra ones so I just kind of was goofing around and as you know, bolted onto the guitar with some old brass standards screws. Love it, looks like it's been through World War 2, World War 1 even but it's a war horse and it's awesome.
"This combination is heaven for me, right here."
Yeah, the Snakebyte, love this guitar! Thinner than your traditional explorer shape and yeah, I designed this out of drawings and then in Photoshop and I wanted a shape that was different enough to still feel good and balanced on my body but look more interesting. So obviously the Metallica kind of barb has shown up here a couple spots and little contours here gives it some depth and it’s a lot lighter. It’s just an awesome weapon.
Unbelievable to be sitting here thinking, wow I designed a guitar - well, I’m not going to take all the credit obviously but taking a classic shape redesigning and then thinking of an idea for developing a clean pickup that had dynamics, had power and have it sit here in a guitar recording an album after thirty-five years with it, awesome. To have been a part of something that has blossomed into something really great and with people that deserve it because they’re good people. ESP, there are always there and easy to get on the phone and if something is needed, it's there. Rob is one of those at EMG and he is a, he's a mad scientist. This combination is heaven for me, right here.
ESP LTD James Hetfield Iron Cross Electric Guitar with Case Snow White
ESP LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte Electric Guitar with Case Snow White
EMG JH James Hetfield Electric Guitar Pickup Set