B.C. Rich

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B.C. Rich Guitars
IndustryMusical instruments
Founded1969; 49 years ago (1969) in Los Angeles, California, United States
FounderBernardo Chavez Rico
Area served
ProductsElectric guitars
Bass guitars

B.C. Rich is an American brand of acoustic and electric guitars and bass guitars founded by Bernardo Chavez Rico in 1969. The company started to make electric guitars in the 1970s that were notable for their atypical body shapes. In the following decade B.C. Rich gained a broader exposure with the popularity of heavy metal and has since often been linked to that music scene. The company briefly switched owners in the 1990s before being acquired in the 2000s by Hanser Music Group, a distribution company based in Hebron, Kentucky. B.C Rich has since been licensed to Praxis Musical based in Orange, California. The high-end B.C. Rich instruments are custom-made in the USA by Ron Estrada whereas the mid- and low-budget models are produced in different countries in Asia.

Design and types[edit]


B.C. Rich uses unusual shapes for its solid body guitars; pictured is the Warlock model.
The KKV, designed by Kerry King
A Virgin platinum series
Slash playing his signature Mockingbird in 2007

A somewhat odd design, ostensibly based on a toilet seat shape, this guitar was designed by Bernie Rico. It was a stage favorite of guitarist Dick Wagner, who played the lead guitar work on Aerosmith's remake of "Train Kept A-Rollin'" and "Dream On".[citation needed]

Initially the pickups were Gibsons, rewired as 4 conductor and potted. Later Guild pickups were treated the same way. In 1974–1975, some custom guitar models, and from 1975–1982, many production bass guitars were fitted with innovative, adjustable-pole humbucker pickups, designed by Sergio Zuñica of Pacific Palisades, California. In 1975 DiMarzio agreed to build wax-potted, 4-conductor pickups for B.C. Rich and they were used until B.C. Rich began designing their own in the late 1980s. Early in the 1970s Neal Moser was brought on board to design and supervise the electronics. His contribution was a setup with coil taps, a phase switch, a Varitone and a defeatable active preamp (or two in some models). This electronics package continues to this day on higher-end models.[1]

The Seagull shape was uncomfortable for some to play due to the sharp upper point and the sharp lower point that dug into the leg sitting down. It was redesigned several times including a smoother lower point, a Junior version with simpler electronics and a pointless version which is quite rare. Finally it morphed into the Eagle shape with no sharp points.[2]

Serial numbers began as a stamped 6 digit number starting with the year and ending with the number of production (500037 would be the 37th guitar built in 1975).[3] Most references to BCR serialization miss this point. Beginning in 1976, the numbers started with the year then the number of production (YYXXX). Since more than 1000 guitars were produced many years, the numbers became increasingly inaccurate through the 1980s, ending up about 4 years behind (i.e. a 88xxx serial number guitar would have been built in 1984).[4] After the company was purchased by Class Axe in 1989 production of the hand-made, neck-through models was halted for several years, although GMW (Neal Moser) supplied some stock made from rejected then repaired bodies handbuilt through the years. After Class Axe took over there were a number of different serial schemes designated for the American, Asian and Bolt-on guitars.


This model was made popular by Brad Whitford of Aerosmith and Neil Giraldo (guitarist and also husband of Pat Benatar), who also played his Eagle on some of her early albums and videos.


The B.C. Rich Mockingbird was designed by Johnny "Go-Go" Kessel. It was made popular by Joe Perry of Aerosmith. The Mockingbird model experienced a resurgence in the early 1990s through Guns N' Roses lead guitarist Slash after he played one on the Use Your Illusion world tour.

The Bich[edit]

The most popular of the BC Rich line is the BC Rich "Bich" 10-string model. The Bich 10-string guitar was the brain-child of Neal Moser. During the late 1960s, Moser worked with musicians including Jimi Hendrix, and Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Neal worked as a sub-contractor for Bernie Rico (BC Rich) from 1974 to 1985. During his time with BC Rich, he conceived, designed, and built the first Bich 10-string prototype guitar. The Bich guitar was never owned by Bernie Rico/BC Rich. The design was licensed to BC Rich under contract with Neal Moser. A lawsuit filed by Neal Moser against Hanser Holdings Int'l/BC Rich resulted in Moser Custom Guitars and HHI/BC Rich both having the right to produce their own version of the Rich Bich style guitar. Neal Moser retains ownership of the original body templates. The Moser Custom Shop "Moser 10" and the BC Rich Bich "PMS" models are the closest representations of the original pre-1985 BC Rich Rich Bich body design. The "Moser 10" models have an "M" inlay on the headstock, compared to the HHI/BC Rich "R" headstock inlay. The "Bich" can also be categorized as a guitar that "brings out" Heavy Metal and such genres.

BC Rich Bich "PMS" 10 String Prototype[edit]

To celebrate the 25th anniversary release of the Rich Bich 10-string guitar, HHI/BC Rich contracted the original BC Rich luthiers Neal Moser and Sal Gonzales to produce 25 true hand-built reproductions of the original prototype to the Bich 10-string model. These hand-carved wonders were built off of Neal Moser's original 1978 body templates, using the same exotic woods (black African walnut, maple and Brazilian rosewood) as the original prototype model. Due to contract issues between Neal Moser and Hanser Holdings Int'l, only 16 of the PMS models were produced. These have become highly prized by BC Rich collectors due to the limited production number. These limited edition models are considered to represent the last of the true BC Rich guitars. The original prototype is currently owned by Dan Lawrence. Dave Mustaine of the American heavy metal band, Megadeth, was known to use the 10 string variant of the Bich throughout the early 1980s. The guitar was reportedly pawned, without Mustaine's knowledge, by Megadeth lead guitarist, Chris Poland. The current whereabouts of the guitar are unknown.[5]


The introduction of the B.C. Rich Warlock model in the early 1980s helped push B.C. Rich into the heavy metal music genre. Notable early players included Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe, Lita Ford, Paul Stanley of KISS (featuring a broken mirror top), Randy Jackson (Zebra), Craig Goldy of Dio and Giuffria, and a young pre-Les Paul playing Slash. Its popularity continues with players such as Slayer guitarist Kerry King.The variation on this one, the B.C. Rich Revenge Warlock, sports a maple neck with rosewood fretboard, mahogany body, chrome hardware and the authentic widow headstock.


Designed by Joey Rico in 1983, the Ironbird gained some popularity amongst heavy metal guitarists, including Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel. The original model had a pointed reverse headstock, whereas the 21st Century version has a regular pointed headstock.

Acrylic Series[edit]

These guitars are made completely of acrylic and their bodies are transparent, making the electronics inside visible. The original run of the acrylic models featured a standard bolt-on maple neck with wood headstock, but later models featured an acrylic headstock, matching the color of the body and making the overall appearance of the guitar more attractive. Acrylic is more dense than most woods (specific gravity of acrylic is 1.18 g/cm³ while that of lignum vitae, contender for the most dense type of wood, is approximately 1.23 g/cm³[6]) which makes the guitar heavier.

Other features[edit]

Like Rickenbacker and Jackson, B.C. Rich used a "neck-through" body design in many of their instruments. In 2006 they introduced the IT (Invisibolt Technology) series, which combines elements of bolt-on and neck-through designs: The neck is bolted inside the body to make the guitar look much like a "neck-through", but the neck joint is still visible. B.C. Rich also pioneered the heel-less joint.

Some models used custom battery-powered active electronics – pickups and tone controls inside the guitar. These electronics were originally designed by Neal Moser[citation needed], who had been helping with bone crafted parts and many set ups in the custom shop. He added the feet on winged guitars like the Rich Bich, which was one of his designs.

B.C. Rich guitars come in a variety of shapes, ranging from more conventional styles (e.g., the Telecaster-styled Blaster) to unusual styles such as the Fat Bob, which has a body in the shape of a Harley-Davidson gas tank.

See also[edit]

  • List of B.C. Rich guitars - Most Bronze and Platinum series models are bolt-on necks, like Fender. B.C. Rich also has a large variety of body shapes, including The Warlock, Widow, Mockingbird, Beast, S.O.B., Eagle etc.


This page uses content from GearWiki at Rich BC Rich. The list of authors can be seen in the Rich&action=history page history. As with Wikipedia, the text of GearWiki is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

External links[edit]