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B.C. Rich is a manufacturer of guitars and bass guitars founded by the late Bernardo Chavez Rico in 1969 and the early 1970s. Currently, most B.C. Rich guitars are manufactured in Asia, but luthiers of the company's custom shop continue to hand-make instruments. Hanser Music Group now operates the Southern California B.C. Rich custom shop. , no member of the Rico family is involved in the production of B.C. Rich guitars.


Throughout the 1960s, Bernardo Chavez Rico built flamenco guitars in Bernardo's Guitar Shop in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker. B.C. Rich considers its birth to be in 1969, when Rico first attempted to build electric guitars. He built ten basses inspired by the Gibson EB-3 and ten guitars inspired by the Gibson Les Paul. Rico's first original guitar design came in 1972, with the Seagull. 1976 saw the original Mockingbird and Eagle designs, and the Bich came in 1978.

Early years

As the popularity of Rico's guitars grew, he decided to begin manufacturing a line of less expensive guitars in Japanmarker. This line was originally called B.C. Rico. This name was given to make a distinction between the US-made and imported guitars, but was dropped due to a lawsuit filed by the Rico Reed Company. Only about a hundred of these are believed to have made it into the US. These Japanese (and later Koreamarker) made guitars were subsequently known as the NJ series, which originally stood for Nagoya, Japan, the place where they were manufactured. NJ still serves to distinguish an imported line of B.C. Rich guitars and basses, along with the more affordable Platinum and Bronze series.

There was also a very inexpensive Rave series in the 1980s, as well as a higher-quality L.A. Series. The B.C. Rico and early NJ guitars and basses were of neck-through body construction, and were very well made instruments. The present imported guitars are mostly basic bolt-on neck construction (except for the current NJ Classic and N.T. series). B.C. Rich also created an innovation known as I.T. (Invisibolt Technology) which bolts the neck extremely deep into the body rather than the typical neck joint.

By the mid-1990s, B.C. Rich's guitars were widely used in heavy metal—partly because the instruments' unusual designs were deemed more appropriate for the threatening image many metal performers wanted to project. The popularity of B.C. Rich instruments among metal musicians continues to the present.

Class Axe

In the late 1980s, Bernie Rico decided to step away from guitar manufacturing and licensed production out to a New Jersey-based manufacturer known as Class Axe. Class Axe produced guitars at a fraction of the cost of other manufacturers. However the quality of the guitars was extremely poor as they used glued and layered plywood along with other generic lumber yard woods for the guitar bodies. Among the list of major complaints, aside from the obvious use of cheaper woods, was general poor workmanship, which included bad sanding, shaping, paint jobs, hardware, and fret wire installation . As soon as this was brought to Rico's attention, he immediately regained control of production.

Design and types

Since 2003, for the imported models, B.C. Rich used their own brand of pickups, known as B.D.S.M. (Broad Dynamic Sonically Matched). These pickups were an improvement from the generic pickups factories provided. However starting in 2006, B.C. Rich primarily uses Rockfield brand pickups. Due to the broad selection of features B.C. Rich is selecting pickups that match the guitar's design and player's requirements. Unconventional body styles and designs that take different shapes than early electric guitars, who were inspired by the design of acoustic guitars.
Widow is a distinctive B.C.
Rich headstock shape and typically available in the Warlock series guitars and bass guitars.

"Acrylic Series" guitars. These guitars are made completely of acrylic and their bodies are transparent, making the electronics inside viewable. 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 same color as the body and making the overall appearance of the guitar more attractive. Acrylic is more dense than most woods which makes the guitar heavier than it would be if it were made of wood. In 2006 B.C. Rich introduced the IT (Invisibolt Technology) series. In this series the neck is bolted inside the body to look like a neck-through, but neck joint is still visible. This combines the elements of both bolt-on and neck-through designs.

Like Rickenbacker and Gibson before them, B.C. Rich used a neck through/thru body design in many of their instruments, however, on handmade series, they also pioneered the heel-less joint, a feature very uncommon on import instruments, if at all found. In addition, they used custom battery-powered active electronics — pickups and tone controls inside the guitar. These electronics were originally thought out and designed by Neal Moser who was a contracted employee for B.C. Rich from 1974 through 1985. Neal Moser helped with bone crafted parts and many set ups in the custom shop. He added the feet on winged guitars like the Rich Bich. Their guitars come in a variety of shapes, ranging from styles which are similar to electric guitar types (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.
A B.C.
Rich Virgin Platinum Series guitar.

See also

  • 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.


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