BC Rich Guitars are an organization specialising in angular and extreme guitar shapes best suited for rock, hard rock and heavy metal music. Bernardo Chavez Rico was the unlikely individual to create distinct electric guitars. Bernardo Rico (aka “Bernie”) was an accomplished Flamenco acoustic musician. From the early to mid 60s Bernie Rico exclusively constructed Flamenco guitars in Bernardo’s Guitar Store in LA, California. Ex- Vice President, Mal Stich, said, “When you walked into Bernardo’s the very first thing you noticed was wall to wall electric guitars hanging from the ceiling like birthday celebration balloons. There was a glass counter with strings, picks, guitar parts and accessories. Behind the counter was a window and you could actually watch the guys building guitars. But, the coolest thing was there were usually Classical and Flamenco players jamming. I recall Flamenco musicians firing at each other with riff after riff. Bernie’s dad, Bernardo Mason Rico, was always sitting in his chair next to the Coca Cola soda machine while friends and neighbors, even the postman, stood awestruck as they listened to the music.”
We are recognizing BC Rich Guitar’s Fortieth Anniversary stamping 1969 as the year Bernie embarked on his first attempt to manufacture electric guitars and basses. It has been recorded that 10 basses influenced by the Gibson EB-3 electric bass in addition to 10 matching Les Paul inspired guitars were all hand-crafted. Right now few of these musical instruments exist, it’s rumored that less than the number listed above had been actually finished.
The time around 1972 was very propitious. The first original electric guitar design, the Seagull, was handcrafted in Bernardo’s shop. True to future shape, the Seagull guitar was visually distinctive as well as revolutionary. The guitar’s neck-through design (now a hallmark of BC Rich) featured a heel-less design – extremely uncommon for that point in time.
Bernie quickly hired a number of talented creative designers to compliment his incredibly proficient builders. Many of the unique shapes and styles that emerges from this expansion have grown to become legendary shapes associated with electric guitars. Around 1976 came the Mockingbird, and then the additional development of the Seagull, the Eagle was born, and around 1978 arrived the Bich was introduced. A number of the most revered guitar players instantly took to the new direction of BC Rich Guitars.
With rising accomplishment, there was a need for a inexpensive mass-produced BC Rich guitar. Approximately 1978 Bernie developed the BC Rico trademark to designate guitars to be imported from Japan. The first try was not profitable when the Rico Reed Company sued over using the name. Regardless of the end result, the decision was already made to implement the BC Rich name on imported guitars. Barely a handful, maybe a hundred or so BC Rico guitars ever made it to the United States.
When the early 1980s arrived, the Warlock was introduced. Almost immediately the hair metal culture of the era took to the Warlock’s edgy and matchless contour. The Warlock, while nowhere near the latest shape innovated, rounds out the primary 5 classic BC Rich shapes.
The 1990s and 2000s witnessed a brand new crop of nasty models even pointier than the 80s designs. These included the Ignitor, Draco, Zombie, Beast (master-minded by Brian Hoffman, guitarists of death metal band Deicide), Warbeast (a mixture of Beast and Warlock).
BC Rich are also known for their endorsement deals with several important and respected hard rock and metal artists including Kerry King of Slayer (whose signature guitar is diabolic V-shaped axe that has intensive tribal visual work over the body. King also has a signature model primarily based on the Warlock). The deceased guitarists, Chuck Schuldiner of Death (when Schuldiner died of cancer in 2001 BC Rich Guitars introduced a tribute guitar based on his number one guitar, the BC Rich Stealth). Paul Stanley of KISS, and Paolo Gregoletto (bassist of Trivium) are also endorsed BC Rich players. If you’re like me, when you think of hard rock and metal… you think of recognizable guitars like BC Rich. They helped sculpt rock and roll.