B.C. Rich Guitars Review: Mk3 Warlock, Mockingbird & Villain
B.C. Rich Guitars: Made for Metal
B.C. Rich guitars like the Warlock, Warbeast, Mockingbird and Villain are serious sonic machines. B.C. Rich has a long legacy as one of the best guitar makers for hard rock and heavy metal, and their influence spans decades. Guitarists like Mick Mars of Motley Crue, Chuck Schuldiner of Death, Kerry King of Slayer and Lita Ford helped to make B.C. Rich guitars a big part of the metal landscape. If these guitars got the job done for them, they’ll work for you too!
I’ve played guitar for thirty years, and I’ve seen a lot of fads come and go in the realm of hard rock and metal. But through it all B.C. Rich has always been there, standing like a massive tower of metal righteousness. When you see certain guitar shapes you know B.C. Rich is behind them, and you don’t doubt the intent of the players who wield them. Few other guitar brands have so indelibly made their mark on a genre of music.
This article will take a look at four awesome B.C. Rich guitars. Two are metal classics that have stood the test of time over the years. The other two are relative newcomers that are building a solid reputation in the metal community.
Like most guitar companies, B.C. Rich offers several versions of their guitars, starting at prices even a beginner could afford, and going up all the way to the pro level. If you play heavy music, there is a B.C.Rich that’s right for you.
For the purpose of this review, we are going to focus on the Mk3 Series, which I think come it at affordable prices while still having the specs and quality to satisfy accomplished musicians.
There is a reason B.C. Rich makes some of the best metal guitars in the world. Think you want to join the legions of metal players who trust B.C. Rich to deliver the sound and vibe they need? If so, read on!
Note: The specs I found on these guitars appear to be accurate, but please check with the manufacturer for the most up-to-date info.
Mk 3 Warlock
The Warlock is an iconic shape in the metal world, and the Mk3 Series is a great option for players looking for a solid metal guitar for a decent price. In my opinion, this shape is one of the coolest you are going to find, and for this reason alone many musicians who play heavy music flock to this guitar.
- Mahogany Body: Mahogany is a deep, rich, resonant tonewood. In this context it will bring a darker sound to the guitar, and work well with detuning. A mahogany body is exactly what you want for metal.
- Bolt-on Maple Neck: Some B.C Guitars of the past and present feature neck-through and set-neck builds, but in my opinion there are a lot of good things about a bolt-on maple neck. This is part of what helps bring down the cost of the guitar. Plus, this combination will be a little punchier than the neck-through design.
- Rosewood Fingerboard: Bolt-on maple necks with rosewood fretboards are cheaper and easier to produce, but it’s still a tonewood combination that has stood the test of time over the years.
- B.C. Rich High-Output Humbuckers: These are hot, passive pickups and many B.C Rich instruments come with them standard.
- Electronics: Three-way toggle switch with one two volume control and one tone control.
- Double-Locking B.C. Rich Tremolo: A rock-solid tremolo system is key for many metal players.
- Reverse In-line Headstock: A hallmark of '80s metal madness.
The Warlock is a metal icon, a guitar used by legendary hard rock, thrash and death metal guitarists for decades. The Mk3 version manages to capture that magic while remaining affordable.
What I Like: The shape screams metal through and through. The B.C. Rich electronics and hardware are solid.
What I don’t: The reverse in-line tuners are cool but it would be nice the see the Widow headstock on this guitar instead.
The Warbeast is a solid but affordable option in the B.C. Rich lineup. It’s priced right for intermediate guitarists and serious beginners,and an interesting alternative to the Mk3 Warlock above.
The Warbeast is a great-looking guitar with some of the same characteristics, if a bit pointier in places. But of course there are differences as well. Here’s a look at the Mk3 Warbeast, and how it stacks up against the Warlock.
- Mahogany Body, Bolt-on Maple Neck, Rosewood Fingerboard: The Warbeast has the same framework as the Warlock. These are excellent tonewood combinations, so no complaints here.
- B.C. Rich High-Output Humbuckers: Same hot pickups, controlled via a three-way toggle switch with one volume control and one tone control.
- Widow Headstock: This is a classic B.C Rich look, and one of my favorite headstock designs in all of the guitar world. This gives you a 3+3 arrangement instead of the six-in-line tuners you see on the Warlock above.
- Red Devil and Black Devil Color Schemes: Extreme colors for an extreme guitar.
The Warbeast raises the Warlock look and sound to a new level. The Red Devil design is fantastic, but more importantly this guitar has what it takes when it comes to tonewoods, pickups and electronics.
What I like: This is an outstanding metal guitar for intermediate players that gives them everything they need and nothing they don’t. Looks amazing with Black Devil and Red Devil color schemes.
What I don’t: I know the Mk3 Series sticks to certain parameters, and B.C. Rich hardware and electronics are very good, but I sure wouldn't mind seeing this guitars with a Floyd Rose Original Bridge and EMG pickups.
Next to the Warlock, the Mockingbird might be the most popular B.C. Rich design. While it still looks metal through and through, it has a bit more of traditional vibe. Classy, even. The Mockingbird is a beautiful guitar with some awesome features, and the Mk3 version is one of the better values in the B.C. Rich lineup.
Of course it has most of the same appointments we see in other Mk3 Series guitars:
- Mahogany Body
- Maple Neck
- 24-fret Rosewood Fingerboar
- B.C. Rich High-Output Humbuckers
- Three-way toggle switch with one two volume control and one tone control.
- Double-Locking Tremolo
The Mockingbird is a more elegant guitar than those above, but no less metal. Like the Warlock, this design helped put B.C. Rich on the map in the world of extreme music.
- What I Like: This guitar is built for classic metal guys who remember the days before 7-strings, crazy detuning and ultra-high-gain amps. That's me. It just looks looks gorgeous, and takes me back to the glory days of metal.
- What I don’t: I'd love to see this guitar with a Tune-o-matic bridge. Here is once case where I think I'd forgo the whammy bar.
The Villain is a bit of a departure from the pointy-guitar motif that has served B.C. Rich well over the years, but that doesn’t mean this instrument is any less metal. While the superstrat styling may appeal more to shredders than the death-metal crowd, the applications for the Villain in metal and hard rock are limitless.
I'm not going to rehash the specs for the Mk3 Series again. You know what this thing is made out of.
Built for speed, shredders will love the Villain design. This is a guitar built to give the best superstrats in the world a run for their money.
- What I Like: This is a well put together guitar for serious musicians. Guitarists who are looking for modern metal tone with the vibe and feel of a superstrat will like the Villain. There are many guitar companies putting out instruments in this mold, but this is one of the better ones.
- What I don’t: Like the Warbeast, I think this guitar would go from awesome to legendary with a few upgrades.
More from B.C. Rich
The Mk3 Series is just one of the offerings from B.C. Rich. In my opinion, these instruments are some of the best values in the guitar world, especially if you are into metal. Here's a look at some of the other series is their lineup:
- Mk1: These guitars share some similarities with the Mk3 Series, but feature hard-tail bridges. This makes them a bit more affordable, and, I think, perhaps a better option for beginners.
- Mk5: A notch above the Mk3 Series, these guitars feature carved tops and covered pickups for a more elegant look.
- Mk7: With set-neck designs and Floyd Rose tremolos, the Mk7 Series is a major step up.
- Mk9: Pro-level guitars with premium tonewoods and hardware.
- Mk11: The flagships of the B.C. Rich lineup.
- Kerry King Signature: Kerry King is one of the guitar players in the band Slayer, and among the most influential guitarists in the history of metal. His signature instruments feature excellent quality at a price beginners and intermediate players can handle.
The B.C. Rich KKW30
Metal Lives On
With all that goes on in the guitar world, I feel like B.C. Rich drifts into the background more than they ought to. Then I see one of their guitars, and I think, man, why don't I write about those guys more often? It's like forgetting about the Grand Canyon and then driving past it. Whoa!
The B.C. Rich Warlock is a metal icon that will appeal to extreme players looking for the perfect instrument of sonic mayhem. The Mockingbird reeks of classic style while still maintaining an epic hard rock and metal vibe.
The Villain lands somewhere in the middle, with classic superstrat styling but all the appointments you’d need for even the most extreme death metal.
But if none of that does it for you, B.C. Rich still has some amazing guitars waiting in the wings, such as the Warbeast.
And then there are the classics from days gone by. The Bich is a B.C. Rich design dating back decades. The Ironbird, too, helped this guitar company make their mark in the metal world.
If you play metal you know B.C. Rich won’t let you down. The Warlock, Warbeast, Villain and Mockingbird are just a few of their legendary designs. Good luck with whatever guitar you choose!
Choose Your B.C. Guitar:
What is your favorite B.C. Rich design?
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