is a manufacturer of guitars and bass guitars started by the late Bernardo Chavez Rico.
They are known for designing guitars with unconventional designs.
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.
As of 2007, no member of the Rico family is involved in the production of B.C. Rich guitars.
The B.C. Rich guitar company was started in 1972 by the late Bernardo Chavez Rico (or "Bernie, Sr.") as a repair shop primarily for Spanish and Classical-style guitars. Later Bernie expanded into solid-body electrics after repairing the snapped neck of Bo Diddley's legendary Gretsch. Bernie built 350 Acoustic guitars during these first 2 years. B 21, B 28, B 38 and B 41 models. An answer to the Martin series upgraded, using classical scalloped shaved X bracing on their spruce tops and incredible master Grade woods. Many of these high end guitars had beautiful figured Brazilian rosewood back and sides aged over 40 years before they began building them. They had ebony fingerboards using the classic diamond inlays markers.
Rico adopted the professional name "B.C. Rich" The history behind the name is that Rico had a friend named Bobby Rich who adopted the Hispanic name "Roberto Rico", so Bernie Rico reversed the process and adopt the name "B.C.Rich" for his guitars.
He began making Les Paul-inspired guitars. He also built B C Rich Stratocaster styles. Later models such as the Bich, Eagle, Seagull, Warlock, Mockingbird, Ironbird and others would express the personalities of Rico, staff designers and independent contractors. Rico loved exotic cars and motorcycles, designer clothes and custom paint schemes and all these traits would manifest themselves in certain guitars.
As popularity and demand grew, Rico wanted to start mass producing guitars for a much lower price to a much wider audience. B.C. Rico was the name originally given to these imported B.C. Rich guitars that Rico had manufactured in Japan and sold in the US. 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 several hundred of these are believed to have made it into the US. These Japanese (and later Korean) 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 even cheaper Platinum and Bronze series. There was also a very inexpensive Rave series in the eighties, 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-1980s, 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.
The exclusive guitar that John Christ of the metal band Danzig owned is "the bich". Despite Christ's departure from Danzig in 1995, he still owns the guitar till this day.
In the 1993 episode "Happy Birthday Zack" of the children's television show Power Rangers, a man is seen playing a B.C. Rich guitar during Zack's birthday party.
B.C. Rich has had a long history of rumors and reports that they had gone out of business completely or filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since their primary inception in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as well as reports of a constantly changing executive management. One of the more well known instances of this occurred in the late 1980s, when 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.
These poor quality guitars marred B.C. Rich's reputation almost instantly. As soon as this was brought to Rico's attention, he immediately regained control of production. Due to this singular occurrence alone, B.C. Rich lost a great deal of respect from long term players who soon abandoned them, while at the same time retailers slashed prices on the Class Axe models in an attempt to sell off their stock of the now known poor quality guitars.
Because of the incredible difference in quality between B.C. Rich's classic guitars and the Class Axe models that were now on the market, rumors started that the Class Axe guitars were in fact bootlegs or underground knock offs that were being sold and distributed by unknowing retailers. B.C. Rich disappeared into temporary obscurity for most of the latter 1990s until the manufacturing issues were sorted out. The company has only recently started to become recognized for high-quality instruments again.
Another frequent misunderstanding from the Class Axe era is that although Class Axe was located in New Jersey, the NJ series of guitars were actually made in Nagoya, Japan. Some of the Platinum and NJ models from this era have "LA California" or "New Jersey, USA" stamped on the neck plate which is misleading. The USA made guitars from this period state USA on the headstock in addition.
B.C. Rich is known for many advancements and innovations.
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, guitars shapes that take different shapes than early electric guitars, who were inspired by the design of acoustic 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 denser than most woods which makes the guitar heavier than if it would be made by 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.
They were one of the first guitar companies who used true neck through body design, 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.
- Avenge and WMD SOB or Son Of Beast (Beast shape scaled down 10%)
- Beast (Designed by Brian Hoffman of Deicide.)
- Bich (Designed by Neal Moser.)
- Blaster (Similar to a Telecaster.)
- Condor (Eagle Archtop.)
- Dagger (Designed by Rock Clouser)
- Big Dagger (Dagger with a Bigsby vibrato.)
- Eagle Archtop (An upscale Eagle with a one inch thick carved flamed maple top and mahogany body.)
- Fat Bob (Body in the shape of a Harley gas tank.)
- Jazzbox (Hollow-body.)
- Jr. V
- Mockingbird II
- Seagull II (Also known as Seagull Jr.)
- ST III
- TS-100 (Similar to a Telecaster.)
- TS-200 (Similar to a Telecaster.)
- Virgin (Designed by Neal Moser)
- Virgo (designed by Rock Clouser)
- Warpig (Similar to a Gibson SG.)
- Warlock II
- Warbeast (Combination of the Beast and Warlock.)
- Widow (Designed by Blackie Lawless of the metal band W.A.S.P..)