However, the shape of the Eagle was somewhat toned down in comparison; the body spike was eliminated, and the cutaways grew longer on the top and shorted on the bottom. The guitar was developed by Neal Moser, who worked with legends including Hendrix and Crosby.This gave the Eagle a very forward oriented, sleek design. Due in large part to Moser’s contributions, the sheer impact of the Bich cannot be underestimated. Rich’s most , no single guitar changed the face of the heavy metal genre as much as the Warlock.Rico’s custom guitars — basically versions of popular Gibson and Fender models — continued until the early ’70s, when the trademark weird shapes began to appear, and the B. Both models were carved out of one single block of mahogany. The Seagull was a single cutaway guitar with two humbucking pickups and the characteristic B. The Seagull design also coincided with Rico’s first use of neck-through construction, a method which would soon become strongly identified with B. An essential feature of Rico’s neck-through design was the heelless neck joint, which was entirely his idea. Rich guitars was Dominic Troiano, who had replaced Randy Bachman as lead guitarist in the group The Guess Who at the time. It was also through Troiano that Rico hooked up with guitar designer Neil Moser, who worked with Rico through the ’70s. Some differences exist in reported accounts about who was actually responsible for the origins of the Bich design. We’d cut out a guitar, hold it up and say, ‘What do you think? As early as 1976 or ’77, Rico also began to assemble some American-made economy versions of his guitars. The fingerboard is nicely wide, like you might expect from someone who, well, played flamenco! “This was the only guitar I ever designed at a drafting table, using straight-edges and French curves,” remembers Rico. At first I thought it was the ugliest guitar I’d ever designed,” continues Rico, “but Spenser Sercomb, who was playing in a group called Shark Island, came to my office and saw the design hanging on my wall. Rich six-in-line headstock appeared, debuting on the Warlock bass. Rich catalog dated 6/84 included the Rich Bich 10-string, Bich Six and Bich Bass 8-string; the Eagle Bass; the Mockingbird Tremolo [sic], Mockingbird Supreme and Mockingbird Bass; the Warlock Tremolo and Warlock Bass; the X-shaped Stealth Tremolo and Stealth Bass; the Wave Bass; and the Ironbird Tremolo and Ironbird Bass Tremolo. These had a single humbucking pickup and, except for the Ironbird, reverse six-in-line headstocks. Rico was in Tokyo with Dennis Berardi, of Kramer guitars, and Jack Westheimer, then of Cort (and one of the principal men responsible for importing Japanese guitars into the United States beginning in the late ’50s). These have mahogany necks and bodies with a carved quilted maple top, ebony fingerboard, mother-of-pearl or abalone cloud inlays, twin humbuckers and either a fixed bridge or a Wilkinson vibrato system. The non-vibrato guitar and bass had the old three-and-three headstock, while the Tremolo had the six-in-line layout. This system was used for the guitars distributed by L. In the late ’70s as production grew, and the serial numbers begin to get ahead of themselves, since only 1000 numbers were available in a series. * I realize this information is not 100% accurate, nevertheless, this is still an interesting article.This is characteristic of many of his guitars to this day. It was Troiano who first used the active electronics which became common on B. ’ Someone would say, ‘Well, take a little off there,’ and we would.” Since most B. Rich guitars were handmade, especially the neck-throughs, the production work involved a lot of hand carving, which was frequently done by skilled Mexican woodcarvers. One of these was the Son of a Rich, which was basically a bolt-neck Bich. ‘When are you going to make that guitar,’ he asked? Soon Lita Ford got one, and Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue got a Warlock bass, and the model took off. Prior to 1981, all headstocks were the asymmetrical three-and-three design. Rich continued to make acoustic guitars using highly skilled Mexican craftsmen until 1982, when Rico’s head craftsman died. Basic components of these bolt-neck guitars were made overseas and shipped to California where fretting, final assembly and finishing took place. All had diamond inlays except for the Biches and Mockingbird Supreme with clouds, and the Stealth which had no inlays. While they were in Tokyo, there was a tremendous shift upward in the value of the Yen, severely cutting into the profitability of manufacturing in Japan. Colors were transparent red, blue, tangerine, purple or emerald green, or goldtop. As of early 1995, Bernie Rico had returned to his old affection for acoustics and added a new acoustic guitar to his line, the B-41C, a single cutaway guitar loaded with abalone trim, a project which has the luthier quite enthusiastic. By 1980 the serial numbers had gotten to about two to three years ahead. From one perspective, flamenco and heavy metal might seem as far apart as the sun and the moon, but if you think about the hyperbolic emotion involved in both genres, there is a certain spiritual connection. The Beast V, for example, combines the classic V design with the body shape of the Warbeast, a modified Warlock.The ensuing combination results in a guitar with the classic V shape but with a distinctly metal twist.
Rico with a smile, “when Sabicas said to me, ‘I’m tired of playing, you play! I was very nervous but it is a great memory.” Bernie Rico had begun working in his father’s shop as early as 1953 or ’54, building ukuleles out of koa. ” If you’ve ever played uke, you’ll know that phrase. Thus, the Eagle was essentially a redesigned version of the original Seagull. Through a friend living in Tokyo, Rico arranged to have some copies of the Eagle made and imported carrying the B. Rico doesn’t recall exactly who made these guitars, but thinks it may have been the Kasuga factory, one of the primary Japanese suppliers of quality guitars at the time. However, in the interim the decision was made to simply use the B. Rich name, which would henceforth be applied to all B. Rich guitars, regardless of where they were manufactured. “The Mockingbird was one of those ‘napkin’ designs,” explains Rico. This was a Strat-style guitar that was known as a professional instrument, with a humbucker and single coils, the angular reverse headstock, an ebony fingerboard with no inlays and 24-frets. Also introduced in 1987 was the Gunslinger, a Strat-style bolt-neck guitar geared toward the fast heavy metal players who only wanted one pickup with a volume control. Rich that cost 99 and a Gunslinger, you won’t find any difference in the neck.” Many of the B. Rich ST-IIIs are relatively ordinary, however, many are quite spectacular, like the quilted maple custom model shown here. No matter what the color of the guitar, the insides of the holes were always black. When we got into the more commercial Strat-shaped guitars, we put it on.” In 1987 Rico entered into a marketing agreement with a company from New Jersey called Class Axe which allowed them to market and distribute the Rave, Platinum and NJ Series guitars. The Virgin was sort of a hybrid with a Warlock upper bout and a bell-shaped rounded lower bout designed by Class Axe in conjunction with Neil Moser.
The mass was spread out over a wider area and it had great harmonic overtones.” Very few of these guitars were ever made. The Condor was basically an upscale Eagle with a 1" thick carved flamed maple top and mahogany body (this guitar is offered today as the Eagle Archtop). These had 24 frets, and at the 24th fret there was a pearl inlay engraved with ‘Conti’.” B. Rich had become so successful by the mid-’80s that the company — like other American brands such as Dean and Kramer — inevitably turned to importing guitars. Rico travelled to Japan in late 1983 and toured a number of factories. This is easy to understand, because later the company headquarters would be in New Jersey. Again, as with other major American manufacturers, Rico also sooned turned to Korea as a source for budget models. The serial number is stamped on a neck plate, and like every other company, when the guitar was being finished, someone grabbed a plate out of the box and put it on.
Also in 1983 the Stealth was introduced, a guitar basically designed by Rick Derringer. The Fat Bob reflected Bernie Rico’s love of motorcycles. I had three of them, one of which was a model called the Fat Bob. He felt that Japanese manufacturers were way ahead of most American companies in terms of quality production. These still follow the same XXYYY dating scheme, but there was no particular order to thier application. Rich guitars,” reflects Rico on the past, “is that they got branded as ‘heavy metal’ guitars early on and that’s what made them so successful. Rich didn’t have a niche until someone said, ‘heavy metal.’ “What really gets me, though,” continues Rico, “is that they’re always known for their weird shapes, not the thought and quality that went into the shape of the neck or the quality painting.” Maybe now, with B. Rich guitars back in the hands of flamenco guitarist Bernie Rico and staging a comeback, and with renewed interest in the older B.
Bernardo Chavez Rico was born in Los Angeles in 1941, actually in East Los Angeles, home to the city’s largely Hispanic population. Eventually, as Bernie joined his dad, it became known as Bernardo’s Guitar Shop. Rico began playing guitar at an early age, as primarily a flamenco and classical guitarist. A., which he did a lot because he liked to go to down to Mexico to see the bullfights. The Seagull did well, however, players began complaining about the upper point jabbing them in the chest.
His father, Bernardo Mason Rico, was a guitar-maker, with a shop where he built guitars, vihuelos, requintos, bajo sextos and other instruments for the Mexican-oriented musicians in L. playing in local Latin conjuntos and mariachi orchestras. The Rico shop was originally known as the Valencian Guitar Shop in around 1947, and later as Casa Rico.