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This article was originally published in issue #29
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Perhaps most known for their outlandish pointy guitars, the Warlock, Ironbird and Bich, BC Rich are staples of the Metal genre. From Kerry King, Michael Angelo Batio and Mick Thompson to Slash, Joe Perry and even Eric Clapton, BC Rich guitars have been seen in the hands of guitar players the world over, but there's more to BC Rich than guitars you could poke an eye out with, as the Villain series shows.
Taking roots from the classic “Gunslinger” shape, this new Villain Escape 7 provides a perfectly priced entry into the 7-string market with enough features to keep up with guitars in considerably higher price brackets, all without having to own something too polarising aesthetically.
Built in Indonesia, the Villain offers classic Metal looks with a gloss black basswood body, which offers a little more warmth than alder or ash and enough punch in the mids to cut through a mix. It's also worth noting that the review model supplied is deceptively light, which has gradually become a desirable feature over the years. The sleek curves and contoured top are offset with a classy white binding.
The 7-string neck is built out of maple with a black finish and a rosewood board and while it's obviously wider than a 6-string neck, we're given enough thickness that it's comfortable in the hand without being too intrusive when playing chords. Everything is comfortable for the modern player as we're treated to a nice 16” radius across the entire 24 fret fingerboard. This could be taxing at the nut for hands not used to a flatter radius, but coming from that background I personally feel quite at home here.
The 7 in a line tuning pegs result in good tension on the synthetic graphite nut for tuning stability, and paired with the fixed bridge we're actually treated to a guitar you can really beat on without fear of slipping out of tune. The fixed bridge may be off-putting for some, but at this price point I'd rather know my money is going on everything else on the guitar rather than having a cheap licensed Floyd Rose that's going to give me many years of woe which also means corners have to be cut elsewhere.
Things get really interesting when we plug the guitar in, especially as I'd prepared myself for a guitar that streets at under $400 or around £300, but BC Rich's own B.D.S.M 7 pickups are actually twice as hot as I expected, and for a 7-string guitar playing Metal, this is rarely a bad thing. Tonally they're a little muddy, but certainly nothing that can't be curbed with some EQ on the amp, or a graphic EQ on a pedal board, and it's certainly nothing that can't be controlled with an EQ plug-in when recording.
The electronics are a standard affair, a 3-way toggle switch giving bridge, bridge and neck or just neck with a single volume and single tone control. The only comment here is that the guitar is quite dark in overall tone with the basswood body, rosewood board and dark pickups, so I can see very few situations where the tone wouldn't be all the way up, but it's better to have the knob and not need it than need it and not have it.
All in all it's hard to fault what's on offer. It might be nice to have more features like a good tremolo system but I'd much rather have a solid guitar without non essential features than have a guitar punching way above its weight. If you want to get into the seven string market with something a little bit different, the BC Rich might be the guitar for you! And if the 7-string doesn't quite tempt you, did you know there's a similarly low priced 8-string version in the range...?