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This article was originally published in issue #47
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Aimed squarely at the extreme Metal brigade, BC Rich's Warbeast 7-string is one of the most outrageous looking guitars ever from a company not exactly famous for its stylistic restraint.
Does what you'd expect – ideal for Metal
Handle with care!
Needs locking strap buttons
Positioning of p/up switch
Aimed squarely at the extreme Metal brigade, BC Rich's Warbeast 7-string is one of the most outrageous looking guitars ever from a company not exactly famous for its stylistic restraint. Sam Bell entered the cage, whip and chair in hand...
BC Rich is one the most recognisable Metal guitar brands in Heavy Metal history. Its extreme body shapes and features make BC Rich guitars really stand out from the crowd but none of its offerings has stood out more than this newcomer, the Warbeast MK3 7 string! I entered GI's studio with a shiver, knowing what beast lay waiting for me behind the doors.
I'll get to the aesthetics of this guitar in a moment, but first let’s look at the main features, apart from the body. The Warbeast features seven strings, tuned B, E, A, D, G, B and E. It sports a 24 fret maple bolt-on neck with jumbo frets, two high output stock pickups and a hard tail string-through bridge. The pickups are controlled by a three way switch and volume. The upper fret access isn’t too bad with the bolt-on neck shimming away at the back for better thumb placement. The only issue is that the top horn can catch the back of the hand depending on your playing position (more on this later). I also found that the 3-way switch was quite out of the way which I suppose doesn’t matter if you are playing a style where you might rely on one pickup for the majority of a song, however making quick pickup switches did become noticeably tricky. I imagine this minor issue could be acclimatised to with regular use of the guitar and is of course subjective to what you plan to play on this beast!
Our sample featured a fierce red and black paint job that complements the guitar's demonic Warbeast body shape and signature BC Rich headstock design and you can have it predominantly red or black in finishes called, as you might expect, Black Devil or Red Devil! Beware of that, as the saying goes 'if you’re not careful you could have someone’s eye out with it'!
After playing the guitar for a few minutes it became apparent certain postures for playing suited this guitar much better than a regular on the right leg position (you don't say? - Ed). The rear of the upper horn can dig into your rib cage if you are not careful, but this can be resolved by holding the guitar in either a classical position (guitar propped on the left leg) or by standing up. I feel this guitar is definitely designed to catch attention, and I imagine it being particularly suited to somebody who is playing an extreme Metal style where the visual aspect of the performance is there to accent the extreme nature of the music, so it's unfair to criticise it for not being suited to reflective playing in a studio!
The guitar is equipped with strap pins located behind the upper horns, which I assume has been done to keep a cleaner look to the Warbeast shape when looking at the guitar from the front. Having strap pins on the back of the body did mean the strap tips end up being parallel to the body of the guitar, and whilst this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for general use, I would recommend some kind of strap locking device so the guitar doesn’t fall off during those extreme moments on stage when head banging!
Talking of damage from too much rocking, the guitar doesn’t come with a protective gig bag, though some are available on the market. My advice would be to anyone wishing to tame the beast would be to really look out for the edges of this guitar when moving it around. I have seen many guitars like this damaged quite easily due to the large and extreme body shapes. So extra caution is needed when rocking that’s for sure!
No matter how a guitar looks or feels to play, one of the most important aspects is the sound. The 25.5 inch scale length is about as short a scale length as you can go with a 7-string guitar and they have compensated for this with the routing of the string holes in the body being staggered so the lower strings are slightly longer, meaning the tension is a little more even on the lower strings for better resonance. The pickups are definitely high output. The neck pickup felt a little bit muddy with lots of gain, but really for Metal styles the bridge pickup is what brings the tone home. The bridge pickup had a slightly scooped nature to the sound to my ears, which is often desired in certain styles of extreme Metal.
My verdict? I feel this guitar is definitely aimed at a certain audience which enjoys the alternative forms of extreme Metal - maybe a younger audience or maybe one which enjoys Gothic Metal. You can't criticise a product for doing exactly what it sets out to do but you might wonder how many customers there might be for it. That said, BC Rich knows its market far better than I do. My reservations then aren't so much about how it looks, but the practical things like switch placement and whether some of the design elements are really practical for a working guitar. On that latter score, I'm not 100 per cent convinced.
Still, as the saying goes, for people who like this sort of thing – this is the sort of thing they'll like! It delivers what it promises, so what (cautions aside) more can you ask? Oh, and it is well priced too, which is probably essential given its target audience is likely to be young.