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This article was originally published in issue #5
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BC Rich has been producing guitars for more than 40 years, the company being established in 1969 by accomplished flamenco guitarist Bernardo Chavez Rico. Despite its origins, BC Rich has become renowned for producing high quality outlandishly styled solid body guitars that have become the number one choice for many of the leading names in the Metal genre. Classic BC Rich models like the "Bitch" and the "Mocking Bird" have drawn such big name artists as Slash, Chuck Shuldiner, of Death, Stuart Dixon, of Venom - and even country artist Ryan Adams! But by far the biggest name on the list of impressive BC Rich endorsers has to be Slayer's Kerry King. Kerry has been a long term user of BC Rich and has several different signature models available, of which the Wartribe 1 is a surprisingly affordable example. In essence it's a budge version of the US made model, designed to appeal to the student player - but it's none the worse for that, as I soon discovered.
The Wartribe 1 is everything you would expect it to be: bevelled body style, beast style headstock, finished in an almost mirror-like black Spinal Tap finish, with custom tribal graphics. The finish is very high quality, with noone of the rough edges around the pickup surrounds that are the sort of tell-tale problems found on many guitars of this price. The body is made from mahogany with a maple neck with a rosewood fretboard with a 12" radius. The neck also features 24 jumbo frets, making this a great shred machine. The guitar features 2 BC Rich B.D.S.M pickups, with a three-way switch, two volume controls and one tone control. The guitar also includes a tune-o-matic bridge with the strings fixed through the body, which really helps with sustain.
The feel of the guitar is surprisingly comfortable and well balanced, and the neck feels very easy to play with no rough fret edges. My one thought here though was that the string gauge choice was maybe a little too light and that a set of 10's would have tightened things up a little bit, especially on the low end. Set-up wise the action was also a little bit high, but nothing that a little tweak at your local guitar shop couldn't solve.
I tested the guitar first with a clean sound and was surprised at just how versatile this instrument was. Don't let its looks deceive you, this guitar is capable of some warm clean tones, not that who ever buys this guitar would probably be using it for that! Once I kicked in the high gain, though, the guitar came to life, the bridge pickup was tight, crunchy and punchy and able to produce squealing harmonics. Switching to the neck pickup I was able to produce some warm creamy Les Paul tones, great for picking and sweep picking. The pickups all cleaned up nicely when backing off the volume control; surprisingly versatile and good sounding for a guitar of this price.
All in all I found this instrument to be very good, and although I have questioned the set-up a little and the choice of the factory fitted string gauge, these are personal observations, and it still felt very comfortable to play. The intonation was set well, with it being in tune the further I got up the neck. Put this together with a great finish and its striking metal styling, I would highly recommend this guitar for any young budding metalhead or Kerry King fan on a budget. On balance, it's really good value. Check out the video and get down to your local BC Rich dealer and try one for yourself.