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This article was originally published in issue #51
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Not your average design
Neck dive possible
BC Rich is well known for their eye-catching, iconic designs that separate their guitars from the crowd performance category? Dan Veall gives the new Mockingbird MK3 a test run.
I couldn't tell you the first time I saw a BC Rich guitar. Maybe it was in the hands of Slayer’s Tom Araya or Slash from Guns N’ Roses? It was a long time ago for sure, but you know what? You’d recognise one anywhere!
Today we are looking at Mk III Mockingbird. Manufactured in America, it features a solid mahogany body and choices of beautiful quality quilted tops. Either, genuine quilted sapele or maple for a classic contrasting look that stands out.
Of course, for the neck, It’s a slim and fast profile hard maple offering, with a rosewood fretboard. 24 frets neatly installed with no sharp edges, and take a look at those BC Rich inlays! Something a little different to the usual dot markers and I think stylish at the same time.
On-board electronics for the Mockingbird include—and some may think unusual—two sets of split coil pickups. I suppose a bit like a precision bass but with another pair of coils in classic P configuration in the bridge position too. I will quickly add that many basses with soap-bar shaped pickups do feature split coils inside the shells. Anyway, back to the MkIII, the best way to describe the tone is in demonstration, so if you haven't watched already, grab some decent earphones, strap them on and listen to the sound from this bass!
I love the ‘both on setting’ mixing both pickups equally. Spot on, really. There’s a nice rounded low end but with a defined punch—like all the ‘flub’ has been carefully carved out of the sound and a focus on a more kick-drum bass punch. In the video, you’ll see I am monitoring using the superb Bergantino B|Amp with a pair of HD cabinets mic’d up offering a true representation of what the bass sounds like as I work through the settings and tones available.
Coupled to the pickups is BC Rich’s own custom active bass preamplifier that features an interesting tone configuration that having had plenty of time to play with. I am a fan of now! Most active tone controls tend only to affect one centre frequency. The treble control on the Mockingbird not only affects a ‘top frequency’ but also boosts or cuts the high mid range frequencies as well. Why stop there? The bass boost/cut control similarly also manipulates the low mid range frequency band as well. So each control affects a broad range, meaning it was so easy to get a ‘weight’ in my sound without losing mid range. I found that there’s a fair amount of boost available too, so a small adjustment goes a long way. All this is powered by 9V battery
In terms of a general outline, I was expecting that considering how far that upper horn is away from 12th fret; that this bass may suffer from neck dive on a strap. My suspicions were correct, but at the same time, it certainly wasn’t anywhere near as bad as some other basses I’ve reviewed. Maybe this was down to the solid Mahogany body, or the 2-a-side headstock and it’s small tuning keys keeping things balanced? I guess a long 2-hour gig would decide whether or not this was a problem or not!
Rounding up, the overall build of this particular Mockingbird very tidy indeed and I’m pleased with the playability and tone. Oh and not just for metal and rock genres either, I think this bass is a great all rounder, with fully active electronics in a pair of split neck and bridge pickups, which help to offer a wide variety of tones to suit any musical style, from mild to wild.