Who hasn’t laid eyes on one of these metal legends and thought “Wow, that looks cool”? This B.C. Rich Warlock review will show you what you can expect, other than brutal looks.
Before the ‘80s metal craze, B.C. Rich was a boutique guitar brand that made unique guitars for various genres. The unusual shapes of their electric guitars caught the eyes of hard rockers, and when metal icons like W.A.S.P. frontman Blackie Lawless began sporting B.C. Rich guitars and basses on stage, the manufacturer started focusing on the metal market.
Bernie Rico designed the Warlock in 1969 and thought it was too ugly for production, but it did attract a few influential guitarists. Commercial production started in 1981, and many different versions have come about since then. There are even 7-string editions. Anyway, let’s see how the B.C. Rich Warlock stands up these days.
B.C. Rich Warlock Physical Features
The unique body consists of fine tonewoods. The more expensive editions use mahogany and walnut, while the cheaper ones use agathis. All B.C. Rich Warlocks have a 25.5-inch scale, 24 jumbo frets, and double cutaways. High-end models have a full neck-through-body construction, but cheaper ones are bolt-on. The Mk11, Mk7, and Mk3 have Floyd Rose whammy bridges. Other versions have simpler bridges with no tremolo. Other than that, they’re mostly the same, although the headstock shapes differ a lot.
All models feature two humbuckers and a three-position pickup selector, although the specific pickups differ. The Mk11 has DiMarzio PAF and Super 2 humbuckers. You can also get these on the Mk9 as an optional upgrade. Lower editions have passive B.C. Rich BDSM humbuckers, which give you a loud, nuanced metal tone. The name is short for “Broad Dynamic, Sonically Matched,” although the abbreviation has an edgy metal vibe to it.
Mk1 and Mk3 have one volume knob and one control knob. Mk5 has separate ones for each pickup, like a Les Paul. Higher-end models have two volume knobs and a master tone knob. On the Mk11, you also get a push-pull coil tap switch for more sound options. In essence, a coil tap lets a humbucker act like a single-coil.
All B.C. Rich Warlock guitars have a glossy or semi-gloss finish. You can get them in various colors, depending on the model. The Mk7, Mk9, and Mk11 have semi-transparent paints that accentuate the fine wood.
How the B.C. Rich Warlock Plays
It may look fierce, but the B.C. Rich Warlock has a comfortable design. The contour fits well on your lap when you sit, and nothing pokes you when you stand. A top bevel makes your right arm comfortable and mobile.
The neck is satin smooth and lets your hand slide with ease, which is important for lead guitarists in particular. A fast-playing fingerboard with jumbo frets makes complex scales and bent notes easier. The neck-through designs have no heel, which grants exceptional playability on the highest frets. Even the lower ones have a minimal, smooth heel that achieves a similar result.
The B.C. Rich Warlock sounds like it looks, pure high-octane metal. It produces a rich, fat tone with plenty of bite that responds well to extreme distortion. You get heavy notes that ring out slowly, especially from the Mk9 which has a Quadramatic bridge on a neck-through build.
Its hot, gritty tone is perfect for thrash, black, and death metal. Just like its visual appeal. Slayer’s Kerry King is the foremost example, and he has his own signature version. That’s not to say it won’t do well in other genres, though. Big icons and regular enthusiasts have used and praised it for many styles. Famous bands that use or used the B.C. Rich Warlock include Kiss, Mötley Crüe, Poison, Dio, Sepultura, Murderdolls, Slipknot, and Static X.
B.C. Rich Warlock guitars have a wide price range. The basic MK1 starts between $200 and $300. A 7-string version costs around $300 to $350. The high-end B.C. Rich Warlock Mk11 starts around $1,000 and $1,500 depending on the version and vendor. All other standard B.C. Rich Warlock models fall in between these two in ascending order. The Kerry King Warlock costs just below $1,500.
B.C. Rich Warlock VS Dean Dimebag Razorback
The Dean Razorback is probably as close as you can get to a B.C. Rich Warlock with another brand.
It looks and sounds fierce, and many editions have a Floyd Rose tremolo. The 24.75-inch scale neck has 22 jumbo frets and a slinkier action. The mahogany body and DMT Design Zebra BKWH give it a thick, aggressive sound comparable to a mid-level Warlock. Check it out here.
Pros & Cons
All those details can be a challenge to remember. Let’s summarize this B.C. Rich Warlock review with some pros and cons.
- Iconic metal design
- Wild metal tone
- Fast playability
- Affordable options
What’s great about the B.C. Rich Warlock is that it’s all about the metal. It’s not an adaptation of some existing guitar, where the metal specs were an afterthought or an attempt to milk the metal guitar market. The B.C. Rich Warlock was designed for metal guitarists with high demands.
- Not that versatile
- Quality varies
With the exception of the Mk11, the B.C. Rich Warlock is very niche-oriented. That’s no problem for a full-on metalhead, though. Like most guitar manufacturers, B.C. Rich source most of their guitars from East-Asian factories, which means the setup can sometimes be imperfect.
B.C. Rich Warlock — To Buy or Not to Buy?
A B.C. Rich Warlock should please any metalhead. It looks, sounds, and plays how a great metal guitar should. And the various editions all come at competitive prices, considering their specs and rivals. That concludes my B.C. Rich Warlock review. Stay tuned for more guitar reviews and lessons.