The Mockingbird was voted “coolest guitar of all time” by Guitar World magazine in their September 2010 issue. I don’t dispute that at all, because if you have a look at the guitar slingers who have used one, the list reads like the Kings and Queen of cool: Slash, Joe Perry, Rick Derringer, and BC Rich royalty herself, Lita Ford. For the uninitiated, the Mockingbird was designed with the idea that it can sound like many different guitars. For those of us familiar with the BC Rich lineup and their history, a true BC Rich collection is not complete without a Mockingbird in it.
BC Rich (owned by the Hanser Music Group) unveiled the new Contour Deluxe models at the 2015 NAMM show and I had the chance pick one up and play a few licks on it. Far away from the caucaphony of the NAMM floor however, I had the privilege of test driving the new Contour Deluxe in the privacy of my own home/rehearsal space for this past month. How well did it do? Let’s find out.
Upon first inspection, the guitar itself looks beautiful. That may not matter to some, but it matters to me so I’m mentioning it here. The quilted maple top is stunning, and it pairs very nicely with the mahogany body and neck. The binding is very well done and the pearloid buttons on the die-cast tuners along with the chrome hardware give the guitar a very classy look. You can easily show up to your jazz group’s gig with this beauty, but find yourself just as much at home with it on stage with your hard rock band, or anything in between. Visually, the trans red colored version I reviewed is a versatile looking guitar.
Beauty is only skindeep, however, and most guitar players will want to know how this Mockingbird can sing. And dear lord can it sing!
The long-set neck is classic BC Rich. Of all the features I love about this guitar, the neck is my absolute favorite, as it is with most BC Rich guitars. It has an unmistakable comfort that is not often found in similarly-priced instruments, and quite frankly, in many instruments that cost a heck of a lot more. The headstock is the traditional 3x3 often seen on vintage BC Rich’s and the scale length is a comfortable 24 ⅝, which I found to feel similar to my Les Paul, but a lot more comfortable. The rosewood fretboard is nicely paired with jumbo frets that are smooth and don’t cast a nasty, cheap edge. Instead, the binding divinely accentuates the smoothness of the fretwork done on the guitar. A Tune-O-Matic bridge and steel barrel knobs make the guitar feel luxurious and truth be told, I had no trouble with tuning stability right out of the box. By the end of the first evening I plugged it into my Blackstar HT100 head and 4x12 cabinet, I was having sweet dreams about how delicious my custom gauge .08-.52 string set would feel on this gorgeous new boyfriend of mine. (Ed’s Note: That’s right, not ALL guitars are girls!)
The electronics in this Mockingbird give you access to Bridge volume, Neck volume, and a Coil-tapped Tone knob to access a multitude of tones for each pickup. The 3-way pickup selector switch is a nicely nestled between the two volume knobs, with the Bridge volume being closest to your picking hand - vintage BC Rich style - which allows for quick access to the volume for swells, etc.
The pickups in this guitar are the BC Rich Hot Hex - Bridge and Neck, respectively. Of all the features on this guitar, the pickups were the one thing that I felt did not do the guitar justice. Let me clarify - the guitar sounds AWESOME. However, if you are into heavy metal or even hard rock, you may feel that you need to put an overdrive or distortion pedal in front of your high gain amp to get the deep, dark chugging power chords that come from that genre of music. It handled clean tones marvelously well, and overdriven tones maintained their clarity but that required some tweaking with the controls on my amp, which is to be expected with any guitar that you aren’t used to playing on a daily basis.
Ideally, I’d like to see this guitar come with an SH-6 Seymour Duncan in the Bridge and A JB in the neck, but I realize that isn’t possible while keeping the guitar at the extremely affordable price point of $640 Retail and $399 MAP. A quick look on any music retailer’s site will reveal that you can easily pick one of these up for under $450, which is a great value for what you’re getting. I’ve played many guitars in my lifetime, many of which cost 10-15 times what this Mockingbird Contour Deluxe does, and they have fallen short of the quality offered here. As an aside, I had the chance to play several of the new BC Rich’s at the NAMM show, and one thing is clear - the factory making these import guitars is doing a phenomenal job. There are very few guitars that play this well, look this good, and cost so little in today’s market. BC Rich hit it out of the park with this Mockingbird, and I will be oh so sad to send my hot “boyfriend” back to them. It was absolutely a thrill while it lasted!
Finishes Available: Gloss Natural, Trans RedBC Rich Guitars Website