Review: BC Rich Mockingbird Plus FR

Released this past January at the annual NAMM show, BC Rich's latest Mockingbird model is an addition to their usual offering of sublime-looking guitars. As all musicians know, however, looks are not what make an instrument worthy of being played. The sonic qualities of a guitar are first and foremost, and BC Rich wasted no time in ensuring that their latest Mockingbird delivered the goods.



Let me begin by saying that I have worshipped BC Rich guitars from afar for decades. I never believed myself to be worthy enough of a player to play one of their killer axes. The names alone bring heat: Warlock, Bich, Warbeast, Villain, Stealth, Ironbird. They strike fear in the minds of inadequate guitar players everywhere, but it's so difficult not to fall in love with those now iconic shapes. I watched my heroes rock BC Rich's on stage throughout my childhood and teenage years. The two names that come to mind for me when I think of the Mockingbird are Lita Ford and Slash, who famously played one in the music video for Guns'n'Roses' "You Could Be Mine". 

I finally saved up enough courage to buy my first BC Rich earlier this year: A Lita Ford signature "Black Widow" Warlock. I am in love with that guitar even as I write this. I had the opportunity to test drive the Mockingbird Plus FR, and after being bitten by Ms.Ford's signature Black Widow, I couldn't help but be excited about it.

The first thing I notice about all guitars I review is the neck. Say what you will about BC Rich guitars, but their necks are fast and super comfortable. The Mockingbird Plus FR is no exception. The glossy long-set neck is gorgeous and feels like a dream to play. It feels like a neck-through construction, but it can be offered for a lower price because it's not. (More about price later!) The fretboard is made of rosewood, which is nice, although I prefer the feel of an ebony fretboard on a BC Rich neck. It has a 12" fretboard radius and jumbo frets with diamond inlays. I love the traditional headstock and the fact that the burled maple look is continued on the headstock. From a trivial point of view, I would have liked the retro "R" on the headstock instead of the new script "BC Rich" logo, but that's me being petty. The guitar body itself is made of mahogany, which gives it a nice comfortable heaviness while provide the sonic palate that only a solid mahogany body can give you.

                                               

Speaking of burled maple, the first thing that anyone will notice about the Mockingbird Plus FR is the gorgeous top. The painted neck is beautifully matched with the black vapour color of the burled maple top. It looks like the top of an exquisite table you might find at the palace of Versailles in France. Unlike many of the more stereotypical looks associated with BC Rich guitars, this one looks extremely classy, and could be "at home" in an orchestra pit as easily as you could envision it being at the centre of a mosh pit. 

In terms of tremolo, you can't have a guitar like this without one. BC Rich delivers the goods with a black Floyd Rose Special Tremolo, and matches it with the black knobs and diecast tuners. The Floyd Rose locking nut finishes off the tremolo system. I have to say, (and I know Floyd Rose fans will laugh and roll their eyes at me) that I've never been a Floyd Rose fan. At heart, I'm a stop tailpiece kind of girl, and if I'm going to choose a tremolo unit, my vote is for the Kahler. As such, I would have preferred a Kahler on this Mockingbird, but the tremolo unit offered reasonable tuning stability so I'm not going to speak negatively about it.

The electronics included in the guitar are 2 volume knobs, a tone knob, and a 3-way selector switch. These help you dial into the two BDSM humbuckers that the Mockingbird comes equipped with. The humbuckers that come with this guitar are adequate for the price range that the guitar sits in, but any experienced player would probably swap them out as soon as they could, especially if they are a lead guitarist. I found them to be muddier than I would like, especially in the bridge pickup, and it was most noticeable with the gain turned up. On the clean channel, the guitar sounds warm and inviting, something that many might not equate with a Mockingbird. That's not to say this guitar doesn't scream with delight on the dirty channel, because it most certainly does. The characteristic squeals you associate with a BC Rich are easily conjured out of this Mockingbird, and that, my friends, is a very good thing.



Overall, I think BC Rich has created a winner with their Mockingbird Plus FR. For the price, (a MSRP of $640 USD) the company has built an instrument worthy of a much higher price tag. Countless guitars will be sold for much more than $640, and many of them will not come close to the quality that BC Rich has managed out of one of their most iconic models. BC Rich has received criticism in the past for building their guitars in Korea. There is absolutely no evidence in the sample that I received that quality control is an issue at BC Rich. This stately version of one of the most storied guitars in rock music is sure to please whomever plays it. It looks as good as it feels and sounds even better. Somewhere, Bernie Rico is smiling - just like you will be if you decide to add one of these beauties to your collection. 

To get complete specs and a list of dealers, please head over to the BC Rich website.

Pros: 
  • Fast neck that feels like a neck-through
  • Gorgeous looking and comfortable to play
  • Weight is evenly balanced and controls are in an ergonomically intuitive place
  • Great for heavy metal, hard rock, and alternative rock
  • $640 MSRP
  • Floyd Rose Tremolo
Cons:
  • Pickups are muddier than some might like
  • Rosewood fretboard feels less at home than ebony on this model
  • Floyd Rose Tremolo
  • Not good for folk rock types, but you knew that already.