Price paid: $ 875
Purchased from: used
Features: This is a 1988 BC Rich Eagle Deluxe. It is very important to emphasise the fact that prior to the glut of Japanese-labeled BC Rich guitars (Warlock etc, which were typically an entry level guitar for a host of young aspiring players, cool looking, cheap and inexpensive), BC Rich was THE premium high end guitar of the late 70's and 80's. I can think of no other guitar from that era that exemplified the mastercraftsmanship that a hand-made guitar was supposed to embody. There is no similarity whatsoever between the US series of that era and the later NJ series guitar.
The Deluxe seems to be something of a sleeper model, most of the stuff you see from the US series are either Supremes -which are characterised by their abalone (generally)'cloud'inlays, bound ebony fretboard, and complete active electronic layout - or the archtops which are beautiful pieces of work similar to the Supremes with carved, bound, maple tops and often times electronic layouts varying somewhat from those found on the Supreme.
The deluxe is different in that the fret-board is rosewood (often the much sought after brazilian rosewood), unbound, and is best recognized by it's Diamond shaped, pearl inlays, and having no bound neck. Sorry for the history lesson, but wanted to clarify what a 'deluxe' is, and the issue regarding the US series BC gits their more readily available Japanese brothers.
This particular version is all magnificient birdseye maple, neck and body with a natural finish, which I maintain is the best way to show off a premium hardwood like birdseye. It has a neck-through design, as did all BC Richs, with beautiful brazilian rosewood strips seperating the main neck through portion from the 'wings' as well as the headstock. The original pickups were DiMarzio's with a Leo Quann Baddass bridge, and Grove imperial tuners of that era. This axe has a very comfortable wide, 24 fret neck, and a great neck heel. The often misunderstood 'active electronics' are layed out as follow (to the best of my knowledge): KNOBS - Volume, pre-amp volume, tone, varitone; SWITCHES - pickup selector [toggle], pre-amp/active elect. on/off; phase Switch and two coil splitters. For the most part the Switch and associated volume knob, that effect the active electronics, turns on and off and varies the volume level of an on-board pre amp, which can be used for several purposes: 1) to provide lead boost, 2) [I have been told] to overdrive a Marshall, 3) to compensate for the humbucker/single coil drop in volume when using the coil splitter. It is a very useful, albeit misunderstood piece of equipment (especially for someone Who plays lead and rythm guitar Live)and is powered by a 9 volt batttery located in the body cavity.
The varitone knob is a very unique tone modulator, best known for their use in the Gibson ES series, it is the pointy shaped knob normally underlayed by a plate numbered 1-5. It is a very neat addition to the tone management, and once you get used to using it I'm sure you will want it on all of your guitars (too bad). Hardware is all done is Silver by the way.
The body style of the 'Eagle', in my opinion, is the single most unique and tasteful body-style ever found on a solid body guitar. It employs such an economic use of cutaways to allow access to all 24 frets, while showcasing the true artistry of a master luthier in the overall style of the body. It is wholly unique, and I don't think you will ever find such a great compromise between taste and radical style. My absolute favorite body design, one that captivated me in my childhood and has had a vice-grip on my ever since.
Suffice to say there are more features on this guitar than any other you are likely to come across. // 9
Sound: OK, depending on your perspective this is the good or bad news. Once you play this guitar, any normal Gibson/Fender solid body you own, or buy will be instantly relegated inferior. I have several Gibsons, including a Les Paul Standard and Flying V (albeit mid 90's models)have played a ton of Fenders, etc and they all wind up feeling 'cheap' after playing the BC Rich. There is really no other way to describe it. It's sad actually, because I have spent alot of money on guitars and they just sit around, getting only occasional use, because I can't imagine playing a factory run guitar after playing this thing. I did change out the original DiMarzio's for a stag-mag in the neck and a JB in the Bridge, but that is my personal preference more than anything else. There is almost no guitar sound (within bounds of reason) that you can't get out of this guitar - none! It is as versatile as it is beautiful, and that is saying alot.
Because this guitar is solid maple it is wonderfully bright, but still manages to keep a great balance in tone, the whole tonal range is very well represented on this axe. The thing is heavy too, as you might expect being solid maple. The neck through design lends itself to the sustain factor of this wonder, I can strike a chord go to the store and come back and it will still be ringing. Wonderful! // 10
Action, Fit & Finish: Master Luthier quality, the most beautiful wood you can imagine, put it in the sun and it dances, just sit down with a beer and you can watch this guitar move. I am not making this up. The birdseye on this axe is so well done that it takes on a life of its own.
The action is perfect, in fact I have to have it raised a bit for my own comfort level. There is no way to convey what a beautiful guitar this is. i have people come up to me at shows all the time to ask me what it is. A work of art! // 10
Reliability & Durability: Very reliable. Very durable, no wear on the finish even after many years of active playing, unlike Gibsons, Fenders and Ibanez guitars that I own that have road-rash, and pick scars etc.
A few bad points: (I'm something of a realist) BC Rich used a plastic back plate, truss rod cover, and worst of all input jack cover on this model, other similar models in close years had metal plates. The input jack plate is extremely vulnerable and broke time and time again, had to be replaced and broke again. Also the back plate buckles slightly. The only reasons I can see for them using these plastic components was that the laminate allowed them the ability to incorporate a more cosmetic black/white/black kind of layering along the edge which you probably couldn't do with the metal; or they were cutting corners, which doesn't make alot of sense as the actual savings was probably negligable. At any rate it sticks out like a sore little toe (not a thumb) relative to the other aspects of this wonderful axe.
If you find one with the plastic parts call BC Rich and ask them to at least provide you a jack plate. The back-plate and the truss rod cover you can Live with.
Also, the sustain factors of the Baddass bridge not withstanding, the lord be with you if you break a string on this damn thing and need to change it quickly. Trying to re-string a Leo Quann 'Pain-in-the-bad-ass' bridge quickly in bad light is like some sort of humbling dexterity/patience/torture/mockery test which I fail outright! God help you, it requires trying to run the string backwards down through a tiny blind hole and then running it back over the bridge and up to the head. It's that god-damned little hole that will have you going mad in the first five minutes, and it takes a GREAT DEAL of self control after fifteen minutes of still trying to get the @#$%# 'G' string into that hole, to not throw the whole guitar across the room and run weeping and jabbering into the night while your band members mutter darkly about why the whole thing is taking so long. For sanity sake, if you break strings on stage, you need a back-up and I honestly don't know what the hell you do if you break the string on your back-up shortly thereafter as I did the other night. I guess that's waht drink-tickets are for! // 8
Overall Impression: Best guitar I've ever owned. My number one axe. I would cry if I lost it, then get myself together and find another. Again, I can't stress strongly enough, if you own Gibsons, Fenders etc and you think they are great, don't buy this guitar, it will ruin your marriage. // 10