KKV Kerry King Signature review by B.C. Rich

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.3 (105 votes)
B.C. Rich: KKV Kerry King Signature
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Price paid: $ 650

Purchased from: ebay

Sound — 10
This guitar has a very singular focus - intense, face-melting metal. Honestly, anyone who expects any else from Kerry King's signature model needs a reality check. If you're looking for a versatile guitar that can adapt well to any musical style, you're seriously barking up the wrong tree here. The tone from this monster is absolutely BRUTAL. While you CAN use it to play anything, you'll find that the tone doesn't really suit other musical styles well. Metal is what this tool was designed for and it's unapologetically what it does best. I'm currently playing this guitar through either my Line6 POD X3 Live for quiet practice and recording, or a Peavey XXX head + Marshall 1960A cabinet with Eminence Patriot speaker + custom 2 x 12 with Celestion V30. The XXX has some pretty crazy gain, but I have my gain set to about 3 (9 o'clock) when the PA2 is engaged to get a HUGE, crushing tone. You don't need a lot of amp / effect distortion to make this bitch scream. As one would expect from an all-maple guitar, the sound is very bright. You can really hear the bite, attack and punch on every note. But it doesn't have a thin trebly sound despite that brightness. The rock maple neck provides a very punchy low end with plenty of girth and it reels in the EMG 81's emphasis on the high mids and highs. The resonance in this guitar is amazing. Notes sustain for quite a long time, even notes plucked in the upper frets. There isn't a dead spot to be found anywhere on this neck. All notes ring loud and true even when bent to extremes. When played unplugged, the body resonates significantly. I suspect that the extended body wings of the V design act like a tuning fork and help those body vibrations develop fully resulting in a much richer sound with tons of overtones. Because of its bright, lively sound, harmonics jump off the fretboard with little effort. You can easily make this guitar squeal like a pig without any assistance from toothless hill-folk. Take note that with a high gain amp and the PA2 preamp enabled, feedback may be an issue. I would highly recommend using a noise gate to clamp down during silent moments, as this loud bitch doesn't know when to keep its mouth shut! I give this guitar a full 10 points on this section even with its lack of versatility. You don't buy this guitar for versatility. You buy it to play metal. And if that's what you're looking for, you'll be pretty hard-pressed to find another guitar that's this well suited and custom-tailored to the task.

Overall Impression — 9
As much of a Slayer fan as I am, I'm usually not a fan of "signature instruments". I don't usually buy them, especially when they have such "loud" (albeit cool) graphics. But in my search for an all-maple, neck through instrument loaded with a Kahler, this was the only game in town. The other high end BC Rich Vs all have mahogany bodies and Floyd Rose bridges. I already have many mahogany-bodied guitars and wanted this one specifically to give me a tonality I can't get with my existing instruments. In the end, I'm more than content with my purchase. This guitar is exactly as advertised. I would recommend it to anyone looking for the particular characteristics this guitar offers. You get a lot of bang for your buck. For a metal guitarist - particularly a Slayer fan - there's really no better guitar you can get than this to fill your need to make some evil sounds.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I've had this guitar just under a year now. It hasn't been gigged or played outside of my home. But it's a solid, well-built instrument. I haven't had to repair or replace anything as of yet. Even the cheapo Kahler Hybrid is holding up fine, being no worse than the day I got the guitar. I have no doubt this thing could hold up to massive stage abuse every night and keep performing like it did out of the box.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Almost everything on this guitar screams quality. From the materials to finish to fretwork. Rarely will you find such near-perfection out of the box. There were no flaws anywhere on the finish. The high gloss black finish was impeccable out of the box. As noted, the inlay work is expertly done, and unlike many Asian-made guitars, there is no visible filler around the inlays that would normally suggest sloppy inlay work. The fretwork on this instrument is flawless. There wasn't a sharp edge to be found anywhere. Each fret is nicely crowned and levelled perfectly. There are no dead spots anywhere on the neck. All notes ring loud and true regardless what string or fret played, and will sustain admirably even when bent to extremes. Because of this amazing fret work, the action can be set very low without any buzzing. The action out of the box was great, but started buzzing. This was due to the guitar acclimating to its new environment with different temperature and humidity. Once I reset it, I got super low action that I love without any buzzing. The only other guitar I've ever had that can go this low with zero buzz is a $4000 custom shop model. The one weakness of this guitar is the Kahler Hybrid. With the exception of the USA-made cam, the China-made bridge is made of low cost materials - probably pot metal - and the fitting isn't as nice and precise as USA models. The fine tuners needed a lot of "working in" and some lubrication (silicone grease ftw) to make their action smooth. And even then, they're still a bit rough. A real USA Kahler feels solid and precise - qualities which don't apply to this bridge. Yes, it works and holds the gutiar in tune as well as the real deal, but make no mistake. Even though this has the Kahler brand name all over it, this is no more a Kahler than cheap, Chinese-made Floyd-licensed bridges are real Floyds. The Kahler bridge design is very stable and keeps guitars fiercely in tune, but has its quirks. One of them is with bending strings. An extreme bend will leave the whole guitar slightly out of pitch (flat) until you do a dive on the bar which will reset it (this actually explains the Slayer solo style a LOT!). Another quirk of the Kahler design is its tendency to break high E and B strings at the ball end. There are ways to prevent this that work well and can be googled. I would strongly recommend that any serious musician buying this guitar fork over the extra cash to get a real Kahler 2300. You'll be much happier. This score loses 2 points for the low quality bridge. It's truly the only sore part of this guitar. With the high quality of all the other materials, components and workmanship, to put this horrid bridge on the guitar is really giving the buyer a kick in the nuts. 1 point lost for the bridge itself, and 1 point lost because BC Rich consciously cheaped out here.

Features — 9
This is one of the high end Korean models made in 2011. I purchased it new from an ebay seller for $650 + shipping. It's the highest end KKV you can get from BC Rich without going to the USA Custom Shop for the $5000 model. It's a copy of Kerry King's black V with white tribal paint job that he's been playing since switching back to BC Rich from ESP back in the 90s. Other than the tribal paint job on the front, the whole guitar is a beautiful high gloss black finish. Its specs are pretty much on par with the USA custom model that Kerry King plays, but Asian-made for lower cost and a lower end Kahler Hybrid bridge. Like its high end namesake, this guitar is based on the BC Rich Speed V body which offers excellent balance. The neck-thru construction has a comforable heel and allows exceptional and effortless upper fret access. Other than the obvious fret spacing, accessing the 24th fret is as effortless as accessing the 12th. The neck is made of Canadian rock maple and topped with a very dark ebony fretboard and 24 frets. And this is quality ebony with tight grain and not the cheap, open grain stuff you often find on many import guitars. The body wings are made of softer maple. The custom abalone "K" inlays are similar to the ones on Kerry's own signature guitar. The inlay work itself is flawless. Each inlay is well fit and there doesn't appear to be much or any filler. The neck is topped with a pretty standard set of Grover tuners. The bridge is a Kahler Hybrid. It's basically a Chinese-made copy of the classic American Kahler 2300. The cam is made in the USA with the rest of the bridge being Chinese. Construction of the bridge is about what you'd expect from a Chinese-made product. It looks and functions like the real deal, but has imperfections and doesn't perform quite as well. More on that later. The electronics are the tried-and-tested, top-of-the-line EMG 81/85 matched up with the EMG PA2 preamp that will kick out an extra 20 dB of gain. This means you can make this guitar scream like the true metal machine it is on amps with even modest overdrive. The controls are simple - a standard master volume, master tone and 3-way pickup selector. There's also a 2-way toggle switch to engage the PA2 preamp. I suspect few people playing this guitar will ever actually turn the PA2 off, so even if the switch wasn't there, I don't think anyone would miss it. The guitar comes in its plain box with nothing else included other than the allen keys required to work the Floyd Rose-style locking nut and make the appropriate adjustments to the bridge. The only reason I don't rate this section a perfect 10 is because of the Kahler Hybrid.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Leather Sleeves
    )ThunderhorsE( wrote: ashar1995 wrote: Will this guitar do well for shredding? 'Cause I play a lot of Children of Bodom. Love Laiho's solos \m/. idk bro I don't think Kerry King plays a lot of solos xD
    You're right, he just plays the same one on every song lol. Jeff's better.
    )ThunderhorsE(
    ashar1995 wrote: Will this guitar do well for shredding? 'Cause I play a lot of Children of Bodom. Love Laiho's solos \m/.
    idk bro I don't think Kerry King plays a lot of solos xD
    Leather Sleeves
    ashar1995 wrote: Will this guitar do well for shredding? 'Cause I play a lot of Children of Bodom. Love Laiho's solos \m/.
    You'd be set it terms of sound and features, but BCs tend to be heavy, I play pretty fast stuff myself and the weight of my Warlock took some getting used to.
    Crunchmeister
    It's unfortunate that all the different versions of this guitar are stuck in the same thread. The cheapo "Metal Master" KKV and midrange model is being lumped into the same category at the high end models.
    Crunchmeister
    As an addendum to my original review: I've replaced the Kahler Hybrid with a Kahler Professional 2315 (stainless steep rollers / brass cam) like the ones KK uses on his guitars. It's a very pleasant difference, although there's little difference in tuning stability. The Hybrid is fine in that respect. The 2315's steel roller adds even more brightness and bite to the tone. And it's noticeable over the brass rollers on the Hybrid model. Yup, still loving this guitar.