Price paid: $ 350
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Features — 7
It's an Indonesian made 8-string Warlock. Cheap and unique, I was expecting to mod it, but the unchangeables seemed good to me. The inline headstock was a selling point for me since I think the Widows are just a little cheesy. Twenty four jumbo frets on a satin finished mahogany neck, it feels great to play on. The finger board and headstock both have binding, though the headstock's binding looks more white than the cream/off white/nicotine stained fretboard binding. The fretboard is rosewood, but on mine it's dark enough where it looks almost ebony. Despite all of the stock photos, and to my pleasant surprise, it's lacking all of the little inlays on the front. Side dots are there, but the 5th and 12th fret inlays that are mentioned in all specs I've seen are just not there. The tuners are an unbranded, cheap, "Gotoh" style thing. Nothing fancy, and worth considering replacing, but they do the job. The neck is bolt on, and the heel has very little contour. It has the slightest bevel making it ever so slightly thinner towards the headstock than it is towards the bottom of the guitar.
The body is also mahogany, and it's just as slick (or gaudy) as you expect a warlock to be. The pickups are active, Duncan Designed, soap bar blackouts. Each pickup has it's own volume knob, alongside a three way switch and a master tone knob. The 9 volt battery box is a plastic "clip closed" type, and it's located just above where your leg would rest in the lower bout. It's string through body, and it's not staggered in the slightest, which is problematic for reasons I'll mention later. (Boo, intonation). The bridge is a hard tail, and it looks/feels like a hipshot knock off. Very comfy, and it allows for a decent range of intonation and action adjustments.
On paper it looks pretty damn spiffy, especially as a modding platform.
Sound — 7
The pickups sound surprisingly good, considering they're Duncan Designed cheapos. Lots of high end clarity. I initially intended to swap out the pickups, but I feel it'd be a waste considering these are perfectly capable of getting decent mid to high gain tones. They clean up pretty nicely too, though I spend most of my time in the crunch and high gain zone. They're active pickups, so it's where they shine. The downfall of the inline headstock is that you get a considerable amount of ringing when you play quick staccato style riffs. Easily remedied with foam, fret wraps, hair ties, etc. though.
Action, Fit & Finish — 3
This is where the guitar suffers the most. On a cheap little import you sort of expect to do a bit of work straight out of the box. This guitar was great in some areas, and embarrassing/frustrating in others.
I'll start with what's good. It looks/feels great straight away. Low rhythm playing is wonderful. There's no sharp fret ends, no dead notes, and the pickups are leveled properly. Sweet!
Then the "new car smell" fades. The tuners are super cheap. When you reverse direction, there's a measurable amount of play before the gears catch traction and actually do something. They hold tune just fine, but getting them up to pitch is a bit of a hassle. The action higher up the neck is way too high and there's a bit of disgusting buzzing when you play the first few frets. Open notes sound fine, but the first 3-5 frets buzz noticeably through the amp. These are the sort of things you expect out of a cheap budget guitar. Simple enough, just learn to deal with the tuners/replace them, adjust the truss rod, bridge saddles, and shim the neck if needed. (it needed all of these things. I'm still using the stock tuners, but I want to swap them out soon.) The worst came when I noticed that the further up the neck I went, the more off it sounded. The intonation was WAY off on this thing. Not only was it way off, but there was absolutely no fixing it. The 8th string in particular had the saddle as far back as it could go and the 12th fret was almost on point, but the 24th was a single note higher than it should have been (G instead of F#.) This is with the spring removed and the saddle smashed into the back of the bridge.
I was discouraged and I didn't play the thing for a week until I decided to say to hell with it. I wanted to keep the guitar, but make it playable, even if it meant I destroyed it aesthetically in the process. I removed the bridge, re-routed the string slots, and moved the entire bridge back about a quarter of an inch from where it was. It intonates pretty well now, and I thoroughly enjoy the guitar, but this is unacceptable in my eyes, even for a cheap budget guitar. It's fixable, but not without way too much effort and modification to the base product. Generally people buying these lower end instruments don't have the wherewithal to modify the actual construction of the instrument, and I don't think it should be expected that they need to.
It's a shame too since the guitar feels so damn nice in your hands.
Reliability & Durability — 4
The hardware is cheap, and the tuners are finicky. While I really like the bridge, most of the other hardware should probably be replaced if you want to do anything real with it. Studio playing/recording would be fine, but live use wouldn't be recommended. The strap buttons are a little small, and they're facing out towards the back. Couple that with the fact that it is in fact neck heavy, and it's just begging to take a dive off of your shoulders and kiss the floor. The finish isn't terrible and it'll take a bit of a beating. Keep in mind that it is pointy and thus prone to finish wearing at the points, but nothing a little bit of care won't prevent.
Overall Impression — 4
There's something to be said about B.C. Rich guitars, and Warlocks in particular. They're either the coolest thing ever, or the silliest, depending on who you ask. I love the body shape as it allows for comfortable standard and classical playing while sitting. The inline headstock removes a bit of cheese that the typical Widow headstock brings. The satin neck feels great, and despite the square heel, upper fret access is remarkable. It really is a great guitar regardless of the price paid.
They really tripped over their own feet when they measured these things out though. What is otherwise an amazing instrument, and an easy recommendation for someone looking to get into 8-strings, I just can't overlook such shoddy bridge placement. Although I love it how it is now, I would not recommend this to anyone without stressing how much work would need to be done just to make it actually playable.