Sunday, February 14, 2010

BC Rich #1 - 'NJ Speedloader Warlock'

Every time I get this guitar out of the (coffin shaped, natch) case I feel I should be sacrificing a small animal while screaming "Hail Satan!". Or something.

Ever since I saw tons of thrash bands (and Poison) playing Warlocks in the 80s and 90s I've wanted one. Given BC Rich have done a bewildering variety of affordable models over the years I'm kind of surprised I didn't pick one up. I guess I was just a little embarrassed by them.

This is a bit of an oddity as it is fitted with an Original Floyd Rose Speedloader tremolo. Having patented what is now the de-facto locking tremolo, Floyd Rose have had a bit of a problem coming up with any new products that move things forward.

This was their attempt to deal with the moans people have about a Floyd Rose being fiddly to restring and tune. Instead of conventional machine heads to bring the strings up to tune the Speedloader relies on very accurately made strings which are cut to length so that as soon as you fit them they'll close to tune. You simply then use the fine tuners to dial it in.

This works fine but the guitar looks a bit odd without machine heads and it ties you in to buying the special strings. The biggest problem is that it precludes alternative tunings completely, which I imagine is what stopped this taking off. BC Rich's main market is metal and metal has gone for drop or down tuning in a big way over the last couple of decades.

In play the Speedloader feels no different to a conventional Floyd Rose. I can imagine there would be a market for the Speedloader but not metal. You could certainly do a nice headless guitar with it and I believe they made a fixed bridge version which should be rock solid.

The Warlock is surprisingly practical to play, it's comfortable seated or on a strap and the spikes don't get in the way. It's far cuddlier than expected. Beyond this its a fairly run of the mill Korean made rock guitar. The pickups are very hot and a bit mushy sounding but that's only to be expected.

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