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“It was working with the banjos,” says Rico, “that taught me what I know about tone and timbre, all tension, with tension hoops in place of struts.” In a way, you can say that Sabicas not only was the main influence on Rico’s guitar playing, but was also the main influence on his guitar making. However, by the mid-’60s many of the customers for guitars were country musicians, and, well, the name “Bernie Rico” just didn’t make it with country players. At the time he was doing a lot of refinishing and repair work. That year a customer came in with a Fender guitar neck and asked Rico to make a body for the neck. Heater, a subsidiary of Norlin (which owned Gibson guitars) in Salem, Oregon. However, since Rich guitars featured such things as coil taps and phase reversal, each Gibson pickup had to be disassembled in order to install four lead wires, a lot of work, needless to say! “No problem,” was Di Marzios response, and from 1974 until 1986 (when B. The first Biches were 10-strings, based on a concept of Neal Moser, who, according to Rico, had been thinking about building a 10-string. There’s a simple if confusing answer: it’s essentially the same as a 12-string but without as many strings…! As early as 1976 or ’77, Rico also began to assemble some American-made economy versions of his guitars. The fingerboard is nicely wide, like you might expect from someone who, well, played flamenco! “This was the only guitar I ever designed at a drafting table, using straight-edges and French curves,” remembers Rico. At first I thought it was the ugliest guitar I’d ever designed,” continues Rico, “but Spenser Sercomb, who was playing in a group called Shark Island, came to my office and saw the design hanging on my wall. Rich six-in-line headstock appeared, debuting on the Warlock bass. Vacation The following year, in 1989, one of the Partners in Class Axe, Randy Waltuch, made Bernie Rico a very generous offer to license the name B. In 1990 Rico began another guitar company called Mason Bernard; Mason was his father’s middle name, and Bernard, of course, was a common name in the Rico family. Rich line included both neck-through and bolt-on guitars in many of the more popular shapes of the past. Rich in 1974, the system was changed to begin with the year of manufacture and three consecutively numbered digits, or XXYYY, with XX being the year (e.g., 78) and YYY the number of guitar.One day Sabicas took Rico aside and told him, “My son, I want to play a guitar you made for me.” Bernie Rico made his first guitar for Sabicas. As it happened, ironically enough, Rico had a friend named Bobby Rich who had adopted an Hispanic stage name, Roberto Rico. He had an assistant working for him who suggested that he start getting more avant guarde in his finishes. “I remember I had to go over to Hollywood to get advice about how to wire the guitar once it was built,” recalls Rico. Rico recalls sitting around with other guitar makers, including Rick Turner of Alembic fame, discussing the potential merits of neck-through construction. Basically you get the octave differentials and tonal contrast of the bass wound/plain pairs combined with two single strings (versus unison pairs on a 12-string) for treble lead work. Rich designs, including the Bich, were pretty much collaborative efforts. One of these was the Son of a Rich, which was basically a bolt-neck Bich. ‘When are you going to make that guitar,’ he asked? Soon Lita Ford got one, and Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue got a Warlock bass, and the model took off. Prior to 1981, all headstocks were the assymetrical three-and-three design. Rich continued to make acoustic guitars using highly skilled Mexican craftsmen until 1982, when Rico’s head craftsman died. Raves and Platinums Soon thereafter Rico engaged a different Korean factory to begin producing the down-market Rave and Platinum Series guitars, this time, unlike the U. Mason Bernard guitars were basically conventional Strat-type guitars, based on the previous B. Rich Assassin model, with the standard Superstrat humbucker/single/single pickup arrangement. Rich name reverted back to Bernie Rico, and he was happily again at work at his drill press making B. Rich guitars, which began to be offered in the Fall of 1994. Back were the Eagle, Mockingbird, Bich, Warlock, Assassin, Ironbird, Gunslinger and ST guitars, plus the Eagle, Mockingbird, Bich and Innovator basses. Rich guitar was stamped “Proto,” beginning in 1972, and subsequent guitars were consecutively numbered beginning 001, 002, etc. Thus, the first guitar of 1974 would have been numbered 74000, followed by 74001, etc.Manufactured by hand in the original Hamamatsu, Japan factory, these new Tokai models feature superior craftsmanship, tone, and playability that have come to be expected from an instrument carrying the Tokai brand name.The Flagship model of the new Tokai line, the SC-2C Carved-Top model is the quintessential rock guitar.

These are the new Sound Stream models featured in guitar and bass configurations. A string vibration transmits parallel to wood fibers/ grains four times faster than it does perpendicularly.This is characteristic of many of his guitars to this day. It was Troiano who first used the active electronics which became common on B. ’ Someone would say, ‘Well, take a little off there,’ and we would.” Since most B. Rich guitars were handmade, especially the neck-throughs, the production work involved a lot of handcarving, which was frequently done by skilled Mexican woodcarvers. Ironbird Following the Warlock was the radically angular Ironbird appeared in around 1983, a guitar favored by Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. Basic components of these bolt-neck guitars were made overseas and shipped to California where fretting, final assembly and finishing took place. All had diamond inlays except for the Biches and Mockingbird Supreme with clouds, and the Stealth which had no inlays. While they were in Tokyo, there was a tremendous shift upward in the value of the Yen, severely cutting into the profitability of manufacturing in Japan. Colors were transparent red, blue, tangerine, purple or emerald green, or goldtop. Acoustics Again As of early 1995, Bernie Rico had returned to his old affection for acoustics and added a new acoustic guitar to his line, the B-41C, a single cutaway guitar loaded with abalone trim, a project which has the luthier quite enthusiastic. By 1980 the serial numbers had gotten to about two to three years ahead.This hand-crafted element explains why so many variations often exist between the same models of early B. Riding the Waves Rico’s next guitar was the Wave, also introduced in 1983. Most had the standard three-and-three headstock with pearl R logo; the Warlock and Stealth had the reversed six-in-line head, wile the Ironbird had the early angular six-in-line headstock. Rico turned to Westheimer and asked if he, meaning Cort (of which Westheimer was part owner), would make the B. A bass documented to have been purchased (not necessarily made) in 1980 bore the serial number 82595.Sound Stream Ad Now Tokai is being sued over its ''Love Rock'' guitar, which Gibson says is a Les Paul look-alike.

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Gibson also is taking issue with other models in Tokai's line that it says mimic copyrighted designs of Gibson's Flying V series, SG series, ES series and Explorer series, court records show.

I got to meet all the players coming through, including young Paco de Lucia and Montoya. The first few were called the Bodine Bass and were promoted in ads as late as December of ’76, but the name quickly changed to the Seagull II or the Seagull Jr. Through a friend living in Tokyo, Rico arranged to have some copies of the Eagle made and imported carrying the B. Rico doesn’t recall exactly who made these guitars, but thinks it may have been the Kasuga factory, one of the primary Japanese suppliers of quality guitars at the time. However, in the interim the decision was made to simply use the B. Rich name, which would henceforth be applied to all B. Rich guitars, regardless of where they were manufactured. Rich began making its own pickups, which it did until the hiatus in 1989. Rich “changed over” to the pointy reverse headstock, Rico laughs.

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