Review: B.C. Rich MK5 Warlock Guitar
Perhaps you recently read an announcement that Praxis Musical Instruments signed a worldwide licensing agreement with Hanser Music Group for the B.C. Rich brand.
As you may or may not be aware, Hanser has owned B.C. Rich since 2001, and Praxis has manufactured and distributed the Sterling by Music Man line of imported instruments since 2005. However, Praxis’s role with B.C. Rich is more independent and autonomous than their arrangement with Sterling by Music Man. As a result, Praxis has introduced an entirely new line of B.C. Rich guitars and basses for 2016. Praxis also opened a B.C. Rich USA Custom Shop, which is staffed by some of the legendary master luthiers of B.C. Rich, including Neal Moser (the designer of the legendary “Bich” model), Ron Estrada, Dave Cervantes, and master graphic artist/painter Dan Lawrence.
The B.C. Rich 2016 lineup still includes favorite classics like the Mockingbird and Warlock, plus a full line of Kerry King signature guitars and newer models like the Villain, JR V, and six- and seven-string Warbeast guitars. We took a look at the MK5 Warlock, which is sort of a “midline” model between B.C. Rich’s fancier MK11, MK9, and MK7 models and the more streamlined MK3 and MK1 models. Not to go all Goldilocks on y’all here, but many longtime B.C. Rich enthusiasts as well as newcomers will probably find B.C. Rich’s MK5 Warlock just right when it comes to quality and value.
With its gloss black finish and white binding surrounding the entire top, fingerboard, and headstock, the MK5 Warlock has a classy, elegant appearance that contrasts the radical curves and points of its body shape. German carving around the body’s top edges and a rosewood fretboard completely free of inlays further enhance the MK5 Warlock’s sophisticated appeal. Although the MK5 Warlock has a set-in mahogany neck, the heel is smoothly and seamlessly contoured to the mahogany body to provide the same “heel-less” feel of B.C. Rich’s beloved neck-through-body designs. The neck is also finished in gloss black and has a 24 3/4–inch scale, 24 medium jumbo frets, 13 3/4–inch radius, and a slim, shallow C-shaped profile.
All of the hardware is chrome-plated, consisting of a Tune-o-matic-style bridge with stop tailpiece, knurled dome control knobs, traditional non-locking die-cast tuners with metal buttons, and a metal jack plate. The electronics include a pair of high-output humbucking pickups of B.C. Rich’s own make with chrome-plated covers, individual volume and tone controls for each pickup, and a three-position pickup selector toggle switch.
The MK5 Warlock essentially is a combination of the wicked body shape and neck-through-body feel of the original Warlock that Bernie Rico designed in 1981 with the classy black finish, white binding, and dual-humbucker circuit of a 1958 Les Paul. This guitar is no classic throwback however, but rather a bold refinement of those aesthetics that are equally up to the demands of today’s players.
While the body shape is undeniably radical, like B.C. Rich’s other classic designs it still makes perfect sense from an ergonomic standpoint, feeling well-balanced when played standing up, fitting comfortably onto the knew when playing while seated, and balancing perfect on its two lower edges when leaned against an amp or chair. The smooth heel is as comfortable as it gets, providing easy access all the way to the 24th fret, and the neck has an effortless, fast feel.
What really seals the deal is the MK5 Warlock’s crisp, refined tone. The pickups deliver output that’s not too hot or weak (there’s that “just right” balance again), providing aggressive attack and upper midrange snarl along with tight, refined bass that keeps even the most distortion-saturated tones sounding clear and well-defined. With clean amp settings the treble sparkles and shines without sounding thin or shrill. While its looks may say “metal,” the MK5 Warlock is really ideal for any style of music where a dual-humbucker guitar is welcome.
STREET PRICE $499.99
MANUFACTURER B.C. Rich, bcrich.com
• Although the MK5 Warlock has a set-in neck, the heel is smoothly and seamlessly contoured to the body to provide the feel and playability of a neck-through-body design.
• The pair of humbucking pickups with individual volume and tone controls provides the full range of classic humbucker tones ideal for any style of music.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The latest chapter of the B.C. Rich saga looks very promising thanks to the impressive value and quality provided by instruments like the MK5 Warlock, which should please purists and newcomers alike.