Over the years, only about 35 doubleneck guitars were built. “We never did do Telecasters,” says Rico, “but we should. We only made about fifteen or twenty of those.” Jazz Boxes Finally, there were the RTJG and RTSG jazz guitars. We thought it would be cool to make a guitar that had a body shaped like a Harley Davidson gas tank, and that was the Fat Bob. He felt that Japanese manufacturers were way ahead of most American companies in terms of quality production.
From one perspective, flamenco and heavy metal might seem as far apart as the sun and the moon, but if you think about the hyperbolic emotion involved in both genres, there is a certain spritual connection. Montoya used to compare himself with Sabicas saying ‘I am the box office draw.’ I also studied with the great Mario Escudero for three years, and learned to play with very high action on the guitar, but Sabicas was the main influence. In very late 1976 or early ’77, those names disappeared as well in favor of the Eagle. Rico It was at about the time of the appearance of the Eagle in around ’76 that B. (All imports carry an additional modifier such as N. Series or Platinum which idicate they are made offshore.) As a result of the hassles over the name, these first B. Rico imports are quite rare; only about 150 or so were ever imported before the brand name was abandoned. Strats The following year, 1987, the far more conventional ST-III was unveiled, a Strat-style guitar that came in either humbucker/single/single or twin humbucker configurations and with either bolt-on or neck-through construction. “We never changed over, people just started requesting it, so we made it. Rich catalog produced by Class Axe included the Platinum Ironbird, Bich, Warlock and Virgin guitars and basses.
Abstractions aside, however, there’s a more concrete connection between the two forms in the person of Bernie Rico, the man behind some of guitardom’s most flamoyant instruments, B. He and I were like godfather to son.” “I’ll never forget the time,” recalls Mr. Thus, the Eagle was essentially a redesigned version of the original Seagull. Listen to the Mockingbird Things began to evolve quickly from that point on. “The Mockingbird was one of those ‘napkin’ designs,” explains Rico. This was a Strat-style guitar that was known as a professional instrument, with a humbucker and single coils, the angular reverse headstock, an ebony fingerboard with no inlays and 24-frets. Also introduced in 1987 was the Gunslinger, a Strat-style bolt-neck guitar geared toward the fast heavy metal players who only wanted one pickup with a volume control. Rich that cost $1399 and a Gunslinger, you won’t find any difference in the neck.” Many of the B. Rich ST-IIIs are relatively ordinary, however, many are quite spectacular, like the quilted maple custom model shown here. No matter what the color of the guitar, the insides of the holes were always black. When we got into the more commercial Strat-shaped guitars, we put it on.” Class Axe In 1987 Rico entered into a marketing agreement with a company from New Jersey called Class Axe which allowed them to market and distribute the Rave, Platinum and NJ Series guitars. The Virgin was sort of a hybrid with a Warlock upper bout and a bell-shaped rounded lower bout designed by Class Axe in conjuction with Moser.
Can you tell me more about Ibanez’s lawsuit guitars and how much this is worth today?
Thanks, Chris Natale NYC Many Japanese-copied “lawsuit era” guitars under names like Greco, Aria, Tokai, and Ibanez have taken on an almost cult-like status today among many guitar collectors.
His father, Bernardo Mason Rico, was a guitar-maker, with a shop where he built guitars, vihuelos, requintos, bajo sextos and other instruments for the Mexican-oriented musicians in L. playing in local Latin conjuntos and mariachi orchestras. The Rico shop was originally known as the Valencian Guitar Shop in around 1947, and later as Casa Rico. Fly Like An Eagle The Seagull did well, however, players began complaining about the upper point jabbing them in the chest. Rich over the use of the Rico brand name, and the first shipment of B. Rico guitars was impounded by customs awaiting a decision.
Rico with a smile, “when Sabicas said to me, ‘I’m tired of playing, you play! I was very nervous but it is a great memory.” Acoustic apprenticeship Bernie Rico had begun working in his father’s shop as early as 1953 or ’54, building ukuleles out of koa. ” If you’ve ever played uke, you’ll know that phrase. Heater connection, Gibson found out and was not happy. “We were sitting in Denny’s restaurant at 11 PM drinking coffee and designing guitars on napkins. The Bich has been acused of being a copy of a design of guitarmaker Dave Bunker. These guitars eventually became the basis for Rico’s Mason Bernards, and have been resuscitated for the new B. Rico likes to point out, though, that “The Gunslinger was the best guitar I could put out for 9. Another interesting Strat-style guitar from this period was the Outlaw, basically an ST-III with a series of holes drilled through the upper horn, like handles. Innovation In 1987, the Innovator bass also appeared, another guitar which is in the newly revived B. The NJ Series in that catalog included the Warlock, the ST superstrat and the Outlaw, which has become basically a Gunslinger with a reverse headstock.Japanese-built guitars that are copies of American designs before the Gibson lawsuit are commonly referred to as “lawsuit era” guitars today.Ibanez was certainly guilty of copying Gibson, Fender, and Martin models, among others, but they were also one of the most proactive companies when it came to introducing original designs.While most readers understand what a “lawsuit era” guitar refers to, others may not and I’ll try to summarize the term.In the early 1970s, American guitar manufacturers (particularly Gibson, Fender, and Martin) were experiencing a steady decline in production quality while more Japanese- built guitars were showing up in the American market.Your guitar appears to be a Les Paul Custom copy that Ibanez labeled Model 2391.According to the serial number, it was built in November 1977, which is considered a transitional period.Between 19, Ibanez introduced several original designs including the popular Iceman and the Artist Series.In fact, by 1977 when Elger signed an agreement to stop building copies, their entire line consisted of almost all original instruments anyway.“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.