Dating mexican fender strat
Reversing the process, Bernie Rico changed his guitar name to B. Since he was riding a lot of motorcycles with fancy paint jobs at the time, this made sense. Rico had gotten on the electric freeway and there was no looking back! Gibson “copies” and the Seagull In 1969 Rico began his first attempts at guitar production with ten Gibson EB-3 bass copies, with arched tops and fancy inlays and ten matching Les Paul guitars. Rich guitars designed by Rico was the Seagull guitar and bass, which debuted in 1972. The rounded upper bout featured a little point about mid-way on the bass side (reminiscent of the early Carvin designs from the late ’50s and early ’60s), while the cutaway horn had a typically dramatic downward turn to it. Neck-through construction was used on most Seagulls and other models throughout the ’70s and early ’80s, although not exclusively: some bolt-necks were also built, but these were in the minority. In some ways, this is an extension of the idea of a lute, which typically had paired courses except for the first string or “chantarelle,” which was used to carry single-string melodies. As Rico puts it, “All the guys working for me had ideas; we just kind of laid them out and made them. At least some of these had necks and bodies which were made by Wayne Charvel, who was in the parts business at the time. The necks would then undergo a final shaping to Rico’s design, and then be fitted to the bodies. Soon other models began to appear with the new design, including the late 1982 Eagle shown here. Rather than replace him, the decision was made to cease acoustic production. Production Series announced in the 1984 catalog included the Mockingbird Tremelo, Stealth Tremelo, Warlock Tremelo and Ironbird Tremelo. “These were the first guitars I had ever made where I sat down and calculated everything to the max,” says Rico, “these guitars were designed as if price was no object. Di Marzio came up with a proprietary pickup design for me, including a very neat vintage single coil.” About 225 of these Mason Bernard guitars were made between 1990 and the middle of 1991. The Eagle line was represented by the Eagle Arch Top, Arch Top Tremolo and Eagle bass. Rich neck-through guitars is relatively easy, although slightly imprecise by the ’80s. These consecutive numbers probably ran up to around 340 or 360, as Rico recalls. Throughout the ’70s, production numbers were low enough that the serial numbers pretty much reflect the year of manufacture.
Rico’s custom guitars basically versions of popular Gibson and Fender models continued until the early ’70s, when the trademark weird shapes began to appear, and the B. Both models were carved out of one single block of mahogany. The Seagull was a single cutaway guitar with two humbucking pickups and the characteristic B. The Seagull design also coincided with Rico’s first use of neck-through construction, a method which would soon become strongly identified with B. Heelless Neck Joint An essential feature of Rico’s neck-through design was the heelless neck joint, which was entirely his idea. Rich guitars was Dominic Troiano, who had replaced Randy Bachman as lead guitarist in the group The Guess Who at the time. It was also through Troiano that Rico hooked up with guitar designer Neal Moser, who worked with Rico through the ’70s. Some differences exist in reported accounts about who was actually responsible for the origins of the Bich design. We’d cut out a guitar, hold it up and say, ‘What do you think? The Charvel necks would be carved on his machine and sent over the the B. Economy Nighthawks In around 1978 or 1979, Rico also put out the Nighthawk series, an econo bolt-neck version of the Eagle, and the Phoenix series, an econo bolt-neck Mockingbird. This also coincided with a major economic recession in the United States and a downturn in all guitar sales. Rich catalog dated 6/84 included the Rich Bich 10-string, Bich Six and Bich Bass 8-string; the Eagle Bass; the Mockingbird Tremelo [sic], Mockingbird Supreme and Mockingbird Bass; the Warlock Tremelo and Warlock Bass; the X-shaped Stealth Tremelo and Stealth Bass; the Wave Bass; and the Ironbird Tremelo and Ironbird Bass Tremelo. These had a single humbucking pickup and, except for the Ironbird, reverse six-in-line headstocks. Rico was in Tokyo with Dennis Berardi, of Kramer guitars, and Jack Westheimer, then of Cort (and one of the principal men responsible for importing Japanese guitars into the United States beginning in the late ’50s). These have mahogany necks and bodies with a carved quilted maple top, ebony fingerboard, mother-of-pearl or abalone cloud inlays, twin humbuckers and either a fixed bridge or a Wilkinson vibrato system. The non-vibrato guitar and bass had the old three-and-three headstock, while the Tremolo had the six-in-line layout. This system was used for the guitars distributed by L. In the late ’70s as production grew, and the serial numbers begin to get ahead of themselves, since only 1000 numbers were available in a series.
In the 80s and early 90s, Japanese Fenders were well known for being superior to any other models and the quality is still top notch.
Neck wood and contour plays an important role in how the guitar sounds and how it feels to play.
Soon thereafter the American Folk Music Boom began, and Rico recalls that his father’s shop made banjos and retrofitted a lot of banjo necks on other brands. Probably only about 300 of these acoustics were built. Di Marzios and Self-Distribution Rico next turned to using Guild humbuckers, but these again required disassembly. I drew a weird curve and said ‘I like that.’ The result was the Mockingbird. This is inaccurate; it’s not a “copy,” however, the idea for the Bich actually began with a Dave Bunker design idea. Rich’s most popular designs, the most commonly seen being versions of the Bich. The largest hole started at around 2″ in diameter and progressively got smaller until the smallest hole on the horn was ? Also in the NJ Series were the ST, Mockingbird, Bich, Ironbird and Warlock which were built in Japan and assembled in California. From 1990 to 1993, Bernie Rico had no control over B. Rich guitars, although he continued to own the name.
“Prior to 1964, we also converted a lot of Martin guitars to 12-strings because Martin didn’t make 12s before ’64.” Rico also remembers building some steel guitars during those early days, as well. Rich name came from Bernie’s friend Bobby, although all the parts were actually just Anglo adaptations of his own family’s names. Electrics In 1968 Rico built his first custom electric solidbody. Rich was able to obtain Gibson pickups, and the earliest Riches used Gibson humbuckers. Finally, in around 1974, Rico called Larry Di Marzio and asked him if he could make four-lead, dual sound humbuckers. The first Mockingbird was a short-scale bass.” Bichin’ Guitars “We were on a roll,” continues Rico. The resulting guitar was a sort of squared off Bunker guitar combined with elements taken from the Eagle. One of the first Biches went to Joe Perry of Aerosmith in October of ’76. Rich guitars were neck-throughs, however, some of the main models were also built with bolt-on necks. Rich Bich was the last new design until the introduction of the Warlock in 1981. In 1988 Rico licensed the Rave and Platinum names to Class Act, and they essentially took over importing, marketing and distributing the foreign-made lines. After almost three decades of continuous guitar-making, the idea of a well-paid vacation without worrying about the rent sounded good, and Rico licensed the B. Rich name to the new outfit for a three year period, during which time American-made B. Mason Bernard However, as with most people devoted to their craft, Bernie Rico’s vacation was short-lived.
We only made about fifteen or twenty of those.” Jazz Boxes Finally, there were the RTJG and RTSG jazz guitars.
Buying a new guitar is a considerable investment for most of us.
To get the best possible experience, it is therefore important that you’ve done some research and decided on what kind of model you’re looking for.
“The Wave was the finest bass I’ve ever designed,” says Rico, “in terms of thickness and width and how it was laid out. Even though neck-through production never surpassed about 2200 guitars a year, as the ’80s progressed the serial numbers continued to get ahead of the actual year. The one-pickup Eagle shown here is 85366 from between late 1980 to sometime in 1981.
The mass was spread out over a wider area and it had great harmonic overtones.” Very few of these guitars were ever made. By 1981 the numbers were about four years ahead, and this gap remained fairly constant until Rico stopped making B. The white Mockingbird shown here is 87688 from 1983.