1982 B.C. Rich Bich by Mike Bieber
Life’s a bitch…and then you play one, and then life gets infinitely better? For the fledgling young shredder who bought this B.C. Rich Bich six-string guitar new back in 1982 or so, did it lead to platinum records and limousines filled with supermodels? All we know—us wise old sages at The Music Zoo—is that we have a batch of weird and wacky guitars that we love to show off, and this Bich, owned by Music Zoo founder/owner/zookeeper Tommy Colletti, deserves a space on that pedestal.
The Bich was introduced in 1978 following in the success of B.C. Rich’s other solidbody guitars, the Mockingbird, the Seagull, and the Eagle, all of which saw daylight in the early/mid 1970s. It’s always fun to note how B.C. Rich has come from its roots as a maker of Flamenco and Classical guitars in East Los Angeles way back in the 1960s. With the introduction of the Bich in 1978, the company’s direction building acoustic guitars for traditional Spanish and Mexican music was all but gone; the stage had become set for building the pointy guitars that would rock us like hurricanes in the ‘80s and beyond.
Indeed, that Bich is a pointy guitar, but lest we forget that the points had purpose. The guitar’s back story goes like this: B.C. Rich founder and president Bernie Rico had been throwing guitar ideas around with fellow guitar designer Dave Bunker. While making a long story short, a guitar designer named Neal Moser, who had a concept for a 10-string guitar, somehow got involved in the mix and thus was born the Bich. So, that bizarre pie-shaped wedge cut out from the guitar’s bottom actually served a purpose by providing space for the additional tuners required to be a 10-string guitar, as well as something weird and unconventional. It was only later, when a non-10-string version was introduced, that certain rockers began posing suggestively with the guitar as if it was a law against nature.
Such guitar beastiality didn’t stop Tommy from buying this Salmon Pink guitar some years ago. “I have such an affinity for the older B.C. Rich guitars,” he confesses. “Some of my favorite players such as Neil Geraldo, Joe Perry, and Craig Chaquico brewed up some of my favorite riffs on these guitars. As a kid in the 80’s I fondly remember trips to infamous 48th street in Manhattan gazing at what seemed like hundreds—even though they were actually only a few—of the B.C. Rich’s in the windows of Stuyvesant Guitars and Long Island’s Gracin’s Music, and the more switches the better as far as I was concerned… ”
Yes, switches. Don’t need no stinkin’ switches? Too bad. The Bich, like other early B.C. Rich guitars, was festooned with switches—a signature B.C. Rich characteristic in which more definitely proves that less is more, although many players benefited from the guitar’s over-the-top electronics. There was a six-position Varitone circuit, mini-toggles that activated on-board preamps, pickup phase reversal, one big toggle serving as the pickup selector, and a few volume and tone pots that led to a massive headache for some and perhaps success for others. Still, credit for Eddie VH for discarding only the most essential control: the ability to blast your head off when combined with an amp that went to “11.”
Ultimately, it was the looks that killed that led to Tommy Colletti acquiring this Bich (serial number 85805). “In the early ‘80s, Mockingbirds, Eagles, and Biches made everything else look so sleepy by comparison…sparkle colors, lots of points, Salmon Pink…all good stuff.”
Enjoy this photo set of B.C. Rich Bich Serial 85805: