Now that’s what you call an attention-grabber. Looking like a dramatically-cut, satanic Thunderbird, but cunningly disguised as a Jurassic kitchen work surface, it doesn’t get much more unconventional than this, but is it just too garish for its own good? And how much playability is sacrificed for those unforgiving lines? The Mockingbird Plus is a bold statement from a company that has made its name from bold statements, but does the bass world really need another vulgar display of power?
For a bargain-priced guitar, the Mockingbird Plus has been assembled with some precision and care, although the glossy finish cheapens the overall appearance somewhat. Rendered in the classic Mockingbird shape, the body is mahogany, smoothly bevelled and pleasing to the touch, with that burled maple top finished in ‘ghost black’ being the most controversial feature of the guitar, and sure to divide punters who will either revel in its defiant debauchery or wince at its lurid brashness.
By comparison, the trademark diamond inlays along the 34” neck look decidedly classy. The bolt-on neck joint is neat and tidy too, and the traditional 2×2 headstock is a nice addition, with taut, accurate die-cast tuning heads, bringing another welcome touch of understatement to the guitar. There’s a robust adjustable stop bridge with locking saddles, which, like the dome control knobs, is presented in a blacker-than-black chrome.
Overall there’s obviously no issue with the quality control at BC Rich, and you’ll be hard pushed to find fault with the Mockingbird’s construction: it’s just the design aesthetic that some of you will question.
SOUNDS AND PLAYABILITY
The distinct shape of this guitar may be what draws you to it, but those unique contours come at a price. For starters, you can’t lean it against an amp without it falling over. Even more annoyingly, you can’t sit with it on your knee without the unforgiving blocky top horn digging up into your ribs, which makes kicking back and jamming on your own something of a battle.
Standing up, the Mockingbird doesn’t fare much better either. It’s headstock-heavy, so if you take your left hand off it, it has a tendency to nose-dive rather drastically. The location of the neck-end strap nut means your strap is twisted on your shoulder, especially if you use a locking strap which can only be mounted in one direction. The lack of any significant top horn, and the placement of that strap nut, also adds to the effort required, although it’s amazing how quickly you adapt and make the required adjustment.
When you drill down to the most important point of interaction – fingers on wood – this is a quick and easy guitar to play, with a 12” neck radius and a dynamic rosewood fingerboard. The tones on offer are generally pleasing, if a little unimaginative. It’s not a slapper’s bass, for sure, but it responds well to the fingertips, although, as you’d expect from a brand made most famous by Kerry King of Slayer, when you dig in with a plectrum, it lends itself best to more metallic playing.
Both the neck and bridge pickups are Precision-style, and the tone controls are limited to just a master tone and a blend between the two transducers. Dial in just the bridge with that tone set too low, and it tends towards the woolly; too much top end while using just the neck pickup and things get too tinny. Pitch the tone just right, however, and blend the two pickups about 50/50, you can summon forth a nice snappy bark that also possesses plenty of bite.
Subtle the Mockingbird is not, but it’s a breeze to play if you can adapt to its off-kilter balance and violent protrusions, and as long as you’re not after an immense range of diverse sounds it’s more than capable of delivering the goods sonically. Realistically, though, this is a rock musician’s instrument –and a little flamboyance and physical grit is required to pull off playing it.
BC Rich Mockingbird Plus
MADE IN: Indonesia
TOP: Burled maple
FRETS: 24 jumbo
TUNERS: BC Rich
CONTROLS: Master volume, pickup blend, master tone
WHAT WE THINK
PLUS: It’ll certainly get folks talking with its incongruity, and the neck is sweet to play
MINUS: Very much an acquired taste, and takes some getting used to ergonomically
OVERALL: Beautifully constructed for the money, but the look and feel won’t be for wallflowers
BGM RATING Out Of 10
BUILD QUALITY 8
SOUND QUALITY 7