B.C. Rich Warlock Lucky 7B.C. Rich guitars inhabit our collective psyche as one of the great totems of glam metal. But for all the potentially nostalgic baggage, the 7-string Warlock has the stuff to tempt a very modern generation of low-tuned headbangers.
There’s no mistaking the Lucky 7’s intended purpose: It’s a hardcore metal machine. The guitar’s mahogany body is carved into that classic, menacing Warlock shape, and finished in gloss black with all black hardware, pickups, tuners, knobs, and bridge. Made in Indonesia, the Lucky 7 sports excellent workmanship for an entry-level import model. Binding is all but flawless and the fretwork is perfect.
If you’ve never rocked a Warlock, you might assume it would be uncomfortable to play sitting down. That’s not the case. The corner horn fits perfectly into the knee area and its sharper angle actually makes the guitar feel more stable than many more gently contoured solidbodies.
Electronics include Duncan Design versions of the popular Seymour Duncan Blackout active pickups. OEM pickups can be hit or miss, but these sound amazing. They deliver authority and power in spades, and have a pleasingly aggressive growl. In many respects, I actually liked them better than some of the other more renowned active pickups out there.
The bolt-on, 25.5" scale, mahogany neck has a 12" radius fingerboard with jumbo frets and a graphite nut. The absence of fretboard position markers adds to the sinister look of the guitar. Don’t worry about losing your way though, there are dots on the binding. I found the flat neck very comfortable. Some 7-string necks feel big, but the Lucky 7’s fit the curvature of my hand very well and the string spacing felt just right. Walking-bass lines with chord stabs (hardly a classic metal move, but with a low B at my disposal, I couldn’t resist) felt surprisingly natural. For quick licks, the neck feels extremely fast, particularly if you keep your fretting-hand thumb behind the neck. The back of the neck has a nice satin finish to enhance the fast feel.
Played through a Mesa/Boogie Mark IV amp, the Lucky 7 sounded bright with a tight attack—even when bathed in gobs of gain. Serpentine, hyper-speed, chromatic, single-note riffs played down low—the type of riffs that can render a 7-string flubby and bassoon-like—cut through with razor-sharp definition. You might expect a guitar with this much high-end clarity to get shrill high up on the neck, but the Lucky 7’s tone is even and balanced all across the guitar. Even with the guitar’s tone control all the way up and amp treble up high, the sound is never piercing.
The Lucky 7’s ample sustain is tailor-made for shredding. However, the guitar’s very immediate attack can feel unforgiving. This could be a blessing or a curse, depending on the state of your chops. You can hear the notes of an alternate-picked passage loud and strong, but you’ll have to work for it a little. And the Lucky 7 doesn’t have that loose, spongy feel that makes you believe you can wiggle your fingers and have notes magically fly forth. But if you have serious lightning chops, people will take notice.
The Lucky 7’s knack for communicating detail extends beyond single-note riffs. It sounds just as colorful when playing the lowest, detuned chords. With the bridge pickup engaged and tone control wide open, I dropped the 7th string to A, and struck a massive A chord. And through this mammoth wall of sound, single-note definition remained excellent. I expected muddiness to creep in when I switched to the neck pickup and rolled the tone knob all the way off. But while there was less bite, each note sounded clear and full. Each pickup has its own volume control, situated on either side of the 3-way pickup selector switch, and I took advantage of the layout to craft kill switch-inspired, machine gun sputters and ghost textures as these big chords rang out.
The Lucky 7 is very sensitive and has a wide dynamic range, which was especially evident when I switched to the amp’s clean channel. If I picked lightly, I could make the guitar whisper quiet. When I hit really hard, I got a huge and startling jump in volume. But regardless of my attack, each note had a robust quality. The pickups are also very clean for how loud they can be—cleaner even than some active pickup-equipped guitars under similar playing conditions. The clean output enhances sonic differences between the two pickups. I definitely preferred the neck pickup, which is livelier and has more depth than the bridge pickup, which is weaker sounding in general.
If you’re a metal guitarist who has always wanted to explore the realm of the 7-string, but weren’t sure enough to commit to buying one—or if you’ve wanted to occasionally add the 7-string sound into your repertoire—the B.C. Rich Lucky 7 is a more-than-solid and very affordable option. And with 24 frets and seven strings, there is a lot of sonic territory to explore.
Owners will often swap out the pickups and hardware on entry-level guitars, but there’s little need to do this with the Warlock. This guitar is good to go right out of the box, and at just $399, that’s a whole lot of bang for the buck.