How to Date a BC Rich Guitar?

How to Date a BC Rich Guitar

BC Rich Guitars are a favorite choice for heavy metal enthusiasts and harder forms of modern music.

Not only does the body shape of the instrument speak of the sounds a listener expects, but it also delivers a gritty tone that requires minimal adjustments from the stock setup.

It’s a fantastic design that delivers enough versatility to be useful in several situations. You can know more of what to expect by understanding how to date an instrument from this manufacturer.

How to Date a BC Rich Guitar

All BC Rich Guitars use a year, time, and date stamp to know when it was created. This information applies to the handmade instruments manufactured in the United States and the imported ones that were more mass-produced. It’s an eight-digit stamp that also serves as the serial number.

When BC Rich Guitars returned to global distribution in 1974, the brand began to use serial coding numbers to indicate when the instrument was created. The first stamps use the five-digit code configured in the XXYYY format.

The first two numbers indicated the year that BC Rich Guitars created the instrument. The final three provided information about the production number.

That meant a guitar with the serial number 74123 would have been built in 1974, and it was the 123rd instrument from that lineup.

If the instrument had a stamp that said 79012, it was made in 1979 and was the 12th guitar created by BC Rich that year.

The problem with those serial numbers is that they only allowed 1,000 units to be created each year.

When production rapidly grew in 1980, the serial numbers were already up to three years ahead. There is a bass guitar with the serial number 82595, but it was actually built in 1980.

Although BC Rich Guitars never went above 2,200 guitars for a production year, the serial numbers continued to fall behind because of their setup. In 1981, they went to being four years ahead.

This process continued until the production responsibilities were turned over to Class Axe in 1989.

Bolt-on Guitars Never Followed the Same Serial Number Sequence

Unless you have a guitar that indicates the production was in the early 1970s, there’s an excellent chance that the instrument was made a year or two before the actual date shown on the product. There was no uniform way that the numbers were assigned at the original shop for BC Rich Guitars.

Anything with a serial number that starts with 84 could have been built in 1982 or 1983, but we know it wasn’t created in 1984.

It wasn’t until 1993 that the serial numbers got back on track with this manufacturer.

You can also date BC Rich Guitars by the “Made in the USA” script logo. This trait was eliminated from the production process in 1999 or 2000.

In 2000, the bolt-on BC Rich models got their own serial number. The company replaced the year designation with the letters BO, providing a three-digit number instead.

That means you know the production numbers for the instrument, but there’s no idea about the year it was created.

We do know that the import guitar models before November 2000 had a serial number that starts with the letter F, while the American-made ones don’t have that designation.

That means a BC Rich guitar with the serial number F719804 would have been made in 1997 outside the United States.

A New Numbering System Was Developed for 2001 Models

With all the confusion surrounding the serial numbers for BC Rich Guitars, the company decided to implement a standardized date stamp format that applied to all the instruments. Every handmade American product and the imported ones all use the same process now, streamlining the identification process.

The new system uses the following components.

  • The first two digits indicate the year the guitar was made.
  • With the third digit, BC Rich Guitars shows what quarter during the year the instrument was made.
  • The final five digits indicate the production number for that year, allowing for significantly more manufacturing.

Even with this change, some confusion still exists with the model years. If you have a guitar with an eight-digit stamp that says 12124503, it could have been built in 2001 or 2012. There’s no way to tell from the number alone.

Each factory was only given a number. Month codes are included to ensure production accuracy, which means some BC Rich Guitars would have a serial code like A07140024.

That information is traceable to the following information tables.

MONTH CODEMONTH OF THE YEAR
AJanuary
CFebruary
EMarch
FApril
GMay
HJune
JJuly
KAugust
LSeptember
MOctober
NNovember
PDecember

No information has ever been given as to why those specific letters were assigned to the different months.

Although “A” makes sense for January since it’s the first letter of the alphabet for the first month, that concept breaks down since “C” represents February.

BC Rich Guitars also has the following factory regions built into their imported instruments on some models.

Here’s the information released by the company to understand the data found within the stamp

FACTORY REGIONFACTORY NUMBER
Fine China00
Sejung, China01
HW China02
Great China03
Daewon China04
Taiki China05
Orient China06
Huakai China07
World Korea08
Fine Korea09
SW Korea10

Once you have all this information and compare it to your BC Rich Guitars instrument, you’ll have a general idea of when it was built.

Some serial coding is accurate, but others have enough ambiguity that the only option left is to contact the manufacturer directly.

What Is the History of BC Rich Guitars?

Bernardo Chavez Rico founded BC Rich Guitars in 1969. The company began to make electric guitars a few years later, eventually gaining exposure and fame with the brand’s popularity in the heavy metal music genre.

The best guitars from this era were built in the United States by Ron Estrada. Everything else was created in different Asian countries using mass production methodologies. That’s what eventually led to the serial number problems in the 1980s with this brand.

For a brief time, BC Rich Guitars switched owners in the 1990s before Hanser Music Group acquired the company.

They are a distribution organization based in Kentucky, and the name was also eventually licensed to Praxis Musical until 2018.

In 2019, BC Rich Guitars was sent to another owner. The new management announced on Facebook that they would be releasing legacy models of the most popular instruments in their lineup, including the Stealth and IronBird.

Interesting Facts About BC Rich Guitars

Although there is a certain element of Gibson guitar design incorporated into the instruments produced by BC Rich Guitars, there are some distinctive differences.

BC Rich Guitars tend to have more angles incorporated into the body. Instead of using curves and rounded shapes, the instrument comes to a point to create a sharper look.

That’s why this brand is often preferred by those who perform heavy metal, hard rock, and the sub-genres found in those categories.

Some musicians found the sharper edges to be uncomfortable to use while playing, which caused BC Rich Guitars to eventually round off the shapes.

The pickups found in the original guitars were Gibson’s, but they were rewired to be four-conductor models and potted.

In the early years, the custom models and many of the production-based guitars were given innovative humbucker pickups with adjustable poles.

Those instruments tend to be the most popular ones from this brand because they deliver such an incredible sound.

Slash has a signature Mockingbird from this brand, which is where a lot of its popularity resides. Chuck Schuldiner owned several BC Rich Guitars instruments, but his single-pickup Stealth was arguably the best one in the lineup.

Are There Any BC Rich Guitars Alternatives to Consider?

The best alternative brand BC Rich Guitars is Jackson Guitars. Musicians can find the same angular shapes with the body and some rounded corners to make it more comfortable to play. This option is typically a solid body electric, with the premier designs incorporating an amaranth fingerboard for extra speed.

The BC Rich Guitars instrument in my collection is undoubtedly a lot of fun to play, but it definitely deserves to be in the power chord category for its sound.

Since that’s not my first genre to play, it doesn’t get much attention throughout the year beyond the standard care it needs.

When I want to use a guitar with a distinctive shape, my Jackson JS series JS32T is the instrument I select for the stage.

It uses a poplar body with dual humbuckers to create a bluesy sound that really matches with the music I’m making right now.

I love how the maple neck has firmness to it without being overbearing. Thanks to the straightforward setup, you can bend the strings, cap out some sounds, or play standard chords with ease.

I wouldn’t say that your fingers can blaze up and down the frets, but it delivers enough speed to meet my needs.

The only disadvantage of the Jackson guitar is that it weighs 16 pounds. You’ll feel it after about 30 minutes of solid playing.

Dating a BC Rich Guitars instrument lets you know what to expect when it plays. With the information from this guide, you can understand more about your investment and what it can do for you as a musician.

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