1980 Son of a Rich: restore, refinish or leave alone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CrashAlpha, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. CrashAlpha


    May 16, 2012
    I've got a 1980 BC Rich Son of a Rich bass - a bolt on version of the Rich Bich bass. I'm the original owner. This is from the era where they were hand-made in the US. I love the bass, and from what I can see, it appears to be rare (I can't even find a picture of it online right now)

    The bass kind of represents a turning point in BCR's history: their first bolt-on neck, an intermediate design change between the elegant designs of the 70's and the radical, aggressive metal-oriented designs that followed. I have no idea how desirable they are, and it has some design flaws I would like to correct. If I do correct them, then the paint would have to be redone.

    Here are my choices:

    1) Correct flaws and restore finish to original gloss black
    2) Correct flaws and choose a new finish: the look of the bass would be more versatile - and classy - if it had a natural wood grain finish. I don't know anything about wood, but from the chips in the paint it appears to be some sort of dark red wood... What would that be?
    3) Leave it alone because it plays well, looks unusual - but not in the same way current BCR's do. And it's rarity means it has value. Or am I kidding myself by thinking its worth anything?

    Advice appreciated!
  2. Can you post a photo of it so we can get an idea?
  3. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    What are the design flaws?

    Oh, and +1 to post a photo.
  4. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    It isn't really a pivot between designs. It's a bolt-on Bich bass.


    If this is a US BC Rich, your best bet would be to leave it as original as possible. Any permanent mods will kill the value.
  5. CrashAlpha


    May 16, 2012
    I meant the Bich design was a pivot in terms of aesthetics, and at the time the decision to go for a bolt-on neck was considered controversial as the neck-thru design was a BC Rich signature quality.
  6. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    The Mockingbird, Bich, and Warlock were all designed by different people. I don't think that the Bich was a pivot in aesthetic design. It was just another new model.
  7. You really need the opinion of TB's resident B.C. Rich expert, know-it-all and BCR club member #1 Lorne Peakman.

    But I'd say #3...but while it is a definitely a rarity, it doesn't have any significant value moneywise. The real value still lies w/the late 70's - early 80's neck-thru varitone circuit equipped BCRs - and even their value has been steadily decreasing in the last decade. The build quality just isn't there w/ the son of a richs. Take a look at ebay, the neck-thrus on there for 2 & 3K have been (and will be) there forever.

    If you like it and it functions well enough play ability-wise, leave it alone and enjoy it. Re-fin it if you feel inclined, but don't expect to recoup any costs on the re-sale side.

    Warning: alot of BCRs were painted because the wood grain was not desireable for clear coat...but in the 80's everyone liked weird whacky paint jobs as well - so it's hard to tell whats really under there. I bought a few early 80's neck-thru mockingbirds with the plan of stripping them and refinishing them, but never went thru w/it - I enjoyed/played them for a 6-8 years and resold them for slightly more.

    I did however strip and refin a neck thru NJ series Mock and got lucky - it looked pretty good when it was done (maple neck-thru w/ koa wings - the new owner posted a pic of it somewhere in the BCR club thread) The wood under your finish is most likely koa or mahogany - which ever was cheaper at the time.

    edit - found the pix:
    NJ1. NJ3.
  8. After looking it at it I would go with option #2. Maybe a cherry or other reddish stain and a high gloss finish. But I dont know what the re-sale value of a US Rich is. May ruin it?
  9. wednesdayagain


    Sep 28, 2012
    If you would never intend to sell it, then option 2.
  10. bootsox


    Apr 28, 2012
    Biloxi, MS
    leave it alone, it's only original once.
  11. CrashAlpha


    May 16, 2012
    I appreciate the insight.
  12. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    get it playing to your taste and leave all cosmetics alone.
    REMBO likes this.
  13. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    The bass isn't worth a lot but it looks cool.
    If it sounds and plays fine you're golden.

    The issues you describe call for a bit of chiseling and a shim, which are very minor adjustements.
    I don't understand why fixing them implies a refinish.

    The body is most likely made of mahogany, which may or not look good.
  14. CrashAlpha


    May 16, 2012
    That pretty well falls in-line with my feelings about it. I always had this feeling that this guitar was the beginning of BC Rich trying to get into a new market. I'm not really concerned about dollar value... it's just that I showed up at Montreal's biggest giuitar shop with the bass, and I was startled at the excitement when I pulled it out of the case, and I wondered what the fuss was about. Apparently, over nothing, really.

    BTW Love the pics of your mockingbird. I bought my BCR bass sight-unseen - I went into the store with the cash to buy a Thunderbird and it was gone. The store owner told me BC Rich had come out with a new bass for the same price as the Thunderbird - a bolt-on version of the Bich. I think that until then all the BCR's I had seen were unfinished, so that's what I had in mind when I put the downpayment on it. I was young. To me the mockingbird is still the pinnacle of BCR design.
  15. CrashAlpha


    May 16, 2012
    For some reason, when I asked my luthier to shim it, he did everything BUT shim it. I thought maybe because it was a "last resort" thing that should be avoided, so I thought the only other alternative was to make a scoop at the body below the heel to get access to the truss rod. Don't know if anything could have been done with the bridge though, unless I chiselled the wood underneath it.

    All this fuss because I just don't know enough to answer as whether a shim will compromise the bass to any noticable degree.

    Very helpful, thanks!
  16. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    That bass creates interest because it's rare. It may be a bolt-on economy model, but it's high quality. The bodies and necks were made by Charvel in San Dimas, and San Dimas Charvels are collectable today.

    That bass is still worth some money. $500 or more. But if you strip or refinish it, it will be worth close to nothing.
  17. CrashAlpha


    May 16, 2012
    Thanks for the evaluation. At 500 I don't think I'd be weeping - not that I'd throw 500 away, but if it was to become a project bass, it could be really interesting...

    In the end I get the feeling the the consensus is, "it's not worth a lot, but it's rare and worth keeping as-is for that sake alone"

    In order for me to improve the playability of the bass, I'd have to shim the neck up so I can get full access to the truss rod screw, and to have the saddles effectively lower.

    To be honest, the playability is fine - it FEELS like a thunderous beast. But a bit lumbering. I think I've become spoiled by the finesse of my other axes. It just hurts to see the old girl hanging there.
  18. scarab


    Jul 25, 2012
    i wouldnt change the color, maybe refinish it and do what you can but dont make too many permanant damages
    btw. you happen to own almost exactly the 4 basses i want
  19. CrashAlpha


    May 16, 2012
    Don't leave me hanging... What are your dream basses?
  20. Baird6869

    Baird6869 LET'S GO BLUE JAYS...(in 2016)...LET'S GO!!

    I had one of these until recently. These are not expensive. Rare-ish but worth $350-400 tops. Even mint with OHSC, it isn't a $500 bass.

    It took me forever to sell mine for $350. It was on CL, Kijiji, TB and eBay.

    Nice bass, but not even close to being worth what a NJ Bitch or Mockingbird is.