B.C. Rich has never rested on its laurels. For one thing, if this US luthier made laurels they'd probably be too spiky to touch, let alone rest on. And for another, with the metal scene getting heavier by the year, someone has to provide the artillery to keep up.
Ever since the launch of the Seagull back in 1972, Bernie Rico's firm has edged even closer to building the ultimate rock guitar, picking up accolades from the biggest names in scare-metal along the way.
So it's with great pleasure, and no shortage of complaints from the bloke upstairs, that we got to try one of the new additions to this dysfunctional family.
The Mockingbird is the elder statesman of the B.C. Rich range, but don't call it that to its face. The truth is, this classic design is as mental now as it was back in 1976 when Bernie Rico first sketched the outline on a coffee house napkin.
The high-profile patronage of everyone from Slash to Acey Slade has kept the 'Bird flying high ever since, and it's testament to the timeless appeal of this design that the Special Edition 'Evil Edge' sticks so close to the original blueprint.
Made in China, it has a solid agathis body, a bolted-on maple neck and a rosewood fretboard. High output BDSM humbuckers sit at neck and bridge positions, and 24 jumbo frets work in tandem with a 25.5-inch scale.
What makes this model unique is the 3mm metallic plate that covers most of its surface area. Made of brass, but covered in chrome, this pickguard/bridge/tailpiece looks like the kind of thing you might use to skin a crocodile, and claims to improve sustain and tonal response.
We've seen a brass sustainer used on electrics before (notably the Yamaha SG2000), but this is the first time it's appeared on an import Mockingbird.
The Mockingbird (sort of) fits in a standard guitar stand, and that gives it an instant advantage. It's great for seated practice, and doesn't plummet earthwards when you're windmilling in front of the mirror.
The only problem is the position you're forced into by this guitar's upper bout. Combined with the long scale, it seemed to put us at an irritating distance from the low frets and stopped us playing with our usual confidence.
There's no faulting the finish of the neck and fretboard, but we didn't find our bends and stretches came quite as easily.
It wasn't until we introduced Mockingbird to Marshall that we totally fell for this new model. As we were promised, the brass plate does bring a subtle new flavour to the tone, and with a little bit of vibrato you can keep the notes ringing out for ages.
The BDSM humbuckers, meanwhile, were happy to break up at the slightest provocation, and we found that squeals, chugs and lead runs all worked well (although you wouldn't use this for open chords).