A Wechter acoustic may not have
the household recognition of a Martin,
Gibson, or Taylor, but Abe Wechter has
been designing and building instruments
for folks like John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola,
and Steve Howe for over 30 years. That’s
a Wechter Dobro that Rob Ickes is playing
of the cover of the August 2011 issue of
GP, and his production instruments have
been prized by many in the know for their
unique design, quality, and affordability.
It’s no surprise then that Wechter’s new
solidbody electric guitars also deliver distinctive
styling and upscale features that
belie the budget-minded pricing. The basic
models come in alder with a maple neck
and rosewood fretboard, while the fancier
ones—like the PM 7354 on review here—
have a mahogany neck, ebony ’board, and a
mahogany body with a 3/4" flamed maple cap.
All models sport Seymour Duncan pickups
and Triple Shot mounting rings that
allow the two coils in each pickup to be
run in series or parallel. Either coil of each
pickup can also be switched off for singlecoil
flavors, and there’s a mini-toggle that
puts the two pickups out of phase. Normally
I don’t enjoy guitars with so many
switching options, but the Triple Shot was
easy to operate and I reveled in being able
to quickly reshape the tones. The Pathmaker
has separate Volume controls for the
bridge and neck pickups, making it possible
to get Peter Green-style sounds in the
out-of-phase position by slightly backing
off one or the other pickup. This would
have been easier, however, if the controls
were more smoothly tapered toward their
Wechters are made overseas, but the company’s
U.S. facility sets up all the models
and fret-levels them with a computer-run
Plek machine to ensure accuracy. That may
have been one of the reasons this Graph Tech
Ghost Hexpander MIDI-equipped version
tracked better than any other synth-ready
guitar I’ve used. The Pathmaker is a pleasure
to play, too. The body cut and shallow
neck shape are both very comfortable, and
the high frets make bending easy, even with
the low action.
The ebony fretboard and maple cap conspire
to create a bright instrument with a
quick attack and highly defined notes—and
this too may have contributed to the spoton
tracking. I ran the audio out of the guitar
into my computer interface, and the MIDI
connection into a Roland GI-20 converter’s
USB connection to Ableton Live. Combining
amp and overdrive plug-ins on the audio track
with soft synths on a MIDI track opened a
world of sounds—over and above the dozens
available from pickup combinations alone.
Suffice it to say that if you are into MIDI
guitar, you owe it to yourself to check out
the PM-7354, though any variant of this versatile,
well-made instrument could be just
the thing to help you find your own way in
the guitar wilderness.
CONTACT Wechter Guitars, (260) 407-3836; wechterguitars.com
Pathmaker Solid Body PM-7354
PRICE $1,820 retail/$1,369 street (hardshell case included)
NECK Mahogany, set
BODY Mahogany body with 3/4" flamed maple cap
BRIDGE Wilkinson tremolo with Graph Tech Ghost saddles. Solid-steel machined trem block.
TUNERS Enclosed die-cast
PICKUPS Seymour Duncan w/Duncan Triple Shot mounting rings
CONTROLS Bridge Volume, neck Volume, master Tone, MIDI Volume, MIDI patch selector, MIDI/MIDI
and magnetic/magnetic 3-way selector, Phase switch, 3-way pickup selector
ELECTRONICS Graph Tech Hexpander preamp
KUDOS Wide variety of quality tones. MIDI tracks very well.
CONCERNS Volume pot taper.
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