Wechter Pathmaker Is Truly "Elite"
Ok, so I've resisted reviewing this guitar so I could put it through its paces and live with it for a while. That way, at least some of the systems of Novelty Syndrome would have worn off. In the meantime, I've played it almost every day since receiving it (I've primarily played electrics for the last 20+ years), I've recorded with it, and played live (plugged and unplugged) with it. The funny thing is that I'm still in shock over how much I love this guitar!
Right out of the box (and of course the case), it sounded beautiful. It ships with D'addario 0.12-0.53 coated strings, which I planned to switch out for J16s eventually, but these strings have sounded so good and worn so well (if allowed to, they might just retain their brightness until the proverbial cows come home), that I've since continued to use the same kind of strings.
As far as feel, I can tell you that my main concern when I ordered this instrument was that my own adjustment to playing it would be difficult. I even thought about ordering it with super light strings (or even rubber bands). However, my fears were completely unfounded; right out of the box--er, I mean case--I was able to play this baby for hours without any undue fatigue. After about 3 days of that, it felt as though I'd been playing it all my life.
As far as sound quality, this guitar has an incredibly full and well-balanced range, and while it's got some great brightness, I'd guess that the mahogany back and sides do much to add some real warmth to the sound. Hence, the sonic balance. So that's the unplugged part.
Plugged in, I have to say I'm really impressed with how good (and how adjustable) the Fishman pickup is! I think it likely that my dog could dial in a decent sound on this instrument--even before she became deaf.
Seriously, I've now used this instrument to play in folky, rocky, quasiclassically, and bluegrassy settings, and the Pathmaker Elite handles any or all of it extremely beuatifully. It's easy to tune (using the built0in tuner) and holds its intonation amazingly well. For you fellow electroids, its neck width, radius, and string spacing feel very much like some of my fave electrics (e.g., PRS Custom 22, Godin LGXT, Carvin TL60T), and while it's full size, it doesn't feel as though the QE2 suddenly ran aground in your lap. So if you're even just thinking about getting this instrument, stop thinking about it and just do it! All the stuff I'd heard about it sounding as good and playing as well as instruments three times its price is really true.
A Huge Thank You to Abe Wechter for making such a fine and affordable instrument, to Dan, my sales rep at Sweetwater (x1253) for accommodating all my strange requests and always recommending the coolest, best, and not necessarily most-expensive gear, and to Sweetwater for carrying this guitar.
Finally, I should mention that the standard case the Pathmaker Elite ships with is incredibly durable and well constructed. I've flown with it (as a carry-on that I check at the gate) several times already, and both the guitar and the case have remained in perfect shape. And it's very comfortable to carry, due to its soft, padded, leather handle and its good balance.
Bravo, Wechter and Sweetwater!