Updated: Aug 18
In the Summer of 2004 I received a call from Dave Wendler. I didn't know him and had never heard of him. He said,
"I'm a luthier out of Lawrence, Kansas and I'm looking for someone in the Kansas City area to endorse my guitars. Everywhere I go and everyone I talk to your name always comes up."
I thought to myself, "Yes! This is the way it's supposed to be! All roads lead to ME!"
He described his guitars as "electrocoustic." They are solid-body guitars but equipped with a piezo as well as a humbucker. They are ergonomically unique, in my opinion. They're cedar; thin and very light. One of the unique design characteristics is a concave back.
BTW - I had student from France call it the "toilet lid guitar." If you've spent any time in Europe you'll know what he meant :-)
I told Dave,
"I like the concept. Now what needs to happen is you send me a guitar. I'll play it on my gigs for 2 or 3 weeks and get back to you."
"I can do that." - and he did.
A couple of weeks later I called him back and told him what I liked and what I didn't like about his guitars. I said that if I was going to endorse him my guitar would have to be such-and-so and have such-and-so etc. Dave was very accomodating. Even to the point of eliminating the concave back. There was a frequency that annoyed the crap out of me that we couldn't get rid of any other way, and believe me, we tried all kinds of things. I was sorry to see that go; I liked it.
Even though Dave said he could hear what I was talking about, I wonder; he didn't change the design for any of his other guitars, he only did it on mine. I'm perfectly willing to admit the "annoying frequency" was the product of my f'-d-up ears. Decades of playing live music, some of it stoopid-loud, has taken its toll. Anyway, eliminating the concave back solved the (my) problem.
Another thing was, the pickups were mounted on the backside of the pickguard. They weren't attached to the body in any way. This seemed kind of flimsy to me; the pickguard was not immovable. I could see the possibility of the pickups changing position, and thus the sound, as my hand banged on the pickguard. I questioned whether the design could stand up to the real-world environment of banging away on hundreds of gigs a year. I asked Dave if he could mount the pickups on the body, that seemed more stable - of course he could, and did.
"While you're at it, can you put a 7th string on there? I've been thinking about a 7-string lately, how I would tune it and what the chord shapes would look like."
He matter-of-factly replied,
"I can do that." - and he did.
Thus we have the Wendler EuDaly Special - it also comes in a 6-string version:
Wendler Introduces EuDaly Special Guitar Posted by: Harmony Central News Feb 1, 2005
Wendler Instruments has introduced the "EuDaly Special". While similar in basic form to the standard "Trad" models in the electroCoustic series, the EuDaly Special features a unique pickup system design that allows a wide tonal palette for the busy working musician. The most interesting aspect of the EuDaly Special is the bridge lead pickup. Actually, it's two single coil pickups wound RW/RP to provide a fat lead tone when in humbucker mode, and a "real" single coil tone when one coil is cut. It also uses Wendler's "MagPi" system, a piezo bridge in conjunction with the neck magnetic for those elusive acoustic tones in a passive format. The guitar is available in both six and seven string versions.
Dave showed up one day at the Saturday Afternoon Jam at Harling's Upstairs to hear me play his guitar.
"Wow" he said, "I had no idea that guitar could sound like that! You're getting sounds out of it I never imagined!"
"Well" I said, "That's just me. 95% of the sound comes from the player."
The first electroCoustic "endorsement" model.....
With Jay EuDaly, a Kansas City area player.....
Jay and I have been working on this guitar since last summer; he picked it up last week. Jay needed ONE guitar that would fit his busy playing schedule. Not only does he teach SEVENTY students a week, he also plays in several groups, and sits in all the time as an "on call" musician. He's also the sitting guitarist for the jazz jam at Harling's in the Westport district, the prime entertainment district in KC.
After seeing/hearing him perform several times, we came up with this design. He wanted pickups with just a bit more "meat" than the floaters I usually use, so we went for a full sized humbucker at the neck, and a pair of RW/RP singles at the bridge. Of course, the MagPi system is there through the use of a mini toggle....eight basic tones to choose from. The Fender style switch is a four pos.....neck, neck + bridge bucker, bridge bucker, and the interior single coil. The piezo can be switched in and out for each of these settings.
The guitar has a longer scale, 26.2", which I highly recommend for the low 7th string. String gauges are currently: 11, 14, 18, 32. 42, 52, 74...that big low string allows an absolutely HUGE acoustic response from the lightweight cedar body...this ain't just another seven string solid...tons of resonance at HIGH gain levels (Jay has THREE Roland JC120's spread around the city)...and he cranks em up!!
Once he learns how to play the damn thing, he's promised some mp3's. Listen to some of the downloads from his website...he can play his ass off, but has never used a seven...and I can tell he's having a GREAT time being challenged by what WILL become an added dimension to his playing. One of his favorite gigs is with a vocalist and a sax player...so he has to hold up the bottom end; he's been using a Martin flattop in this role; now he can play a real bass line on the low strings....
I used the guitar quite a bit for several years.
I tune the 7th string to an octave below the 5th string - a low A. This is common among Jazz 7-string players. 7-string Rock players usually tune the low string to a B.
I tune the 7th string to an A because I'm more concerned with chords than lines. The low A means that any chord that has a 5th-string root now has a 7th-string root on the same fret. That's a pretty minimal adjustment visually and fingering-wise.
The real adjustment happens when walking bass lines. From a 7th string root to a 6th string root, the line is visually backwards from the 5th to the 6th string; it ascends rather than descends. A further complication has to do with the fact that from the 7th to the 6th string is an interval of a 5th instead of a 4th, so every backwards pattern has to be adjusted two frets towards the headstock to compensate.
On the other hand, when alternating root - 5th (like a latin jazz tune or a country song) from 7th string to 6th string, both notes are on the same fret. That's super convenient.
Occasionally, having the 7-string was a definite advantage on a gig.
For instance, I was playing a corporate Christmas party with a rhythm section consisting of guitar, bass, drums and sax - no keys. The 1st set was a dinner set of background instrumental jazz. The bass player was a sub. He didn't know jazz standards off the top of his head and wasn't comfortable reading charts. I told him,
"Don't worry about it, man. You can go to the bar. We'll pay you the same, I'll cover the bass parts."
So we played a jazz set with the 7-string, sax and drums. I couldn't solo as much as I normally would but sonically the 7-string sounded fine; no one missed the bass or was any the wiser. The bass player returned to the stage for the dance music and he was killin' it on that stuff.
One of the limitations that popped up was I couldn't use my left-hand thumb to play bass notes on the 6th string while chording with my other fingers, the neck was too wide and the 7th string was in the way. That actually bugged me more than anything; there were chord voicings and techniques I couldn't pull off without the use of my thumb to fret notes. So in effect, I was adding a string but eliminating a finger. I hadn't anticipated that problem until it occurred.
As far as right-hand technique is concerned I changed very little. I use a hybrid technique that I've described elsewhere.
All-in-all I enjoyed the guitar. Compared to a 6-string it was a different set of problems but had added benefits.
I played it for several years but began to have some left wrist issues. Whether carpal-tunnel, tendinitis or perhaps something else I don't know. I didn't let it get far enough along to require a diagnosis.
I determined that playing the Wendler was the cause; there was more stress on my wrist because of the width of the neck. I decided that it wasn't worth it. With the exception of a few episodes like the Christmas party described above, having a 7th string was mostly a novelty. I basically quit playing it.
A short while after that Dave showed up at a gig and asked me why I wasn't playing his guitar. I explained what had happened and he said,
"It would be no problem to just put another, thinner neck on there. I'd be happy to do that."
I'm ashamed and chagrined to say I never followed up on that. I intended to; I just never got around to it.
In July of 2021 Dave retired and moved to the wilds of western Kansas. I have no idea if he's still luthiering.
Dave, if you happen to see this and are still working on guitars, contact me - I've got a project for you.
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