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My Wendler Doubleneck

wendler-doubleneck

I love rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve been listening and dancing to it since I was 15. And in the last few years I’ve gotten to indulge my rock ‘n’ roll fantasy by playing in a kick-ass rock band (Banned from Eden).

It’s a bit ironic—I’ve been a musician most of my life, having played trombone in school bands, orchestras and stage bands, mandolin and fiddle in various bluegrass bands, fiddle in an electric country band, and trombone, violin, and mandolin in a cabaret band. All along the way the music I listened to most is rock, but I didn’t get to play in a rock band until I was 48 years old.

For me nothing is more natural than rocking out. So why did it take so long?

One reason was a lack of the right instrument. To truly rock you need a drummer, and if you're going to play with drums you need to plug in. And up until recently I was mostly an acoustic musician. I played around with electric guitars in the past, and owned one for a time in the early ‘80s (an olive green hollow bodied Bedell), but I never reached the level of comfort that I had on my acoustic instruments. Electric guitar is a completely different beast than acoustic, and for one reason or another I never embarked on that learning curve. Plus, even though I play guitar passably well, my main instrument is mandolin.

Ever since I picked up mandolin as a teenager in the ‘70s, I’ve had a fantasy of having a doubleneck electric. But unlike the 6- and 12-string guitar combos that were popular in the '70s—e.g., the Gibson SG doubleneck played in live performances by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Steve Howe of Yes, and Don Felder of the Eagles—what I wanted was to combine a 6-string guitar with an 8-string mandolin. And in 2006 my fantasy came true: a doublneck guitar-mandolin custom made for me by luthier Dave Wendler of Kansas City, Missouri.

I met Dave when I lived in KC a few years ago. I got to play some of his electric mandolins at gigs, and loved the way they felt and sounded. What makes Dave’s instruments unique is that even though they are solid-bodied (and hence able to handle loud volume, feedback-inducing situations), they are designed to play and sound like an acoustic, by virtue of Dave’s own “ElectroCoustic” MagPi (magnetic/piezoelectric) pickup system, consisting of magnetic pickups (single coil or humbucker) under the strings and a piezoelectric pickup mounted under the bridge. The solid body is made of red cedar, with a concave sculpted back. The magnetic pickups give an all electric sound, which can be balanced to taste with the more acoustic sound produced by the piezo, by way of a tone control potentiometer.

Shortly before leaving KC in 2005, on a whim, I asked Dave if he could build a doubleneck, and he said yes. It was pretty much a hypothetical question though—I didn’t really have any use for an electric instrument at the time. So I told him that I would get back to him.

Not long after I moved to Maine, I met and started jamming with some really fine musicians, and as a result was soon presented with the opportunity to form a rock and roll band. All I needed was an electric guitar. So I called Dave and asked if he would make me that doubleneck. A few phone calls and several months later it was in my hands.

wendler-doubleneck

And boy has this been one sweet axe. It’s perfect for me, because both the mandolin and guitar have the feel of acoustics. The guitar neck is the same width as a Martin dreadnaught, unlike a typical electric neck which is a bit narrower. I string it with relatively heavy strings (for an electric that is; I use .011-.013-.018-.028-.038-.049), so I can beat on it just like I do my acoustic. The same is true with the mandolin.

So I really didn’t have to change my style of picking, which had caused me problems in the past on electric guitar. My Wendler is the perfect electric instrument for an acoustic player. And I think that is true for all Dave’s instruments.

Both the guitar and the mandolin have a great electrocoustic sound, which I mainly use for rhythm work. For leads I like to dial it over to the magnetic pickups: single coil up by the fingerboard on the mandolin, or two humbuckers on the guitar. It rocks.

The great thing about this axe is that I can go back and forth between mandolin and guitar in a set (or even within a song) without changing instruments. Because the body is made of cedar, it’s really not that heavy—no heavier than a Fender Strat, so it doesn’t break my back.

Needless to say, this instrument always attracts a lot of looks and compliments at gigs. I really love cranking it up.

Home studio recordings of me playing the Wendler doubleneck are posted on Reverbnation (the song Suite: Sound of the Blues shows off the guitar's range of tonal qualities; What Can I Say starts out with the mandolin and ends with guitar), and recordings of me playing it with Banned from Eden are can be found on our webpage and on Bandcamp.

Specs:

Mando neck: 13 7/8" (standard Gibson "F" scale), Grover tuners.

Guitar neck: 25 ½”, Sperzel tuners.

Pao ferro fingerboards and tailpieces.

Pickups: EMG passive (single coil and humbucker) and Wendler ElectroCoustic piezos under both bridges.

Pots: volume and “tone” (balance between magnetic and piezoelectric pickups).

Guitar pickup toggle (humbuckers): neck, both, bridge, neck+piezo, bridge+piezo.

Guitar/mandolin toggle: guitar-both-mandolin.

My amp

dB King Deluxe tweed guitar amp

dB King Deluxe tweed guitar amp

wendler-doubleneck

My pedals

wendler-doubleneck

Comments

Joyus Crynoid (author) from Eden on January 10, 2013:

It's actually remarkably light--not much heavier than my Strat (if at all), and lighter than a Les Paul! The body is cedar and fairly thin, with the back sculpted.

Walter Holokai from Youngstown, Ohio on January 10, 2013:

Man that thing looks heavy! Cool though. You could play both parts of Going to California by Zeppelin on it. Sometimes my Les Paul feels like a sack of potatoes on my left shoulder.

Stan Fletcher from Nashville, TN on January 21, 2011:

Beautiful instrument. Similar pickup configuration to my Parker Fly. Thanks for sharing. Now get him to build me one. :)

Joyus Crynoid (author) from Eden on January 03, 2011:

Excellent, I'd love to hear it!

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on January 03, 2011:

Bob says all the effects are like all different kinds of paints to an artist! Bob's the best guitar player I've ever heard and I've heard Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

I'll send you a sound file on facebook.

Joyus Crynoid (author) from Eden on January 03, 2011:

Hi Mentalist acer--indeed, thanks!

Hi Austinstar--Cool! The other guitar player in my rock band uses a Line-6 amp for some gigs. Its got a huge number of preset sounds. I prefer the natural simplicity and tone of tubes, with a minimum of effects. I don't have the time or patience to deal with all the choices that come with the newfangled digital gear;-)

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on January 03, 2011:

I showed your guitar/mandolin to my husband, Bob. He was impressed and said that this combo is really rare and I guess that is why you had to have it custom made.

Now, Bob is going to want one of these, I'm sure. So I will bookmark this hub and save the reference. Bob learned to play mandolin after meeting Geoff Outlaw (he was in a band called The Fuggs).

Bob swears by Line-6 amps and effects. Have you looked into those?

Mentalist acer from A Voice in your Mind! on January 03, 2011:

Your madolin electro-accoustic is a surprisingly natural addition to the band,Joyus Crynoid!;)

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