Price paid: $ 1069
Purchased from: Sweetwater.com
Features: This is my first guitar review, so bear with me.
- Made in 2011
- Metallic Blue Gloss Finish
- Alder Body
- Graph Tech Black Tusq XL Nut
- 25" Scale Maple Neck w/ 24 Fret Rosewood Fingerboard - 12" Radius
- 1.687" Fingerboard Width at Nut
- Wechter Humbucker Pickups
- Seymour Duncan Triple Shot Pickup Mounting Rings
- 1 Volume and 1 Tone Knob (Chrome) w/ 3-Way Toggle
- Wilkinson Tremolo with Steel Sustain Block and Slotted Base Plate
- Graph Tech Ghost Acoustiphonic System - 1 Volume and 3-Way Toggle Blend Switch
- Hardshell Case Included
- Made in Asia but electronics and hardware setup in Indiana, USA with Plek Pro
About three years ago, I found out about the Wechter company through finding their guitars on Sweetwater.com and was intrigued by their Pathmaker acoustic guitars. After about a year, I was made aware they made electric guitars based off the Pathmaker body style with tones of features for a price that didn't make me cry with envy. After some saving, I bought the SB PM-7312 in July of 2011.
When it finally arrived, I was ecstatic. I immediately began to play it, with the feel reminding me of a PRS Custom 24, except with a more comfortable neck (not as wide). The Acousticphonic system proved to, literally, make me giggle like a little school girl. The blend toggle allowed me to go from piezo/piezo-electric/electric with silent ease. The Triple Shot pickup rings also were a nice touch as well, giving me an arsenal of tones at my disposal. The trem was smooth and accurate but I wished they would have installed locking tuners, because the tuning goes out of tune when using the trem (though it's not nearly as bad as some non locking trems I've tried). // 8
Sound: Though I have switched out the pickups for PRS Dragon II's, the original pickups suited my needs rather well (I play/record progressive rock and jazz fusion). Though I am more used to mahogany bodies, the PM-7312's alder body was a nice change of pace for me and really lets the guitar's midrange cut through the rest of the band. But what makes the guitar so versatile are the Triple Shot rings. These rings allow you to put both pickups in series, parallel, and used both single coils, all with the the flick of two switches. Playing through a Hughes & Kettner Switchblade 100w amp head through a homemade 4x12 speaker with Eminence speakers, the cleans with the neck humbucker in regular wiring came out nice and warm, with the bridge having a little extra high end than I'm used to. Splitting the pickups into the single coils produced some pretty wicked Strat/Tele twang, though the bottom coil on the bridge pickup is a tad overpowering for my taste.
What makes this guitar really Shine is the Graph Tech Ghost Acoustiphonic Piezo saddles. When I first plugged it in, I couldn't tell that it was acoustic modeling. The Acoustiphonic sounded amazing through my Guitar Rig 5 acoustic setting and, with a little compression, sounded pretty damn cool through my Switchblade's clean setting. The guitar's output jack is stereo, so you can have a stereo Chord and send the electric and acoustic signals into two different amps, with the 3-way blend switch controlling the signal path. Needless to say, I hardly use my acoustic guitar for recording anymore. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: The frets were setup with the Plek Pro system, a computer controlled machine setting the frets to optimize playability by eliminating buzz and dead frets with superb action. And it actually lived up to it's name rather well out of the box, though detuning with the stock strings had some buzz. The long sustain, even with the trem, greatly surprised me which I believes comes from the Graph Tech nut. The trem poles were properly routed and I saw no discrepancies to be seen on the hardware. The cutaway also allowed me to easily reach up to the 20th fret, but the other 4 were a little awkward, but nothing I couldn't live with.
My only problem was the finish was gloss, though it was no fault of the company and it's just personal preference that I would have like satin. Also, the finish cracked a little on the upper horns on the body, but nothing too noticeable. // 7
Reliability & Durability: I have been playing with the PM-7312 live for little over 7 months and so far: no trouble. The knobs handle a little abuse, though I treat the blend toggle with a little extra care. The strap pins seemed iffy, so I switched them with a DiMarzio ClipLock strap early on. As already stated, the finish cracked a little, so I make extra precautions not to rock out so hard as to drop it by accident or bang it against my amp or my drummer's ride cymbal (which seems to happen a little too often). // 8
Overall Impression: In my very honest opinion of playing and demoing all sorts of guitars for 9 years: this is the best damn guitar I have ever played for the money. I have yet to find a guitar to match in versatility and features for the price tag, and this is a guy who stands by PRS almost fanboy-ish. With a little modding, I have made it fit my style to a tee without worrying of devaluing it (though I don't ever foresee me selling it). If it was stolen, there would be a manhunt. If broken, I'd sell gear to buy another. For the money, you really cannot beat it. And that's more than I can say about Gibson (too soon?). Anyways, hope this was helpful! // 9