Guitar Gavel "Gear" Of The Week with Will Ray - His 9-string Cozart
In Bottom Feeder fashion, Will picked up this 12-string Cozart at a flea market a few years back. Of course he "Will Ray-ized" it to experiment with the octave strings but only on the bass side, a 9-string.
If the guitar is a winner, it gets a Hipshot Helle-Bender... and this one did.
3:38- let's see what she can do!
Abe Wechter decided to begin his luthier career in 1971 while living in Eastsound, a village on Orcas Island, WA.
In 1975 a deep soul-search to learn from the best guitar builder in the U.S. led Wechter to work with master builder Richard Schneider in Detroit, MI. A year later Schneider became a product design consultant for Gibson and helped develop the Mark Series of acoustics.
Wechter followed Schneider to Gibson, becoming a jack-of-all-trades during his 10-year stint at the company.
When Gibson left Kalamazoo for Nashville, Abe went out on his own in 1984, bought some acreage in rural Michigan and began hand-building his own line of acoustics. A couple of noteworthy clients included John Denver and John McLaughlin.
However, being a high-end builder, much of his clientele were also high-end, more of the collector-type, and Abe missed working with regular players.
To put his guitars in the hands of “regular folks” Wechter decided to scale production. So in the early 90s he took a leap of faith and opened his own 6,000 sq/ft production shop in Paw Paw, MI where his crew eventually built about 500 instruments a year.
It was at this time Wechter developed one of his most unique designs, the double cutaway Wechter Pathmaker acoustic.
The SG of acoustics.
There was a resonator version of the same guitar, a thinline, and also electric-acoustic models.
The one pictured is a Michigan made electric-acoustic with a solid spruce top, Indian rosewood back and sides, walnut neck, and maple binding.
The timeline gets a little murky and so does the details, but Abe moved to Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 2008 and went to work for Sweetwater.
Abe had begun sourcing more budget-friendly guitars in Asia in the early 2000s as he really wanted to put his engineered guitars in the hands of more players. Sweetwater furthered his idea, making extremely fine instruments sourced from Asia and the company promoted Wechter Guitars heavily within the Sweetwater catalog. I cannot verify for sure, but he may have sold the brand to Sweetwater, either way he remained on the team until 2013.
After that deal ended Abe returned to custom building again, but he and his shop moved to China, presumably a move that resulted from relationships formed during his Sweetwater years.
Here’s an old video of Abe when he was at Sweetwater, discussing his origin story and the line-up of guitars they were offering at the time.