Wendler MagPie 4FL Reviews 5

I use this in the Diva Duo [sometimes trio], Ms Diva on vox & KB, no drummer. Been doing that gig 3 nites/wk for several yrs. Blues, ballads, Amercian songbook, etc. This is a very unusual ax, so you will hafta do a search on "Wendler" and "MagPie" cuz links are not allowed here, and there's just too much to explain. I'll try to sketch you a basic impression. BTW, I do not work for Wendler, etc etc but I really dig this bass. He also makes other stringed instruments using the MagPie concept, which briefly is a magnetic-piezo hybrid configutation [see website for the techie stuff and call Dave Wendler and talk to him]. Techie stuff aside, there are yet more odd things about his instruments: wooden nut, bridge, and tailpiece, spoon-shaped body contour [concave backside], cedar wood body and many other non-mainstream aspects.

I bought Wendler's "scratch and dent" demo for a few hundred discount [USD]. A MagPie basic bass is about $1000, and some tempting options could go hundreds more. I first heard about Wendler from a bass forum dedicated to FL players.

Everything that is odd about it is devoted to making great sound, yet it plays perfectly normally and very easily. I haven't weighed it but I'm guessing it weighs about 5.5 lb [2.5 kg], which is for all intents and purposes about zero for a bass. I had been getting serious about a basic Rob Allen, and I am very glad this Wendler intervened. The top horn is so long that the strap button is over the 10th 'fret', which means it's sooper easy to keep the neck high, and the whole ax hangs a bit more to my right than most others, for easy reach to the farthest lowest notes.

For the easy playing, great voice, and antigravity effect, your do have to deal with minor quirks. There's no onboard EQ and the volume knob is not full range. Set the vol knob to the middle and then set your needed vol via your amp's controls. The Wendler vol knob will now give you about +/- 6db either way from center. The other control on the bass is the PU fader between mag and piezo. It blends from about 3:2 to 2:3 ... IOW neither PU is ever fully out of the mix. Whatever, it's another fine adjuster like the volume knob. This ax always sound great in an acoustic FL "Rob Allen-ish" way, and you do your main controls at the amp. Other quirk is that long top horn. The zipper on some gig bags cannot get by it. Some do, some don't.

It's not of the multi thousand dollar booteek finish level. It's a quality job but no OCD excesses here. It's a players ax. Not shortcuts or cheap stuff, but no fancy fussy work either. The body is red cedar, neck appars to be mahagany and some other stuff [multi-laminated]. Again, go check the website. It's so different from typical that I could waste a lotta space on too many details.

This is one of those basses that can fill in for an URB when it's not worth luggin the big mama. No bass guitar has the true URB voice, but this one is a better substiture than many of the EUB I've tried, and is even smaller and HUGELY LIGHTER than any 41" EUB. It is a pleasure to play and to hear. It is unique, and altho there are some changes to adjust to about where to reach for volume and EQ control [use your amp, like the URB guys do] there's a benefit in return: This a passive, zero batteries, piezo ax that does not require an "acoustic" outboard pre-amp nor a megohm hi-impedence "acoustic" amp. You just plug it into your fave bass amp and play. Given Wendlers stated goals, the resulting product-in-hand, and the sound and playability of that result, I'd give it a '6' on a 1 to 5 scale ! Goals, briefly, are grat acoustic quality thaz easy on your back, and easy on your wallet.

Golem rated this unit 5 on 2009-05-29.

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