Artist, Luthier, Inventor and Musician, Dave refers to himself as a Dreamer.
Dave, A Modern Day Da Vinci,
With Visions & Creations
Years Ahead of Their Time
Dave has been a resident of the Tacoma/Seattle area for over 35 years. He and his father Joe built and patented the first Bunker (TM)Touch Guitar in 1961, it is the second patented string instrument in the USA. The unique instrument was built with two necks; one for playing lead and the other for playing Bass. It is designed specifically for the “tapping” technique. The strings are touched or tapped instead of being plucked or strummed, allowing both necks to be played at the same time.
With three decades of experience as a guitar builder, luthier and musician, Dave Bunker has evolved into a many faceted entertainer. Dave’s career includes over two decades as one of Las Vegas Nevada’s top lounge acts and performed for military audiences around the world. Dave has performed along side of such greats as Barbara Mandrell, Louise Mandrell, Waylon Jennings, Judy Lynn, Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Merle Haggard and many others.
One of Dave’s more enjoyable experiences was entertaining on cruise Ships.
Dave Bunker with his Duo Lectar
Over the past 30 years Dave has not only built guitars and basses for many top artists but has also built many thousands of great guitars and basses which are now sought after by collectors. Dave is now the president of Bunker Guitar Technology of Mill Creek Washington.
Dave Bunker as a Musician
Waylon, and about every other artist one could mention, performed at the Golden Nugget, the Mint, the Horseshoe or the Four Queens in Las Vegas when the Casino’s knew how to treat customers right. 5-6 working bands everyday at the Nugget, great owners in the Blaines and the Green’s who really cared about the artist and treated them with class.
My band the Dave Bunker Show featuring the “Wilkinsons” was one of the main groups for 10 years having a blast working along side of such great musicians, though they all were a little crazy, and carried on a lot, they also knew how to treat one another. Waylon was my gambling partner many times and was fun to be around with his rich humor people loved him around town.
Another artist the great Johnny Cash who spent much of his time at the Mint Casino just across the street from the Nugget was gifted with a great friend in Abbie Neal a wonderful lady and artist for many years in Las Vegas. In my humble judgment I believe that Abbie Neal probably saved Johnny’s musical carrier, at least in Vegas. Many a night when Johnny was unable to perform Abbie would round up guys like me to assist in getting him through his sets. We would hold Johnny by the back of his jacket through the big red curtain at the mint while he did his show so he didn’t fall off the stool. He’d still put on a solid entertaining show even then.
Thanks to you Abbie wherever you are you were our best friend, God Bless you for it – One great lady.
Dave Bunker Band
Wilkinsons with Dave Bunker
The way I became acquainted with Abbie was at the Showboat Hotel and Casino it was my first job with the Wilkinson in Las Vegas. Abby’s all girl band had not had time off in three years and needed someone to replace her girls for several weeks so she hired the Wilkinsons girls and of course I had to come along with the package, it was great fun.
Dave Bunker Band
Actually, my first job in Las Vegas was with Redd Foxx at the Silver Slipper on the strip. I walked in one day with my guitar and asked if they needed a guitar player and they told me to ask Redd if he needed someone to play his breaks. Let me tell you right now for a 20 year old kid from Forks Washington, I mean that is the sticks, to spell such a wonderful entertainer as Redd Foxx was mind boggling to say the least and tender ears weren’t tender for long listening to Redd’s act.
The Dave Bunker Show
Dave Bunker Show
This group of wild outfits, hairdoes and guitars was one of the hi-lites of the Golden Nugget casino in Las Vegas for over 10 years. Dave Bunker Sr. and the Wilkinson girls put on a fantastic show. That was when the Nugget was a real live entertainment spot with music going around the clock.
All of the guitars were built by Dave for his group and as you may note were very original. Each of the girls instruments featured on board mike attachments so they could wiggle and move around at will, it worked.
Jody was the mother of the girls and some folks say kept Dave in line and away from all those Vegas girls who liked to frequent the Nugget during those years, were not sure if this worked or not!! She also was a fine Drummer and vocalist for the group.
Vicki who was taught to play guitar by Dave was a fine singer, song writer and a great guitarist, doing such songs on stage as Malequena, the good the bad and the ugly theme and many more popular tunes at the time.
Patti was not only a very sweet lady but also very talented on both vocal and rhythm guitar. Patti carried the group with her wit and charm. Some people say Dave did these hair creations for the girls but he has never admitted it.
Little Dixie may have been the youngest but she was the dynamite of this group. Dixie could knock out songs like “How Ya Gonna Keep Em Down On the Farm”, “Pink Shoe Lace’s”, “There’s a Man Who Comes to Our House” and many others. Dixie also did wipe out and other solo’s on the drums.
Dave As An Inventor and Luthier
1960 Ozark Jubilee Circa
For more information on some of Dave Bunker’s inventions Click Here
Invention of the Duo Lectar, Touch Guitar
It was just another concert for Jimmy Webster, who was playing at Meany Hall on the University of Washington campus in the late 1950s. But it was a life changing experience for Dave Bunker, founder of Bunker Guitars. Jimmy Webster was from England and had developed a new tapping method for standard guitar.
Dave Bunker was curious enough to research this technique for himself, but after experimenting, he found it a difficult fit for many styles of music. While the tapping format used on a single neck guitar could easily be used in pull-offs and tapping, two hands could still only play 6 strings with 9 fingers. But Dave remained intrigued by the concept. He asked his father Joe Bunker if he thought they could build a double neck guitar made for touching or tapping. His father, an established guitar craftsman, answered yes.
In 1958 the Bunker Touch Guitar concept was patented under its initial name, the Duo-lectar. This was only the second US patent granted for a stringed instrument since the five string banjo. It took 30 more years of research and development to perfect today’s latest Touch Guitar. From that first patent in 1958 came many more corollary patents for fine tuners, on-body bridges, headless guitars and basses, the Tension Free Neck, the Electronic Mute and other refinements.
Bunker Guitars first caught the attention of Leo Fender at one of the first NAMM (national association of music merchants) trade show in the Palmer house hotel in Chicago. Leo Fender watched the performance of a young artist and inventor, Dave Bunker who was experimenting with some innovative ideas on his recently patented Duo-lectar. Dave Bunker was creating quite a stir at this show in the Standel Amps booth showing and playing his newly invented Touch Guitar to other greats such as Chet Atkins, Mel Bay (founder of St Louis music) Joe Maphis and many others. Dave was co-sharing this booth with Barbara Mandrell and her father Irby who before he brought Barbara to fame sold products for Standel. Leo Fender approached Dave and asked him if he would be interested in selling the Touch Guitar and his related innovations. Leo offered Dave $20,000.00 and a 3% royalty which at the time was like a million dollars, but Dave felt that he wanted to further develop this invention by himself.
Centerfold Guitar Magazine
After many years of technological refinement, Bunker Guitar company now has a full array of industry-recognized innovations and patents: individual bridge designs, the Magnum bridge, pickup designs, electronic mute technology, tension free necks and a stunning line of new technology guitars and basses. And of course, the noteworthy fifth generation Bunker Touch Guitar is what started it all.
Another specialty product from Bunker is the hand-selected tone-wood that is selected and milled for all Bunker instruments. “Stump to Stage” is the registered Bunker concept that controls guitar quality from the choice of wood through to the finished custom instrument. While Leo Fender first recognized the future of Bunker innovations, contemporary musicians like Eddie Van Halen continue to honor the inspired engineering of Dave Bunker.
For more of Dave’s Inventions Click Here
Dave is very particular and he “does not” hurry the wood he uses for any reason. It is properly dried at the proper temperature changes, time and moisture is released properly so as to maintain the integrity of the wood. Dave calls it Stump to Stage wood that is much sought after. Guitars, Guitar shops, Fender Guitars. Gibson guitars, Ibanez Guitars plus every Guitar Body, Guitar Neck and other Guitar type instruments (ad) – find great quality in the wood Bunker Tone woods produces for them; part of this is in Dave Bunkers “luthiers Touch” and especial care about the tone and beauty of his wood.
Wood Dave Harvested
Dave in Marysville Workshop
Dave playing on his Touch Guitar
From the smallest particle to the vast creations of celestial orbs throughout the universe, all things are held by a Power, harmonized and set in motion to the resonate sounds of music.