Linda Manzer

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Linda Manzer
Occupation(s) Luthier
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1970s–present
Associated acts Pat Metheny, Stephen Fearing, Bruce Cockburn
Notable instruments
Pikasso Guitar, Guitar Wedge

Linda Manzer (born July 2, 1952) is a Canadian master luthier renowned for her archtop, flat top, and harp guitars.


Manzer was a folk singer in high school and played guitar. Her career began when she wanted a dulcimer, but she couldn't afford to buy one, so she built one from a kit. She attended two art colleges, where she studied painting and silkscreening. For the craft of making guitars by hand, she studied with Jean Larrivée, and she learned how to design inlay from Tony Duggan-Smith and Heather McCrae. She went to New York and studied archtop building with Jimmy D'Aquisto.[1]

In addition to her standard models, she has designed and built by hand over 50 guitar prototypes, including soprano guitars, baritone guitars, acoustic sitars, and harp guitars.

She has built almost 25 instruments for jazz musician Pat Metheny, including the Pikasso, which has 42 strings and four necks. He played the Pikasso on the albums Imaginary Day and What's It All About, and he played her baritone guitar on the album One Quiet Night.

Professional musicians who own Manzer guitars include Julian Lage, Carlos Santana, Henrik Andersen, Stephen Fearing, Milton Nascimento, Liona Boyd, Heather Bishop, Bruce Cockburn, Paul Simon, Roy Patterson, Marie-Lynn Hammond, Susan Crowe, and Gordon Lightfoot.[2]

Her custom designs include the 52-stringed Medusa owned by Danish musician Henrik Andersen.

The Pikasso and the Wedge[edit]

The Pikasso Guitar
Pat Metheny with the 42-string Pikasso guitar

Pat Metheny's request to Manzer in 1984 was to build a guitar that had "as many strings as possible." Manzer came up with the Pikasso, a guitar with 42 strings and four necks that weighed almost fifteen pounds. A hexagonic pickup enabled Metheny to access his Synclavier synthesizer, and thus play on guitar anything that could be played on his synthesizer, including samples and other instruments. The Pikasso contains two holes for mounting the guitar on a stand, allowing the guitarist to play the guitar without having to hold it. Metheny plays the Pikasso on "Into the Dream," the first song on his album Imaginary Day.[1][3]

While building the Pikasso, Manzer invented the Manzer Wedge. Because the Pikasso was much wider than a normal six-string guitar, it was difficult for the right hand to reach all the strings. Manzer also wanted Metheny to be able to see all the strings while looking down at the guitar. She wanted a solution that left the sound unchanged. She settled on a wedge, something that is wide at one end and narrow at the other. The Pikasso introduced having the bass side of the guitar narrower than treble side. Narrowing the body of the guitar made the strings easier to reach, and it made the guitar more comfortable to play. In the 1980s, she began adding the wedge design to all the guitars she made.[1][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Smith, Pat (17 June 2009). "Builder Profile: Linda Manzer". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "The Larrivee Tradition of Handmade Canadian Guitars, by Zak Morgan". Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  3. ^ a b Booth, Allen. "Manzer Guitars - Manzer Guitars". Retrieved 15 January 2017. 

External links[edit]