|Opus 19 - Steel-String Guitar,
Archtop and Cutaway
he archtop acoustic guitar owes its invention to the development of the dance orchestras of the 1920s and the big bands of the 1930s. In order to be heard above the brass and percussion sections, the guitar had to be louder.
Once again, as a result of musical requirements, the shape of the instrument gradually changed. The archtop guitar was developed in the Gibson workshops in the United States. John d'Angelico and James d'Aquisto subsequently produced models that were highly favoured by jazz guitarists.
This guitar has many features similar to those of a violin: a curved soundboard, f-shaped soundholes and an adjustable bridge over which the steel strings run to the tailpiece, where they are anchored. A steel frame in the neck also helps support the high tension of the strings. Early on in its development, the archtop guitar was equipped with electric pickups, although it cannot match the much more powerful volume of an electric guitar. The instrument has an intimate tone, widely appreciated in the jazz world.
Linda Manzer decorates the fingerboard or peg box of her guitars with inlays, an obvious influence of her first teacher, Jean-Claude Larrivée. This guitar is decorated with motifs representing eight animal species that are endangered or already extinct in Canada. Starting at the peg box, the species are the Dawson caribou, the peregrine falcon, the swift fox, the eastern cougar, the spotted owl, the sea otter, the whooping crane and the bowhead whale. The peg box is ornamented with a floral motif and bears the artist's name carved in a piece of mother-of-pearl. This carefully crafted instrument has a tone worthy of the great jazz guitars.
Linda Manzer became interested in making stringed instruments while studying at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where she attended woodworking workshops. She decided to devote herself to the craft and chose as her teacher Jean-Claude Larrivée, who was working in Toronto. She apprenticed under him for four years, after which she built acoustic guitars for such famous musicians as Pat Metheny, Bruce Cockburn and Milton Nascimento, each of whom owns at least one of her instruments. In 1984, she trained under James d'Aquisto in New York to learn to make archtop guitars in the tradition of John d'Angelico.
Manzer is well known for her innovative spirit, which compels her to never refuse an order, no matter how unusual. For example, she built the celebrated Pikasso 42-string, three-necked guitar for Pat Metheny. In addition to steel-string archtop guitars, Linda Manzer makes classical guitars.