Got back late last night after 3 full days (Fri-Sat-Sun) of guitars and music at the Healdsburg Guitar Festival (which strangely takes place in Santa Rosa)…a nice, non-working musical vacation (for once)!

There weren’t a lot of harp guitar surprises this year, but the very first one was a whopper…Tony McManus’ set included an impromptu demo on a new Linda Manzer “Pikasso Archtop.”  Yowza!

She said she was inspired to build this for herself (or whoever talks her out of it) after doing the Medusa for Henrik Andersen (see my blog of March 17).  She was so taken with the results of the short fretless neck he asked for on that one, that she wanted to do another.  Speaking of the Medusa, Linda told me that the design came not from her, but from a cartoon!  Henrik, a cartoonist, had sent her this hilarious sketch.  Fascinating how accurate her interpretation turned out.

The new one is the 4th Pikasso-type harp guitar she’s done and the first arch-top (still all steel-string).  36 strings total, but it can produce 60 different notes, using both sides of the across-the-soundhole harp bank, and the below-the-bridge section of the fretless guitar neck, fitted with tunable, individual jawari bridges.  A final diagonal harp bank across the lower bout tops it off.   Note that on this one, all strings attach at the edges, none on the top.

Tony later told me that he had done a “much better” pre-Healdsburg performance on the instrument, posted on YouTube here.  Tony’s another hero of mine and of course a monster player (more and more breaking out of his predominately-“Celtic” repertoire), so it would be nice to see him borrow this harp guitar again.  Talk about further beyond six strings!

Photos of Tony copyright and courtesy of Peter Spencer and Terry Connelly (thanks for sending!).

More on the Festival to come!