This video of Pat Metheny performing “The Sound of Water” was recorded at the Jazzaldia Festival in San Sebastian, Spain, on July 28, 2007.
In it, Metheny plays a 42-string Pikasso Guitar, a one-off four-necked guitar built for him by luthier Linda Manzer in the Eighties. Metheny has used the guitars on several albums, including Quartet, Imaginary Day, and Jim Hall & Pat Metheny.
The guitar’s genesis dates back to 1984, when Metheny approached luthier Linda Manzer and asked her to build a guitar with “as many strings as possible,” according to Manzer’s website. After working on the design with Metheny, Manzer built an instrument with 42 strings, four necks, two sound holes and a pair of access doors—one on the upper player’s side and another at the tail block.
Manzer also incorporated a special feature called the Wedge, which she designed especially for the guitar. The body is tapered so that the side closest to the player is thinner, allowing an easier view of the strings and top and making it more comfortable under the player’s arm. (Manzer offers the Wedge as an option on all her flattop guitars.)
The instrument features a piezo pickup system that includes a hexaphonic pickup on the six-string neck. Metheny used this to trigger sounds on his Synclavier computer keyboard.
The Pikasso took two years to build (about 1,000 hours). It features Indian rosewood back and sides, a German spruce top, mahogany necks, and ebony fingerboards, bridges and face plates. When the strings are tuned to concert pitch, the guitar is under about 1,000 pounds of pressure.
Metheny said it took him about 10 years to be able to tune the Pikasso and master it. Mere mortals don’t live long enough to make production of the Pikasso feasible. Enjoy watching the virtuoso at work.