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Gallery: 2016 Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration

Showcasing hundreds of drool-worthy, handcrafted instruments, a new U.S. guitar show makes its successful debut.


Manzer Guitars

One of the few female luthiers at the show, Canadian Linda Manzer has enjoyed a 30-year partnership with jazz legend Pat Metheny (she build Metheny’s 42-string Pikasso guitar in 1984), and her instruments are played by Bruce Cockburn, Julian Lage, and Carlos Santana, among others. Inspired by the late James D’Aquisto and his pioneering archtop designs, Manzer’s JazzCAT model has a handcarved German spruce top and European curly maple back and sides. Its custom pickguard-mounted Kent Armstrong pickup is voiced especially for this instrument.

The inaugural Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration was held September 29 to October 2 in sunny coastal California. The event brought hundreds of top luthiers and players who displayed their craftsmanship, gave seminars, and held intimate concerts. The Earl Warren Showgrounds served as a fitting venue, as in decades past it hosted concerts from such acts as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys, the Doors, Cream, the Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin.

The show pulled widely from Canada and Europe, with heavy representation from the U.S. West Coast. Also on sale were top-grade woods, inlay materials, and custom bindings. Luthiers were open with their time, and many fans enjoyed hearing builders talk shop. Among the visitors was Santa Barbara resident and guitar pickup guru, Seymour Duncan, who could be seen checking out all the beautiful instruments on display.