Pat Metheny is an absoute guitar master and we love him for it. Throughout his recorded career, he has pioneered many instruments, some more unusual than others. He has also crafted a distinctive synth guitar tone. Among his more unusual instruments is a beautifull odd-looking guitar named the Pikasso guitar, which aesthetically looks as if envisioned by Pablo Picasso himself.
This unusual instrument was a collaborative effort between Metheny and master luthier Linda Manzer. Metheny requested her to build a guitar that could have as many strings as possible. The final number came to be 42. The final product also included a hexaphonic pickup to interface with Metheny’s Synclavier synthesizer, which was an early digital synthesizer.
Admittedly, the guitar never caught on. From the looks of it, it would be difficult to even hold. However, it must be said that the guitar is wedged and shaped in such a way that Metheny, looking down, can see clearly each of the 42 strings. In fact, watching Metheny play it is a spectacle in its own right and it is downright remarkable to see how easy he makes playing it look.
There are videos of Metheny playing the Pikasso Guitar and he even most motably used it on his ninth album with the Pat Metheny Group, Imaginary Day from 1997. Here, he plays it on track 3, “Into the Dream.”
I mentioned the instrument in a recent livestream for JAZZIZ Magazine, hosted by Brian Zimmerman, where we talked about unusual instrumentalists and instruments in jazz. The other instrument I mentioned in this video is the newer Harpejji, developed in 2007, which is being pioneered by music polymath Jacob Collier, among others.