|Pat Metheny, Stephen Fearing, Bruce Cockburn|
Manzer was a folk singer in high school and played guitar. Her career began when she wanted a dulcimer, but she couldn't afford to buy one, so she built one from a kit. She attended two art colleges, where she studied painting. For the craft of making flattop guitars she studied with Jean Larrivée 1974-78. She went to New York in 1983-84 and studied archtop building with Jimmy D'Aquisto.
In addition to her standard models, she has designed and built by hand over 50 guitar prototypes, including soprano guitar, the first acoustic baritone guitar, the acoustic sitar guitar sitars, and several multinecked harp guitars.
She has designed and built over 25 instruments for jazz musician Pat Metheny, including the Pikasso, which has 42 strings and four necks. He has played the Pikasso on many albums including Imaginary Day , What's It All About, and Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories). He played her baritone guitar on the album One Quiet Night. Plus she built and co-designed with Metheny a limited edition of 30 handmade Metheny-Manzer Signature models to celebrate a 30-year collaboration with Pat Metheny.
Professional musicians who own Manzer guitars include Julian Lage, Carlos Santana, Henrik Andersen, Stephen Fearing, Milton Nascimento, Liona Boyd, Heather Bishop, Bruce Cockburn, Paul Simon, Roy Patterson, Marie-Lynn Hammond, Susan Crowe, and Gordon Lightfoot.
Her custom designs include the 52-stringed Medusa owned by Danish musician Henrik Andersen.
In 1984 Pat Metheny requested a guitar that had "as many strings as possible". Manzer came up with the Pikasso, a guitar with 42 strings arranged in four string sections, including a hexaphonic pickup to interface with Metheny's Synclavier synthesizer. The Pikasso has two holes for mounting the guitar on a stand, allowing the guitarist to play the guitar without having to hold it. Metheny plays the Pikasso on "Into the Dream"", the third song on his album Imaginary Day. While building the Pikasso, Manzer invented "The Wedge" body geometry: Because the Pikasso turned out much wider than a normal six-string guitar, it was difficult for the right hand to reach all the strings. Manzer also wanted a solution that left the sound unchanged, while having Metheny be able to see all the strings when looking down at the guitar. She settled on a wedge shape, with the body of the guitar being wider at the bottom and narrower at the top. In the 1980s she began using the wedge design for all of her guitars.