We report a variety of manganese-based catalysts containing both chelating diphosphine (bis(diphenylphosphino)methane (dppm: 1, 2, and 7) or 1,2-bis(diphenylphosphino)ethane (dppe: 3)), and mixed-donor phosphinoamine (2-(diphenylphosphino)ethylamine (dppea: 4-6)) ligands for the upgrading of ethanol and methanol to the advanced biofuel isobutanol. These catalysts show moderate selectivity up to 74% along with turnover numbers greater than 100 over 90 h, with catalyst 2 supported by dppm demonstrating superior performance. The positive effect of substituting the ligand backbone was also displayed with a catalyst supported by C-phenyl-substituted dppm (8) having markedly improved performance compared to the parent dppm catalysts. Catalysts supported by the phosphinoamine ligand dppea are also active for the upgrading of ethanol to n-butanol. These results show that so-called PNP-pincer ligands are not a prerequisite for the use of manganese catalysts in Guerbet chemistry and that simple chelates can be used effectively.