A recent sampling of eight of Collings dreadnoughts, which culminated in the purchase of a D1A with a sunburst finish, has me reflecting on my attraction to Collings guitars. I have had the good fortune to own serveral Collings across the years, moving from an OM2HA to OM1SB to D1VSB to Baby 2H to CJMhASB, and now to a D1ASB (yes, I know this is a lot of acronyms, but the Collings naming/numbering system is actually pretty logical and informative when you get the hang of it). Although I have been going through a Martin phase over the last few years (see here, here, and here), I consistently have liked (and usually loved) just about every Collings guitars I've had the opportunity to play.
Having just turned the corner on 40, I decided that I could splurge for a new guitar. I love D-18-style guitars (i.e., mahogany and spruce dreadnoughts), and wanted something with even more cut and volume than a Martin D-18 (which I have and love; it's a classic bluegrass, folk, and singer-songwriter guitar). I dig Collings guitars, so I quicky honed in on a Collings D1A. In the past I had a D1VSB (i.e., vintage neck and sunburst top) that I traded for another Collings some years back, so I had a pretty good idea that this was the direction I wanted to go.
It's not as simple as just running down to a local shop and getting a D1A (especially since Acoustic Roots closed several years ago); there are lots of different options that one can get on top of the standard adirondack spruce and mahogany configuration:
- standard sitka bracing vs. adirondack bracing
- neck profile and corresponding string spacing at the saddle: 1-11/16", 1-23/32", 1-3/4" standard, vintage now, and vintage necks
- standard vs. varnish finish
- standard bracing or sans tongue brace
- sunburst or natural finish
- standard or vintage/cut-through saddle
- other cosmetic bits like bound fretboards and pegheads, back strips, etc.
Rather than ordering online, I decided I had to get my hands and ears on guitars with these various options for a purchase of this magnitude. Luckily, a top Collings dealer is within driving distance, so I decided to take a road trip to Acoustic Music works in Pittsburgh. They have about 200 Collings in stock, and a great variety of different D1A configurations.
Some friends and I got on stage at the Old Fiddlers' Picnic at Hibernia park last week. In all of the pictures, I'm making this face. The sound guy wasn't putting enough volume on my guitar, which I apparently wasn't happy about.
Here's the proof that he didin't have my mic turned up enough (my break starts at about 45 seconds into this clip); I'm not making it up.
Here we are with our purple "participant" ribbons.
I recently returned from an extended trip to New Zealand and Australia (read more about packing for this trip here). The trip was anchored on an academic conference in Melbourne, but if you're going to go all that way, you might as well go big or go home. In case you're planning a similar trip, here's my itinerary...
As I head out to my conference in Australia, with a stop in New Zealand on the way, I've been planning for how to pack for the trek. Some caveats as a starting point:
- Although part of my trip involves attending an academic conference, I tend to dress at the causal end of the spectrum for these sorts of things (maybe even outside the range of what is normative). No suits, ties, shiny leather shoes, etc.
- There will be lots of walking and exploring in the cities, as well as some hiking in the countryside. Much more on the activewear side of things rather than anything formal.
- I tend to be low maintenance when it comes to toiletries, and am perfectly fine using whatever is found in the hotel. And I don't mind being scruffy and going without shaving for a few weeks.
- Admittedly, there's likely going to be more photography gear than most would bring. In particular, a second body is a total luxery. But I'd be crushed if I had a problem with my camera and didn't have a backup on a trip like this. And it's not like I'll be carrying two DSLRs...
- I need to have a pack for day trips with my photo gear and small messenger bag for the conference and walking around Sydney and Melbourne.
I've been reading about "one bag travel," where the goal is to fit everything into a carry-on bag. Given that I'm an avid photographer, I know there's no way I can do this, unless half of the bag is camera gear. Even though I travel with the small(ish) Fuji X-sytem which is lighter than the Nikon DSLR I used to travel with, it's still more gear than most "one-baggers" would carry. Couple that with a (small) laptop and iPad, I know one bag isn't going to happen. But if I could get to "MLC" (maximum legal carry-on; ~40 liters) bag plus a small bag or backpack (i.e., "personal item" on the plane), I'd be going much lighter than the 90+ liter Gregory Whitney backpack I previously traveled with. So here's the plan...