« This looks interesting! | Main | Photo of the week - August 19, 2014 »

Thank you Mr. Collings, you made this D1A for me

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.


What I love about them: 

  • I admit that I'm a traditionalist when it comes to acoustic guitars, at least in terms of cosmetics. I like Martin dreadnoughts, and 0, 00, and 000s, OMs, and Gibson jumbo and L bodies. With appointments, I like Martin style-18 and -28/herringbone guitars and the simple Gibson look. Collings has been inspired by all of these, and put their own beautiful touches on these classic designs.
  • Although I'm conservative in my preferences for body shapes and appointments, Collings incorporates some modern features, dare I say "improvements," that I really love. In particular, they use bolt-on necks, adjustable truss rods,* and stablize their necks with two steel bars. I'm not arguing that these features make a guitar sound "better"; that's subjective. My sense is that they do cause some differences in the tonal qualities of a guitar, helping create a particular brand's signature sound. Some will prefer one flavor and others will prefer a different flavor, but I'll take modern stability, adjustibility, and repairability in an awesome sounding guitar.

*Most new, and some vintage, guitars have adjustable truss rods. I'm squarely thinking about vintage Martins and their current "Authentic" series guitars here.

  • The level of precision construction and fit and finish on a Collings instruments is unsurpassed. They are built using both CNC shaping of components and handcrafted assembly to achieve perfection. It's the perfect marriage between technology and craftmanship.
  • Maybe it's the result of how their wood is selected and seasoned, maybe it's their approach to design and construction, but I've found that Collings guitars are relatively stable in the face of environmental fluctuations. I'm not talking about prolonged exposure to unfriendly conditions like chronic low-humidity, but across a few days when conditions change, I've found my Collings to stay in tune when other instruments fall out of tune.
  • I appreciate their quest to introduce new and sustainable tonewoods (e.g., wenge, sacha rosewood, etc.) and discountinue the use of exotic woods that have questionable sources (e.g., Madagascar rosewood).
  • If Collings are good enough for my favorite artists (like Lyle Lovett, Alejandro Escovedo, Kenny Smith, Keith Richards), they are good enough for me! 
  • Awesome customer service. An email or phone call to the nice folks at Collings in Austin, Texas, always yields a quick and informative response.
  • Of course, the most important thing is that Collings guitars sound absolutely sublime.

The downsides: 

  • They aren't cheap...Quality costs.
  • They can be a bit heavier than other similar guitars. The neck bolts and steel rod in the neck surely contribute to that.
  • Production is lower and there aren't as many dealers. Collings is making a couple thousand guitars a year; Martin is pushing out around 100k. So they are harder to find (thus the 9 hours trip to Pittsburgh).

Read more about Collings guitars herehere, and here.

Kenny & Amanda Smith

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>