Collings advice

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by happy1shirt, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. happy1shirt

    happy1shirt Member

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    I'm hoping the collective wisdom of TGP can help me make a decision. I almost never start a thread, I usually just search the archives, but this time I need opinions about my specific situation. I've decided to buy a really nice electric guitar once and for all. I've come to the conclusion that I might actually save money in the long run by buying a Collings electric. I'm hoping that GAS will subside if I bond with (what I perceive as) a top of the line instrument.

    The main indecision I have at this point is which Collings for me? My heart cant decide between an I35lc and a City Limits. My head tells me 290. I'm still even entertaining ideas about Gibson and Gretsch but I will be buying on line so I'd rather go with Collings which I consider very consistent.

    Here is some pertinent information about me that you might want to know. I play in a regional rock and country-rock band. 95% of our material is original. It's a four piece and I'm the utility player. I spend half of any gig playing banjo. Yes rock and roll banjo! The rest of the time I play electric guitar styles ranging from clean-ish country chicken picking' to classic rock levels of gain. My amp is a Rivera Sedona 55 and it's the only amp I've found that works really well for acoustic banjo and electric guitar. This amp is the cornerstone of my rig so I actually own two of them. The channel I use for electric is Marshall voiced though I'm not sure which era Marshall. hopefully some of you might know. To me this channel seems dark until I reach higher gain levels that don't work for chicken pickin'. I usually set up the amp on the edge of breakup and boost with pedals as needed. My number one guitar is a Gibson SG classic with lots of upgrades including Lollar P90s. This guitar is versatile and works well for my gig but sometimes the mid-range seems too prominent in a nasty way and I can't dial it out at the amp. My number two is a 97' Fender California series telecaster which has a humbucker in the neck. This is the guitar that I would probably use but for a few issues. The front man in the band plays a tele and the band mix works a little better with differently voiced guitars. Sometimes it seems too thin. Finally, the Gibson just feels better. I have been playing Gibson banjos long before I started playing guitar so the Gibson feels like family.

    My question is which Collings should I buy? It needs to have enough versatility to cover some different styles with a Marshall type amp. Since I play originals it doesn’t need to nail any particular tone it just needs to be in the ballpark.

    The 290 seems to be similar to my SG so I'm guessing it would work. On the other hand it may be too similar (same pickups) and I might be better off with something completely different.

    The I35lc is such a stunning instrument that I feel like it could be a lifer for me. I have read countless threads about 335 style guitars being versatile but seems to me that some of this versatility comes from its proficiency at jazz and I have no interest in jazz. Will the I35lc be bright enough for clean country?

    The City Limits looks like it splits the difference sonically and price wise. I'm pretty sure I can get great rock tones with a Les Paulish guitar and a Marshally amp but I'm not sure about the versatility. I love the idea of a “telecaster on steroids” like Pete thorn gets out of his Yaron LP but I'm never going to spend that kind of cash on a guitar. The cost of a Collings is plenty for me yet I don't know if these tones are possible.

    Opinions about which pickups to focus on would be helpful. Right now I’m thinking that the low wind Imperials would be the best for clean tones and I could use a boost for more gain.

    Also I'm wondering if anybody has any feelings about which guitar is more forgiving? I am not a great guitar player and it's not my primary instrument. Of course I would love it if the guitar helped to make me sound a better, but I would be satisfied if it helped me to not sound as bad.

    Thanks for reading such a long post. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. strangec

    strangec Supporting Member

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    Yeah, you're all over the map. It's not, "which Collings" it's "which guitar- LP JR. P90, LP, or 335 type".

    With that equation, I'd go City Limits with a pull swith to tap the coils.

    Good luck.
     
  3. smiert spionam

    smiert spionam Member

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    In general, I'd say the 290 seems to immediately come to mind, though it does double you up (would overlap with the SG). Your concern about getting too thick and dense in the mids suggests that the humbucker I-35 would be going in the wrong direction. Which leads me to...

    Your interest in something that has more girth than a tele but without quite as much midrange density as a P90 captures exactly what I love about a Gretsch Duo Jet with Dynasonics. You might try one. If that speaks to you, it might change your calculations -- possibly by nudging you toward Gretsch (the pro line stuff is awfully good) or toward using a set of P90-form factor TV Jones T'Armonds in a Collings 290, which would be a formidably fun guitar.
     
  4. cardinal

    cardinal Member

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    From your post, buying an expensive guitar will not cure your GAS because anything you buy will be a compromise.
     
  5. fractal

    fractal Member

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  6. smiert spionam

    smiert spionam Member

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  7. RobC

    RobC Supporting Member

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  8. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    i35LC is not the best choice for clean country. It's a shade darker than a LP. (I have both and I play country tunes in a few bands). You could do it, but it wouldn't be my first choice.

    I also have a 290. I do like the i35LC better than the 290 overall. But that's just me.
     
  9. zztomato

    zztomato Supporting Member

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    I have an I35lc. I wouldn't really call it a country guitar but it's certainly versatile enough to cover some of that ground. It is plenty bright on the bridge pickup. It's a great sounding and beautifully playing guitar. I doubt you'd be disappointed.
    You could just add a tele to your setup and call it a day as well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
  10. treeofpain

    treeofpain Supporting Member

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    I love and have owned both the I35 and the CL. For what you are doing, I'd go with the CL (humbucker version).
     
  11. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

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    I know how tough it can be to make a decision like this!

    The only Collings I've played has been a 290DC with P90s, and it is a close as I recall a guitar being to a "Swiss Army Knife" of versatility.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
  12. paulvcarter

    paulvcarter Member

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    The 290 I had was a fabulous guitar, amazing build quality - so you are on the right track but I found the P90's too limiting -
     
  13. happy1shirt

    happy1shirt Member

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    Thanks guys.

    I realize I'm all over the map, but I've come to the conclusion that I'll be able to make just about any guitar work. I just feel like I should buy one quality guitar and go with it. After all I still sound like me no matter which guitar and amp I play through. In fact I recently returned from a “guitar buying” trip to Arizona where I was fortunate enough to try out lots of guitars through some very nice amps. Almost every guitar I played had some aspect that I liked and I came home more confused about what I should do.

    Strangec, I like your idea about coil taping a CL. This was what I originally planned on doing so I played some Gibson LPs that had taps. Then I played a R7 without taps that sounded better for what I wanted than the LPs that had the tap. Perhaps tapping a CL or a R7 would yield different results?
     
  14. smiert spionam

    smiert spionam Member

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    I've never played a tapped humbucker that could sound even remotely as good as a good single coil. There have been some attempts to solve the problem, but the underlying issue is that half of a good (not overwound) humbucker makes for a thin and plinky single coil, and two good single coils together makes for a muddy humbucker.

    This is doubly the case if the single coil tone you have in mind is a P90 or similar.
     
  15. happy1shirt

    happy1shirt Member

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  16. smiert spionam

    smiert spionam Member

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    There's a lot to like there. Fortunately, both the P90 and Filter'tron routes give you some options if you need to tweak the pickups (TV Jones does his Dyna interpretation in a FT mount, as well as Magna-trons, etc.).
     
  17. happy1shirt

    happy1shirt Member

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  18. fishman919

    fishman919 Supporting Member

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    When I'm playing with other electric players I like to use my Gretsch Duo Jet. The Filtertrons seem to stand out (in a good way) in the mix, clean or with gain.

    I've never found tapped HB's very useful, mostly due to the volume drop. Of course you can play always play it tapped and adjust your rig to compensate, but then the versatility is gone.
     
  19. happy1shirt

    happy1shirt Member

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    What did you find limiting about P90s? Which pickups do you find more versitle?

    Thanks.
     
  20. FreeBlues

    FreeBlues Silver Supporting Member

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    I currently own a CL and 290, previously owned an I-35LC as well. As you already know, build quality, playability, tones, etc. are about as good as you can get. All three of these guitars are spectacular. While I ended up trading my I-35LC for the CL, works better for me, the LC was maybe the "best" guitar I have ever owned. Perfect balance, size, proportions - and just too pretty for mere words!

    To the issue at hand, any of these guitars would work, but none of them would be my first pick or recommendation. For me, the country style music just begs for a Tele of some sort.

    But, if "any" guitar would do (you always sound like you), maybe the most versatile would be the CL with a coil tap. Mine had this until I swapped pickups and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it did. No, it is not a perfect solution, but I feel it is definitely a workable solution. Plus, as noted, a great LP style guitar can do the Tele on steroids thing if you dial it in correctly, and I think Collings starts closer to that than an LP anyway.

    Finally, while a 290 might not be your best choice, of all the electrics I've owned my 290 is still my favorite. Just too much fun playing this guitar.
     

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