Collings factory tour - the return

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by osostrings, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. osostrings

    osostrings Supporting Member

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    I just got home after a sweet 15-minute drive to the Collings factory just outside Austin - autumn hit in a major way today and the quick hill country drive was a fun way to get some of the freshly cooled off air. The sweet folks at Collings offer free tours every Friday afternoon at 3:30 - this one lasted an hour and a half.

    I am stunned - the level of sophistication, care, and attention to detail at this operation is staggering. The tour took a group of about eight of us through the factory in the order in which the guitars are created - from the warehouse for incoming shipments of wood (stacks of beautiful mahogany, rosewood in burlap sacks, etc.) to the setup room where the final touches are put down. Almost all of the components and processes were explained or demonstrated one way or another and it comes down to this simple fact - every single piece of material, despite it's apparent utility or significance, is fostered through a long process of laborious hand care to a state of absolute excellence. All the binding, purfling, bracing pieces...rosettes, f-holes, gentle curves, or complex carvings...everything is delicately and prodigiously executed by trained hands.

    The trip through the shop culminated in the new setup room for the recently unveiled electrics. At one point, our tour guide lifted a freshly completed I-35 Deluxe (based on the 335) off the shelf, replete with ivoroid pickup covers and knobs (I can't express how freaking cool this looks), custom wound Lollar humbuckers, and a perfect setup. He held the guitar out to me so I could get an idea about the weight. I asked about the pickups and he asked if I wanted to plug it in - a decisive, perhaps overzealous, "yes" burst from my lips.

    I plugged it into an old Super and oh my god...these dulcet bell-like tones starting just dripping out of every increasingly confident phrase and chord. This guitar - and I've played my share - is an absolute triumph. Effortless playability and simply glorious guitar tone on a masterfully-executed design...

    If you find yourself in Austin on a Friday afternoon, give these folks a ring - they will treat you like family and you'll walk away awestruck by the expertise, the choice materials, and most importantly, the magnimonious sound of a nearly perfect instrument.
     
  2. Stu/Fat Sound

    Stu/Fat Sound Member

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    Good stuff!! Where are the pics?????
     
  3. lchyi

    lchyi Member

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    I went to the Taylor factory a month or so ago. It's probably one of the coolest experiences as a guitar player. Everyone at the factory was super nice and I got to meet some nice tour mates. I got to see new T5 colorways and some extreme figured Cocobolo tops going on new T5 customs. Finally at the end I got to leave Bob Taylor with Post-It note and grabbed a couple of "soundhole" coasters they were giving out.

    I can only imagine what it'd be like at Collings though. I heard many a luthier say that they are the best guitar makers out (technically speakng). I'd would really like to take a trip down to Austin sometime and go. I am totally psyched about their electrics, the have to be AWESOME!
     
  4. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    I did the Collings tour about 6 weeks ago --very, very interesting -- but I didn't get to play anything!
     
  5. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    I would love to do that!

    I just ordered an I35 to go with my CL DL. You are a bad man, Stu!!
     
  6. Stu/Fat Sound

    Stu/Fat Sound Member

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    :Devil :dude
     
  7. ford

    ford Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Stu is the man with all of the "BAD" stuff... :RoCkIn

    rock

    bford
     
  8. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    Stu, what's the lead time on the 35s...?

    Do you know if they'd be willing to do one with a pair of P90s...?
     
  9. Stu/Fat Sound

    Stu/Fat Sound Member

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    Hi Dave,
    Currently the only P-90 guitar on offer is the mid -50's LP Special inspired "290".

    It may happen that you can get any of their models with P-90's in the future, but for now they are just trying to keep up with standard model orders.

    We have 26 Collings Electrics pre-sold as of this post. We have 40 on order so.....best guess is a lead time of 6 months. Delivery *may* be quicker, but I'd rather under promise and over deliver.

    These guitars are causing quite a stir around my shop. They are simply stunning in every respect. The first two I sold went to a player who owns several late 50's Gibsons. His remark was that the I-35 was, hands down, the finest guitar in his collection.

    Let me know if I can help further.

    Thanks Dave.
     
  10. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    What are the neck profiles like, Stu...?
     
  11. Iceman77

    Iceman77 Member

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    I'm hoping to do the tour soon -- it'd be awesome if they let me try some stuff out :D
     
  12. Stu/Fat Sound

    Stu/Fat Sound Member

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    Dave,
    Of course I have been asked this a lot over the past 6 weeks. Here's the thing that I found most interesting. Usually....whenever I pick up a new guitar.....the first thing I think about is weight....the second is neck carve.

    With the Collings I realized I had been playing for a good 15 minutes before it even dawned on me to think about the neck.....is it too small....too big....just right?

    And then it hit me. It is so perfectly shaped that it basically just disappears. You don't think about it at all. At least that's how it was for me. Maybe some of this was due to the fact that my City Limits weighs in at 7.7 pounds with the same net dimensions as a Les Paul....possibly I was too stunned by that fact to think about anything else for a few minutes!:D

    To answer your question, the City Limits neck is about like a medium sized '59 Historic LP neck. Not the smallest Gibson has built for those guitars nor is it the super fatty. Just a perfectly shaped late 50's medium large roundback.

    The I-35 neck is just a hair larger.

    Don't know if that helps, but it's the best I can do without speaking to you. I can probably articulate this better in person.

    I've often said that the best luthiers just have an intuition about neck shapes that makes actual dimmensions meaningless if you know what I mean.

    Maybe GAT can chime in with his impressions of the neck carve on his City Limits???
     
  13. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a Collings C10 from about '97 or so. Really nice feeling neck, but not as deep from front to back, at the 1st fret, as what I typically prefer (0.95" or so...) I certainly don't dislike it enough to part with it -- LOL -- but then again, I only paid about $1700 or so several years back.

    If I'm going to spend $6k+ on a guitar, though, I'd probably be a bit more finicky about the neck profile, you know...? ;)

    Would love to hear some actual dimensions, if anyone's got calipers floating around...
     
  14. Stu/Fat Sound

    Stu/Fat Sound Member

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    I have calipers at the shop and can measure mine tomorrow if you like.......
     
  15. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    The guitar Stu...:crazyguy
     
  16. Stu/Fat Sound

    Stu/Fat Sound Member

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    Yeah....'cause my calipers are kinda small!:eek:


    Wise Guy!:)
     
  17. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    Oy...!
     
  18. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    Dave I'll try to compare it to the Baker Jr. I got from you.
     
  19. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    Cool... that one had what Gene called his "Phat 58" profile, which I REALLY liked...
     
  20. AdamBath

    AdamBath Member

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    heh i know 4 guys who work at the Collings factory, they graduated with me from Roberto-Venn in the spring, and they got hired at Collings right out of school, pretty awesome. i personally wanted to come back to Dallas, not Austin, so i didn't bother even applying for Collings...
     

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