My guitar and bass collection



Keeping Austin weird but with a lot of tradition

The late Bill Collings (August 9, 1948 -- July 14, 2017) had a passion for building guitar. Starting out in the mid-1970s, he became part of the renaissance of acoustic guitar building, exemplified by people like Dana Bourgeois, Richard Hoover (Santa Cruz guitars), Jean Larrivée, Linda Manzer, and Bob Taylor to name a few. What all of these builders have in common is their drive to (re)create great flattops and/or archtop guitars inspired by the great instruments of yore whether they be Gibson, Stromberg, D’Angelico, or from that venerable company, now from Nazareth, PA, C.F. Martin. Instead of me rehashing Bill’s journey into the business, how he grew his Austin, TX based company, and expanded it into building a wide range of acoustic and electric instruments, why not just read this history and watch the video on the same page? But let it be noted Bill is responsible for one of the 24 archtop guitars in Scott Chenery’s Blue Collection, has built banjos and ukuleles, ventured into the 1920-1940 mail catalog flattop guitars with his Waterloo line (replicating simple but effective construction akin to the Harmony H169 Buck Owens), built his own cases, and is responsible for some of the most revered mandolins in the business. Fact was, Bill had an amount of energy hard to be matched by anyone else. However, during the first 5 years after his passing new GM Steve McCreary and his team had to make some business decisions to deal with new realities as well as the unexpected like the post-2020 COVID epidemic and its associated reduction in available workforce. During the 2022 Chicago Fretboard Summit, he summarized these changes: the production of Waterloo guitars had to be scaled back with allotment per dealer based on their sales numbers, Collings would no longer build their own cases even though they are a sight to behold, and it would focus on its core business of acoustics, electrics, and (less so) mandolins which implies at the time of writing only about 1500 Collings ukuleles are in existence. What still can be said though is no artist is paid by Collings to endorse the brand. So if you see ads featuring artists like Lyle Lovett, Bill Frisell, Audley Freed, Charlie Sexton, and even Julian Lage with his signature acoustic and/or electric model, they allegedly all paid for their instrument themselves.