My guitar collection - Acoustics


The great late Bill Collings (1948--2017) was not just one of the greatest small scale acoustic guitar builders. He and his company are also responsible for highly regarded mandolins and ukuleles (properly pronounced as OO-koo-leh-lays). Or at the end of his life, guitar cases for that matter. Whatever Bill’s endeavor may have been, it needed to be done in the best possible way within certain operation parameters, e.g. cost/value. This Collings instrument is such an example: a tenor ukulele, i.e. a uke with a 17” scale, adorned the the simplest appointments as indicated by the ‘1‘ in the model designation. But even then, look at it! The body is made of highly figured koa (‘K‘) in a satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish with a gorgeous rosette made out of tortoise and black and white purfling, an East-Indian rosewood bridge with bone saddle using a 1¹¹⁄₁₆” string spacing, and a K&K Twin Spot two-head piezo transducer already installed. The mahogany neck has a C-shaped profile, 12” radiused East-Indian rosewood fingerboard with ivoroid dot position markers, and 1⅜” wide bone nut. The so-called “Single-Point” headstock has an East-Indian rosewood veneer with the Collings logo and Pegheds planetary gear tuning machines. This ukulele was built well before Bill started to build his own cases so it has the Ameritage case with tan interior. Collings started offering ukuleles in 2009 but full production stopped in mid-2016. Although Collings has done small batches of ukuleles even after Bill’s passing, like a number of UC1K and UT1K ukuleles at the end of 2019, normally one can only custom order an ukulele through an authorized dealer. A 2011 snapshot of the relevant page on the old Collings website can be found here.


Collings UT1K

The story behind this guitar


Serial number:


Collings was not the only brand under consideration. Many great, more mainstream manufacturers, e.g. Kamaka pr Kanile’a, still reside in Hawai’i. Or pick any of the custom builders producing ukuleles originating directly from the islands. A brand like Mya-Moe here in Washington state has been made famous by Eddie Vedder, singer of the Seattle grunge band Pearl Jam. But it has always been a desire to minimize the number of brands in this collection, hence I settled on a Collings ukulele. And why not? They are high quality builds, made in small batches, by absolute craftsmen and craftswomen. It just needed to check a couple of boxes: a tenor ukulele, in anticipation that it would fit my personality better, with a koa body purely for sentimental reasons. After all, according to the Wikipedia ukulele article, a tenor covers the same octaves, and more, compared to a sopranino, soprano, and/or concert ukulele. Adhering to these “restrictions”, it then just comes down to appearance, ranging from an all decked out UT3K to the relatively austere UT1K. And the latter it became when Artisan Guitars in Nashville, TN presented this uke on their site. In person, it is a gorgeous instrument with a corresponding rich, warm sound. A nice bonus is that the model sticker visible through the sound hole has been signed by Bill himself. According to their own Ukulele FAQ webpage, this sticker should have had a handwritten serial number too. But as the pictures below demonstrate, the S/N for this UT1K is found on the neck block and indicates its build started early in 2011. And yes, a tenor is the right choice for my big hands. I will have hours of fun learning to play it.

The story behind this guitar



Savarez Ukulele Tenor 150R