Collings Guitars is a pioneer in the manufacturing of acoustic and electric boutique guitars, based in Austin, Texas.
People begin learning the guitar for all sorts of reasons, but there is usually an artist that comes along and inspires them to take their pursuit more seriously. Whether it was a smoldering solo or a finger-picked acoustic intro, something resonated within us and we thought, “I wanna’ do that.” For me, it was John Fahey. It was through his work that I uncovered the instruments potential to navigate the vast forest of traditional music that is one of our nation's greatest treasures. Give Fahey a guitar, and he could pick you all the way through American history. Although he was fond of surreal song titles, his approach was steeped in ragtime, hymnals, country, blues, jazz, and even classical. The variety of destinations that a guitar can carry you to is astounding.
If Fahey was still with us, I bet he’d have a Collings Guitar or two. The caliber of player who tends to endorse their instruments is the greatest testament to their quality. One of the first names that comes to mind is Bill Frisell. Although often classified as a Jazz guitarist, Frisell, like Fahey, broadly claims allegiance to the American idiom. Here’s a video of him playing “Happy Trails” (the theme to the Roy Rogers radio and TV show written by his wife and co-star, Dale Evans) on a Waterloo by Collings: https://youtu.be/94sWf0gc6ks
Another luminous figure in modern guitar is Julian Lage. A child prodigy, Julian has gone on to weave together classical, jazz, folk, and avant-garde upon his 6-string loom. His effortless, endlessly expressive playing seems to have transcended normal modes of consciousness, as if the guitar were an extension of some deeper, more elemental will. The omnivorous range of his musical output would suggest that he requires an instrument of exceptional versatility. Indeed, he affectionately characterizes his signature Collings Guitar model as “lovingly neutral”: https://www.collingsguitars.com/acoustic-guitars/om1-jl/. Here’s a video of Julian Lage performing with it: https://youtu.be/EWwjxyjtJVE
No one fawns over Dreadnoughts like bluegrass players. They require a certain breed of guitar, one that can cut through a thicket of banjos and mandolins. Chris Eldridge grew up playing bluegrass and studied with the great Tony Rice. He is a member of The Seldom Scene, The Infamous String Dusters, and The Punch Brothers. As one of the most sought-after ambassadors of the high, lonesome sound, his choice of instrument is worth noting. Listen to him explore his Collings D1AT with Julian Large in this staggering duet: https://youtu.be/U7dpseBvzc4
These three guitarist are just the tip of the headstock as far as Collings Guitars artists go, but they reflect the attraction that these guitars hold for consummate instrumentalists. For those who rely on six strings alone, there is bound to be a model within the Collings Guitars catalogue that will allow you to express yourself fully and completely. What would Fahey play? I suspect he’d be partial to the CJ-35. Its power, articulation, and unique voicing would be perfect for his thumb picked, progressive country blues.