Bill Collings (1948-2017) was larger than life. More interested in guitars and engineering than in his pre-med program, Collings took a job at a machine shop and began building guitars on his kitchen table with just a few hand tools. Coming from a family of engineers, Colling’s experience as a craftsman and his natural curiosity equipped him to experiment and quickly improve his craft. Before long his instruments were in the hands of local talents Rick Gordon and Lyle Lovett, which led more Texas players to seek out Bill for custom guitars.
By the mid-1980s, Bill was building flattop and archtop acoustic guitars in his own small shop. His reputation for outstanding quality and meticulous attention to detail quickly spread. In the spring of 1992, Bill moved his guitar-making operation into a 3,200-square-foot feed store he purchased on the outskirts of Austin. Soon, musicians such as Pete Townshend, Joni Mitchell and Brian May were playing Collings instruments and demand continued to grow. The existing shop tripled in size and by 2005, Bill broke ground for a new 27,000-square-foot shop featuring CNC technology that modernized machining processes and made parts production more consistent, accurate and safe. As the business grew and processes were refined, one thing remained the same: Bill Collings’ commitment to build the finest stringed instruments available.
Today, the mission of Collings Guitars is to continue Bill Collings’ legacy following his death from cancer in July 2017.
Collings was known for his outstanding work in the field of flat-top acoustics, and understood that crafting an archtop was a completely different art and should be treated as such. Collings’ Custom blue archtop has its own distinct look and feel with a crisp design highlighted by the tasteful and creative embellishment of broken glass shaped abalone inlay on the ebony fingerboard and headstock overlay. Ebony is also on the bridge, pickguard, tailpiece and tuning buttons of the Schaller tuners. The body is constructed with a spruce top, and book matched flamed maple back, sides, and neck.
While it is no longer possible to interview Bill, there are many wonderful recollections of him that can be found in podcasts and YouTube. To learn more, the best place to start is https://www.collingsguitars.com/our-story/