The Shape of Things to Come

A Tribute to Bill Collings

Bill Collings Tribute AT 16

After Bill Collings’ passing last July, we wanted to build an instrument to pay tribute to him and to show the world that we would be continuing on the trail that he’d blazed for us over many years. One of the most rare and coveted instruments we offer is a carved acoustic archtop guitar, which Bill Collings built personally over much of his career. Whenever he completed one of these impeccable instruments, it was clear that he had accomplished a craftsman’s dream; a perfect union of exquisite lines, colors, and proportions, equally inspiring to play or simply behold.

Through his natural intuition for acoustic instruments and the careful refinement of his process, Bill became a master of the archtop guitar. However, it was never his intention to do it alone. As he sought out materials and contemplated designs, his thought process would often manifest itself in colorful conversations with, and in the education of, his trusted employees. Over time, various tasks were delegated to the more experienced shop employees. Producing high quality workmanship had been the focus of the shop from the earliest days, but getting chosen to work on Collings archtops was a compliment of the highest order. Bill’s passion for taking things to the next level was infectious, and it became more deeply embedded in Collings culture with each completed instrument.

Our commitment to Bill’s process and vision remains firmly in place as we continue to evolve and innovate. He loved the challenge of having a group of people consistently produce work at the highest level, and we are proud of the dedicated team in place to carry on the tradition. When we decided to build a tribute instrument that would embody the essence of Bill’s passion and skill, we knew it had to be an instrument that he would have loved, and that it would have to be a group effort. It also needed an appropriate “showcase” to be introduced, and the 2018 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California was the perfect setting.

As a tribute to our mentor and friend, we are proud to present this special edition AT 16 featuring a round soundhole, extremely rare flamed mahogany back, sides and neck with an Eastern Red (Adirondack) spruce top. The guitar is modeled after an archtop built by Bill Collings back in 1983, which currently belongs to Collings’ long-time GM Steve McCreary. Bill always had an affinity for this guitar and had plans to build a few more like it before he passed. To us, this is more than just a guitar. It’s a symbol of what a committed group of people can accomplish when they hold a shared vision. That’s what Bill was striving for when he founded the company and what he instilled in everyone who worked beside him. In turn, we’ve included a special commemorative label with the signature of each person who had a hand in the guitar, including the lead builder Aaron Huff.

So, what can you expect from Collings in the future? The answer is exactly what people have always come to expect from us – an undying commitment to quality and innovation that will carry us into the next chapter and beyond.