Sunday, July 16, 2017

Collings Guitars - The Passing of Bill Collings

Bill Collings
Collings guitars got its start in Houston Texas, when Bill Collings began working in a machine shop back in 1970. He began building his first guitar in 1973.

Bill Collings in the 1970's

By 1975 he was working as an engineer with a pipeline
and oil field company. At night he continued building guitars.

Lyle Lovett with a Collings Guitar
He developed a reputation among local musicians and caught the attention of Lyle Lovett, who asked Collings to build a guitar for him



By the early 1980’s Bill decided to move to California, but he never got farther than Austin Texas.

It was there he met fellow luthiers, Mike Stevens, and Tom Ellis. Ellis built handcrafted mandolins. Collings began working with them, but after a few years before he moved into his own shop which was in his garage.

Bill Collings in his shop

It was in 1987 when Nashville based vintage guitar collector/seller George Gruhn hired Bill Collings to make 25 guitars for his shop. This had a wonderful impact on Collings reputation.


1989 Collings made for Gruhn
Shortly after his products were soon requested by music stores and featured in magazines.

By 1989 Bill Collings was able to hire his first employee. Since then Collings guitars have become one of the most recognized and respected instrument manufacturers in the business.




Collings Acoustics

Their forte is acoustic guitars, but they also build  archtop guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles.



2006 Collings City Limit



In 2006 the company moved into the electric guitar market and were featured at that years Summer NAMM, National Association of Music Merchants convention.




2006 Collings OM


As of 2012 the company employees 85 people and manufactures six acoustic guitar, three electric guitars, two mandolins, and two ukuleles per day. In fact Collings Mandolins are highly regarded in the Bluegrass community.





2014 Waterloo WL-14L

By 2014 it was announced that the company would be making a guitar based on a currently popular Depression-era design and resemble Kalamazoo guitars of that era.  These guitars are sold under the "Waterloo" brand and are based on an old guitar that Collings had sitting in his office.




Colling WL -14 -  Kalamazoo Sport

He decided to repair the instrument by removing the back and put new bracing in it. After reassembling it, he realized these old guitars had a much different sound than that of today’s instruments due to their construction and size. The brand has become a success with Blues and Country players looking for that old tyme sound.


Bill Collings 1948-2017
Sadly the following statement was just issued on the Waterloo Guitars website:

”We lost our dear friend and mentor Bill Collings yesterday. He was the amazingly creative force behind Collings Guitars for over 40 years. Through his unique and innate understanding of how things work, and how to make things work better, he set the bar in our industry and touched many lives in the process. His skill and incredible sense of design were not just limited to working with wood, but were also obvious in his passion for building hot rods. 

To Bill, the design and execution of elegant form and function were what mattered most. Perhaps even more exceptional than his ability to craft some of the finest instruments in the world, was his ability to teach and inspire. He created a quality-centered culture that will carry on to honor his life's work and legacy. He was loved by many and will be sadly missed. Our hearts are with his family.”

William R. Collings  8/9/1948 – 7/14/2017.

Click the links under the pictures for the sources. Click the links in the text for further information.
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