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Collings vs. Gibson


suburude63

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I have an odd question maybe one of you guys can answer.

I have a chance to buy a Collings 2DHSB. But know nothing other than hearsay about them. I know they are they are expensive but I wonder why? I have seen only pics of them and never played one. There are none in my area to play. Any input would be appreciated greatly!

Thanks suburude

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I have an odd question maybe one of you guys can answer.

I have a chance to buy a Collings 2DHSB. But know nothing other than hearsay about them. I know they are they are expensive but I wonder why? I have seen only pics of them and never played one. There are none in my area to play. Any input would be appreciated greatly!

Thanks suburude

 

Apparently, this particular type of Collings is more analogous to a Martin. From the Colings website:

 

"Our dreadnoughts are interpretations of the fabled Martin dreadnoughts from the 1930s and 1940s."

 

The link to the model you're talking about is here:

 

http://www.collingsguitars.com/dreadnoughts.htm

 

I have played a few of them and they are very, very nice guitars--almost luxury guitars, if you will. Nice appointments, beautiful finishes, Waverly tuners. For me, I just never could justify the cost. For whatever reason, the discounts one can usually find on Collings is much less (10% or a little more) compared to what you can find on Martins or Gibsons (30%, sometimes up to 40% if you're lucky). As the Collings are more expensive anyway, the cost difference is significant.

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These Guitars have unbelievable fit and finish. I'm pretty sure that they NEVER send out flawed instruments. Everyone I have ever played is flawless. That being said.....they are somewhat from the Martin mold. And I would be pretty hard pressed to pay DOUBLE the cost of a Martin for a similar sound, or 10% improvement in sound. I think they take great pride in their work, love their work and it does come through in their work. I've seen used Collings on Craigslist around here for as little as $2400. But that is as good as it gets in the used market. Usually $2800-$4000 for used ones. A pretty big nut to crack for a used guitar. Here is a Frets.com tour of the Collings factory.....they do not miss a detail.....

 

 

http://frets.com/FretsPages/Features/2001Collings/2001collings01.html

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Fit and finish on a Collings is second to none. They tend to be on the heavy side weight wise. You'll be hard pressed to find a mediocre sounding one. Unlike a Martin or Gibson they tend to sound bright and more modern, if that makes sense. You won't find a better made guitar, the only question is if the sound is to your liking. I had a 1997 D2H that was just a great sounding guitar only sold it because I don't care for the 1 11/16 nut width. Collings tend to have a good resale market as well.

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Here's my Collings I-35..........My favorite Electric guitar. I play this often just acoustically because it "feels" so good. This has the most comfortable neck on ANY guitar I have every played.........

 

 

Wily.....How many guitars do you have ??? I don't see how you have time to play any of them "OFTEN" !!

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I had a D-1 a year or so ago. It was like a Martin D-18 only with more of everything, bassier, more clarity on the trebles and overall louder and punchier. Selling it was one of my bigger mistakes. I also had a C-10 which was so trebly and in your face I sold it gladly. Collings' rosewood guitars leave me cold.

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I have heard them described as "Martins on Steroids". I have played a couple and while I enjoyed them, I am not that into the Martin tone and prefer my Taylor and Gibson. Still Collings are a boutique guitar which will always hold it's value quite well and the quality and finish is top notch.

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3rd Wiley and TP re Collings quality. I spent a happy hour picking a D2h @acoustic outfitters a few years back. I recall it having great clarity and high end pop for a RW dread. More like an AJ in that respect than, say, an HD28 ('the rumble and the roar" as the song goes). But that was before I really had committed to fingerstyle, so that's only from a flatpick perspective. J

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Where to begin? I've got two acoustics: a Gibson J-100 and a Collings OM2HG. In my opinion they are as different as night and day, and I'm talking above and beyond the differences between large and small body guitars. I'll put down some thoughts as to their differences here...

 

First of all I'll echo those who said that the fit and finish of Collings' guitars are second to none. They're beyond clean; they're pristine. It seems like every detail, from body and neck shape, to appointments, to finish, is carefully considered and then beautifully executed. I spent a couple months looking for a second guitar before buying a Collings OM. I knew I wanted a small body to contrast with my Gibson which I'd had for a few years, so I hit the shops and played everything I could find: Collings, Goodall, Martin, Froggy Bottom, Santa Cruz, etc., etc. Just in term of quality fit and finish, Collings outshone them all, with Goodall running a close second (in fact, my second choice was a Goodall GC). Gotta say that I had no bias toward any maker's instruments -- I had never heard of Collings (or Goodall, Santa Cruz, etc.) before. I just went and played as many guitars as I could to get informed and make my choice.

 

My Gibson in comparison has a number of little flaws and sloppy areas with respect to fit and finish -- bits of glue visible around the bridge and where the fretboard touches the top, ragged edges on some of the braces that you can see through the soundhole, a chip-like indentation at the (body) end of the fretboard, a "dimple" on the back where I got a finish bubble, loose pickup wire that flops around in the guitar, etc. Also, for many months I would hear a strange little noise when I picked up the guitar or tilted it while holding it. I eventually found the problem: there were tiny pieces of wood (from the braces? I don't know) that would rattle around inside the guitar. After some trying I was able to remove them.

 

Let me add that I don't see these little imperfections as anything more than what they are -- little imperfections -- and I don't think any less of the guitar or Gibson for them. I feel these are part of the Gibson ethos, which I gladly accept because I love the way the guitar feels, plays, and sounds.

 

To come back to Collings, as nice as the fit and finish were, it was the sound that sold me on the guitar. Again, in my limited, subjective experience, none of the other small bodies I played sounded as nice. Mine has rosewood B & S and a German spruce top. It is resonant as all hell, bright without being shrill or tinny, and with deep, full bass that surprises. It is also a really clean and clear sound, and I find that I have to be very attentive in terms of fingering and attack to get the sound I want out of it. I should add that I bought the guitar primarily as a fingerstyle guitar and don't really play it with a pick (I've tried but don't care for the sound, which is a bit too "mid-rangey" for my tastes, though I've heard others play it with a pick and liked how it sounded. Maybe it's just me...).

 

If I had to compare the sound of the two based on the various models of each that I have played, I would say that overall, the Collings sound is really clean, bright, even, and full, and the Gibson sound by contrast has a rough-edged body to it that is quite beautiful. There is often a kind of "ring" on the B and high E that is really striking, and a growl that seems less common (though it is there) on the Collings. They are really two different beasts and I appreciate what I hear from each of them.

 

Now, to come back to the OP's question: the Collings D2HSB will have rosewood B & S, a sitka top, herringbone trim (quite beautiful), and a sunburst finish -- and here too I would say that Collings' sunbursts are truly exceptional, and I personally find them (Attention: heresy alert! Now put away the tar and feathers!) every bit as nice if not nicer than Gibsons, though this judgement, as all of the above, are purely subjective. It should look something like this:

 

http://www.themusicemporium.com/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=15=Collings&products_id=25651

 

These gits are expensive, as many people have mentioned, and for the stock price of a D2HSB (I believe about $4000.) you could maybe get a Gibson custom shop model. Depending on the price of the guitar in question, what you want in a new instrument, and how much money you have to burn, that may be a better option. My personal feeling is that I'd rather have fewer but choicer instruments of whatever brand than a whole mess of guitars, and I have to say that if I were in the market for a new dread, I would definitely consider a Collings. (Can't say I'd buy one -- have to play it first -- but I'd definitely consider one.) They are really exceptional instruments.

 

Whatever the case may be, IMO you should definitely play the guitar before making your decision. In the end, and however consistent a builder Collings may be, you won't really know what that particular guitars feels, plays, and sounds like to you until you've had the opportunity to play it.

 

Let us know what you decide to do in the end.

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Collings are incredible. My bandmate has an OM2H which is the absolute end of the world. An incredible instrument in every way. I wouldn't play one OVER a Gibson, but I would very much like to own one alongside my Gibsons.

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I concur with all who have praised the Collings fit and finish. They sure are fit and finished. They also weigh a ton, and are incredibly neck heavy and unbalanced in the lap. I don't often care for rosewood guitars, unless they are very small---and I dislike the Collings rosewood sound---which is cold, echoey and metallic----strident and unyeilding. Yucchhh....I tend to like their smaller maple and mahogany guitars, but the prices are absurd. You can commission a guitar that doesn't weigh a ton, that is meticulously built, and that will sound as distinctive, from any number of builders, to your spec, for less.,...and if you are careful in your selection of Martin or Gibson individual instruments, you can find instruments that will please you as much, for far less cost.

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I concur with all who have praised the Collings fit and finish. They sure are fit and finished. They also weigh a ton' date=' and are incredibly neck heavy and unbalanced in the lap. I don't often care for rosewood guitars, unless they are very small---and I dislike the Collings rosewood sound---which is cold, echoey and metallic----strident and unyeilding. Yucchhh....I tend to like their smaller maple and mahogany guitars, but the prices are absurd. You can commission a guitar that doesn't weigh a ton, that is meticulously built, and that will sound as distinctive, from any number of builders, to your spec, for less.,...and if you are careful in your selection of Martin or Gibson individual instruments, you can find instruments that will please you as much, for far less cost.[/quote']

 

I beg to differ -- my OM is quite light, and the other Collings I've played didn't seem particularly heavy either, though I've not yet tried one of their SJs. Then again, my other guitar is a Gibson super jumbo, so that may explain it. Also its sound is nothing like you describe, at least to my ears. I suppose that one man's "resonant as all hell, bright without being shrill or tinny, and with deep, full bass that surprises" is another man's "cold, echoey and metallic----strident and unyeilding." As for price I concur -- they are definitely expensive, and you can indeed find nicely made, good sounding guitars for less, no doubt about it, but the same is true of Martin and Gibson, as you can read on Epi and other forums.

 

I suppose that, in the end, it's a question of how good a guitar sounds to you and how much you are willing to spend on it. There will always be more and less expensive instruments, but if your $500. or $5,000. git does it for you, what difference does it make what you paid?

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I've played a number of Collings Dreads over the years since I don't live too far from Mass Street Music - a big Collings dealer. Everything about the construction of their Guitars (and Mandolins) is perfect. Bill Collings is no doubt a perfectionist. Flat out beautiful Guitars but I just don't care for how they sound. I've yet to play one that has moved me to consider buying. I just prefer the Martin tone and now the Gibson tone with the recent acquisition of 2 Gibson acoustics. O:)

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I've played a number of Collings Dreads over the years since I don't live too far from Mass Street Music - a big Collings dealer. Everything about the construction of their Guitars (and Mandolins) is perfect. Bill Collings is no doubt a perfectionist. Flat out beautiful Guitars but I just don't care for how they sound. I've yet to play one that has moved me to consider buying. I just prefer the Martin tone and now the Gibson tone with the recent acquisition of 2 Gibson acoustics. :)

 

 

I actually started my quest thinking I'd buy a Martin, but frankly I maybe played one or two that got to me (one was a Clapton signature model OM-something-or-other -- quite nice). Even the Martin dreads didn't appeal to me. I wonder how much of it is how well the guitars are set up, freshness of the strings, temp and humidity of the showroom, etc. For example, with one exception, the high-end Gibsons in all of the GCs in my area sounded absolutely dead, don't know why. And there is an overabundance of jumbos and super jumbos but very few small bodies, which I'd love to try out.

 

I envy you living near Mass Street Music...

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Haven't played a Collings. But I like going for the kill. Some may call it GAS. Considering the price of a new one, if it's somewhere north of $4g's, I'd (in my kill mode) consider a percentage like 60-80% off the price of a new one. If you can get it for less, the carcass is yours for the taking. Take it home and make it yours.

When I bought my Langejans off ebay, I had the oportunity to go to the guys house and try it before hand.

These are on par with Collings imo. I paid about 75% of new. But I've seen them offered for less though it's not as well known as Collings perhaps. Del Langejans is a one man shop.

I say go for it, though you haven't mentioned a price.

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A Collings is a fine guitar.

 

I have a 2000 Collings SJ-41 Cutaway, Adirondack/Brazilian and it is one of the tone monsters in my collection. No offense intended, but Collings is a cut above a Gibson or Martin.

 

It should be noted, however, that a Collings will overpower most vocalists in an acoustic setting.

 

If you want a great guitar to sing with, get a J-45.

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No doubt Collings is a cut (or two) above Martin and Gibson in terms of fit and finish. In terms of tone, that's completely subjective

 

I think a lot of people have their only exposure to Gibson's and Martin's at Guitar Centers. The GC that is just down the road from me always has Gibson's and Martin's in the Acoustic room and at most times, the strings are deader than a door nail and the Guitars have been abused by kids. I'd guess that is the same story at most GC's. Going to a shop that has high end Guitars (like Mass Street Music, NFI) is a treat because they keep fresh strings on the Guitars and they are set up to play.

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I think a lot of people have their only exposure to Gibson's and Martin's at Guitar Centers. The GC that is just down the road from me always has Gibson's and Martin's in the Acoustic room and at most times' date=' the strings are deader than a door nail and the Guitars have been abused by kids. I'd guess that is the same story at most GC's. Going to a shop that has high end Guitars (like Mass Street Music, NFI) is a treat because they keep fresh strings on the Guitars and they are set up to play.[/quote']

 

+1 on the GC comment, though I did buy my Gibson there -- maybe it was newly arrived, strings were still fresh, I don't know. It just sounded and played great so, even if I hadn't planned on buying a guitar (aHEM) I wound up taking it home.

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A Collings is a fine guitar.

 

I have a 2000 Collings SJ-41 Cutaway' date=' Adirondack/Brazilian and it is one of the tone monsters in my collection.

[/quote']

 

Love to try one of these, but the shops in my area only carry Collings small bodies and dreads. Asked about it and was told that they weren't as much in demand.

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OK we decided collings guitars are well built AND expensive.. I like Gibson guitars as I own 3 of them- BUT when it comes to a traditional dreadnaught Everyone on this post should try the Huss and Dalton traditional line of giutars.. Martin ,Collings ,Santa Cruz, Godin ,Parker and Gibson should hear what these guitars can do.. Price ranges are compariable with Gibson and Collings..Hand made in central Virginia with high quality and great sound.. Check them out on line at Huss&Dalton.comor better yet go find one and play it..

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A local shop used to carry H&D, but then only a couple small bodies. BUT---I would go in now and then and pick up that one small body-- what a sound! Sort of a L-00 knockoff; and very loud-just like a vintage L00.

I think that H&D puts a radius on the top and back of their guitar bodies. (I don't know how similar the degree is to Gibson.)

There don't seem to be any H&D samples out this way. Or I must be going to the wrong shops...

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  • 5 years later...

I had a D-1 a year or so ago. It was like a Martin D-18 only with more of everything, bassier, more clarity on the trebles and overall louder and punchier. Selling it was one of my bigger mistakes. I also had a C-10 which was so trebly and in your face I sold it gladly. Collings' rosewood guitars leave me cold.

 

Funny how different people have different opinions on guitars....You loved your Collings D1 and rosewood leaves you cold...I have played a few Collings D1's and they left me uninspired. I absolutely love the sound of my Collings D2H (Rosewood/Sitka) and love the sound of rosewood b/s guitars in general...The only mahogany guitar that ever had me really inspired and left me wanting it was an older Huss and Dalton TDM....VERY NICE IT WAS!...that being said my daughter has a Takamine EAN10C Cedar top Mahogany back and sides and I like the warm deep tone but attribute it more to the cedar top that it has but I hate the neck on it. Recently played a new Collings CJ 35 that was quite nice...>hey ...Is that not mahogany? MAYBE Mahogany is not so bad after all!

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