Collings guitars represent the pinnacle of guitar making. Boutique guitars, or high-end, for good reason.
Its quality of artisan construction and the quality of the materials used, make its sound and comfort of execution the best that has been made.
Coming from a family of engineers, Bill’s experience as a craftsman and his natural curiosity enabled him to rapidly experiment and improve his craft. Before long, his instruments were in the hands of local talents Rick Gordon and Lyle Lovett, prompting more Texas musicians to turn to Bill for custom guitars.
After building about fifty guitars and a few banjos in Houston, (there is a legend that there were actually quite a few less, but he put a face on it and it turned out well) he headed west to chase Luther in Southern California. .
During a stay in Austin, he became friends with Austin luthiers, Tom Ellis and Mike Stevens. Having found like-minded instrument makers, Bill decided to stay and share space in Tom’s store. By the mid-1980s, Bill was building bow and flattop acoustic guitars in his own little shop. His reputation for excellent quality and meticulous attention to detail quickly spread. In 1989, he rented a 1,000-square-foot space and hired two assistants.
That same year, George Gruhn, owner of Gruhn Guitar in Nashville, commissioned Bill 24 «Gruhn» guitars, giving the Austin national luthier of the show.
In the spring of 1992, Bill moved into his factory to a 3,200-square-foot grocery store that he purchased outside of Austin. Soon, musicians such as Pete Townshend, Joni Mitchell and Brian May were playing Collings instruments and the demand continued to grow. At this time, his staff increased to 50 full-time employees.
In 2005, Bill began construction of a new 27,000-square-foot workshop with CNC technology that modernized process machining, and made part production more consistent, accurate, and safe.
As the business grew and processes refined, one thing remained the same: Bill Collings’ commitment to making the best string instruments available.
Driven by his fascination for building and designing a variety of instruments, Bill soon began making more than just acoustic guitars. In 1999, he introduced the first Collings mandolins, which, like his guitars, quickly set new standards for the industry.
In 2006, his interest in carved tip instruments led him to introduce a line of electric guitars that players quickly adopted due to the instruments’ exceptional craftsmanship and tone.
In 2009, with a nod to the tradition of other high-end acoustic guitar makers, Bill created a line of concert and tenor ukuleles that were very popular with professional and amateur musicians alike. Due to a major lack of «small store bandwidth», these were later discontinued after Collings began production of Waterloo Guitars, an independent line of vintage-inspired guitars designed to capture the tone and character of some of the best instruments of the depression era.
In that same «vintage» line, in 2016, and after years of development, Collings began selling his own covers for acoustic guitar and mandolin, designed and manufactured in his Austin store, built to match the quality of his instruments. .
Deceased in July 2017, his team continues the legacy of this great and iconic brand.