Luthier Bill Collings died of cancer over the weekend at age 68. Collings was a widely admired guitar maker whose instruments had found their way into the hands of players including Joni Mitchell, Keith Richards, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen and numerous others.
Collings dropped out of medical school and moved from Ohio to Houston in 1975, where he worked as an engineer for a pipeline company during the day. At night he built guitars. Three years later he met Lovett in Houston and built a Collings guitar for him.
Collings moved to Austin more than 30 years ago and ran his business there for decades. “It’s our mission to deliver heirloom quality instruments that will provide a lifetime of value and enjoyment,” reads the company’s mission statement. In addition to about a dozen flat top acoustic guitar models, Collings also made a few arch tops, several electric guitars, mandolins and ukuleles.
Here’s a nice Texas Monthly profile on him.
Collings’ guitars weren’t cheap, but they were all hand made and he never undercut his product by offering a budget model.
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Nels Cline, Bill Frisell, Liberty Ellman and Julian Lage are some of the incredible guitarists who have Collings guitars in their collection.