COLLINGS D1 DREADNOUGHT ACOUSTIC GUITAR
DOES THIS AUSTIN CREATION HAVE TRUE GRIT, OR IS IT A TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE? CRAIG CARROLL CHECKS THE SPURS.
BIGGER AND BETTER IN TEXAS
Out of that beautiful velvet green case, you get a waft of vanilla and wood – it smells like a homewares shop. The construction of the instrument is second to none, and the design is simple, beautiful and understated. Notable attractions are the faux tortoise shell binding (which matches the pickguard) and the open gear tuners that might remind you of an old watch. The wood is flawless in selection, and the nitro lacquering is not too thick or overly shiny, with the basic lined top purfling black /white/ black/white and black/white rosette having little show power, but the ability to stand the test of time.
In the hand, the modified V neck is a comfortable fit, and it entices you to throw your thumb over to hit those base strings when strumming chords. The ebony neck that comes PLEK-machined and hand-dressed feels silky under the fingers. The neck material matching the back and sides is mahogany, which is nice compared to other name brands – such as Martin – who now use select hardwoods (usually Spanish cedar) due to dwindling supplies.
The sitka spruce soundboard when paired with the mahogany back and sides, standard scale mahogany neck and scalloped X-bracing, makes you feel the full power of this guitar when strumming chords. Belting out a power ballad on the D1 is epic – perfect for any singer onstage when miked or playing at home. Playing at volume requires little effort, and harmonics ring with plenty of sustain. Overall, the sound is saturated, full and deep in the bass, chimey in the highs, and delivers plenty of sustain and smoothness in the mids. The Modified V neck is great for bluegrass and fingerstyle playing in the lower frets, using your thumb to play the bass notes while plucking the melody on the higher strings.
Bill Collings couldn’t deny his engineering family roots, quitting medical school in the ’70s to pursue his passion of building guitars. 40 years later, his meticulous and curious mind has led him to create not only acoustic guitars, but also archtops, electric guitars, ukuleles and mandolins, all in Austin, Texas. There is also an offshoot production line (Waterloo: derived from Austin’s original name) that produces depression- era inspired guitars that are worth a look.
Collings acoustic guitars come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, each with customisable options. There are 15 base models in total, starting from the smallest baby models all the way up to baritone styles and 12-stringers.
The D1 recalls the C.F. Martin and Co. popular dreadnought shape, deriving the moniker after a class of World War I British battleships to describe the guitar's larger body and squarer shoulders. Guitars in the early 1900s were commonly smaller in size, although the dreadnought proved popular with country players who needed to compete with the volumes of banjo and fiddle players. The '1' in the model name denotes the base model of the five in this series, featuring the tried and true sitka spruce top with Honduran mahogany back and sides and ebony neck. More fancier models give you animal protein glue, rosewood back and sides, abalone inlays, fancier bindings and purflings, and more wood upgrades than a golf shop should you wish to spend the dough.
Overall, the total length is 122 mm; the body length is 508mm and it's 124mm deep. The lower bout is 397mm wide. The headstock has a no-nonsense flat end, which is capped with stained ebony with a mother of pearl Collings logo nicely adorned with nickel Waverly open tuners with a 16:1 ratio. The D’Addario EJ-17 (.013”- .056”) strings feed over a bone 43mm nut along the 648mm ebony fingerboard dressed in Medium nickel-silver frets that join the body at the 14th fret. The mahogany neck is a deep V contour widening slightly to 44mm with a depth of 22mm at the first fret
and increasing to 52mm wide and 24mm deep at the ninth fret. The 356-660mm compound radius fingerboard is attached to the body with a mortise and tenon hybrid neck joint with a fully adjustable truss rod hidden inside.
The body is bound with faux tortoise shell that matches the pickguard, with simple black and white lined purflings also on the rosette. On the reverse is a walnut backstrip.
Under the high-gloss nitrocellulose lacquered sitkar spruce top is a scalloped X-brace also made of sitkar spruce. The ebony belly-style bridge has 56mm spacing, unique appointments that differ from the more common Martin Dreadnought.
For instance, the bridge pins are made from ebony rather than plastic. The bridge saddle is constructed from bone rather than corian, which affects the transference of sound, bone be the superior material.
Finally, we can’t forget the beautiful included hard case that is made to measure at Collings, featuring quality clasps and lined with soft olive green felt.
BEST IN THE HANDS OF
The dreadnought size constructed with the common spruce top and mahogany back and sides delivers a large bass response with ease. It's perfect for strummers who want more volume, and for vocal accompaniment or competing with louder acoustic instruments such as banjos and fiddles.
WHY IT’S ON THE TOP SHELF
Collings’ impeccable build quality, materials and beautiful prominent sound are a perfect accompaniment for any singer or guitar player. The faux tortoise shell binding, open tuning gears, ebony bridge and bridge pins are an understated, yet tasteful touch that all contribute to enhance the look and quality. A great investment piece to be handed down through the generations.
Flawless build quality that would suit those who like an understated design. It's built to last for those strumming and fingerstyle players who would like a long-term investment piece and are after that prominent dreadnought sound. The included Collings made-to-fit case has quality second to none.
WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER FIRST
This level of quality is not cheap and therefore the Collings D1 is a handmade piece for the discerning buyer not the budget conscious first-timer.
Gladesville Guitar Factory
(02) 9817 2173