COLLINGS STATESMAN LC DELUXE
Hollow body, full tones. By Peter Hodgson
Full review and independent analysis of the Collings Statesman LC Deluxe by Australian Guitar Magazine.
PRICE: $7,195 AUD
This guitar arrived a few days after the news that founder Bill Collings had passed away. “He was the amazingly creative force behind Collings Guitars for over 40 years,” the company says. “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-centred culture that will carry on to honour his life’s work and legacy. He was loved by many and will be greatly missed.”
This guitar is inspired by classic hollowbody designs of the 1940s and '50s, but like everything Collings produces, it has its own clearly distinctive style and visual appeal. You can see it in the sweet of the bass‑side bout, the carve of the treble-side cutaway,
the asymmetrical headstock and the classy tuner buttons. It’s clearly a big ticket item, with your dollars going towards genuine craftsmanship and uniqueness.
The body and top are made of maple laminate, with the outer-facing pieces – even the sides – all featuring a beautiful three-dimensional flame that is enhanced by the Tobacco Sunburst finish. The neck is Honduran mahogany and it’s very comfortable and slick – the kind of neck you can play for hours. You can order this model with various inlay options, but the review guitar has no position markers on the fretboard (there are side dots, of course), and I feel like this clean look is really the right way to go with this design. It doesn’t need inlays to distract from the even tones of the ebony fingerboard, which offset the lighter hues of the body.
Collings outfits this model with a Bigsby B3 vibrato and a floating bridge, and it’s one of the smoothest Bigsby setups I’ve ever played. The strings glide smoothly over the bridge saddles and nut, and they return to pitch with perfect accuracy.
The electronics include a pair of TV Jones FilterTron pickups which employ an Alnico magnet twice the size of a traditional PAF pickup magnet, while the low-wound, tightly spaced bobbins capture the zip and zing of the strings without imparting too much grit or growl of their own. The idea is to take a great-sounding guitar and present its natural tones on a silver platter. The wiring harness is ‘50s style’ – a method which maintains more clarity when you roll down the volume controls compared to the more modern way of wiring up this kind of layout.
Sonically, this is a very earthy sounding guitar which sounds full and sweet through a clean amp, but seems to really come to life with just a hair of gain. Think more ‘overdriven clean amp’ than ‘5150 on 11'. In this mode, the guitar has a vocal midrange, tight low end and smooth highs, and it’s great for fingerstyle playing. Even though Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham doesn’t use this kind of guitar, his tones are what repeatedly came to mind during testing. It’s an ideal instrument for country and country-jazz styles, naturally, but it also sounds great for indie, alternative and goth-rock tones – basically, it'll work for anything where you need your notes to breathe and bloom rather than crash and bash.
This is another great example of Collings bringing together the best of old and new. While the design looks classic, there are plenty of design, finish and setup tweaks that make it feel a little more modern while still retaining heart and artistry.
The Collings LC Deluxe is a full hollowbody electric guitar inspired by the classic sounds pioneered by players such as Chet Atkins and Eddie Cochran, with a trestle-braced maple laminate body, Honduran mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard, Bigsby B3 vibrato, TV Jones Filtertron pickups and a 24 7/8-inch scale length.
BEST IN THE HANDS OF
The rosewood and cedar pairing delivers a full sound with string clarity together with the low action – it's perfect for fingerstyle and jazz players who need string definition, beautiful harmonics and sustain. Because of the low action and flatter neck, extreme string bending doesn't play as well immediately. Blues players may wish to adjust.
WHY IT’S ON THE TOP SHELF
Distinctive design, flawless workmanship, well thought out electronics, a flawless setup and a breathtaking finish that really has to be seen in person to appreciate.
WHY YOU'RE PROBABLY GOING TO WANT IT
This guitar feels like a world-class, professional‑level instrument, from finish to setup. As much care seems to have gone into the playing experience as the sound and looks, making it one of the finest ‘complete package’ guitars we’ve seen.
WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER FIRST
Perhaps you prefer PAF-style humbuckers, or you’re not a fan of the Bigsby. If that’s you, Collings makes a number of variations on this design: perhaps you’d prefer the SoCo LC with Lollar humbuckers, Kluson stop tailpiece and a semi-hollow body.
Gladesville Guitar Factory
Ph: (02) 9817 2173