Review of Collings OM42 Acoustic Guitar -
We make no secret of our admiration for Bill Collings and his
Austin, Texas-based team of master guitar builders. Every Collings
we've reviewed has been a masterpiece. But can the wizard cast the
same spell every time? This time we gave an OM42 pure acoustic
toRick Grahamand watched for the tell-tale signs.
Starting out in stringed instrument
repair back in the mid '70s, Bill Collings' passion for
engineering, music and musical instruments was deep rooted. After
initially relocating and setting up shop in Austin, Texas, it
didn't take long before the work quickly spread about the quality
of his workmanship and meticulous attention to detail. The growing
success of the company led Collings to expand the business to what
it is today; a 22,000 square foot shop with over 50 employees.
Indeed, in Issue 4, we sent our very own Stuart Bull down to the
Collings factory to film a report on the magic that is being
performed there -
Even though the business has continued to grow and expand, Bill
Collings' commitment and passion seem undiminished which, no doubt,
is why the company can count some of the highest profile artists
among their roster. These include players like Keith Richards, Andy
Summers and Brian May, as well as more unexpected users, such as
world famous film producer/director Steven Spielberg.
We've looked at several Collings
instruments in the past - including some of the the much-admired
electrics - but this time we're going right back to a grass roots
instrument with an all-acoustic OM42.
As many GI readers will know, in
acoustic parlance, that 'OM' in the model name stands for
'Orchestra Model', a shape that has become one of the most popular
amongst fingerstyle players since its inception, some 80 years ago.
The top of choice for this guitar is Adirondack spruce, which is
one of the stiffest tonewoods available. The back and sides are
made from rosewood, which looked exquisite, but without doubt the
most visually prominent feature of this guitar is the stunning
inlay work. These are among many options you get when placing
an order with Collings, which offers a full a la carte menu system
from which you can choose. It's a daydreamer's delight! For the
record, our review model was based on an OM3 but with various
choices, which we've listed in the Tech Spec box below.
OK - time to open-up the deluxe
hardshell case, which revealed what can only describe as one of the
most beautiful looking instruments I have ever seen. Without
question. It was one of those moments that truly left me speechless
and I couldn't help but stare in admiration at the stunning 'Tree
of Life' inlay covering the fretboard. This is craftsmanship of the
absolutely highest quality.
Our review OM42 was also graced with a
traditional 'Flowerpot' design on the headstock, as well as gold
Waverly tuners (themselves one of many options on offer), but it
was that simply stunning the 'Tree of Life' inlay adorning the
fretboard that kept drawing my attention. An abalone rosette and
42-style purfling tied everything together beautifully.
Having spent an inordinate amount of
time just looking at this instrument, I thought it best to do some
playing. Starting out with some simple strummed chords, it was
clear from the outset that this was far more than just a pretty -
no, let's make that beautiful, guitar. The sound the OM42 produced
was huge, despite the smaller OM shape and it had a tone to match.
Moving on to some fingerpicking, each note seemed to blossom like a
flower bud unfurling toward the sun, full to the brim with
overtones (steady-on, old chap! - Ed). Basses were deep and the
trebles brilliant, all the while complimenting one another
beautifully. The Adirondack top offers very fast attack with every
note having superb clarity and definition. Needless to say, the
playability was perfect too. As we always say - check out the
Everything about the Collings OM42 is
special. From the intricate inlays to the perfect playabilty and
the truly jaw dropping tone, everything about this instrument
spells workmanship of the highest quality. Although it isn't cheap
by any means, this is an instrument that is worth owning at least
once in your lifetime. A truly stunning musical instrument.
Editor's note - Rick Graham is
currently accepting offers for his immortal soul so that he can buy
one of these guitars. We have struggled hard to find a mark that
makes any sense on our star rating system. A five star rating
doesn't work because no guitar this expensive can really be called
'good value for money' - even if it is! In the end we
concluded it is, simply, too good to be rated and that the price is
irrelevant. There is no price that can be put on magic.
Check out the full review inc. video of
the Collings OM42 by Rick Graham in The Quiet
Room of Guitar
Interactive Magazine Issue 16.