Bill Collings in his Austin, Texas, shop. His friends valued his wry humor and trenchant wit as well as
his genius for guitar building.

A fellow guitar builder pays fond tribute to a giant of modern lutherie.

Bill Collings, a giant of modern lutherie, died on Friday, July 14, due to cancer, leaving behind a legacy that touched generations of guitar builders and players. In the early 1970s, Collings dropped out of medical school and moved to Houston, where he worked as an engineer for an oil-field pipeline company by day and pursued his passion for building acoustic guitars by night. His devotion to form and function dictated the elegant construction of his instruments, which are known for their warm, crystalline tone and projection, and valued by scores of high-profile performers, including Lyle Lovett (who ordered his first Collings in 1978), Keith Richards, Joni Mitchell, and Pete Townshend. The average price for a new Collings dreadnought is $5,000, and he refused to make bargain-version guitars that might compromise the high quality associated with his name. Collings' first workshop was his kitchen table, but by 2012 his Austin, Texas, shop had grown to include 85 employees, who also make archtop guitars, electric guitars, and mandolins. Collings was a much-loved and respected figure in the industry. Steve Grimes of Grimes Guitars, Collings' friend and an expert builder of archtop and double soundhole instruments, has authored the tribute that follows:

July 15, 2017 started as another typically beautiful day on Maui. Then the weather changed dramatically. A friend called with the sad news that our friend Bill Collings had lost his brief but fierce battle with his terminal illness, and suddenly a dark cloud formed over the mountain. It extended far beyond the confines of this island state and out across the entire guitar world.

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