Vintage Instruments: Other Acoustic Guitars

Bookmark and Share

2010 Collings AT-16

The Collings AT-16archtops are widely considered to be the finest 16” carved guitars built since Gibson’s first L-5s were signed by Lloyd Loar in the early 1920’s. Unfortunately very few exist, and most of us have never had the opportunity to play an AT-16. Collings Archtops are entirely handmade, and fall well outside the normal production regimen of the company as such. There are less than 100 in existence, and Collings is not accepting any new orders for archtops. With production of only 3 or 4 a year and an eight year back order, we’re guessing it will be a long while before things change.

We can say unequivocally that everything you might have heard about the AT-16 is true. To begin with, the level of craftsmanship is unparalleled. It would be difficult to fine a more perfectly, carefully, and tastefully built guitar of any kind, let alone a fantastically complicated project like an archtop. From the frets to the finsh, to the recurves and the feel of the neck, this is perfection. The guitar’s woods are the finest imaginable, with possibly the most perfectly quartersawn spruce we’ve ever laid eyes on and exquisitely figured maple used for the back, sides, and neck. The guitar’s bound ebony fingerboard, carved bridge, and custom-crafted tailpiece are elegantly simple, and its sunburst finish is lush, deep, and wet.

The AT-16 redefines archtop tone, particularly for those players who have never experienced a ‘Great’ carved guitar. The recipe for archop tone isn’t as simple to follow as that of a flattop, and what will surprise you about this guitar is its incredibly open response, warmth and depth, developed bass response, clarity, quickness, and projection. Flattop players who have never gravitated to archtops are easily pulled into this guitar’s orbit, while lifetime jazz guitarists marvel at how much more the AT-16 has to offer to their playing and expression. The guitar’s greatness lies in its accessibility to guitarist of all stripes.

This example was ordered in 2005, and finally delivered in 2010. It is in perfect condition and is flawless but for some light oxidation to the nickel-plating of the tailpiece. Unworn frets, scratch-free finish, and a perfect set-up.

16” Carved body with X braced spruce top and deeply figured maple. Endgrain ivoroid and black purflings and ivoroid bindings, ivoroid-bound ebony pickguard, fingerboard, and headstock, pearl logo and fingerboard dots, carved ebony bridge and bone nut. Waverly tuning machines with ivoroid buttons. C-shaped neck carve with nut width of 1-11/16”, scale of 25.5”, and a compound radius fretboard. Gloss lacquer finish with Cremona sunburst to all sides.

With deluxe hardshell case

← Back to Other Acoustic Guitars