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Thread: Collings sound

  1. #1

    Default Collings sound

    I'm currently getting ahead of myself and trying to decide what my next mandolin purchase will be. This is probably a year or so out financially but I'll be obsessing until then. I currently play a Kentucky 1050. I love her and she seems to love me. My instincts were pushing me to try out some Weber A style mandos (I have yet to have the opportunity to do so despite living in Oregon) and also seeing what's around in the way of Gibson and Flatiron. I've never thrown Collings into the list because the most common attribute that has been offered is that they are brighter (than most). I had the privilege of playing a new MT Gloss Top this past weekend. I have to admit that I was blown away. More than anything, the craftsmanship and detail were on another level. It played beautifully and had some serious punch. But it was a bit on the bright side. I'm wondering if any of you Collings owners can offer any observations as to whether this is the "Collings sound" or if they get a little more woody or throaty with age and playing. ??? I'm more interested in the MT2 (would prefer Adirondack) and also entertaining the idea of an oval hole. Any advice would be much appreciated.
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  2. #2
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    Collings have a mid range scooped sound, bass and treble heavy. Gibson are more mid range.

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    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    I find my MT has a pretty balanced sound across the spectrum, not being scooped. I also recently got the MT-O, and am really loving the oval-hole sound. It has a more pronounced bass, and is a bit brighter on mid-range and highs. Also a bit more sustain overall. You of course need both an f-hole and an oval-hole. Not saying they both should be Collings, but you could do worse. I remember really liking a Weber Vintage A oval hole as well, but haven't really tried any other Webers. I wanted the MT2 level while shopping for both instruments, because they are quite lovely, but just liked the sound of the MT better in both cases. As always, try them out first. I tried several oval-holes, including the MF-O, before finding one that said "buy me". (My wife was with me, and she also said, that's the one, you should buy it. I didn't argue with her.)
    Last edited by CelticDude; Jun-23-2015 at 7:24pm. Reason: spelling

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    Default Re: Collings sound

    i've had opportunity to play about a dozen different Collings models and have owned two MT's.

    i was drawn to the satin finish MT with englemann top for the reasons you mention. i preferred the more woody tone and i thought the trebles just sounded more rounded and less harsh on this model.
    the oval hole Collings have a tone that differs from the F hole models. having owned one i suggest you play before you buy, or have the option to return-just to be sure its what you seek.

    there is a video out there where Kym Warner mentions he went with englemann on his top for the tone-vs the adi.



    here you go, the MT2V with englemann top


    Gregboyds has a lot of nice video and good sound on Collings so you can hear some differences

    http://gregboyd.com/instruments.html?family=Mandolins

    check out more in the sold archives-they keep the video up for listening pleasure-a neat shop to deal with

    good luck
    d

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    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    I carry both and regularly compare them with customers. With the caveat that goes with any generalization Collings have a brighter punchier sound, Weber a fuller and warmer tone.
    Trevor
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    Registered User Londy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    I own a Collings MTO and it has an amazing tone unlike any mando I've played and loud. It's much darker (woody or whatever), it's not tinney or treble heavy at all. I'd try an oval.
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    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    That's a coincidence that you should post just as I had finished photographing an MTO that arrived this morning.

    I would say that this one is a little brighter than the typical A4 but still with the depth and warmth you want from and oval hole, it even has a good chop which is rare in an oval hole but makes it a great all rounder.





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  11. #8

    Default Re: Collings sound

    Try one of the Collings Italian and Birdseye mandolins if you can find one. These are amazing instruments, in short supply, but have a full voice throughout.
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  12. #9
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    Quote Originally Posted by mpeluso View Post
    ...It played beautifully and had some serious punch. But it was a bit on the bright side. I'm wondering if any of you Collings owners can offer any observations as to whether this is the "Collings sound" or if they get a little more woody or throaty with age and playing. ??? I'm more interested in the MT2 (would prefer Adirondack) and also entertaining the idea of an oval hole. Any advice would be much appreciated.
    I own 2 Collings MT2, one with F holes and one with an Oval. Adirondack tops on both, but I did get a one piece birds eye maple back on the Oval. Both have wide necks.

    I would not describe the sound as getting more "woody or throaty" with age, but MY MT2 with F holes sounds very different from the Engelmann top varnish in the Kym Warner video. I don't want to get into a bunch of descriptors that really don't mean much... I guess I would say that over time I have adapted to my instruments a bit, I pull a better tone with my MT2 than I used to with my Gibson A9 but the A9 was woodier.

    I like to describe the Collings sound as very clear and piano like. I believe that fits with the "brighter punchier" and "a mid range scooped sound, bass and treble heavy" descriptions.

    To my ears the Adirondack top almost makes the tone harder (if that makes sense), in the video Kym Warner said he likes the Engelmann top because it warms up the sound a little (which he likes in an A style mandolin???? - I found that questionable).

    Anyway I thought this video sounded more like my MT2 with Adi top, I think it is plenty woody, but not exactly in the way I associated with my old A9:
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    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    Dang - thanks for that description. I've always figured it was mostly the Engelmann I'm liking a little better, although the MF-O confounds that a bit. I played with a guitarist who described my MT as "piano-like". I think we can certainly agree that Collings just makes some really nice instruments, and also that the OP should test-drive before buying.

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    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    Would that be the Yamaha sound or the Steinway?

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    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    I owned an MT and I liked it a lot. You are correct about the fit and finish, it was top notch.
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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    My MT is very well balanced: not too much of this or that. The highs are not shrill and piercing like you get in many lower-priced mandolins (not a slam but a fact based on my experience) and there is enough bass there to fill up the sound. I'd call my mandolin's tone even across the board.
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  21. #14
    Lost my boots in transit terzinator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    Everything you're reading is true. They are great mandolins.

    The thing is, though, tone differs greatly depending on player, pick, strings, the individual instrument and even humidity in the room. (And the ears of the listener.)

    I hesitate to generalize even among Collings. I've played some stunners, but I've also played many at shops that were set up just fine, but that I wouldn't trade for my MT ever. Maybe they just need playing time.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    The Collings MT is a real gem of an instrument. I have really loved every one I have played.
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  23. #16

    Default Re: Collings sound

    Thanks so much for all of the replies. I honestly never considered Collings until I played that MT Gloss Top and heard my mandolin instructor's MTO (might be an MT2 O, can't recall). His definitely had more bark and bass than I had imagined a Collings would. This may push me more toward the oval hole, as my Kentucky sounds exceptional for an F style, F hole import and I would say I play bluegrass only half the time. In any case, I plan to play as many mandolins as I can before making a decision, but all of this helps. I know I'm staying in the A world for sure.
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    Registered User thejamdolinplayer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    I used to own a Collings MT and it was a beast! Let me add that i also owned a MT honey amber gloss top and a MT gloss top with wide nut width but the satin finish standard MT was by far the best of those 3 mandolins. I have also owned a Breedlove FF, KM100 blackface, KM900,Eastman605, Flatiron import and a Weber Bitteroot. The Weber has a very nice warm sound that was also very punchy, I have included video links for the weber and MT.



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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    In the early years of Collings mandolins, I got to play an MF. I was really impressed with it. I eventually picked up an MT which kept me happy for a long while. More recently I've been using the MF5 as my main player. I chose it from a selection that included a Gibson Fern and a Phoenix Ultra Two Point. I liked all but the Collings really stood out at an exceptional instrument. It's hard to imagine a Collings mandolin that doesn't sound good.
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    Registered User Pick&Grin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    Yup, I used to love my Kentucky 630, but rarely play it since I got my Collings. I don't have any experience with Webers, but I'm head-over-heels for my MTO. Such a nice deep throaty sound. As some have written on here, it has a great bass and treble, and I find the mid-range to do the trick as well. You're spot on that it has a lot of bark: now that I have a tone-gard on it, WOW! Good luck with your decision.
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    I am a lifelong guitarist/musician and recently fell for a MF satin and have been enthralled learning and playing it. It does not scooped or too bright to my ears. It's very full, balanced and LOUD!
    My dealer said he always orders the satin top as it sounds smoother. He called it the poor man's varnish.
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    FWIW, I've had my standard, satin MT a few months (it is several years old). It had J74s on when I got it, and I liked the tone just fine. I had played a few MTs over the years and they all seemed very similar, and I never noticed, to my ears, any objectionable lack of balance.

    I was ready for new strings recently and put on a set of the Sam Bush Monels I had lying around. Based on comments in threads here about them, I expected them to be darker, and while that may be accurate, the main thing I noticed was that the sound seemed "woofier and woodier". Of course, these are two of the hard to define terms thrown around here, but they seem to fit.I like the difference very much, at least so far.

    So, this isn't exactly on point, but if the OP decides to get a Collings, or any mandolin really, he should keep in mind the difference that strings (and pick, too) make.
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  30. #22

    Default Re: Collings sound

    I like thomastik flat wounds on my MT2 - mellow out the brightness a bit, no string noise, easier to play - just awesome. Woody is always the first thing that comes to mind when I think of it's sound. However, switching between a blue chip and a wegen changes things not insignificantly.

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    Default Re: Collings sound

    I've always really enjoyed the Collings "Haircut" headstock on their A's.
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  32. #24
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    Quote Originally Posted by thejamdolinplayer View Post
    I used to own a Collings MT and it was a beast! Let me add that i also owned a MT honey amber gloss top and a MT gloss top with wide nut width but the satin finish standard MT was by far the best of those 3 mandolins. I have also owned a Breedlove FF, KM100 blackface, KM900,Eastman605, Flatiron import and a Weber Bitteroot. The Weber has a very nice warm sound that was also very punchy, I have included video links for the weber and MT.


    How did both the Collings and Weber compare to the KM900 and KM1000?
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    Registered Plec Offender Mickey King's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings sound

    I'll throw this one in the mix!
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