Collings 290 Review

May 22, 2023
David Sunnyside

collings 290 review

When a gaggle of tone nerds gather around a great guitar, the talk often turns to magic and mojo-almost as if there were some robed, gray-bearded sorcerer behind the magic. Of course, the truth is far more prosaic: a great guitar is a remarkable synthesis of design choices and luthier’s uncompromising standards. Bill Collings would be the first to admit that striving for perfect luthiery is a bit like tilting at windmills, but it’s his refusal to settle for anything less than an instrument that will do what he wants it to do that makes guitars bearing his name among the best in the business.

The 290 DC S, which debuted in 2006 and is a solidbody electric version of his popular acoustic model, is a case in point. This particular 290 is fitted with Lollar Soap Bar P90 pickups, which offer an extraordinarily wide range of tones from warm and dark to bright and crisp.

The body is made from two blocks of Honduran mahogany-a formula for sweet resonance if there ever was one. Collings hand selects this mahogany for density and acoustic response, and their exacting PLEK machine leveling and fret dressing ensures that the neck is a joy to play, with a sweet 12" radius that’s perfect for chord work or big blues bends.

With both the volume and tone controls at 10, this 290 is ready to rip through any small amp, with plenty of grit and rich harmonic complexity to go around for those with an ear for Muddy Waters’ or Howlin’ Wolf’s Chess sides or Joe Walsh’s early crunch. But it’s the subtle manipulation of those controls that reveals this guitar’s real beauty.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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