Inside Collings Guitars: Acoustic Top Woods

Posted by Jason Witt on

Master luthier and wood expert Bruce VanWart discusses the various top woods used to build Collings guitars and takes an in-depth look at the importance of proper cutting, selection and individual hand-voicing. Watch them explain the extremely delecate and expert process of selecting and crafting these acoustic top woods.

When discussing wood selection at Collings one must first introduce Bruce VanWart. Born into a family of lumber suppliers that have been operating in New England for over 100 years, Bruce was originally trained as a master boat builder in Massachusetts.  After a move to Austin in 1981, Bruce continued to hone his already sharp skills with custom carpentry projects and historical restoration jobs. Bill and Bruce first met in 1982 when Bruce was hired to build a flight of stairs in Bill’s shop.  Bill was immediately impressed with the quality of Bruce’s work and when he decided to expand Collings Guitars in 1989, Bruce was hired as Collings Guitar’s first employee. With his extensive expertise, Bruce is responsible for selecting the wood used for every Collings acoustic guitar. Every piece of wood is different and varies widely even within the same species.  It’s very important to pick woods that will be most suitable for each individual guitar, and this is done based on the density and flexibility of each piece.  In addition to the stiffness to weight ratio, we seek pieces that are well quarter-sawn and of exceptional appearance.  Wood of this quality is difficult to source in any quantity and we rely on our 30 year strong relationships with some of the world’s premier vendors to procure premium grade tone wood that meets our strict criteria.


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