A good guitar is like a trusted companion. A guitar that truly inspires you—one that makes you want to be a better player—that's the type of guitar that pushes your music into the stratosphere. For Sam Bush's guitarist Stephen Mougin, this Collings dreadnought was just that.
This 2010 Collings D2HA Varnish has been seen on stage at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and for Stephen, it provided the presence and cutting tone needed to keep up with Sam's ripping mandolin chops. For the better part of a decade, this guitar was Stephen's go-to touring axe, and it was used prominently in the documentary "REVIVAL: the Sam Bush Story."
This 2010 Collings D2HA Varnish (serial #17090) features a 14-fret dreadnought body with a premium Adirondack Spruce top, East Indian Rosewood back and sides, and the Varnish finish option. While Varnish adds a hefty chunk to the price tag, it is well, well worth the expense. Varnish goes on much thinner than lacquer, and it is a softer, more flexible finish material. This allows the guitar to vibrate more freely, or as players usually put it, varnish lets the guitar and the wood "breathe."
As for tone, this 2010 D2HA Varnish is an absolute monster. Its powerful, balanced, tone is deeply nuanced and refined. It is certainly an excellent choice for bluegrass, but it's capable of covering so much territory beyond that. It has a strong rhythm sound if you need to drive the band, and yet its lead tone cuts when you need to stick out. It has a 1-11/16" nut width.
- Body: 14-Fret Dreadnought
- Top: Adirondack Spruce
- Back & Sides: East Indian Rosewood
- Neck: Honduran Mahogany
- Finish: Varnish
- Body Binding: Ivoroid with herringbone purfling
- Bridge: Ebony belly-style with 2-3/16" spacing
- Fingerboard: ebony w/ abalone long diamond & squares
- Fingerboard radius: 14" - 26" compound
- Bridge pins: Ebony w/ MOP dot
- Nut: Bone, 1-11/16"
- Saddle: Bone, drop-in
- Neck Profile: Modified V
- Neck Joint: Tortoise & tenon hybrid
- Truss rod: Fully-adjustable
- Frets: Medium 18% nickel-silver
- Tuners: Nickel Waverly
- Scale Length: 25-1/2"
- Brace Material: Adirondack Spruce
- Brace Pattern: Prewar scalloped X-brace
- Electronics: Fishman Ellipse Aura w/ custom images made by Fishman
Although it shows the cosmetic wear and tear we expect from the road, this 2010 Collings D2HA has been nicely preserved. The most noticeable ding actually occurred on the first gig Stephen played with it. At the show, Curtis Burch (the original dobro player of New Grass Revival) turned to Stephen to ask the key of the upcoming song, and as he did, he smacked Stephen's guitar with his dobro. Beyond that ding, there is some wear behind the nut from where a sliding cradle capo has lived, and the edges of the headstock show some wear and tear. But there are no repairs or issues, and it seems as if Stephen has done his best to keep this guitar in tip-top shape. The original hardshell case is included.
Under the hood, Fishman installed an Ellipse Aura system for Stephen, and they loaded it with custom images based on this specific guitar. That's about as cool as it gets, and that pickup made sure this guitar sits perfectly in the mix with the Sam Bush band.
Now that he's switched over to a CJ35, Stephen is ready to pass on this treasured Collings. He hopes it ends up with someone who will play the heck out of it, and honestly, we don't see how you couldn't. This guitar is a beast!