When Bill Collings launched the Waterloo line in 2014, his intention was to build guitars looking back in time to when there was a genuine need for soulful tone from simple instruments. The blues, country, and folk music played on these instruments was made in heartfelt response to the hard times of the Depression Era. Proudly made by Collings in Austin, the Waterloo line captures the sound and vibe of yesteryear—but with modern precision and attention to detail.
Weighing in under three pounds, the featherweight WL-K is a 12-fret built with maximum responsiveness in mind. The WL-K was inspired by the rare and hard-to-find "Kel Kroydon" instruments manufactured around 1930. In their day, these prewar gems were touted to offer the "utmost in vibratory response and the finest tone available," so the WL-K is delicately built using light materials and carefully-carved thin braces. With a minimal lacquer finish and understated details, the resulting tone is dry and transparent with just the right level of mahogany overtones. The WL-K captures the expressiveness of the player down to the finest nuance.
The WL-K has a 24 7/8" scale length and a moderately sized, oval shaped neck, so it is a comfortable, manageable guitar. This 2018 WL-K weighs in at 2 lbs 14.3 oz. While it is a natural fit for fingerstyle, it's a versatile instrument that sounds great with a pick, too. Exceptional clarity and note separation make it well-suited to a variety of playing styles and a logical choice for singer-songwriters and purveyors of traditional roots music. A carbon fiber T-bar running through the neck provides stability and efficient transfers of energy back into the body, producing a resonance you can feel.
This 2018 Waterloo WL-K shows some playwear around the picking area, and there is a small ding to the top edge (see photos). But it's very clean all around, and the frets show minimal wear (if any at all). No strap button on the heel. Because of the light construction, Collings recommends .011-.052 strings on these model. The saddle has been adjusted to bring the action down. While the carbon fiber T-Bar keeps the guitar lightweight and sounding right, it isn't adjustable, so the saddle is the only means to raise or lower the action. At the moment, it's right where it wants to be—this is a great-sounding Waterloo that plays how it should.
This 2018 Waterloo WL-K includes its original hardshell case.