When Bill Collings first met the brilliant young jazz musician Julian Lage in 2014, the two began a series of in-depth conversations about their respective crafts. Lage's profound insights as a guitarist would play a key role in the creation of Collings’ T (Traditional) Series guitars. This rare collaboration (which continued right up until Bill passed away in July 2017) has yielded Collings' first signature model—an exceptional new guitar with an old soul: the Julian Lage Signature OM1.
Though Lage’s guitar shares the same foundational specs as the OM1 T, it is unique in some key ways. Its neck feels like no other Collings guitar. That’s because it was modeled after Lage’s cherished 1939 Martin 000-18. This prewar gem is heard on the guitarist’s 2015 solo album, “World’s Fair,” and it was his main touring acoustic for years.
The 000-18’s neck—which was originally shaped and sanded by hand—has a distinctive taper altered by decades of wear. For Lage, this particular neck had come to feel like home. Through careful analysis and digitization of its unique dimensions, Collings was able to precisely recreate its worn-in, asymmetric feel on this signature model. While maintaining the relatively narrow 1-11/16" nut of the 000-18's neck, the fingerboard was extended from the original short scale to Collings' standard 25-1/2" scale length, which allows for greater presence and note definition.
Lage has an affinity both tonally and aesthetically for vintage guitars whose finishes have mellowed after years of playing. To recreate this effect, Collings initially considered using some kind of varnish, but to achieve the ideal combination of a thin finish application and a vintage aesthetic, they landed on a custom satin lacquer. This new finish not only feels and looks right to Lage, but he finds it has the same inherent openness of tone that is present in the best prewar instruments.
With his typical descriptive eloquence, Lage characterizes his signature model as a “lovingly neutral” guitar. It has a remarkably even response between registers. It’s not an empty flatterer, but an instrument that rewards you when you’re playing your best. In this way, Lage, whose own education is unending, sees the guitar as a teacher.
Lage’s signature model incorporates a script peghead logo not seen on a new Collings instrument in decades. This is the inlay that Bill hand-cut some 30 years ago when he started out in a tiny shop in Austin, Texas. This is a loving tribute to Bill Collings— an influential guitar builder, who in his final project was able to realize the perfect new steel-string for one of today’s most exacting guitarists.
This 2020 Collings OM1 JL (serial #30944) is about as clean as you could ask a used guitar to be. No issues, no wear, no scratches, no repairs—it looks like it just left Austin. The original owner wanted to love it, but ultimately, dreadnoughts are more his style. Nevertheless, his loss is your gain! Here's a fantastic OM1 JL at a price that's much easier to swallow. Original case and paperwork included.