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2012 Collings SJ Indian Custom
 
A slightly modified example of Collings’ popular small jumbo model.
December 27, 2023
 

The SJ model has been in the Collings lineup long enough to be considered a classic. With a width of 16 inches at the lower bout and a relatively tight waist, the model fits into the small jumbo category of flattops, which is what the “SJ” designation stands for. Collings offers the SJ in three standard versions built with either maple, Indian rosewood, or mahogany back and sides. But because Collings is fundamentally a custom shop, the company’s instruments are frequently ordered with modifications in woods, appointments, and other details. I recently came across a Collings SJ Indian that has several unique custom touches during a visit to Schoenberg Guitars in Tiburon, California, so I asked to take it to the Peghead Nation video studio.

Built in 2012, this guitar is well played-in with a handful of dents and scratches, but it has the wonderful opened-up sound of an older instrument. The guitar has a gorgeous, tightly grained spruce top with a few hints of bearclaw, and the Indian rosewood back and sides have a rich chocolate color with beautiful striping. While the guitar doesn’t scream “custom” at first sight, it has a very cool torch-inspired inlay in the “haircut” shaped peghead. Even without knowing what a standard SJ peghead looks like, I knew the guitar was custom due to the lack of a Collings logo. The guitar also has maple instead of ivoroid binding, an abalone rosette instead of the simpler black-and-white multi-ring rosette usually found on SJs, a different inlay pattern in the fingerboard, and a cutaway. While not old enough to be considered a vintage guitar, this SJ has all the great vibe that only time can buy. Its finish has darkened and sunk into the wood grain a bit; the neck feels like it has been played, and it has the kind of mojo you can’t pinpoint, but immediately know is there. 

Small jumbos are generally known for their versatility and powerful overall character, and this SJ is no exception. Its strumming voice has the rich bass rosewood often imparts to a larger guitar, but it also has a great midrange clarity that yields a tonality free of the “boominess” that sometimes affects large flattops. This balance also makes the SJ a great sounding fingerstyle guitar that has lots of headroom when picking with a bit of force. 

While this SJ is a unique guitar, its overall qualities are representative of other Collings SJs. Whether you choose to shop used or brand-new, Collings’ take on the small jumbo is worth checking out for anyone looking for a rich-sounding flattop that will fit into many musical settings. 

Collingsguitars.com

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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
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