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Collings CJ-45AT
 
A new slope-shoulder dreadnought with a vintage sound and feel.
October 4, 2021
 

Collings Guitars is one of the best at capturing vintage vibes in a contemporary instrument. Having long made the slope-shoulder CJ and CJ-35 models, Collings recently re-engineered the design for its Traditional series, coming up with a slope-shoulder model called the CJ-45T that harks back to guitars built in the World War II era. I recently had a chance to check out an example of the guitar with an optional Adirondack spruce top (which makes it an “AT”)  in the Peghead Nation video studio.

With its sunburst finish and traditional appointments, the CJ-45AT makes it clear where its inspiration came from. From a distance, the guitar’s original Collings peghead and pickguard shapes would be the only indicators that its birthplace is in Austin, Texas, rather than Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Adirondack top on our demo guitar (Sitka spruce is the standard choice) has tighter grain than usual and a gorgeous appearance. The Honduran mahogany used for the guitar’s back and sides is the stuff that mahogany dreams are made of. With great color depth, subtle grain patterns, and a rich overall appearance, it’s not unlike the wood that might have been used on vintage instruments. Collings’s Traditional series instruments feature a thinner finish and lighter overall construction than standard Collings models and, combined with the company’s legendary attention to detail, the result is a level of craftsmanship that is nothing short of spectacular. 

From the first strum, the guitar did a wonderful job at delivering the dry, balanced tone with a hint of growl in the bass that players have long treasured this instrument for. Created specifically for this model, the guitar’s neck has what Collings calls a “full C-shape,” which is deep and round, and about as removed from slim modern necks as any contemporary guitar I’ve played. Neck mass of course can contribute greatly to a guitar’s tone, and players who yearn for vintage necks in combination with a highly playable precision setup will applaud this design. I have fairly large hands, and after a short adjustment period, I was right at home, and especially when playing open chords, I discovered that more depth in a neck profile can result in less fatigue while playing. Besides being a great strummer that would excel for song backup duties, the CJ-45AT was also a lot of fun to play for traditional fingerpicking styles, and it’s direct tonality allowed for smooth single-note lines as well.

Every Traditional series Collings I’ve had a chance to play has managed to raise the already incredibly high bar the company’s instruments are famous for. The CJ-45AT does the same, and in my view, it’s the finest slope-shoulder Collings has offered. Major congratulations to the team in Austin for coming up with another winner!

SPECS: Slope-shoulder dreadnought body. Adirondack spruce top with wartime scalloped X-bracing. Honduran mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck. Indian rosewood fingerboard. Ebony bridge. 24⅞-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Waverly tuning machines. Made in USA. $7,400 street. Collingsguitars.com

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© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com
 
 
    ● 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
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com