8/15/2017

2013 Collings UC2 Custom Walnut Concert Ukulele





I've had a few Collings ukes in my hands over the past few years (check these blog posts for both 3K and 1K concert ukes) and, just like my experience with every Collings instrument I've ever picked-up, my opinion remains the same that they're the most consistently-made "perfect" instruments you can find. Everything about them is crisp, to the point, and refined. Whether or not you like the tone or looks of them is subjective -- the objective bit is that it's clear that a ton of thought and an outsized load of workmanship goes into all Collings instruments -- the ukes included.

Unfortunately, in 2013 it was decided to call it quits on uke production and now that founder Bill Collings has passed away (RIP, Bill -- we needed decades more of your influence on the market), it's very unlikely that more Collings ukes will be made anytime soon. This particular uke was made at the tail-end of production and is a custom-ordered UC2. The "custom" bit is that the body is entirely made from walnut rather than mahogany and, as expected, it sounds glorious -- with an incredibly strong fundamental sound, a shimmer of harmonic overtones, and a lot of power.

Collings concert ukes all sound (to my ears) like a boutique version of the classic 1930s Martin concert sound -- which should not be surprising, as many of the dimensions and build elements are similar. Like on all Collings "versions" of instruments, however, the design elements are refined and so the voice has less overall "airy sparkle" and much more grab and projection to the individual notes. Chords have a sweet lilt and, like those old Martin concerts, these ukes like a heavier set of strings to push them. This one has medium-weight set of fluorocarbon strings on it and it sounds tops.

My only work was to nudge the setup to spot-on 1/16" at the 12th fret. Otherwise, it's as it came in -- near-new but with light strumming-marks on the upper bout (only visible in glaring light) and a trio of tiny nicks below the rosette. The finish is gloss and pretty as can be.



The tuners look like ebony but are 4:1 geared units. The nut is 1 3/8" and bone.


The board and bridge are rosewood -- and don't you love the ivoroid dots?



The saddle is compensated.


Note how crisp all the binding is.


As I've said before -- I tend to think of walnut as sounding a lot like mahogany -- but slightly different. I think, perhaps, it has a little bit more focus on the fundamental, stronger upper-mids and less of a boomy bass when applied to Martin-like design styles.


This has a 7 5/8" lower bout, 2 3/4" depth, and 15 1/8" scale length.


Here are the little nicks below the rosette.


Tiny strum marks like this are also on the treble side.


Those are just reflections on the back.



The neck is mahogany.








The tortoise binding looks really nice in the sunlight.


The original, near-mint Collings hard case comes with it. It's perfectly fitted and grand in itself.

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