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When we launched Acoustic Guitar magazine in 1990, the guitars of Bill Collings had been turning heads among discerning musicians for well over a decade, but the Collings factory brand was a recent arrival in the larger music industry. The buzz was practically deafening, especially among the independent acoustic music shops who could not keep his instruments in stock. The first article we ever published which might be construed as a product review was Rick Turner’s piece on the Collings interpretation of Clarence White’s famous Martin D-28 in issue number 6, May/June 1991.

Like the soundhole on that modified guitar, Bill Collings himself was larger than life, an amalgam of genius engineer, incorrigible mischief maker, and musical perfectionist. His death in 2017 at the age of 68 was a blow to many far beyond his family, friends, and colleagues. One person who took special notice was Bill’s friend and competitor, C. F. Martin IV, whose generosity fueled the creation of the Bill Collings Memorial Fund to support guitar education in public schools and public programs. The fund is managed by the NAMM Foundation, which supports a host of worthy musical causes and programs on behalf of the entire music products industry.

In planning our 30th anniversary instrument auction, we could think of no better beneficiary than the fund that bears Bill Collings’ name. 50% of every dollar raised in the auction will go directly toward supporting guitar education, and we’ll also donate $5 in the name of every bidder, regardless of the outcomes. Bidding begins April 20. In the meantime, please take a look at the 12 great guitars in this collection, including the custom Collings D41 built in 2000.