July 30, 2017


Bill Collings, sanding a guitar top

I love to make things, like making books out of words and furniture out of wood. I have made two guitars and they are difficult to build properly. Today I read with sadness of the death of Bill Collings, one of America’s finest luthiers. Collings spent most of his life crafting guitars out of rare tonewoods, for some of the world’s best players. He was 68, and died of cancer.

I could never afford a Collings guitar. They are expensive and somewhat rare because the Austin shop won’t produce more than a few hundred a year. I got a Martin on sale and love it, but I always wanted to own one of the prized Texas acoustic guitars that were a hybrid of Gibson, Martin and Guild instruments.

Here is what Bill Collings said about his art: “Success is succession, over and over and over, and it comes from failure. Failure, failure, failure–knowing that if you stop, you’re done.”

That will inspire me to keep on going–making books, making peace, making friends. I can pass that on, just as he did. If we stop, we’re done.


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