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NAMM Foundation and Collings Guitars Announce Memorial Fund for Collings Founder

by Victoria Wasylak • in
  • Supplier Scene
• Created: December 12, 2017

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The NAMM Foundation and Collings Guitars have announced a memorial fund in honor of legendary luthier and longtime NAMM member, Bill Collings. Collings was the founder and leader of Collings Guitars.

The memorial fund aims to both honor Collings’ legacy, as well as to foster the next generation of guitar players and teachers through The NAMM Foundation’s beneficiary organizations.

Steve McCreary, general manager of Collings Guitars, first met Collings in 1980 after he moved to Austin from Houston where he had been repairing and building guitars.

 He reflects: “Bill had an engineer’s mind, a machinist’s hands, a designer’s eye and an artist’s heart. He even had his own math, we called it ‘Billgebra.’ When he had a concept brewing in his head or a tool near at hand, whether it was a chisel or a CNC mill, he was a creative machine and loved the marriage of art and industry. He had an innate understanding of how things worked and he tirelessly pursued ways to make things work ‘better.’ He always pushed the envelope to offer the most he could to a customer, a friend or someone he was mentoring. He helped a number of high school students build instruments for school projects and got deeply involved in a long-term project with a group of fourth year architecture students to design and build twelve extremely custom guitars. He was brilliant, funny, demanding and generous. He was also a bit insecure, and I think he would be very embarrassed but humbly honored by this memorial as a way to preserve and promote the ‘art’ of guitar. I sincerely thank NAMM and Chris Martin for making the decision to do this. It is a very fitting tribute for a very deserving cause.”

The Fund is led by the efforts of Chris Martin, chairman of The NAMM Foundation board of directors, and CEO of C.F. Martin & Co., Inc.

Martin fondly recalls his first meeting with Collings: “I noticed a small booth diagonally across from the Martin booth. There was one guitar on display. I was curious because it looked like a new Martin Dreadnought. I walked over and a scruffy looking character popped up from behind the guitar and gave me a quizzical look. He said, ‘Chris Martin.’ I smiled and said ‘yes,’ and complimented him on the quality of the guitar he had on display… Bill was a master luthier, a somewhat reluctant business man and a real character. Every time Bill and I talked was a memorable discussion; I miss that wise guy.”

“When the NAMM Foundation was established, it was our earnest hope that it could be a means to honor people like Bill who was a beloved and inspiring member of NAMM,” said Mary Luehrsen, executive director of the NAMM Foundation. “We are honored to establish this fund in Bill’s memory that will be part of his legacy in the music products industry.”

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