Taylor vs Collings: Which Guitar Brand is Better For You?

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If you’re curious about Taylor vs Collings guitars and which instrument is right for you, you’ve come to the right post!

Guitarists have many choices these days when it comes to the instrument.

There are so many manufacturers offering great products across wide price ranges.

But some guitar makers have continued to stand out, many of which stand out thanks to their high-quality instruments.

Among these high-quality guitar makers are Taylor and Collings.

They are two of the most respected brands in the industry.

Both founded in the early 1970s, Taylor and Collings have gone on to earn wide acclaim.

This is due to the excellence of their craftsmanship.

Their commitment to the science and art of building guitars is noteworthy.

Taylor, particularly, has become a household name.

Many famous musicians opt for the brand such as Taylor Swift, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, Jason Mraz, Zac Brown, and Tori Kelly.

Alan Parsons, and Air Supply’s Graham Russell also play Taylor guitars.

Collings doesn’t have a shabby resume either.

The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst play Collings guitars as do Ariel Posen, Julian Lage, Mumford and Sons’ Marcus Mumford.

Even Conan O’Brien has a Collings guitar, and with a custom inlaid fretboard at that.

You know that Taylor and Collings guitars are great instruments given their players.

So which brand is for you?

Read on and see which one might be a better match for you.

History of Taylor Guitars

Taylor Guitars is headquartered in El Cajon, California. 

Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug founded the company in 1974.

The two met in 1972 while working at American Dream, a hippie guitar shop in San Diego.

Bob and Kurt were 19 and 21 when they bought the shop in 1974 after the owner, Sam Radding, announced its sale.

They then renamed the company Westland Music Company.

When they felt they needed a more compact name for their headstocks, they changed it to “Taylor.”

They recognized that it was more American than “Listug.”

Of the two, Taylor was the guitar maker, while Listug took care of the business side of things.

By 1976, Taylor was selling its guitars through retailers.

It has since gone on to innovate within many aspects of the guitar-making process.

Some of its innovations include the development of its patented new technology neck.

Another is its own pickup system, the Expression System.

Currently, Taylor Guitars has more than 1,200 employees in its two factories.

One is in its headquarters in El Cajon, California, and the other is in Tecate, Mexico.

It also has a distribution warehouse and a factory service center in the Netherlands.

Furthermore, it has an international distribution to 60 countries. This is besides the hundreds of retail locations in North America.

As of June 2023, Taylor and Listug are the co-chairs of the company’s board of directors.

In May 2023, they gave up their roles as the company’s president and CEO to Andy Powers.

Power also serves as its chief guitar designer.

History of Collings Guitars

Ohio native Bill Collings founded Collings Guitars in Houston, Texas, in 1973.

This was a year before Taylor Guitars’ founding.

Collings was a pre-med student in Ohio in the early 1970s when he decided to work instead on machines.

He came from a family of engineers.

During his first few years in machining, he built his first acoustic guitar on the side.

As he improved as a builder, his guitars became increasingly known among artists and enthusiasts.

They included singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett.

Lovett was a student journalist at the time.

They met when he interviewed Collings for a story he was writing for his campus paper.

In the early 1980s, Collings pursued his plan to move his business to California.

But he stopped in Austin and befriended luthiers Tom Ellis and Mike Stevens.

Collings decided to stay in the Lone Star State and set up a space in the shop of his new associates.

By the mid-’80s, Collings had his own shop in Austin.

In 1989, he put down a deposit for a 1,000-square-foot space and, for the first time, hired help.

In that same year, famed guitar collector George Gruhn hired Collings to build 24 guitars.

This gave the luthier his first brush with national fame.

In 1992, Collings moved operations to a 3,200-square-foot factory in Austin.

By then, more and more famous guitarists were playing the builder’s guitars.

Some of them were Joni Mitchell, Brian May, and Pete Townshend.

In 2005, Collings Guitars moved to a 27,000-square-foot facility.

Around this time, the company began using computers more in its manufacturing process.

This modernized its machining processes and made production more accurate, consistent, and safe.

Comparison Between Taylor and Collings Guitars

Taylor and Colliings both use traditional methods and new technology.

This is unlike Martin, which has adhered to a highly traditional manufacturing process that has made it an esteemed brand.

So, what are the differences between Taylor and Collings guitars?

Let’s take a look at their sounds, build, bracing, and playability so you can decide which one is the brand for you.

Sound: Taylor vs Collings

Collings OM1A Vs Taylor 814CE Dlx

Both Taylor and Collings offer their guitars in a variety of sizes.

They are also available in different shapes and types, including dreadnought and orchestra models.

Thus, you can expect a variety of tones from each brand depending on which model you want.

That said, each brand has some distinct aspects to its sound regardless of the model you play.

Taylor sound

Taylor guitars’ general sound is crisp, according to many players.

It is also balanced, clear, punchy, and articulate.

The lower-end models are rather bright compared to the mid-range and high-end models.

These low-end models are the Baby Taylor Series, Academy Series, and 200 Series.

Guitars by the company are also said to have a particular richness in the upper mids.

But some players have found Taylor guitars’ brightness to be too much.

Taylor’s own pickup, the Expression System 2 (ES2), amplifies its natural acoustic tone.

The system does this by capturing string movement behind the saddle.

Usually, acoustic guitar pickups capture string movement underneath the saddle.

The ES2 has three pickup sensors.

They have unique positions that allow them to give a “more dynamic range of acoustic sound,” according to Taylor. 

The sensors are also individually calibrated.

Many Taylor acoustic guitar models come with the pickup system.

But most of these can be purchased without it.

Collings sound

Players love Collings guitars for their clarity, note separation, and overtones.

These guitars are also known to have good sustain and a boosted midrange.

With volumes louder than usual, Collings guitars tend to produce a delightful echo. T

his has won over many enthusiasts and artists.

But others have described Collings guitars’ sound as muddy.

Collings acoustic guitars do not come with a proprietary pickup system.

But the company recommends L.R. Baggs pickups.

Some have said they also have good results with the Anthem, Lyric, and Element pickup systems.

Build: Taylor vs Collings

Guitarists worldwide love Both Taylor and Collings for their remarkable build quality and craftsmanship.

Notably, Collings’ cheapest acoustic guitar model is not cheap at over $3,000.

Meanwhile, Taylor’s entry-level guitar, the Baby Taylor Series, can be had for only $399.

But you can still expect a high-quality guitar from Taylor’s less expensive models.

That’s because, regardless of how much you paid, the company has really amazing quality control.


How Taylor Guitars Are Made

Taylor uses a variety of tonewoods for its guitars.

This makes for a diverse selection of tonal characteristics.

Its guitars’ top woods are spruce and cedar.

Spruce is the more widely used wood for guitar tops because of its warmth and resonance.

Taylor uses different types of spruce, including Lutz, Sitka, Engelmann, and Adirondack.

Cedar, meanwhile, tends to be dulcet compared to spruce.

It’s also sought for the range of its harmonics.

As for the sides and back, Taylor uses a wide selection.

They include rosewood, mahogany, figured maple, koa, blackwood, and ovangkol.

Rosewood has a remarkably dark color and grains.

Guitarists love it for its powerful lows and biting highs.

Guitarists love Mahogany for its warmth and mids.

Maple is recognizable for its transparency and, of course, its eye-catching color.

Both koa and blackwood give off pleasing mids.

Ovangkol is akin to rosewood in color and tonal quality.

As a truly modern guitar maker, Taylor uses both robotics and manual work in building its guitars.

This has allowed the company to make over 700 guitars daily since 2017.


Living Machines: The Art and Craft Behind Collings Electric Guitars

Collings also uses different kinds of spruce to create its tops.

These include Sitka, Torrefied Sitka, Adirondack, Torrefied Adirondack, European, and Engelmann spruce.

But to make some of its exotic-looking models, it uses Honduran mahogany and koa tops.

Collings guitars’ sides and back are made using different wood types.

They include Honduran mahogany, East Indian rosewood, Wenge walnut, European maple, and koa.

Collings‘ acoustic guitars are “hand-selected, evaluated, and graduated to their own unique thickness.”

According to the company, this is to maximize the tonal potential of each top.

Bracing: Taylor vs Collings

An acoustic guitar’s bracing is often overlooked because it is hidden.

But in fact, it is one of the most vital aspects of a guitar’s sound.

A brace is a wooden reinforcement attached to the underside of a guitar’s top to provide support.

Aside from that, bracing contributes to the guitar’s voice and other tonal attributes.

When you strum or pluck a guitar’s strings, they cause a vibration on the bridge.

This transfers energy to the guitar’s top.

This is where the brace does its job.

Once it receives the energy from the top, the brace spreads it across the soundboard.

The sound is then taken to the sides and back of the guitar.

The thicker a brace is, the more it will absorb the sound, resulting in weaker lows and a more subdued volume.

A thinner brace will give the guitar more resonance.


How Taylor Guitars V-Class Bracing Works

Taylor’s chief guitar designer Andy Powers came up with the V-Class bracing.

The company debuted the innovation in 2018.

This was after many experiments attempting to strike a balance between volume and sustain.

The V-Class bracing is a departure from the traditional X bracing.

By maintaining stiffness along the middle, the bracing allows it to sustain longer.

They claim the benefit of this bracing is that they achieved this without letting the volume suffer.

According to Taylor, the company’s V-Class bracing also allows better intonation.


Collings uses the traditional X bracing on its acoustic guitars.

This type of reinforcement has been around for more than a hundred years.

It continues to be common in acoustic guitar manufacturing.

Many have said that this is a technology that needs no fixing.

Playability: Taylor vs Collings

Few guitar players will endure playing on a guitar that’s uncomfortable to fret.

And fewer will like to play one that is uninviting to hold.

So let’s talk about which of these guitar brands is more playable!


Taylor prides itself on many innovations in the guitar space.

On the playability front, it has its patented neck design, which it introduced in 1999.

It’s a bolt-on neck with a joint that precisely connects to the body of the guitar.

This allows the action to be set low with ease. The neck has a slim profile, lessening fatigue to the fretting hand.


Collings combines plek machine leveling with fret dressing by hand for playability.

Players have attested to the excellent playability of Collings guitars.

This is despite some players’ issues with a supposed stiffness in playing them.

Others have said that any guitar just needs to be “broken in.”

Conclusion: Taylor vs Collings

As you can see, Taylor and Collings both build world-class guitars.

The only difference that doesn’t seem subjective to me is that Collings doesn’t offer budget-friendly guitars.

Taylor, meanwhile, has at least three series of relatively inexpensive guitars.

So if you’re looking for a less expensive model from a high-end manufacturer, Taylor is likely a better choice for you.

But whichever brand you decide to buy, you will almost certainly get a fine instrument.

I hope this post has helped you decide which of these brands might be for you.

And if you want to read more about guitar brand comparisons, check out:

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