While the 290 DC S is in most ways an exercise in luxurious minimalism, that doesn’t
mean there isn’t a wealth of tones within.
It was a thrill to hear how the 290 DC S
responded to various power situations, as I
ran the guitar through a Fender ’ 65 Twin
Reissue, a Vox Bruno, a 100-watt Marshall
Super Lead, and a Fender Pro Junior.
hiding. Kick the volume and tone wide
open and pick a bit back toward the bridge,
and you might have the nastiest honky-tonk tone yet heard by man at your fingertips—a sweet mixture of mahogany muscle
and P- 90 high-mid venom. Take a little
tone and volume out of the mix, though
and the Collings again becomes a much
more tender animal. Wes Montgomery-style octave melodies sounded warm and
full of character—a nice deviation from the
usual hollowbody-plus-neck-pickup formula—while more languid leads and finger
vibrato possessed the honey sweetness of
Carlos Santana’s early singing leads. For
the latter application, the balance of solidity and heft seems to really pay dividends.
life. And the combination of the immaculate construction, the Lollar P- 90, and
Collings’ own dedication to the guitar’s
development give it a broad personality
that runs from cultured to roughneck.
If there’s a downside to the Collings 290
DC S, it’s price. At $2850, it’s not exactly
a cheap path to simplicity. But, like most
Collings we’ve seen over the years, simplicity belies the complexity of tone and
responsiveness to playing nuance you experience when you put fingers to strings. And
what the 290 DC S gives the imaginative
and resourceful player is a blank slate and a
city bank’s worth of sweet sounds to work
with—a luxury perhaps, but one that’s
beyond value as a musician.
Collings insists that a fairly substantial mass
in the neck is essential to making an electric
guitar work harmonically.
Part of the beauty of the Les Paul Jr. (and
the P- 90, for that matter) is its adaptability:
Juniors are equally at home in the hands
of country pickers, bluesmen, and punk-rock thrashers. The 290 DC S stretches the
protean and chameleonic capabilities of the
now-classic design in both directions.
Through the Marshall, the Lollar P- 90
demonstrated an almost gentlemanly and
cultivated potentcy. Power chords rang
with harmonically charged, pure Live at
Leeds locomotive-scale horsepower, while
single-note leads and quick stops had a
nasty, Jimmy Page-like bite. Roll off the
volume, though, and the 290 DC S gave
the Marshall a smooth and powerful high-octane blues voice. An additional roll off
on the tone knob had the Collings and
Marshall sounding deliciously reminiscent
of Danny Kirwan’s Fleetwood Mac tones.
Through the Twin Reverb, it was easy
to coax the Collings’ Texas roots out of
Again, the slab mahogany body lends
warmth to the tone. But the construction
integrity—and the way it creates a feel-
ing this guitar is very much of a unified
piece—give dimension to sustained bends
that really shine through an amp with high
you savor the joys of elegant
simplicity and your musical moods
range from rowdy to refined.
you feel $2850 should at least get
you a second pickup.
or use a mobile device to download
audio clips of the guitar at
That the Collings 290 DC S is an exemplary guitar is beyond question. It’s a
textbook study in how the simplest design
concepts can be refined and given new