Although still known primarily for their amazing acoustic guitars, Collings is continuing to make a glorious noise in the electric market, and this beauty is sure to take that up a notch or two. Picking up where the venerable Les Paul Special left off, the 290 DC is, as the name intimates, a double-cutaway slab of gorgeous mahogany with a pair of P-90s. Collings gussies things up with the cool tortoiseshell pickguard and sexy ebony headstock veneer, and caps it all in a righteous high-gloss nitro finish.
Right out of the case (a sweet, deluxe Ameritage model), the 290 DC rang with a huge acoustic resonance. You really feel the sustain through the body and the substantial-but-comfy neck. The guitar ships with .011s but they feel like .010s–the mark of a supremely well-built guitar. The frets are perfectly level and beautifully rounded, and, although the bridge can’t be adjusted, it does have an intonation contour milled into the top bearing edge, and as a result it intonates like a dream.
We plugged the Collings into a variety of amps and the best delay pedal and it sounded awesome through each one. The Lollar pickups have great output, but it’s the detail that really knocks me out. They sound balanced and rich with a clanging bottom end and a silky, musical treble response. On a recording session, I ran both pickups with the bridge rolled back to 7 into a mildly dirty amp and the tone was big, open, and very dynamic. I was especially impressed with how responsive the 290 was to where I picked on the string. Even a difference of an inch or two toward or away from the bridge produced noticeable, useable changes in timbre. And on the subject of the Volume controls, these are some of the best voiced pots I’ve ever experienced, with every part of the taper bringing out great new colors.
I seriously can’t find a single fault with the 290 DC. It’s all too easy for guitarists to say, “If I’m going to spend that kind of money, I’d just buy a (fill in the blank).” Nope. Not anymore. This guitar is not cheap, but it is worth every penny. We’ve long been impressed with this company’s acoustic offerings, but I have no choice but to view Collings as a serious player in the electric game from this day forward. Reasonable people can disagree on things like scale length, body wood, electronics, etc., but for what it is, the 290 DC might just be the perfect guitar. Well done.