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Finding Inspiration From My Guitars

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Guitarist, composer and educator Jostein Gulbrandsen gives his views on some of his favorite Collings Guitars.

On a nice spring day in 2007, I walked into Matt Umanv Guitars in the West Village in New York and asked to try a blonde Collings I-35 Deluxe. I was blown away by the guitar and knew I had to have one. The following year Rudy’s Music on 48th street got in a Collings Soco Deluxe, a brand new model that was just released, basically a single-cutaway version of the I-35. I was really impressed with the guitar and later ended up buying it. My friend who worked at the shop told me, many people, including Paul Simon, came to check it out. Not long ago I saw a picture of Paul Simon with a new Soco Deluxe so he ended up getting one, just a little later than me.

I was totally in love with this Soco Deluxe and it became my main guitar.

I used it on my 2nd album,  “Release of Tension”and I also was able to put a picture of it on the cover of my book “Modern Jazz and Fusion Guitar” (Hal/Leonard). I also played two other models on the videos that came with the book, an Eastside Jazz that Collings lent me and a 360st which is a three single-coil solid-body that covers a lot of ground. 

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Since 2013 I have been an artist for Collings and been fortunate to get to know many people from the company. I have been at their factory and done some showcases for them at different NAMM shows. I am lucky to own several of their guitars and play many others, including prototypes and very early production models. 

These days I seem to favor their thinline semi and hollowbodies such as the I-30 and I-35lc models.  The new I-35lc Vintage I just got is off the charts. It is a new take on the already excellent I-35lc that has the same laminate as the I-30, a different center block, neck, pickups, electronics. It has a more woody and open sound and more sustain and dynamic range and has a strong flavor of a vintage guitar. Truly an inspiring instrument.

I have been lucky to be able to play many vintage 50’s and 60’s Fenders and Gibsons, original D’Aquistos and  D’Angelico as well as many of the current great builders such as Gustavsson, Slaman, Lentz, Yanuziello, etc. In my opinion, Collings is up there among the very best. I am impressed with how they maintain the same level of craftsmanship as with smaller one-man operations.

For me, everything has to be right with an instrument – sound, playability, aesthetics, weight, balance.

There isn’t one thing that is more important than anything else, everything has to be right. It’s a very special feeling to play an instrument that responds to everything you play and after a while of playing you almost forget that you are playing it because it feels like an extension of yourself. Every time I pick up and play one of my guitars I feel really fortunate and inspired.

About the author:

Jostein Gulbrandsen is a guitarist, composer, author and educator, originally from Norway, based in NYC since 2001. He has released three albums under his own name, “Twelve”(2007 Fresh Sound New Talent”, “Release of Tension”(2011) and “Looking Ahead” (2018 Curling Legs records).

He holds a Master’s Degree in Jazz Performance from Manhattan School of music. His best-selling method book “Modern Jazz and Fusion Guitar” was released by Hal/Leonard in December 2016. He is a featured artist for Collings Guitars, Quilter Labs Amplification, Eventide Effects, and Curt Mangan Strings.

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