Filed Under: If the world's largest cattle ranch can be in Hawaii*, then the world's best ukuleles can be in Texas. (*well, it used to be, anyway)
Overview: Ten models (5 concert style, 5 tenor style) of ukuleles designed by legendary guitar-builder Bill Collings and handcrafted alongside the masterpiece guitars and mandolins the Collings Guitar brand has long been known for
Appreciate: Collings Guitars has only been building ukuleles in more recent years, but already the Collings ukes are appreciated as being among the best available, anywhere. Experts routinely marvel at the broken-in tonal quality of these ukes, even when they are brand new. Like their bigger instrument cousins, the Collings ukuleles feature the distinctive "haircut" peghead, which is a notch cut out of the top of the instrument, and puts other musicians on notice that you're playing something special
Know: The primary difference between Concert and Tenor style ukuleles is size, with tenors being the slightly larger of the two, featuring more frets, and projecting greater volume. But if you didn't know this already, perhaps you are not ready for a Collings uke. You'll hate yourself for scratching, denting, or otherwise abusing the little masterpiece while you fumble to learn to play it. These instruments are gorgeous to look at and marvelous to hear (search around YouTube for a sample or two of their sound). Depending on the model you choose, materials include mahogany or Koa wood bodies (Koa wood is the fanciest material used in any uke), mahogany necks, East Indian Rosewood fretboards, satin or high-gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finishes, and geared tuning pegs
Special Comments: If you are lucky enough to be in or visiting Austin, the live music capital of the world, Collings Guitars welcomes you to tour their shop every Friday starting at 3:30 for a 60-90 minute walk-through; reserve your spot in advance
Cost: Starting in the low $1k range for a mahogany concert model, and near $3k for fully appointed, Koa body tenor
See Them: Here.