Collings I-30 LC

Desert Island Axe
Price: $5,200
Info: www.collingsguitars.com

If you found yourself stranded on that proverbial desert isle with – horror of horrors – just a single guitar at your disposal, the Collings I-30 LC just might make you one blissful castaway.

That combo of playability and tone comes courtesy of Collings’ version of a lightweight, fully hollow 335 body shape, a sweet neck, and Jason Lollar P-90s. Sounds simple, right?

Collings’ double-cut body is an interesting creation. Rather than the 335’s solid-block semi-hollow construction, Collings uses a trestle-braced hollow body that directly couples the neck with the tail block, creating what Collings claims is an exceptionally strong guitar with phenomenal acoustic transference.

The body is laminated maple, but the blend of laminates, grain orientation, and ply thicknesses enhances the sonic qualities. End result? The I-30 LC weighs a friendly five pounds and small change.

The neck is Honduran mahogany fashioned to a modern C shape and capped with a rosewood fretboard. With a 247/8″ scale and 111/16″ nut, it’s easy to play. Its tuners are Gotoh, the bridge is a Kluson ABR-1, and the tailpiece is Collings’ own trapeze. All straightforward and reliable.

Collings claims the I-30 LC is one of the most acoustically responsive and versatile electric guitars they’ve ever built, so it was tested through a now-vintage Fender Vibro-King. As noted, the guitar is so nicely balanced, lightweight, and well-proportioned, appointed, and finished that it’s a joy to play. Heck, the I-30 LC practically plays itself.

And then there are those pickups; Jason Lollar must have good ears, because his vintage-voiced dog-ear P-90s are the cat’s meow. Turn up the vintage-look knobs and you just want to keep on picking. They offer sweetness, twang, growl, bite, and more. They can do old-time country or blues, rock out on a rockabilly or British Invasion tune, or wail in a modern or alt-rock setting. You can even dial in a jazz-inflected warmth – especially with the neck pickup – then combine front and back to get a full and rich chimey sound almost Rick-like in sonority.

The mix of superlative pickups with the acoustic resonance of the Collings body adds up to a fullness of tone. While the thickness of sound that’s possible here may not equate to a vintage PAF-powered Les Paul, there’s still a stunning variety of tone. Simply put, this is one incredibly versatile guitar.

The I-30 LC is available in an array of finishes and options. A gorgeous natural blond stunner is set off by black pickup covers and pickguard along with gold knobs. Others range from a variety of sunbursts to a walnut and cherry, as well as premium painted versions in Sherwood Green Metallic, Pelham Blue Metallic, Gold Top, and Candy Apple.

Collings also offers an I-30 LC with aged finish and hardware, as tested. The deep, rich black finish boasts checking and worn-looking paint, a stylish relic finish like no other. You can also opt for tortoise-style binding, black top-hat knobs, a ’60s neck profile, a lefty version, and more.


This article originally appeared in VG May 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.