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View Full Version : Collings UT1 from Guitar Center, HELP



ukeinfused
08-17-2018, 04:56 AM
Although I had never held one, one of my dream ukes has always been a Collings, especially one with a satin finish, to which I am partial. Everything I read about them seemed... perfect.
Just a couple days ago I was thrilled to find on-line a used "Walnut" UT1 at the Guitar Center in Pasadena, listed in "Excellent" shape for $724 (plus tax and shipping came to just under $800). Suspecting that it would sell fast, I bought it essentially unseen, based on one single tiny thumbnail photo on my phone.

I've received the uke, and darn it all, it's not as I hoped. :(
I'm not entirely sure I know what i'm seeing, and wanted to ask the community. Maybe one of you even looked at it in Pasadena.

Fairly certain it's hog and not walnut - no prob.
There's a bad ding on the headstock, which is disappointing but not intolerable. A smell of cigarette smoke makes me more leery.
But worst of all, rather than the expected satin finish, it comes with a highly reflective gloss finish, seen with a kind of orange peel surface in certain light (the dimples are very tiny and i'm not able to show this with a photograph). As seen in photos, there is some kind of crud on the bridge and end of the fretboard.
Has this uke been refinished or over-sprayed?
(Would a Collings ever have that slight orange peel finish?)

Fortunately it should be an easy return, but I wanted to learn from folks here who know Collings (and finishing processes) first. Thought it best to give a heads up to the next buyer as well.
Serial number is an early #548, and it has the wonderful haircut headstock that I understand was on the early UT1.
Darn.

111306
111307
111308

Jerryc41
08-17-2018, 05:02 AM
I've received the uke, and darn it all, it's not as I hoped. :(



When buying from a national dealer like the The Guitar Center, "hope" should not be involved. Very careless(?) of them. You shouldn't have to pay return postage.

Please let us know how this works out.

Wonder
08-17-2018, 05:57 AM
I have a 18 year old Collings guitar, a D1A. There is no orange peel on it, the finish, although a bit worn from time, is immaculate.

Mike

counsel1
08-17-2018, 06:53 AM
My experience with Collings is that they have exemplary customer service and meticulous records with specs/histories of all their instruments by serial # -- You might want to ask them what they know about #548.
And maybe GC would consider a partial refund you could apply towards a proper (Collings) refinish.

Uke Don
08-17-2018, 07:29 AM
Unfortunately, the photos are not that clear, so it's hard to tell about the finish. Looks like mahogany to me. The "crud" I suspect is nothing more than polish residue. Previous owner may have tried to buff out some small scratches. That should come out with some lemon oil and a toothbrush. A phone call to Collings would be a good idea.

Swamp Yankee
08-17-2018, 07:43 AM
Unless they've changed in the last year, Guitar Center has one of the best return policies out there...just bring it to your local Guitar Center if you want to return it - I think you have 30 days but you should check.

It's too bad they do such a horrible job of describing and photographing their instruments. I bought a used Larrivee parlor guitar from them online and I made sure I called the location to have somebody hold it and describe it to me...this call yielded a $200 discount because the salesperson noticed it had a bad crack on the back. Alas, it still was not enough of a discount for me to keep the guitar once I got it and had a luthier check it for other issues. Between the loose braces and the not too distant need for a neck reset - I opted to bring it to my local Guitar Center for a full refund, which included shipping and any taxes I paid.

I did ask the local Guitar Center if they were willing to discount it further and they were not. They actually said they could not discount it - but would give me a full refund. So I gave it back to them and within hours they had relisted it at full price on the website, still saying it was in "Great Shape" and mentioning nothing about the 13" crack, loose braces and need for a neck reset.

dkcrown
08-17-2018, 08:17 AM
I have had five Collings ukes over the years. Two UT-1's, two UT-2's, and one UT-3. Both of the UT-1's were Mahogany with a satin finish, one with the haircut peghead. I believe all of the UT-1's had the satin finish, whether Hog, Koa, or walnut.

And the gloss finish on my UT-2's and 3 were glass smooth. Collings were known for their fantastic build and finish quality. I certainly would suspect that yours has been refinished.

anthonyg
08-17-2018, 04:41 PM
How does it sound? Is the intonation good? Is the neck straight?

It may be disappointing but I would never send a great playing/sounding instrument back. Communicate with the seller.

bearbike137
08-17-2018, 04:48 PM
Um, a Collings mahogany tenor with a gloss fin8sh for $800? What a screaming deal!

ScooterD35
08-17-2018, 05:12 PM
It definitely looks like Mahogany. The “crud” is polish residue from the former owner buffing out the original satin finish improperly, which also caused the orange peel effect.


Scooter

Telperion
08-17-2018, 05:44 PM
[QUOTE=ScooterD35;2089359]It definitely looks like Mahogany. The “crud” is polish residue from the former owner buffing out the original satin finish improperly, which also caused the orange peel effect.

I agree with this. Finish was buffed out to try to get to gloss. Really that’s the main difference between the UT1’s and the 2’s. The big price difference between the two is the huge amount of time to polish the finish to gloss. Someone thought they could do it well themselves. A Collings factory gloss would be immaculate. Almost too perfect, in fact. I’ve owned more Collings ukes than I care to admit, and all of them were incredibly finished. Someone definitely polished this one, and maybe it can even still be improved, if you are so inclined, and desire to do so. However, that price is almost unheard of for a Collings, especially since they stopped production. If it plays well, neck straight, no cracks, sounds good, etc.... I wouldn’t hesitate to keep it. If you can overlook some aesthetic issues, you got one hell of a ukulele. If you decide to sell someday, I seriously doubt you will lose money. And it’s definitely mahogany, and nice looking mahogany at that!

Nice find, and good luck with your decision! I don’t think you’ll ever find another UT1for that price.

-Steve

etudes
08-17-2018, 06:15 PM
How does it sound? Is the intonation good? Is the neck straight?

It may be disappointing but I would never send a great playing/sounding instrument back. Communicate with the seller.

If the OP is disappointed after weighing all the issues he should feel free to exercise the option to return. That's the beauty of purchasing through GC, just my 2 cents..

warndt
08-17-2018, 07:44 PM
[QUOTE=ScooterD35;2089359]It definitely looks like Mahogany. The “crud” is polish residue from the former owner buffing out the original satin finish improperly, which also caused the orange peel effect.

I agree with this. Finish was buffed out to try to get to gloss. Really that’s the main difference between the UT1’s and the 2’s. The big price difference between the two is the huge amount of time to polish the finish to gloss. Someone thought they could do it well themselves. A Collings factory gloss would be immaculate. Almost too perfect, in fact. I’ve owned more Collings ukes than I care to admit, and all of them were incredibly finished. Someone definitely polished this one, and maybe it can even still be improved, if you are so inclined, and desire to do so. However, that price is almost unheard of for a Collings, especially since they stopped production. If it plays well, neck straight, no cracks, sounds good, etc.... I wouldn’t hesitate to keep it. If you can overlook some aesthetic issues, you got one hell of a ukulele. If you decide to sell someday, I seriously doubt you will lose money. And it’s definitely mahogany, and nice looking mahogany at that!

Nice find, and good luck with your decision! I don’t think you’ll ever find another UT1for that price.

-Steve

I agree 100%. If there are no problems other than what you describe, I would keep it. It's still a great deal. Celebrate!

hollisdwyer
08-18-2018, 07:30 AM
I think that you might get some advice on how to ‘restore’ it to a satin finish if you really want to but I agree with many of the comments here that you got a great Uke at an unbelievable low price.

GASguy
08-18-2018, 08:30 AM
Although I had never held one, one of my dream ukes has always been a Collings, especially one with a satin finish, to which I am partial. Everything I read about them seemed... perfect.
Just a couple days ago I was thrilled to find on-line a used "Walnut" UT1 at the Guitar Center in Pasadena, listed in "Excellent" shape for $724 (plus tax and shipping came to just under $800). Suspecting that it would sell fast, I bought it essentially unseen, based on one single tiny thumbnail photo on my phone.

I've received the uke, and darn it all, it's not as I hoped. :(
I'm not entirely sure I know what i'm seeing, and wanted to ask the community. Maybe one of you even looked at it in Pasadena.

Fairly certain it's hog and not walnut - no prob.
There's a bad ding on the headstock, which is disappointing but not intolerable. A smell of cigarette smoke makes me more leery.
But worst of all, rather than the expected satin finish, it comes with a highly reflective gloss finish, seen with a kind of orange peel surface in certain light (the dimples are very tiny and i'm not able to show this with a photograph). As seen in photos, there is some kind of crud on the bridge and end of the fretboard.
Has this uke been refinished or over-sprayed?
(Would a Collings ever have that slight orange peel finish?)

Fortunately it should be an easy return, but I wanted to learn from folks here who know Collings (and finishing processes) first. Thought it best to give a heads up to the next buyer as well.
Serial number is an early #548, and it has the wonderful haircut headstock that I understand was on the early UT1.
Darn.

111306
111307
111308

I thought Collings model 1 ukuleles had the single point headstock as standard111335; the photo seems to show a “hair cut” headstock used on model 2s.
Are you sure you have a model one and not a model 2?

DownUpDave
08-18-2018, 08:40 AM
The question that needs to be asked...........how much will you take for it ;)

Unless you don't like the sound and playability the issue you described is minor cosmetics. But if it really really bugs you........???:p

dkcrown
08-18-2018, 09:00 AM
I thought Collings model 1 ukuleles had the single point headstock as standard111335; the photo seems to show a “hair cut” headstock used on model 2s.
Are you sure you have a model one and not a model 2?

Some of the model 1's came with the haircut headstock as an option. I had one myself.

tomthebaptist
08-18-2018, 02:09 PM
PM me if you decide to take it back. I’ll take it in a heartbeat. I’m fortunate to own one already, but at that price I would take another one.

Tom

Kenn2018
08-18-2018, 07:42 PM
Check the definitions of the grades of used instruments. "Excellent" to many is it isn't perfect cosmetically, but the problems are small and few. "Mint" or "Like New" are the descriptors that mean without flaws. But the definitions can be slightly different for each retailer.

What is their return policy?

Best of luck. I personally would have a real problem with the tobacco smell. Allergic I'm afraid.

ukeinfused
08-18-2018, 08:05 PM
Thx to everyone for your replies.

I hemmed and hawed and hawed some more, and finally decided this UT-1 just isn't my muse.
Mainly because of the finish (I believe that it's been sprayed over the satin finish rather than just buffed out, but did not have a luthier look at it), and because of the slight cigarette smell (how does one get THAT out?).

I couldn't tell reading on-line if it was a three day ("vintage instruments ") or 45 day return policy, and was headed up for the Spring Creek Ukulele Carnival for the weekend, so brought it back on my way out of town yesterday for a total refund.
Sounds like someone here will want it anyway:
It's in the Roseville, MN store, and actually back on line tonight (still "Walnut" and still "Excellent"):
Ut1 Ukulele: https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Collings/Ut1-Ukulele.gc

The neck is straight. It plays well but desperately needs new strings (the A is dead!) before you'll know what it sounds like. I didn't change them because I wasn't sure that was allowed on a return. In retrospect, however, I don't think GC would ever know the difference!
I couldn't find evidence of cracks or repairs. As mentioned, the headstock has a big ding on a back corner. The only place the (perfect!) satin finish shows is the back of the headstock. The neck is so shiney it's sticky.
The thing is feather-light, and that in and of itself does give the sense of the magic of a Collings... sigh.

Please let me know if you buy it, I'd love to hear what happens with this one...
I hope it makes someone happy.

frianm
08-19-2018, 11:50 AM
Thx to everyone for your replies.

I hemmed and hawed and hawed some more, and finally decided this UT-1 just isn't my muse.
Mainly because of the finish (I believe that it's been sprayed over the satin finish rather than just buffed out, but did not have a luthier look at it), and because of the slight cigarette smell (how does one get THAT out?).

I couldn't tell reading on-line if it was a three day ("vintage instruments ") or 45 day return policy, and was headed up for the Spring Creek Ukulele Carnival for the weekend, so brought it back on my way out of town yesterday for a total refund.
Sounds like someone here will want it anyway:
It's in the Roseville, MN store, and actually back on line tonight (still "Walnut" and still "Excellent"):
Ut1 Ukulele: https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Collings/Ut1-Ukulele.gc

The neck is straight. It plays well but desperately needs new strings (the A is dead!) before you'll know what it sounds like. I didn't change them because I wasn't sure that was allowed on a return. In retrospect, however, I don't think GC would ever know the difference!
I couldn't find evidence of cracks or repairs. As mentioned, the headstock has a big ding on a back corner. The only place the (perfect!) satin finish shows is the back of the headstock. The neck is so shiney it's sticky.
The thing is feather-light, and that in and of itself does give the sense of the magic of a Collings... sigh.

Please let me know if you buy it, I'd love to hear what happens with this one...
I hope it makes someone happy.

Good sound thinking. It looks like it is sold again, already!

ukeinfused
08-19-2018, 02:03 PM
Good sound thinking. It looks like it is sold again, already!

Thx, Ian. Appreciate your message too. :)

Jan D
08-19-2018, 06:35 PM
[QUOTE=ukeinfused;2089625] ... and because of the slight cigarette smell (how does one get THAT out?).

Cigarette smell can frequently be removed by sealing up the offending object in a plastic bag along with some newsprint paper inside or surrounding the object. After 4-5 days, check to see if the smell persists. If so, replace the paper with fresh newsprint, seal up the bag again, and check back in a few more days.

ukeinfused
08-19-2018, 06:36 PM
[QUOTE=ukeinfused;2089625] ... and because of the slight cigarette smell (how does one get THAT out?).

Cigarette smell can frequently be removed by sealing up the offending object in a plastic bag along with some newsprint paper inside or surrounding the object. After 4-5 days, check to see if the smell persists. If so, replace the paper with fresh newsprint, seal up the bag again, and check back in a few more days.

Thx for this!
How about the leather chair I got at the thrift store, LOL.

OK, who bought the Collings? I can't wait to see what you think...

Pete F
08-20-2018, 12:26 AM
It's a UT2 surely?

counsel1
08-20-2018, 05:09 AM
A UT2 would have tortoise bindings on both the front and back - and a perfect nitrocellulose finish. This is a UT1 with Collings' haircut headstock.

Jan D
08-20-2018, 04:26 PM
[QUOTE=ukeinfused;2089925][QUOTE=Jan D;2089924]

Thx for this!
How about the leather chair I got at the thrift store, LOL.

You could try stuffing pieces of newsprint into the various crevices of the chair (and under the chair cushion if it lifts up), then tape more newsprint together to wrap around the chair itself, then wrap the whole thing in a sheet of inexpensive plastic (usually found in the paint department of your local hardware store). :-)