About one year ago, I approached Michael Collins with the idea of building a 14 fret oval hole laminate maple body Favino styled instrument. I had never actually seen or played one of his instruments before, but his philosophy of trying to build things as closely to the original instruments as possible appealed to me. Even though he had never build such an instrument before and it would take a fair amount of tooling up, he was very exited to try it. He had access to a good sounding early 60's Favino for measurements and we agreed to try to build it as close as possible to the orginal (except for the addition of a truss rod and some minor cosmetic details). Over a month ago, I received the instrument. I wanted to wait this long to post a review so that I could get a better assessment of it.
Visually, the guitar is stunning. Michael chose some incredibly flamed European sycamore (looks like maple to me) with an equally flamed maple neck. The guitar plays very smoothly, and has a mature, already broken in vibe that is difficult to capture in words. Equally mature and powerful is the tone that the guitar produces. Somehow, Michael was able to capture the essence of a well voiced vintage Favino in this barely a month old guitar. To my ears, it already is one of the top 2 best sounding gypsy style guitars I have ever personally played (the other was a mid 70s Favino). The fit and finish were excellent and while the action was set a bit too low for me initially, Michael made another bridge to my specifications right away.
Finally, Michael was an absolute pleasure to work with. Not only did I find him to be very knowledgeable about his craft, but he takes time to listen to his clients and work with them to create as close as possible to what they want. I have no reservations recommending him to anyone considering having a guitar built for them.
If you can’t tell from this post, I really like this guitar. I like it so much in fact that I’m having Michael build me another Favino style in laminate Brazilian Rosewood. Michael said that this guitar was the first Favino styled instrument to come out of his shop, but he will be offering it as a regular model.
I have some photos I'll post, if I can figure out how to do it. (How do you post photos, anyway?)