Review of my Collins and Dell Arte Pigalle

dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
well i got my collins while i was in TO recording my CD, here's a lil honest review:

michael is someone i have faith in and a promising luthier. The guitar itself sounds great and it will only sound better with time (in fact it's already starting to open up)..

my main complaint was that he set the action way too high, i've since had it fixed by my luthier in Montreal (Martin Tremblay - nice guitars too) and it now plays a bit better...

the reason i decided to go for a collins guitar was because i had tried two others owned by Rob Rosenman (a d hole and an oval hole); these two guitars are in my opinion THE BEST guitars collins has ever made. I told micahel if he could make a guitar like those two then i'm sold.... he told me he could do so and make it better with some new technique he developped... in my mind , i was thinking, listen don't fix it if it ain't broke... and in a sense i wish i had told him that....

rob commented that the top of my guitar is too thick and shouldn't be that way ....

now, don't get me wrong, i really enjoy the sound of my guitar and it's obviously still fresh out of the box whereas rob's guitars are now a year old, i'll wait a few more months and see how it goes..

another thing i noticed is that michael doesn't seem to be a detail kinda guy, the guitar is really beautiful but upon closer inspection there are minor cosmetic flaws here and there....

also the fretboard is a bit too thin, a dupon stimer reissue barely fits on it...

that's my honest review.... The guitar itself sounds REALLY good, and i would highly recommend him to anyone in north america; but if you have specific requirements, make it known to him , POUND your requirements into his head!!!

for those who like numerical ratings, here they are , KEEPING IN MIND the guitar is only 2 weeks old

tone = 8.5
projection = 9
feel/comfort (according to my preferences of course) = 6 when i first got it, 7.5 after my luthier modified a few things
construction = 7, i wish the fretboard would be a bit thicker, and that he'd pay a bit more attention to little details
overall satisfaction = 8....


on the other hand i went to a guitar store and chekced out the Dell ARte Pigalle, back when the instrument was still in beta testing, charles wizen called me up and raved about the guitar claiming it was the best guitar he had ever played in his 70+ years ....

i don't know if i would say the best guitar ever, but i fell in love with it the SECOND i tried it, the sound is AMAZING, the feel is AMAZING.... and it was strung with the wrong strings!! (Bronze), i can't imagine how it'd sound with argentines...

my only complaint is that it's priced too high for a budge guitar (it would have come up to 2000$ CDN with tax and all that),; i was about to buy it on the spot but then the price tag threw me off... i

rating keeping in mind the guitar was strung with bronze strings

tone = 10
feel = 10
projection = 9
construction = dunno but it seemed carefully built
overall satisfaction = 8 , simply amazing guitar, the only thing preventing me from giving it a 10 is the price (Given that it's a budget guitar)


  • mmaslanmmaslan Santa Barbara, CANew
    Posts: 87

    I hope you get more satisfaction from your Collins with time. I am not as knowledgeable about these guitars as many on this forum, but I do feel that my Collins has the sound--when I'm picking well I feel as though I'm channeling it. How difficult to find in a guitar that sound is, I'm not sure.

    I'm surprised by two observations in your review: the thickness of the top and the thinness of the fretboard. I'm surprised about the first because Michael talked to me a lot about the importance of having a very thin top when he was building my guitar. And I'm surprised about the second because the fretboard on my guitar is the thickest I've ever seen, even though it does thin out a bit where it meets the top. I guess one has to expect a fair amount of variability in hand-made guitars.

    Michael set my action on the low side at my request. He sent me a second bridge (gratis) in November to raise it because I had some buzzing on the E & A strings. The sound improved dramatically, especially on the lower end.

    My guitar was part of the batch Michael finished last summer. I don't know what the new technique you mention is, but I guess it came along after my guitar.

  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    hi michael

    those comments about thickness of the top are from rob rosenman.... i myself am not knowledgeable when it comes to the construction of these guitars so i'll just leave it at that.... i don't know what his new and improved technique is either

    the thickness of the fretboard comment is from me and everyone else, we all noticed how thin it was! the stimer st 48 barely fits, actually it probably won't fit now that i've had the action lowered

    in any case, i am satisfied with the sound of the guitar; it definitely has the sound.
  • pallopennapallopenna Rhode IslandNew
    Posts: 245

    Can you give a quick comparison of the Collins to your Eimers?

    Reject the null hypothesis.
  • aa New York City✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 800
    what kind of cosmetic flaws?
    Learn how to play Gypsy guitar:
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    the flaws are really minor and shouldn't stop anyone from buying a guitar... on mine, there's a small discoloration on the side of the body... the fretting job isn't hundred percent clean (the way they were cut off), i dont believe this actually affects much other than the looks... you'd only notice this upon extreme close inspection though...

    these are really small details and really shouldn't stop anyone from getting a collins... although i hope as he gets better as a luthier, he'll start paying attention to these things

    comparison emiers to collins

    well, the eimers is now slightly over a year old... i used to have the same problem as the collins where the action was just terrible, it has now since been fixed by my local luthier (martin); it feels really great now (to my preferences) and i hope that my collins will have a similar feel in the months to come...

    soundwise, the eimers is darker, less trebly and slightly bassier.. it's got the thick fretboard which will easily accomodate a stimer pickup... cosmetically, eimers did a great job, no flaws whatsoever with the exception of the nut not completely reaching the end (there's a small gap)... i have a friend who says that affects the sound; i wouldn't know... i've always described my eimers as having the stochelo sound from the bireli DVD, and it does, these two guitars are near identical... it's got the big tone pickup and the internal microphone (with external preamp).... i believe have this much gear inside an acoustic guitar affects the projection.... in an acoustic guitar orgy, the eimers can't really keep up, it can be barely be heard... it's really meant to be plugged in, and that's where it really shines...... if you like stochelo's tone on the DVD, you'll love this one

    the collins on the other hand has not been desecrated by any technology, and it projects really well, i played a gig in toronto with roberto who was amplified, and my guitar projected pretty well ... the tone has more presence and has slightly more treble than the eimers...

    i think they're both great guitars; both have their downs and ups, so i'm not gonna say one is better than the other

    HOWEVER, michael gave me an excellent deal that i couldn't refuse, PLUS he's in north america which makes communication that much easier.... and i don't know about eimers, but michael is always looking for ways to improve his guitars, now he actually has an actual selmer oval hole owned by jesse barksdale to study.... the only thing i'd say when dealing with michael is to make it DEAD CLEAR if you have any specific expectations...

    both of rob 's guitars are seriously two of the best i've ever played.... the oval hole can be heard/seen in the Ritary DVD at DFNE.... i hope that a year from now, my collins will be similar...
  • mmaslanmmaslan Santa Barbara, CANew
    Posts: 87
    It's actually hard to think of a good comparison for Collins in North America as most of the really faithful reproductions are made in Europe. The other Canadian luthiers like Park and Dunn fill slightly different niches. And then there's the value--where else can you get a guitar like this handmade to your specs for under $2,500? My guitar was fully $1000 less than a comparable Park or Dupont and that's with Waverly tuners.

    The frets on my guitar are also imperfectly cut off in places, but I went over it very carefully when it first arrived and could find no effect on how it played. It's just that the grooves show at the edge here and there. Most important is the fact that they are perfectly levelled and there are no trouble spots along the neck.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    that's exactly it, i d like to point out that guitars in europe are really expensive especialyl with the killer exchange rate, and the communication can be a bit tricky for those french luthiers who don't speak english and donth ave email and websites... then you have to actually pay for heavy shipping and all that crap....

    michael is one of the very few north american luthiers who build these guitars in the traditional way for a really really low price... my eimers cost me about 5000 CDN!!!! the collins on the other hand cost me almost half!!

    i only mentionned those flaws on my guitar because i wanted to give an honest review...
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    btw, as a side note, for some reason people often misinterpret what i write and take it the total wrong way even though i CAREFULLY choose my words and write in a very polite/diplomatic way.... people seem to just address the criticisms, never the praise.... in fact when i was staying at andrew lawrence's place, i was glad that he mentionned how carefully i wrote and he also noticed that people are always misinterpreting what i write... strange...

    if anyone feels my review is negative, well it's not.... i have always said good things about michael, and i know for a fact that i convinced a few people to order a guitar from him in less than 2 months or so! one of them at the expense of selling my eimers guitar; a luthier was interested in my eimers guitar, and asked about few details about guitars in general, i was plain honest with him and told him he's looking more for a guitar similar to what collins makes.... i even mentionned that two of the best guitars i've ever played were made by him

    i believe myself to be a person who tries to be dead honest and dead objective when it comes to helping others out (while hopefully remaining polite and diplomatic)

    when i read reviews or discussions in general, most of them are totally biased....

    as a customer, wouldn't you rather be informed about everything so as not to encounter unexpected negative surprises?
  • pallopennapallopenna Rhode IslandNew
    Posts: 245
    I didn't feel your review was negative in any way. No guitar is perfect, and no new guitar has realized all of its potential. It seemed like a very thoughtful review.
    Reject the null hypothesis.
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795
    Dennis: You give the Pigalle a 10 on Tone. Talking about tone is difficult of course, but could you take a stab characterizing the tone of the Pigalle? Can you compare it to a recorded sound we can reference?

    (Maybe there should be a workshop on discussing tone like wine tasters take to learn to describe wine favors...... Ah, the Django Selmer sound: dry, woody, growling, bright, tremendous range, well.... you get the idea 8) )

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