2015 Collings MF "Honey Amber" F-Style Mandolin

We might as well admit it: Collings instruments are flawless in their build-quality and the aesthetics are always impeccable. Let's also admit it: every single one you or I have touched has had a great sound. Not every single one will bond personally with you or me, but they're all top-notch. The MF is Collings' entry f-style mandolin, though that puts it many degrees of power away from any other notion of "entry f-style mandolin" as it's a fully-carved, boutique-level instrument. It's a honey and comes here in as-new condition -- looking as if it's only spent a week or two hanging in a shop.

This one comes with the cut and finish (satin nitro) of the regular "standard" MF, though it's been finished in "honey amber" and sports tortoise, rather than "ivoroid," binding. It's a look that kills it as you approach the scroll and points with the eye. Tone-wise this is a bully -- quite loud and punchy with a satisfying mrrrrr sound when playing tremolo on the wound strings. The balance is excellent and the mids are creamy-as-heck. The recording doesn't do it full justice as I had to back myself away a bit from the mic so as not to clip it on the chops.

All I had to do to this was tune it up and set the height of the bridge to get it dialed-in. Playability is perfect with hair-under 1/16" action across the (radiused, ebony) board and it feels like it's strung-up with 38w-11 or similar.

The top is Adirondack/red spruce.

Yeah, I'm not finding flaws, either. I have no idea how Collings is continually getting such crisp edges and detail in production work. The 1 1/8" nut is bone.

The fretboard is radiused and ebony and, like an old Gibson, has a v-profile to the back of the neck that "feels like home." The scale is the usualy 13 7/8" which we're all familiar with.

If that doesn't give a bit of scroll envy, I don't know what will.

The f-holes, too, are painfully clean.

The tail is not only heavy-duty, but its recessed-slot design means the tabs and string-ends will never give your right arm the "barbed-wire" treatment. There's leather padding on the reverse side to mute the string afterlength.

Yes, the flamed maple back and sides are drop-dead. We know -- and the "amber" natural finish lets us check out every bit of it.

Like the front, the back has nice ebony veneer "backstrapping."


These pics are all in relatively cloudy lighting. Now think about how much this would pop in the "real" sun.

A hard, Collings, custom, arched-lid TKL case comes with it -- with that nice green velvety interior. The original Collings literature comes with it, too.