Well-crafted archtop guitars have long been coveted for their projection, expressive articulation, and unique midrange growl. From the swinging big bands of the 1920s to roots music icons such as Mother Maybelle Carter, the archtop sound is deeply entrenched in American music history and has maintained its foothold into the modern era. Bill Collings had a passion for archtop guitars, one that stemmed back to his earliest days as a luthier, and would eventually become entwined with his identity as one of the world’s most respected purveyors of the craft.
Bill’s original vision for Waterloo Guitars actually included plans to offer an archtop guitar as part of the lineup. He kept a 1930s flat-backed Recording King archtop in his back office, usually thrown haphazardly into the backseat of a stripped down 1940 Ford convertible, which he had plans to someday restore. The guitar was disassembled into pieces, but he would occasionally pull out the body or neck and inspect it, contemplating on how he might re-create such an instrument with his own twist. He was especially intrigued by the flat mahogany back, which is an integral part of the sound that runs consistently through the Waterloo line.
With Bill’s untimely passing in July 2017, his plans for this guitar were sadly cut short. However, it was known among the people who worked closely with him that it was something he had always wanted to do. Thus, as a tribute to our friend and mentor, we present to you the WL-AT – an instrument that not only embodies the spirit of the Waterloo line, but takes the concept of a small-bodied archtop guitar to a new level of tone and playability.