“I've had hundreds of thousands of guitars pass through my hands – there's a difference between a good guitar and a great guitar”: The Music Zoo founder Tommy Colletti launches his own USA-built custom guitar line, Colletti Guitars

Colletti Guitars Speed of Sound Sunshine Oil Finish Brazilian Board
(Image credit: Colletti Guitars)

Tommy Colletti, the founder of global guitar retailer The Music Zoo, has turned to electric guitar manufacturing with Colletti Guitars, which aspires to channel his love for the instrument into high-quality builds.

The brand is launching with the solidbody Speed of Sound guitar, which draws great inspiration from vintage guitars of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, with a sensitivity to the needs of modern players.

Customization is a key driver for Colletti Guitars, with the 25.5" or 24-3/4" scale length guitars coming available with a raft of top woods, including roasted, quilt and flame maple, as well as ash and mahogany for a darker, woodier tone. 

They come armed with specially-voiced OX4 pickups, which feature a reverse-magnet neck humbucker to give players a hybrid of the openness of vintage pickups with the power of their modern-day counterparts.

Its neck pickup was especially modelled after Gary Moore and Peter Green’s iconic ‘59 'Greeny' Les Paul, with extra inspiration from the tones of Brian May and Michael Schenker, derived from reverse magnet pickups, where Colletti feels “the guitar really screams”. 

Then there’s the patent-pending Reso-Link brass plate which, by linking the body and neck together, aids resonance, sustain and touch-sensitive articulation.

While the body shape is familiar, the guitar's headstock certainly catches the eye. It came to fruition with some help from Colletti’s 10-year-old daughter’s Crayola lightbox drawing pad, adding wave-like curves and protrusions to the archetypal Strat headstock.

All Colletti Guitars boast the firm’s signature Colletti Carve neck, sculpted for comfort with heavily rolled shoulders. The wiring comes from the company that wired the Fender builds of the ‘50s and features a high-end Emerson Paper in Oil .022 capacitor.

They're completed with a 1.65" brass nut, brass side dots, Mojotone Vintage taper volume and tone potentiometers with cloth wiring, brass ground and jack plates and a legacy control cavity. 

Taking the retro-chasing aesthetic one step further, these Strat-style guitars are pieced together with hot hide glue. The natural glue soaks into the woods as it dries, binding the separate pieces together and allowing them to talk to one another without any loss of vibration.

New York-born Colletti first picked up a guitar in 1978, kickstarting an instant fascination with the instrument. He’d spend his time on 48th Street, what he called “the Mecca of guitar stores”, perusing all the stores and their stock.

By the ’80s, he’d established himself as a guitar teacher, often situated in guitar stores, and so he’d spend his days setting up and playing a plethora of different instruments, quickly learning the difference between a quality and a substandard build.

“There are so many minutia in guitar building,” says Colletti. “I wanted a guitar that had these little tiny changes that most miss. For over half a century I’ve obsessed about the guitar, so I wanted to take all the things I’ve learnt over the years and roll it into one guitar.

“I've had hundreds of thousands of guitars pass through my hands – there's a difference between a good guitar and a great guitar. I'd like to introduce you to a great guitar: the Colletti Guitars Speed of Sound.”

Naturally, the high-end specifications of these guitars are reflected in their prices. Available exclusively from The Music Zoo website, prices range from $3,499 for a roasted pine build with Fralin single coil pickups, to $4,999 for the classy-looking flame maple-topped, charcoal burst models.

Finance options are also available, widening their accessibility to a greater number of players. However, the price point will no doubt prove a sticking point for some, so it will be interesting to see how they compare against the vintage relics they draw influence from, and their contemporary, vintage-leaning rivals.

Eight varieties of the Speed of Sound are listed on The Music Zoo site, although a number have already been snapped up. However, Colletti Guitars prides itself in its ability to “order whatever wood you want”, meaning custom builds will most likely be the more enticing avenue here. 

Head to The Music Zoo for more information.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.