In part 2 of my Australian Acoustic Invasion series, I am delving into the world of Cole Clark Guitars and all of their incredible offerings as a company. Here at Sutton Strings, we are proud to be an authority on everything Australian Guitars. The quality and breadth of guitars coming from the land down-under is truly a force to be reckoned with. They bring something refreshing to market. We are the only North American dealer to carry both of the country’s top brands: Cole Clark Guitars and Maton Guitars.
Cole Clark is continually defining itself as a company and an innovating presence in the world of acoustic guitars. Although still a relative new-comer to the high-end guitar market, they have already carved out a nice niche for themselves offering a wide variety of acoustic-electrics, solid body electrics, ukuleles (including a jack tenor) and lap-steels. If you are tired of the mainstream brands and looking for something new to grow and develop with you as a guitarist, your search might have just come to an end.
Having first heard of Cole Clark on the boards a couple years back, I was quite intrigued to learn about their offerings and how they would fit into the shop’s lineup. After meeting with their friendly representative Jamie Gale and demoing a few models here at the shop, I instantly knew they would be a great fit. We were looking for a quality solid-wood instrument with stellar electronics in an approachable form. Cole Clark has proven to fit the bill and have been a hit with our customers. Integrating new building techniques with age-old tradition, Cole Clark has been able to deliver a consistent product that rivals the best of the big production builders out there. Look out, Taylor!
Their popular Fat Lady dreadnought series has been very popular with a wide range of players from all styles of music across all abilities. With electronic, cutaway and wood options, there are many configurations from which to choose to suit your needs and style. The Fat Lady 1 (FL1A, FL1AC) series offers the intermediate player a top-quality all solid-wood guitar at a very attractive price. The top of the line is the Fat Lady 3 series featuring superior tone woods and beautiful inlays among other upgrades. The 2 series lies right in the middle of the lineup, providing the perfect blend of form and function. The popular Jack Johnson plays a Fat Lady 2 cutaway. If you are looking for a smaller bodied model, the AN2AC “Angel” OM (orchestra model) might be of interest.
Cole Clark is pushing industry boundaries through its building process with the aid of computer design and CNC building techniques. These processes aid in producing a guitar with fewer components and greater congruency. “The use of CNC machines in guitar production has traditionally been frowned upon,” says Jamie Gale of Cole Clark Guitars during a recent phone conversation. “The truth is, you can accomplish many things that aid in the manufacturer’s ability to boost quality and sound that just couldn’t be done by hand.” For instance, Cole Clark uses such processes to carve out their tops in such a way to maximize resonance while preserving the structural integrity of the wood. Also, purfling is not used in the binding process as the top is routed out to accept the guitar’s sides. This results in fewer parts in order to maximize vibration.
Traditionally, large builders have constructed guitar bodies around the neck using what are called integral neck joints in the Spanish Style aka the “Spanish Heel.” Many years ago, Martin and others changed over to speedier joints such as the sliding dovetail and/or bolt-on construction to save time in the production process. With the help of modern technology, Cole Clark has developed a three-piece neck that mimics original integral design that can be done on a production scale.
Finally, a review of Cole Clark would not be complete without mention of their incredible pre-amplified pickup systems. The “face brace” system utilizes a bar sensor that is fixed to a routed groove under the top that picks up vibrations resulting in a “truly live signal.” With the integration of a standard piezo pickup under the bridge, you have a truly unique setup. Cole Clark is now taking the next step in development and adding on a microphone in a brand new system. Acting just like a three-way speaker, the highs are captured from the mic, mids from the face-brace and lows from the bridge. This new system is available on a limited basis in North America only on the new Triumph and Talisman guitar, which is based on the FL2 series. Contact us at the shop if interested!