Cole Clark Fat Lady

DavidRDavidR Frets: 123
As post-lockdown treat went into PMT Cambridge yesterday for a look round whilst my wife was shopping in Grafton Centre. What a lovely shop. Very thorough Covid guidance too. Anyway, tried out a  Cole Clark Fat Lady with no electrics. Very nice. Beautiful base notes with PB's on. Bit of wow-factor actually. I have been impressed with Bunya tops as a wood ever since trying them in Australia 2 years ago at (another) nice shop in Byron Bay. Cole Clark finish some of their instruments with a very minimal finish by UK/US standards but it's nice and maybe gives the guitar a very dry tone comparable to the tone of Martin. Although I feel sure Cole Clark would say it was their tone!

Lovely to be able to get out and about again innit and meet all the lovely folk in music shops. Thanks troops.  <3

(And, yes!  Just have to persuade myself I need another acoustic!)
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 370
    Good for you David. Cole Clark make a lovely guitar. What back and sides timber is the Bunya on? (There are two common ones in the 1 Series models, Queensland Maple and Blackwood. The Queensland Maple is a good, versatile all-round choice; the Blackwood is both richer and drier. People sometimes say that QM is tonally similar to mahogany. It isn't really, but it is more like mahogany than it is like (say) rosewood or maple. Blackwood is usually compared to Koa, which is fair enough as they are closely related. Either one makes sense with a Bunya top.) 

    Your instrument is quite unusual. Cole Clark don't normally make any guitars at all without electronics, not for ... oh ... 6 or 8 years maybe. Yours must be a special for the export market only. The lack of bling isn't an Oz v UK or USA thing, it is specific to the Cole Clark 1 Series instruments. Company policy is to make the same basic instrument in the same way regardless of whether it is a $1100 1 Series (that's about about £600) or a $6000 3 Series (about £3450).*  In theory, all that changes is the level of decoration and the selection of timbers. In practice, I imagine that they pay more attention to the detail finish of a 3 Series guitar, but I've never noticed anything wrong with the way they finish even the cheapest ones.  

    The Cole Clark designers have a weird visual sense. 1 Series models tend to be severely plain, almost to the point of ugliness. 2 Series guitars use a much wider variey of timbers and they can often end up somewhere between flashy and flamboyant - some of the redwood tops are downright in-your-face. The 3 Series guitars tend to be a little more subdued on the timber front, but have a lot of bling.

    So what about the Cole Clark tone? I don't think there is one! I can pick up a Martin or a Taylor or a Maton or a Gibson and, while they all make many different models, all have something approaching a house sound.  But I can't do that with a Cole Clark, even though I own two and have played many others. I think this comes down to their fantastic variety of tonewoods. You can play 7 Cole Clarks, quite like 3, be indifferent to another, hate 2, and fall hopelessly in love with the 7th. This isn't sloppy quality control - their standard of fit and finish is excellent - it is all about that wonderful range of different timbers.  You can't play one or two CCs and, on the strength of those two, decide you like all Cole Clark guitars (or dislike them all), you pretty much have to try each one. 

    My two are quite distinct. The 12-string is a 2 Series Fat Lady, Bunya and Blackwood, and pretty much straight down the line of what I expect a 12-string to be - a bit on the jangly side compared to most. That's because of the Bunya, which is a little bit harder than Sitka Spruce. And maybe the Blackwood too; that tends to tighten things up a bit compared to (say) Queensland Maple or rosewood or mahogany. The 6-string is a 3 Series Angel in Huon Pine and Queensland Silkwood. It was way more than I had intended to spend, but I fell in love with it in the shop and like it better and better the longer I own it.  Just a wonderful instrument. (And bugger the expense!)

    * These are the Australian prices. You'll pay way over the odds in the UK or the USA. It's the same with Maton. Cole Clark don't sell a no-electronics 1 Series in the home market, but if they did it would go for around $900, maybe $1000, so say around £500, maybe £550 since the pandemic shut the factory down for 8 weeks and prices went up. It works in reverse too - I'd have to pay $2300 (£1280) for the same plywood Sheeran by Lowden Andertons sell for £799.

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  • DavidRDavidR Frets: 123
    Pretty sure this was the one, so a 1 FL1 Bunya Maple. Hadn't realised non-electrics so unusual. interesting info Tannin. Thanks.
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