Cole Clark CCFL2E-12- BR Fat Lady 2 12-string Review
Cole Clark is an Australian guitar company and was founded in 2001. Located in Melbourne, Cole Clark aim to produce guitars of innovative design yet acknowledging the traditions of the past, resulting in a lighter, stronger, unique instrument constructed from mostly Australian native tone woods that are sustainable.
Cole Clark currently offer 3 different 12-string models, and in this review we shall examine the CCFL2E-BR model, a Fat Lady 2 guitar featuring a Bunya top with Indian Rosewood back and sides. This guitar also features the Cole Clark 3-Way Pickup System, producing a very natural ‘acoustic’ sound from its three seperate components.
I personally really like the look of this guitar. The Bunya top grain is visually appealing, and the Indian Rosewood back and sides even more so. A nitrocellulose finish is applied for a natural satin appearance. The binding, inlays, rosette, bridge and fretboard are all consistent with what one would expect from a quality instrument.
Cole Clark steel string guitars use a Spanish heel neck construction technique; in fact they are the only main stream manufacturer to do so. The neck is glued to the face, along with the sides and the back, so that it is one piece all the way to the sound hole. By using this technique the vibrations are not interrupted, resulting in superior sonic transmission.
Australian tone woods have been sourced that produce great sound and are environmentally sustainable. The Bunya top is from Queensland, handles climate extremes well, and offers up the signature Cole Clark sound. Indian Rosewood as used in the back and sides is a staple in guitar making (though this may well change as the timber is found on the IUCN red list of threatened species and is not sustainable). Indian Rosewood is typical of an ‘American’ sound with acoustic guitars and offers excellent bass response.
Amplifying an acoustic guitar well has always been a challenge. The Cole Clark 3-Way pickup system offers one of the most realistic amplified acoustic tones available today. Piezo pickups can be harsh and thin when used by themselves. The different elements of the pickup system only ‘hear’ what they are meant to and not crossover into other areas of the frequencies present in the guitar’s sound. There is a piezo pickup mounted under the saddle to handle the bottom end, a face sensor that captures vibrations across the top of the guitar, and then an internal condenser microphone that captures only high frequencies.
The three sources can be blended to taste by the player. Personally I like to emphasise the microphone and face sensor a little more, but that is from predominantly playing Cole Clark guitars in a solo environment, as a singer/guitarist or finger style player. If I were playing acoustic in a band I might opt for more of the piezo sound - if that were appropriate once all things were considered.
Overall it is a very good system.
From the factory the guitar arrived with a very playable setup; something that has really improved in recent years with Cole Clark. Early models could be a challenge to play, with a very stiff action and heavy feel about the guitars. Recent years have seen a run of instruments that feel ‘good to go’ off the shelf.
And the sound?
And most importantly, how does the guitar sound? I find this guitar to be rich, responsive, dynamic…everything I would want in a guitar. Being setup with 12-53 gauge strings, it does not suffer from the thin, scratchy sound that some 12-strings do with lighter strings. This, combined with the construction techniques and Australian tone woods, produces a quality acoustic guitar tone, which in turn is closely reproduced with the pickup system.
Cole Clark have attracted some fairly significant guitarists to their artist roster in recent years, and if this guitar is indicative of their output, it is certainly understandable.
The CCFL2E-BR Fat Lady 2 12-string is a very fine instrument indeed and will provide years of joy.