#1
I know this is a day early but I might not have time tomorrow so here goes:

Cole Clark FL2AC ‘Fat Lady’

Hi and welcome to my AOTM thread for the month of August. I’ll be reviewing my Cole Clark FL2AC, or ‘Fat Lady’. I believe I purchased it over the last Christmas period but I’m not entirely sure. At any rate it has not been in my hands longer than a year. I bought it from Hank’s guitars on Denmark Street in London for 999 pounds sterling (or about 1,650 dollars, or 1,179 euros) I bought it as a replacement for my aging, and now intonationally-buggered Fender Telecoustic, which, while a good starter guitar, is not something I can stick to playing forever due to its tinny thin tone. Anyway, enough about my previous guitars, I know what you’re here to hear about.

The Specs:
Tonewoods (all solid):
Top: Bunya
Back and sides: Victorian Blackwood
Neck: Queensland Maple
Fingerboard: Rosewood

Opposing A-pattern bracing
Tusq nut and saddle
25.5-inch scale
13/4-inch nut width
23/16-inch string spacing at the saddle
Grover Rotomatic tuners
Cole Clark Face blend electronics with Face Brace soundboard transducer and Cole Clark piezo bridge pickup
Elixir Nanoweb strings

While I was initially unsure of what the woods used for the top and back/sides were after a little inspection of the guitar I noticed this little label on the heel of the neck, which not only confirms what woods were used but has the initials of the employees at Cole Clark who worked on my guitar. The latter really shouldn’t change the sound but it’s a nice touch.




It’s worth noting that there are a number of combinations available for the woods, some people will prefer an all bunya guitar, others may like Queensland maple for the back and sides, I just chose which guitar I preferred on the day as the shop had about 5 or 6 Cole Clarks, all of which sounded good, just not as nice as mine.

A little history on Cole Clark:
Cole Clark Guitars was founded by Adam Cole and Brad Clark. Clark originally worked for rival company Maton, until deciding he wanted to produce guitars through his own company. Truth be told the two companies produce very similar guitars in many aspects, but especially with regards to woods used, the majority of which are native to Australia where both companies are based. If you’re looking into buying either a Cole Clark or a Maton I would highly recommend trying out a few models from both companies, not just one.

Build Quality and Design/Playability:
To my mind this is one of the Fat Lady’s stronger points. The action is low, the neck is of just the right width and shape, though of course all this is personal preference. It was set up perfectly from the moment I got my hands on it and as of yet I’ve not had any problems in this area. One problem I’d like to address, which I have heard mentioned by many Cole Clark players, is the intonation. Apparently on many guitars it is inaccurate. This is true of mine, but only very slightly, and I, nor anyone else have ever noticed problems with intonation when playing my guitar. Despite its large appearance it is very light, and I am still surprised every time I pick it up to play. Most people who play Fat Ladies notice the uniqueness in their build, there are a fair few design aspects which set it aside from other guitars. Not least of these differences is the A frame bracing used as an alternative to the X frame, not being terribly knowledgeable in this area I can’t discuss the effect on the guitar’s sound, but it is still in once piece so I don’t believe it has reduced its strength. Another area in which the Cole Clark design differs from many other guitars is the way the neck is joined with the body. As you can see in the first picture I submitted with this thread the heel of the neck goes through the body, thus not only strengthening the guitar but altering the sound (I’ll discuss that later). The headstock is joined to the neck using a slightly more complex joint that is supposedly used by carpenters but rarely in guitar manufacture. As I said before my guitar is still in once piece so it looks like it’s doing its job. To conclude the guitar seems very sturdy despite its light weight and it is set up to match my personal preference.

Looks:
Thought I’d just throw in a little comment on the guitar’s aesthetic appeal. I find this guitar beautiful, I love the combination of different woods and I find the blackwood on the back is wonderful in the way it is unique. The bunya top is just as beautiful and the natural look of this guitar appeals greatly to me, as I don’t like painted acoustics. If I were rich I would have bought an FL3 purely because it looks a lot nicer, but I’ve not got enough money to throw an extra few hundred into a guitar just because it looks better. Also the FL1s and FL2s have a charm in their simplicity that the FL3 doesn’t. Each to their own I suppose.

Features:
This guitar has some pretty nice features that you’ll notice when playing. First up is the fact that it has strap pins for both ends of the strap, so no need for tying your strap to the headstock. It’s got 20 frets which will be adequate for most, and the cutaway allows you to access them fairly easily (as a side note the A and C in FL2AC mean it has electronics and a cutaway respectively, so an FL2 would have neither and an FL2A won’t have the cutaway. Unfortunately in order to have a cutaway you have to have electronics). The next pic shows controls for the electronics. There’s volume, bass, mids and treble, as on many guitars, but the interesting one is the blending control. This allows you to select how much sound is absorbed from each pick up so you can adjust the tone to your liking. The guitar came with a case, and while many won’t care about this, it’s a nice touch as I didn’t have to shell out another few hundred pounds. It’s a pretty standard case but it holds most of what I need while playing. It certainly saved my guitar from getting bashed up by people on the London underground on the way home, which goes to show it does its job.







Sound (the important bit):
If I said that the build quality, design and playability were all strong aspects of the guitar then I’d have to say the tone is the strongest. Every time I pick up this guitar I love the well rounded tone it can achieve. I first looked into this guitar after searching for a guitar that has the big bass of a dreadnought, yet can still perform well in the mid and even high end ranges. (I was also looking at a number of Takamines before I gave this a try, which made up my mind). I knew that Jack Johnson played dreads and knew that his tone in the is close to what I was looking for so I set about trying to find what he played. (Yes, I’ll admit, I heard about this guitar by trying to emulate the tone of a famous guitarist, laugh all you like, I don’t care as I have a great guitar.) The strengths of this guitar really do lie in its wide tonal palette, and while it may never match up to Martins and Taylors in certain aspects it will perform well in any situation you chuck at it. I’ve recorded a video which I hope captures its tone, and I’ve tried playing a few different styles to show its versatility, but I’ve not got any good recording equipment so I just had to use photo booth on an iMac. As a result the tone might not sound as good as it does in real life. All I can say without having you hear it is that it is strongest in the low end, with pretty good mids, and is a perfect strumming guitar, which is what I initially bought it for. However, for all it does with strumming it will never be an excellent finger picker.







TL;DR

Pros;
Well made
Good features
Well-rounded tone
Very pretty

Cons:
Not so good for finger picking
Not quite as pretty as the FL3
Extremely difficult to get a hold of, very few shops outside of Australia have them.
Some guitars will have major problems with intonation, make sure you try your guitar before buying it.

Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0HzHbksc-U

EDIT: Pics resized.
Last edited by blynd_snyper at Aug 1, 2009,
#2
Nice guitar...

but you might want to reduce the resolution of the pictures. I run a 24" monitor here at work and they barely fit. It'd be a lot easier to see them if they were smaller.

Gear:
Partscaster/Tele into a bunch of pedals, a Maz 18 head, and a Z Best cab.
#3
I can't see a thing, hahaha. Could you resize them to 640x480?
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#4
Cool guitar! I had never heard of bunya, which is weird because I am a tonewood freak, so I did some research for all those interested. Basically Bunya is an Austrailian evergreen tree that doesn't have a very high population, but its population is controlled well so there really isn't a likelihood of them going extinct. It was first used as a tonewood (in a major form anyway) by Clark while he was at Maton, so naturally when Clark made his own buisness he also used this tonewood. The bunya is light but very stiff, and thus is mainly used for the soundboard (top.) It gives off a sound with very high mids and sort of subdued treble and bass. Very direct sounding.

I love the design of the back and the headstock. The actual soundboard design doesn't appeal to me aesthetically, but it seems very solid. The bunya is sort of an odd looking wood isn't it? I mean, its not _weird_ or anything, but I don't think I like how it looks.

I listened to your video and I like it

I'm glad you found a guitar you like! Take care of her. Have you named her yet?
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#5
Siiiiiick. Cole Clarks are some really nice guitars. A few comments...

I absolutely love the look of the bunya. Definately a nice refreshing change from the usual spruce and cedar. Always been a fan of Cole Clark's unique headstock design. Just one of those little touches that I admire manufacturers for taking the time to think about. I really want that creme egg in the accessory pocket of your case!

Congrats on an awesome guitar! As said above, take care of her. Treat her well and she might outlast you!
Quote by necrosis1193
As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

Quote by Silverstein14
man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear


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plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
#7
Quote by blynd_snyper
I'm pretty neutral on Bunya's looks, it's alright but the guitar would look far sweeter if it was all Blackwood. Also I haven't named her, I'm open to suggestions though. And I'm afraid the creme egg is already gone.


I am partial to the name Veera. Just because she is natural and earthy, yet the name still sounds unique and uncommon. The name itself is descended from both the slavic languages and Latin (what a combo huh?) and means "truth" and "faith."

It's what I am naming my first electric when I make it, but it seems to fit your acoustic well.

Also, I wish every guitar came with a creme egg in the case with it. In like, a really miniature fridge so that it didn't melt...and when you opened it up there was a card that said "Congratulations on your new guitar...let's celebrate! Have some candy!"
Unfortunately I don't think that would actually work...but if it did, then I would do it with my guitars once I get a shop running.
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Last edited by ReChord at Aug 3, 2009,
#8
That would be so awesome! I would buy a guitar from you over another brand simply because I'd get candy!

I need a good name for my acoustic.....TO THE BABY NAME WEBSITES! Oh, and that is a rather nice name.
Quote by necrosis1193
As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

Quote by Silverstein14
man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear


Quote by gregs1020
plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
#11
Adam Rafferty is using this same model I believe. Sounds gorgeous.
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#12
My FL2A is currnetly not working when plugged in. Any ideas? Does yours have a led light or something that indicates it has power or that it's plugged in?
Taylor GS8 Rosewood/Spruce
#13
^--Is the 9V battery in your preamp working? Is your amp plugged in and turned on at the power? Is your lead in good condition?
#14
I tried two new batteries, several cables, the amp is on...I even tried a spare little crappy Crate amp that I know works for sure, just to be sure. I'm kind of depressed. I have no idea what could have happened.
Taylor GS8 Rosewood/Spruce