Cole Clark Angel AN2A3-BB review
Stunning tones and looks packed into a nimble yet surprisingly full sounding body.
he Angel series from Cole Clark is a grand auditorium size guitar, built using Cole Clark’s “Spanish heel” construction method and notorious indigenous Australian tone woods. The test model is an AN2A3-BB. The BB denotes the use of blackwood and bunya.
First impressions of this beautiful guitar made me think of infinity pools. You know the ones where the water just disappears over the edge of the pool? The way the bunya top is bound (you may not be able to see the binding in the photos) with another wood strip creates such a clean line. Some other Angel models have rosewood or blackwood binding, which looks more traditional, but this model looks stunningly clean.
I’ll admit that this size is my ideal acoustic guitar size. Not so small that you lose too much tone, but not so bulky that you feel like you’re wrestling it. Grand auditorium is sometimes referred to as “000” and falls inbetween the dreadnought and “00” or grand concert size. The grand auditorium aims to deliver the best of both worlds in terms of fingerstyle and flat picking, also delivering more bottom end than the grand concert due to the larger sound box.
I found the tone of the Angel to be bright and articulate with more bassy bottom end that I’d expected when I picked it up. I found mids slightly flat, but on the whole, the sound surprised me. With quieter styles, you get amazing clarity, as if even the slightest picking will be heard clearly. And with full on strumming, you’ll be surprised at the low end as well as the volume. The workmanship means that so many of the frequencies and sounds are captured and delivered to the listener.
Speaking of frequencies, let’s talk about the new Cole Clark pickup system. In my previous review of the Fat Lady I’ve spoken about the proprietary “faceblend” system they employ which allows you to decide how much of each of the piezo and face pickup is used. Since my last review, Cole Clark have upgraded their pickup system and added a third mic pickup to the mix. The results are amazing.
I’m sure you’ve all heard a standard acoustic guitar under amplification. The sound is typically crisp and full, yet there is often a metallic, artificial edge to it. It sounds fine, and we’ve all become accustomed to hearing that sound, but it doesn’t really sound like an unplugged acoustic. The 3 way system Cole Clark have come up with allows you to adjust the way the pickups work together and do away with those metallic artificial sounds. What’s left is simply the sound of the acoustic guitar as you’d hear it unplugged…no pings, no “quacking”, just the guitar.
Cole Clark have some YouTube clips which cover this in more detail and they are far more qualified to comment than I, so check out this clip on their YouTube channel for more explanation about the pickup system in this Angel. I think the best way to sum up the new 3 way system is from the clip. When you play a gig, you have a subwoofer, 15″ speaker and horn in a PA, but you don’t plug in to just one of those speakers. You need all three to give the full range of sound. And so it is the same with the pickup system in the Angel – you have 3 microphones all covering a specific range of frequencies to deliver a full and true representation of the guitar’s tone.
You can see from the image of the control panel that Cole Clark have updated the controls to allow for the new 3 way system. It’s a simple and effective unit, with the three dials at the top controlling the 3 pickups and volume (ps. leave the volume on full…its where the Angel shines best in my opinion). Then you have the standard 3 way eq. It think this is not only an improvement in tonal control from the previous 2 way system, but that aesthetically, it is a nicer unit.
As with all Cole Clark guitars, the build quality is absolutely first rate. I particularly like the Tasmanian blackwood used on the back and sides of this model. The Angel series has a lot of different variations to suit most budgets. The series 2 being tested here has a 3 piece back, binding, snowflake inlays, is available in either Bunya, Cedar or Spruce top, blackwood or rosewood back and sides and even has an ebony fretboard available. The series 2 deluxe adds a mosaic rosette and purfling.
The resulting feel is just so easy, especially for fingerstyle or very delicate playing. If you’re the type of player who loves to add a lot of dynamics to your playing, using your finger and pick technique to add colour and interest to your playing – you’ll love the Angel. The simple binding, rosette and inlays coupled with the pale bunya top give a lovely natural bright look, yet the wood figuring makes it interesting and natural.
The frets don’t really require much discussion, they suit the size and give you the sort of delicate and nimble feel you’d expect from a guitar this size. Dunlop 6230 are a medium or regular size and because they’re not as wide as some frets, you will find that there is a feeling of decent space between frets. Read more about frets on our post here.
If I had one minor issue (and we’re talking really minor) is that the case isn’t perfectly fitted to the Angel. Whilst I couldn’t see any issues with any movement, it did seem as though the Fat Lady case was re-purposed for the smaller Angel. But lets be serious, saying a guitar case isn’t as good as the guitar is like saying to someone “love you Ferrari, but your garage isn’t very good”. I don’t see this as being a major flaw – more just me struggling to find anything negative to say about a great guitar!
Cole Clark had a great pickup system in the 2 way faceblend system, but the addition of the mic in the new 3 way system produces amazing results. When you put a pickup like that in a gorgeously constructed 000 sized guitar made from high quality indigenous Australian woods, the results are spectacular.
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