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Cole Clark FL-2 review

 
Cole Clark Fat Lady top
Cole Clark Fat Lady top
Cole Clark Fat Lady top

 
Overview
 

Type:
 
Body: Bunya
 
Neck: Maple
 
Pickups: Dual Input Piezo (bridge mounted and top plate sensor).
 
Switching: Volume, Treble, Mid, Bass + patent pending "Faceblend"
 
Tuners: Grover
 
Fretboard: Rosewood
 
Finish: Satin nitrocellulose
 
Bridge: Rosewood
 
Frets: 20
 
MSRP: $1,899
 
Buy: Buy from Amazon
 
Sound
8.5


 
Playability
8.5


 
Build Quality
9.0


 
Value
8.5


 
Total Score
8.6


User Rating
7 total ratings

 

Pros


Gorgeous finish and natural feel

Cons


Didn't excel in delicate fingerstyle


Verdict

Stunning looks and playability combined with creative tone control

0
Posted November 19, 2013 by

 
Full review
 
 

Cole Clark Fat Lady 2

T

he amusingly named Fat Lady range from Cole Clark, a premium guitar builder based in Australian, is eye catching and worth serious consideration for any semi-acoustic purchase.  The model I tested was the FL-2, which sits in the middle of the Fat Lady dreadnought range.  It is all solid timber and is internally carved on the top and back.  Cole Clark uses mostly indigenous Australian woods and the tone results are beautiful. When combined with the nitrocellulose finish, you have an instrument which is as amazing to hold and admire as it is to play.  There are two variants to choose from, the FL-2A and the FL-2AC (with a cutaway). In addition, you can select various combinations of bunya, spruce and blackwood for the top, neck, back and sides.  All models feature rosewood bridge and fingerboard.  The test model was an FL-2AC with bunya top and maple back and neck.

Tone Woods

Cole Clark Fat Lady 3

Bunya is a unique wood which some may never have heard of.  The choice of this tone wood was a result of a search by co-founder Brad Clark, who discovered that not only did bunya provide the tone characteristics he was seeking, but research showed that Bunya is 18% stronger than the more

I found the combination of the Australian woods to provide a full and clear tone, with an emphasis on mids.  It did seem as though whatever style of music I tried, the result made me smile.  I also felt as though the harder I played, the better she sounded and felt, so if you’re into that powerful chord strumming style, you’ll love it.  Delicate fingerstyle playing was less jaw-dropping, but the FL-2 still delivered a full range of tones when using a lighter touch.standard spruce.  So if you’re pretty rough on your guitars, or travel a lot, this could be a real point of difference that could interest you.

Cole Clark Fat Lady 5Sound is of course helped by the pickups, and in this case, there is a unique and flexible choice of pickup configuration.  The FL-2 features a Dual Input Acoustic Pickup, which is a piezo type pickup mounted on the bridge, with a top plate sensor.  Looking at the image of the pickup sliders, you can see the top control is ‘Volume’, the third is ‘Treble’, the fourth is ‘Mid’ and the fifth is ‘Bass’…which leaves the second slider, a patent pending feature Cole Clark call “Faceblend”.

By sliding towards the player (the direction with the ‘F’ which I presume is for “Face”), this amplifies the top end frequencies from the face sensor whilst simultaneously reducing the volume from similar frequencies from bridge assembly.  By moving that same slider in the other direction (towards the ‘B’ which I guess is for “Blend”), top end frequencies are amplified from the piezos under the bridge (saddles).  If all this isn’t making sense, think of it in this way.  Not only do the pickup controls give you standard, volume, treble, mid and bass options, but with “Faceblend”, you can manipulate how top end frequencies are being mixed.  The result is more control of tone under amplification.

It’s acoustic, but not as I know it

Cole Clark Fat Lady 1

One of my main gripes about semi-acoustic guitars is that sometimes I find them harder to play more complex pieces.  I am often frustrated when I attempt something faster or finger twisting on acoustic guitars, compared to electric guitars.  Maybe its just me, but I find them less flexible on the whole.  So I was very pleasantly surprised that when I played a more technical composition with the FL-2, I actually nailed it first time (and the second time!).  For me, an acoustic purchase needs to have this feel and play-ability.  I just won’t pick the guitar up if I’m going to get frustrated with a stiff and clunky feel.  This is partially due to setup, however the craftsmanship of the FL-2 will let you play what you want to play, not be constrained.

Cole Clark Fat Lady 4

The neck is satin finished (like the whole body of the guitar) Queensland maple and is a fairly generous in size.  This was definitely in proportion to the size of the guitar, but for those seeking something slim, you would want to get hold of an FL-2 to decide for yourself.  It was fine for me, and I do usually prefer slimmer neck profiles.The slightly larger neck did give a really nice feel when strumming big chords.  Given the tone is so big, it did feel “right” to have a fairly big neck to hold on to.

My other reflection on size was that whilst this is a dreadnought, it didn’t feel as bulky as some I’ve held.  I mostly prefer 000 size acoustics and often feel weighed down by holding a dreadnought, but the FL-2 did not give me that impression.  I’m not sure whether the actual dimensions show that this is not a huge dreadnought, but I was not left feeling weighed down, even seated with the FL-2 on my lap.

Stunning

as amazing to hold and admire as it is to play

You have to admit, the colour of that bunya and the satin nitro finish is absolutely stunning.  The image of the headstock really shows off the grain and how the finish enhances the natural, earthy appeal. The neat bridge assembly, simple binding and pearloid inlays come together to be understated and elegant, but at the same time, it looks really strong.  There were no blemishes or imperfections that I could find, no rattles or sanding marks from the build.  It looks as though Cole Clark respect their materials and the result really shows. Grover tuners are well known for just doing their job well, and I had no issues with them or staying in tune.

Verdict

The FL-2 is offered in a range of combinations of bunya, spruce, maple and blackwood.  Combined with the cutaway and non cutaway models, there is a great range of choices which should suit pretty much everyone. I felt that the combination of tone, build quality, drop dead good looks and unique indigenous tone woods more than justified the modest price.

 

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