How does Cole Clark differ from other guitars?

Cole Clark acoustic guitars are the only mainstream steel string acoustic built using a Spanish heel or integral neck construction traditionally seen in nylon string guitars.

This means the neck is glued to the face, along with the sides and back and the neck is one piece all the way to the sound hole. On other steel string guitars, the body is made, then the neck attached, mostly with a bolt or dovetail join. Due to our method, the sound is unique. Cole Clark guitars also have a carved top and back and use a ridge system to join the sides to the top and back instead of kerfing.

The Cole Clark PG3 patented pickup system is the most acoustic sounding pickup available. We use a piezo system for the bottom end, a face sensor for the mid range and a microphone for the high end. The pickup has a huge dynamic range, sounds the same plugged in as it does unplugged and has no feedback issues, except at the highest stage volumes.

Cole Clark also uses mainly Australian native tone woods which sound and look unique. Our timbers are sustainably sourced and we are proudly among the most sustainable instrument makers in the world.

How does the Cole Clark pickup work?

Our pickup is not an afterthought installed at the end of the production line. Rather, we designed a pickup and built a guitar around it for the modern ‘plug in’ player. We build our system into the guitar as it goes through production.

A simple way to explain our PG3 or previous 3-Way system is to start with a P.A or audio system. They are usually made up of a sub, a mid range box and a horn. Each of those 3 elements hears the frequencies they’re best equipped to handle.  Cole Clark uses the same philosophy. Firstly, 6 under saddle piezos for the bottom end then a patented face sensor system for the mid range. A condenser microphone then tackles the top end. You would not expect an audio system to work well with just a sub or a top end horn and we see it the same way with an acoustic pickup.

The piezo system utilizes individual piezo elements suspended under the bridge saddle, which we believe is the best and most dynamic type of piezo system available.

We know that the face is the most important component to the sound of an acoustic guitar, so it makes sense that we use that tone when amplified. Cole Clark uses its face sensor for the mid range. We use a patented blend control which blends in the amount of face sensor required to go with the piezo sound or to completely replace the piezo in the mid range. The face sensor is shelved at 350hz and is incapable of hearing any frequency in it’s feedback zone. Instead it sends those frequencies back to the under saddle piezos much like a speaker would to a sub. Next, we add a condenser microphone in the top end. Again, this microphone is shelved and can only hear frequencies way above it’s feedback zone. The microphone is purely there to take the ‘ping’ out of the piezo if there is some piezo blended through at full range. Click for a video demonstration of our PG3 pickup system.

Where are Cole Clark guitars made?

Between 2001 and 2024, all Cole Clark guitars were made entirely in Bayswater, Melbourne, Australia.
In 2024, we introduced the ‘Studio AN Grand Auditorium’ models as a more affordable option to musicians. Studio AN models use a strip piezo version of our market leading PG3 system. This PG3S preamp, combined with simplified construction and an offshore assembly partner delivers a fantastic instrument at an affordable price, with sixty percent of the manufacturing process taking place at our Melbourne facility. The timber is milled with the same attention to detail we have long been known for, creating new jobs for our mill and our Australian timber suppliers. Once the timber is ready to begin assembly, it is shipped to our partner in China who has many years of experience in high quality manufacturing. Once assembled, the SAN models are shipped back to our workshop for setup and final detailing. The nuts and saddles are cut and the instruments are pleked by the same highly trained luthiers that work on our Master Grade guitars. Quality control is conducted at the Melbourne workshop.

Outside of these entry level models, all other Cole Clark guitars, basses, lapsteels and hyrbids are made entirely in Melbourne.

What string gauges do you use?

FL Dreadnought, AN Grand Auditorium and TL Thinline – Phosphor Bronze  12 to 53

12 String – Phosphor Bronze 10 to 47

LL Mini –  Phosphor Bronze 13 to 56

LLB 4 string Bass – Nickle 45, 65, 85, 105

LLB 5 string Bass – Nickle 45, 65, 85, 105, 130

Lapdog – Nickel wound  16 16 22 38 52 68

Violap – Nickel wound  16 16 22 38 52 68

What's the difference between 1, 2 and 3 series?

1 Series models are made from A grade timbers. They have no binding, no purfling line on the face, double ring rosette, chrome machine heads and no headstock fascia. The fretboard inlays are Mother of Pearl dots.
These models are available in a limited variety of timber and come in a heavy duty gig bag.

2 Series models are made from AA grade timbers. They feature binding, purfling line on the face, double ring rosette, gold machine heads and a headstock fascia. The fretboard inlays are abalone snowflakes.
These models are available is a larger variety of timbers and come in a hard case.

3 Series are made from AAA grade timbers. They feature double binding, a bound fretboard, headstock fascia, upgraded gold machine heads, elaborate purfling and abalone inlays on the rosette, fretboard and waist.
These models have some timbers that are exclusive to the 3 series. They also come in a hard case.

Master Grade Series are made from master grade timbers and vary in spec depending on the timber. In these guitars, the timber is the art.

There are certain guitars in 2 and 3 Series which vary in spec, adding different rosettes, paint finishes and hardware materials, but as a rule, the above specs hold true.

What are your measurements?

Cole Clark model measurements.

FL Dreadnought
Length 1055mm
Depth 118mm
Small Bout 297mm
Large Bout 410mm
Soundhole 100mm

AN Grand Auditorium
Length 1020mm
Depth 110mm
Small Bout 285mm
Large Bout 386mm
Soundhole 106mm

TL Thinline
Length 1020mm
Depth 75mm
Small Bout 285mm
Large Bout 386mm
Soundhole 106mm

LL Mini
Length 920mm
Depth 100mm
Small Bout 297mm
Large Bout 360mm
Soundhole 100mm

Can I put a Cole pickup in my NON pickup Cole Clark ?

This can only be done with models built prior to 2014

What frets do you use?

Cole Clark guitars come with Jim Dunlop model 6230 frets

Saddle, Nuts and Bridge pins ?

Cole Clark use the following products from TUSQ

  • RH saddle – PQ-9200-C0
  • LH saddle – PQ-9200-L0
  • RH nut – PQ-6134-00
  • LH nut – PQ-6134-L0
  • Bridge Pins – PP-1100-01

What do the model numbers mean?

Our  model numbers comprise series, pickup inclusion, body shape and timber combination in that order.

Series, Pickup inclusion and Body shape.

Note: Prior to 2014, the letter ‘A ‘ for active was used instead of ‘E’ for electrics.

AN1 – Grand Auditorium size 1 series with no pickup or cutaway.

AN1E– Grand Auditorium size 1 series with pickup and no cutaway.

AN1EC– Grand Auditorium size 1 series with pickup and cutaway.

AN2 – Grand Auditorium size 2 series with no pickup or cutaway.

AN2E– Grand Auditorium size 2 series with pickup and no cutaway.

AN2EC– Grand Auditorium size 2 series with pickup and cutaway.

AN3E– Grand Auditorium size 3 series with pickup and no cutaway.

AN3EC– Grand Auditorium size 3 series with pickup and cutaway.

ANMGE – Grand Auditorium size Master Grade series with pickup

FL1 – Dreadnought size 1 series with no pickup or cutaway.

FL1E– Dreadnought size series with pickup and no cutaway.

FL1EC– Dreadnought size 1 series with pickup and cutaway.

FL2 – Dreadnought size 2 series with no pickup or cutaway.

FL2E– Dreadnought size 2 series with pickup and no cutaway.

FL2EC– Dreadnought size 2 series with pickup and cutaway.

FL3E– Dreadnought size 3 series with pickup and no cutaway.

FL3EC– Dreadnought size 3 series with pickup and cutaway.

FLMGE – Dreadnought size Master Grade series with pickup

LL1 – Mini size 1 series with no pickup.

LL1E – Mini size 1 series with pickup.

LL2 –Mini size 2 series with no pickup.

LL2E –Mini size 2 series with pickup.

LLB4 – 4 string Bass

LLB5 – 5 string Bass

TL2EC– Thinline size 2 series with pickup and cutaway.

TL3EC – Thinline size 3 series with pickup and cutaway.

VL2P – Violap 2 series Lapsteel

Timber combinations

As we have added timbers, we have had to adapt their codes due to some letters being used. This can be a little tricky so below is a key for all timber combinations.

Top/Back and sides.

BB – Bunya/Blackwood

BM – Bunya/Queensland Maple

BMS – Bunya/Maple Silkwood

BR – Bunya/Rosewood

BSO – Bunya/Southern Silky Oak

BBR – Bunya/Blackwood with Rosewood fretboard

BLBL – Blackwood/Blackwood

BLBLR – Blackwood/Blackwood with Rosewood fretboard

BLBLSB – Blackwood/Blackwood with Satin Box fretboard

CLCL – Camphor Laurel/ Camphor Laurel

COLB – Cedar of Lebanon/Blackwood

COLR – Cedar of Lebanon/Rosewood

COLRSB – Cedar of Lebanon/Blackwood with Satin Box fretboard

CR – Cedar/Rosewood

CB – Cedar/Blackwood

EMEM – European Maple/European Maple

HB – Huon Pine/Blackwood

KBH – King Billy Pine/Huon Pine

MMAH – Mahogany/Mahogany

RDBL – Redwood/Blackwood

RDBLR – Redwood/Blackwood with Rosewood fretboard

RDRW – Redwood/Rosewood

RDEM – Redwood/European Maple

RDM – Redwood/Queensland Maple

RDMAH – Redwood/Mahogany

RDSO – Redwood/Southern Silky Oak

RDBLSB – Redwood/Blackwood with Satin Box fretboard

SB – Spruce/Blackwood

SR – Spruce/Rosewood

SM – Spruce/Queensland Maple

SSO – Southern Silky Oak/Southern Silky Oak

Prior to 2011, Cole Clark FL dreadnought and AN grand auditorium models were simply named by series with no code for timber combination. The timbers used can be found on a sticker inside the guitar near the neck.

Other codes

HUM – with Humbucker electric pickup

HSS – Humbucker and two single coils

SSS – Three single coils

HH – Two humbuckers

SUN – Sunburst finish

LH – Left-handed

AE – Australian Eco (specifies an entirely sustainable 3 series model)

LS – Lloyd Spiegel signature model

MJ – Manelli Jamal signature model

BOB – Bob Spencer signature model

LB – Lyn Bowtell signature model

Why do your True Hybrid guitars have two outputs?

Simply put, electric guitars sound terrible when plugged into a PA or an acoustic amp. On the flip side, an acoustic sounds equally terrible when plugged into an electric amp.
To do the job properly, we use an acoustic output into a PA or acoustic amp and an electric output into an electric amp or simulator. This also makes looping far easier and less fuss.

We considered a single cable with a stereo plug at the end, but this would mean the end of your gig if the cable broke. Two standard cables will be much easier to find in that situation.

What’s my guitar painted with?

Cole Clark uses nitrocellulose satin as the standard finish.

How will a satin finish guitar wear?

All satin finishes will shine and lose satin appearance in areas where they are in contact with the player. Like many of the world’s great guitars throughout history, our guitars will yellow off and the paint will crack and craze with age.

Do Cole Clark offer endorsements? If so, how do I apply?

Cole Clark is a small company making guitars in a country where manufacturing is, for the most part, a thing of the past. Due to our pickup technology and quest to build guitars for the modern, professional player, we get a staggering number of endorsement requests for a company our size. While we are thrilled that so many artists want to endorse our instruments, our annual build is around 2.5% of what the major guitars companies make. As a result, we are simply not in a position to give guitars away as an endorsement. Instead, we do a small number of partial endorsements each year to serious national and international touring artists with solid radio airplay and strong fan bases. Please note that while a good social media following is certainly important, we are uninterested in ‘insta-famous’ and are devoted to having our guitars endorsed by great live players. To be considered, please send your EPK to info@coleclarkguitars.com

Can I do a neck reset?

On a standard steel string guitar, as the neck is attached to a heal block, there is a pivot point. With an integral neck guitar the neck goes all the way through, so it is not prone to pivoting and no need to do a neck re-set.

Why do new guitars sound different to older ones?

We made our first acoustics in June 2003. We kept refining our bracing method as we went. We originally had a face brace sensor which was a long aluminum strip attached to the inside of the face. This somewhat deadened the acoustic sound.

In 2009 we changed our sensor to a short brace sensor which does not impact the acoustic sound. It also sounds better amplified with an even more natural sound. At this time we also further thinned the top and changed the bracing so now it is a very open, louder acoustic.l

What do I use to adjust my neck?

We chose to make our truss rod easily adjustable with a standard, easy to find 3/8″ mini socket and a small extension arm. Most socket sets will have this size and they are available in any hardware store.

Can I adjust my own action?

Yes, it is a single action standard truss rod. We use a standard socket through the sound hole. If you are used to adjusting the truss rod with other guitars then you will be able to do this on a Cole Clark. The only difference is that the truss rod works up past the 15th fret, not just to the 12th fret like on most guitars.

Are your timbers sustainable?

98% of our guitars are fully sustainable, having replaced endangered timbers on the fretboard and bridge with alternatives. This makes us the most sustainable acoustic guitar company in the world. You can get a detailed list of our timbers on our timber page or check out our environmental statement.

Can I do a factory tour?

Yes you can. Please call or email and make an appointment. Our tours run on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30pm but we are happy to accommodate where possible if you’re unable to make our weekly tour. PLEASE NOTE: Due to COVID, tours are currently unavailable

Do you make custom order guitars?

We are currently not taking any custom orders.

Can I buy direct?

As the manufacturer, we do not sell direct. We sell through and support our worldwide dealer network.

Does Cole Clark do setups on guitars?

Yes we do. Please call or email and drop it in during office hours to get your guitar playing at it’s best. Our set ups utilize our Plek machine.

Why have you discontinued your electric guitars?

We pride ourselves on making innovative, original guitars that we are happy to put up against the world’s most popular acoustic guitars at these price points.

Our electric guitars consisted mostly of standard, commonly used shapes. They were nice guitars with some original features, but they did not sell well enough to continue. We hope to be in the position to put out a range of original electric guitars in the future that better match our drive for innovation and originality.

I'm getting a distorted sound.

The most likely reason for distorting is a flat battery or a battery terminal that is is flattened or dirty. Take the battery out, gently raise the terminal and clean it off if dirty with some steel wool on a stick. If the terminal is badly corroded, it will need replacing. We recommend taking it to an authorized repairer or contacting Cole Clark if you are not confident in doing this.

Do I need a DI box? If so, which one?

A DI box is used to directly inject a signal from an unbalanced high impedance source such as the output from a guitar or bass, into the Mic input of a mixing console instead of using a microphone. Without a DI box, these signals can deteriorate in quality and pick up noise when sent over medium to long runs of cable.
The DI box buffers the output signal from these sources and converts it to a low impedance, balanced signal that will match the input requirements of the console keeping noise and signal loss to a minimum.
More sophisticated DI boxes are often equipped with attenuation switches and a ground lift to help match the signal and isolate the ground between instrumentation and PA equipment.
If you have an instrument which has an active circuit such as an acoustic guitar with a pre-amp fitted or an electric guitar or bass with active pickups, a DI box is often not necessary as the output signal is usually already low impedance and buffered by a preamp. This signal can usually be plugged into a stage box with a long run of cable without loss.
In summary, if you have an on-stage mix with a short run of around 20 foot, you can just plug straight into the mixer, you do not need a DI box. If you are plugging into a stage box with a multi-core, which are typically 100 feet or more, then it might be advantageous to one.
There are several acoustic preamps with a DI out, which we would not recommend for Cole Clark guitars. The Cole Clark system has a natural preamp with plenty of level and all the control you will need. These external acoustic preamps are for pickup systems that lack this natural sound and require external processing.
We get asked which DI units are good quality. Like everything, you get what you pay for; a good DI will cost a bit more. We like the Radial Active DI units, but there are many other good units out there.