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Old 07-22-2023, 11:14 AM
Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Default NGD: Cole Clark Angel 2 Thin Line - Back on the bandwagon!

Anyone that knows me knows I'm a big fan of Cole Clarks guitars. There was a time when all three of my guitars were Cole Clarks. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING comes close to amplifying as well as a Cole Clark and there's a good reason for that: Their guitars are designed from the ground up around their outstanding proprietary 3-way pickup system. Of all the 45-some odd guitars I've owned in the last decade, the Cole Clark Angel 2 I had lasted the longest. But I'm a man that enjoys variety and I just love checking out new guitars and eventually all three of those Cole Clark guitars were sold off to try out other guitars. But everything that came after just couldn't touch that Cole Clark amplified sound and I knew that one day I'd have one again.

I became very interested in the Angel Thin Line that came out a few years back. On paper it looked like the perfect gigging guitar. 000/OM sized body like the full size Angel but thinner so extremely comfortable for playing. Cole Clark uses sustainable woods found mostly in Australia (they are an Australian company) and I'm a big fan of the all-blackwood models which is what this one is. The neck is Queensland maple while the fretboard and bridge are She Oak. I'd been keeping my eye on Reverb for a good price on a new or used one for sale. Two of my three original Cole Clarks were bought straight from Australia. The excellent exchange rate between the USD and AUD dollars makes for some great prices especially on new guitars if you can find them.

One popped that I had been watching for awhile and I made a few offers. There were a few things I liked about it cosmetically and a few things I didn't. The blackwood models all vary extremely in their look due to the many different wood grains and colors. Come to find out the one in the photo was not the one they were selling. They had several in stock and were using an older photo. I found this out because the onboard preamp did not have the newest FC model and when I asked they assured me the one they were selling was the newest. So we made the deal and I got the guitar - sight unseen! - in just under a week. Even with the expensive shipping I still came in almost a grand under US retail prices and easily $500 below street value. The one I received is great looking.

Cole Clark guitars are not well known or well loved outside of Australia. As a pure acoustic instrument, they are not the best choice. They don't sound bad, just different. So many people who buy an acoustic guitar predominantly for the acoustic tones are not interested. This also affects resale. These guitars just don't hold their value if bought new at US retail prices. So there's that. But if you're talking about amplified tone, then they just can't be beat for fantastic right-out-of-the-box, plug-and-play tone. I already have my pure acoustic tone beast in my IRIS DF. I also have my any and all environmental beast in my RainSong Black Ice custom dread. And while those guitars both amplify okay (especially the RS with the very good LR Baggs StagePro system), both pale in comparison to the Cole Clark.

The new Thin Line model did not disappoint! Plugging into both my amps at home was a breath of fresh air to say the least. Right out of the gate there was instant wonderful tone across the spectrum. And the ability to further dial in what you need on the fly with the relatively small and functional onboard controls is a boon. Playing a delicate fingerstyle ballad? Bump the treble, dial back the bass and push the volume a bit. The pure acoustic tone of this guitar is actually not bad for the thin body. Of the three I originally owned, the Angel was the best. The neck is on the thin side, almost Taylor-thin. So if you don't like thin necks then these guitars are not for you. But that thin line body makes for a super comfy guitar for a couch guitar and for gigging it's just awesome all the way around.

I've already made the usual changes - swapped out the gold tuner buttons for some nice snakewood buttons (that were on the original Angel!) and also replaced the ridiculously oversized and gaudy gold strap buttons for my preferred brass Planet Waves (now D'Addario) buttons. One thing Cole Clark does that I'm not a fan of is they insist on locating their front strap buttons on the back of the heel. It's the same with Maton. Must be an Australian thing? I much prefer the 'Taylor position' on the underside of the heel. But I can live with it. They come with a very nice and attractive Cole Clark branded hard case with their signature grey color. I never use the hard cases for my guitars anyway and this one fits nicely into the Gator Pro-Go gig bag that formerly housed the Cole Clark Angel I had so I'm all set there.

Anyway, if you are looking for a pure amplified tone beast, give the Cole Clark line a look. Find one used (if you can) for an excellent price and you'll be way ahead of the game. Our good friend and prolific online reviewer Aaron Short (AeroONE) has owned several Cole Clark guitars (one of them used to be mine!) and he loves them for gigging as well. We often talk about and wonder why more giggers haven't caught on to this well-kept secret. I've already gigged twice with it and I'm so happy to be back on the Cole Clark bandwagon! I can't wait to hit the next open mic (probably tomorrow night!) knowing that regardless of what I have to plug into, I'll be able to dial in an excellent tone in a matter of seconds AND make changes on the fly with ease if the need arises.


Photos to follow.
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Old 07-22-2023, 11:16 AM
Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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As promised, photos!









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Old 07-22-2023, 12:55 PM
Br1ck Br1ck is offline
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I have never heard a better pickup system on a factory guitar. If I needed a guitar just for gigs, it would be my first choice.
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Old 07-22-2023, 12:57 PM
darylcrisp darylcrisp is offline
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Excellent review, i always enjoy your guitar buys/trades/ shopping trips.
Woods look good on this one. I like the smaller size as well.

Wondering if you have used/owned a Maton with the AP5 Pro pickup and if so how these two brands/pickups compare?

d
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Old 07-22-2023, 01:04 PM
jricc jricc is offline
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Congrats on your Cole Clark Scott! Pretty woods and looks to be super comfy to play!
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Old 07-22-2023, 01:06 PM
BlueBowman BlueBowman is offline
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Killer review, Methos! And I might say, what a unique and lovely looking acoustic. And good to know that these sound great and gig-ready out of the box. Thanks for the review.
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Old 07-22-2023, 01:06 PM
jtacoustic jtacoustic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darylcrisp View Post

Wondering if you have used/owned a Maton with the AP5 Pro pickup and if so how these two brands/pickups compare?

d
This is a good question.... CC vs Maton for best amplified sound ?????
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Old 07-22-2023, 05:08 PM
Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darylcrisp View Post
Excellent review, i always enjoy your guitar buys/trades/ shopping trips.
Woods look good on this one. I like the smaller size as well.

Wondering if you have used/owned a Maton with the AP5 Pro pickup and if so how these two brands/pickups compare?

d
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtacoustic View Post
This is a good question.... CC vs Maton for best amplified sound ?????
I have played the Maton with the AP5 Pro pickup and it was also excellent. I have not played them side by side though. It's a coin toss from memory but I much prefer the Cole Clarks for their non-standard tonewoods and style. For many, the Maton's (and Takamines as well) would likely be better choices since they offer a more traditional build style and better pure acoustic tone over the Cole Clark. You really can't go wrong with any of those three for live gigging amplified guitars.
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Old 07-22-2023, 05:39 PM
BluesKing777 BluesKing777 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Methos1979 View Post
I have played the Maton with the AP5 Pro pickup and it was also excellent. I have not played them side by side though. It's a coin toss from memory but I much prefer the Cole Clarks for their non-standard tonewoods and style. For many, the Maton's (and Takamines as well) would likely be better choices since they offer a more traditional build style and better pure acoustic tone over the Cole Clark. You really can't go wrong with any of those three for live gigging amplified guitars.

Congratulations!

For comparison sake, have you played the new Yamaha FSX5 with Atmosfeel?

As soon as I read the pickup system specs, I thought ‘Brad Clark’.


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Old 07-22-2023, 08:37 PM
Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesKing777 View Post
Congratulations!

For comparison sake, have you played the new Yamaha FSX5 with Atmosfeel?

As soon as I read the pickup system specs, I thought ‘Brad Clark’.


BluesKing777.
I have not but I have played (just recently, in fact) a few lower end Yamaha's that were fantastic sounding and playing guitars for their lower price tag. I have a lot of friends that play Yamaha guitars live and they make a fine guitar for the money. They definitely punch well above their weight (price).
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Old 07-22-2023, 09:26 PM
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Nice review Scott and thorough as always… my post is in response to those seeking some info comparing imho, the three top shelf stage brands. ( though Ovation was clearly an innovator and has it’s own merits)

As a longtime working pro I’ve played a good selection of what’s out there. I settled on Takamine MIJ Pro Series for over a decade after my main guitar of 15 years, a Lowden LSEII, needed a lot of work. I’ve had several models and all have come stage ready. I’ve used all three of their interchangeable preamps too. Unplugged and amplified I’ve found particularly the Pro 3 series to be lively and percussive for my reggaeish style. From the pinless bridge, satin finish, to the Palathetic pickup, MIJ P3s do it for me.

However, I have tried the Cole Clark and Maton and FYI both companies borrowed their pickup design from Takamine’s Palathetic pickup, in which six individual piezo transducers are embedded under the bridge plate, maximizing clarity between strings. This design picks up body sound as well and works great for percussive style and a somewhat natural tone. So it’s no wonder that Maton and CC sound so good! In fact, pull out a Maton pickup and set it side by side with Tak’s Palathetic pickup and they look almost identical! I found all three makers to have road worthy, high quality, rugged builds.

While Takamine has their interchangeable preamps, including the Cooltube, and ability to interchange additional dual sources, like an added sbt or mag, both Maton and CC have advanced their own designs with their preamps with remarkable results that sound excellent. But it all goes back to the original Palathetic design that Takamine’s R&D did way back when… and it still holds up today. I have to say I prefer Takamines ergonomic asymmetrical neck, pinless bridge design and unplugged tone along with some other features over the Maton and CC, however, on stage all three are the top shelf of stage instruments live and in the studio. In fact, most of Tommy E’s early albums were recorded with MIJ Taks which he still plays at his home and studio. My one negative on the Taks is that most models come with a nut width of 1 11/16. I had only one with a 1 3/4 nut and boy it plays great.

I will say that Marton’s Messiah models are gorgeous. I love the way Maton’s look; their headstock and fretboard, and they are sleek in design and mostly they sound great; both unplugged and amplified. If Maton had a pinless bridge, I would be inclined to add a Messiah to my working small fleet. Now the CC sounds excellent amplified, but unplugged I wasn’t as impressed, nor did I like the look and feel of any of the models I played including the Fat Lady series, but thats personal preference… I just purchased my second P3NC because my first one is very worn and has been refretted once already. As all my Taks, this new P3NC went from box to stage and sounded great. I have found the MIJ’s to be consistently stage ready of the 9 or 10 I’ve had; I currently keep three in rotation for my average of 200 shows a year.

(PS I do play my Martin D18 with a Tone Boss mag at some shows from time to time because hey, it’s a classic!)
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Old 07-22-2023, 11:09 PM
BluesKing777 BluesKing777 is offline
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Hey Eric, good to hear you.

While I do love my Maton Messiah em100-808 (deep body 00 version of Messiah with top quality EIR and Sitka) I prefer my Maton EBG808 Blackwood/Sitka for plugging in.......

To go back a ways, to the 70s, and I have no real knowledge but I would say Maton had a mid 50s Gibson LG2/3 on their workbench and created the 808 model by adding a few things they thought they could improve upon - local wood as a mahogany substitute, a deeper dread thickness body for fuller tone, more wood thickness on the neck and wider nut and bridge spacing. And one of these may have just fallen into the hands of one TE!

Now combining business and pleasure is usually regarded as a no, but it can be combined by a compromise. The Messiah 808 may be too much pleasure with too many lush overtones and I find the Maton pickup system needs a lot of work. Gets a bit muddy. But the EBG808, mine is quite similar to what TE drags around, but a custom matt black, while Blackwood/Sitka is on the same field with the overtones of Mahogany/Sitka.......and the Maton pickup system LOVES it. Just a lot ‘clearer’. Set the controls for the heart of the sun, go! And it is a great combination of business and pleasure!

P.S. I have never played a Cole Clark or a Yamaha or a Takamine.


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Old 07-23-2023, 12:37 AM
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Very cool post and great info Scott and Eric (Noledog) etc.

I am tempted to try a Cole Clark but am concerned about the feel. I will also admit I don't care for how they look but if they sound amazing, I'm sure I'd get over that.

A Maton (probably the 808) becomes the next choice and may impress me more than the Cole Clark overall.

I tried a Takamine P3DC and it was very very good. But I was not impressed with the CT4B preamp at all. The Cooltube probably sounds better but I've read that it eats batteries quickly. I also noted all the Takamine guitars with the coolTUBE preamp weigh more than 5lbs typically. Not a deal breaker but I prefer lighter acoustics. Maybe the weight is due to using AA batteries for the Cooltube pre?

To the OP, does the CC Angel sound as full and complete amplified as the larger Cole Clark model? (Fat lady?) I would try one purely for amplified gigging.

My number 1 gigging acoustic is my Martin DC-18E cutaway w/Baggs Anthem. It sounds killer acoustically too as you can imagine. A recently added Collings D1T Traditional is giving it a run for the money however! Once I get 5 years of playing time on the Collings it might outshine everything. We will see.
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Old 07-23-2023, 12:58 AM
BluesKing777 BluesKing777 is offline
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Unlikely you would like the 808, a 00 body size, if you only play dreads.....try the bigger models. (I have not!).

One of you guys try the new Yamaha (FSx3/5 or FGx3/5) with Atmosfeel for us.....the Cole has piezo, mic and contact and the Yammy has the same sort of thing....I only saw the promo videos....W-Sound has a vid of the dread FGx5 acoustic and plugged.....a much more trad looking guitar with torrefied top etc, than a Maton or CC.

If I as buying a CC, not buying......I have Blackwood everywhere and would go the wild looking Angel with recycled Camphor Laurel back and sides and recycled Redwood top! Wow! P.S. just looked and it is gone, sold, whoosh.

BluesKing777.
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Old 07-23-2023, 05:56 AM
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You guys are killing me here. Yes, I want a Cole Clark, now…oh wait, I wait a MIJ Tak also. I think I am a victim of the something shiney syndrome…no, more like a kid in a candy store who wants everything…think I just better go and play my old guitars and be happy…

Seriously, Scott, love your reviews, even if they are bad for my financial health…
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