Everything You Need to Know about Cole Clark Guitars

Published on 22 May 2024

6 minutes


Has your gaze been turning in the direction of Cole Clark guitars recently? Are you intrigued about their unique vibe and feel like knowing more?

Step right this way! Today, I’ll give you all of the details you need to know about this innovative acoustic guitar brand. They occupy a relatively niche part of the market, and they do their thing particularly well, so let’s take a little trip through the world of Cole Clark guitars and see what we can find…



Who is Cole Clark? The Company Origins

What Makes Cole Clark Different?

The Cole Clark Series: 1, 2 and 3

Cole Clark Studio AN Grand Auditorium Series

The Cole Clark Designs

Doing Things Differently


Who is Cole Clark? The Company Origins

This is the first mystery: who is Cole Clark? Well, he’s actually two people: Adam Cole and Brad Clark. They started the company in Bayswater, Melbourne in 2001. The person currently in charge is Miles Jackson, who has been CEO since 2012.

The company builds mostly acoustic guitars and hybrid acoustic/electric guitars, but they also make lap steels and basses. The company used to build electric guitars as well, but stopped in 2012 to focus on acoustics, which is what the company is largely heralded for.

Apart from the Studio models (which I’ll talk about in a sec), everything Cole Clark makes is built in Australia, using a combination of traditional hand-building along with contemporary CNC cutting. Species of timber native to Australia provides the lion’s share of building materials, instantly making them a unique prospect on the market. The Cole Clark Studio models are built in both Australia and China, in a process that I’ll detail more fully soon.

Cole Clark actually have a number of notable features relative to the whole brand which helps them stand out. Let me tell you more…


What Makes Cole Clark Different?

I mentioned earlier that Cole Clark are an innovative brand, and that wasn’t me trying to sound fancy: there are some very interesting points to know here. Their whole ethos is quite singular: they are aimed specifically towards the gigging musician, and all of their R&D concerning bracing and pickup systems is aimed towards the notion of live performance. This manifests in the following ways:

  • Classical Spanish Heel Construction: as far as I know, no other steel string guitar maker offers this type of construction, where the neck is attached first to the guitar top (rather than the body with a dovetail join) and then to the sides and back. This is known as a ‘Spanish Heel’, since that’s how quality classical guitars are traditionally made. This allows for more resonance and a more effective transfer of sound energy.
  • Advanced technology: Cole Clark claim to make the best pickup system for live use, which they call the PG3. There are three elements to the PG3, which roughly all follow the principle of a PA system, which uses a sub (bass), speaker (mids) and a tweeter (treble/high end) to make the most of each part of a sound. The PG3 system uses under-saddle piezos (bass), a patented sensor (mids) and a condenser mic (top end) to create a blendable collection of sounds that together make for a superb amplified sound.
  • Use of Sustainably sourced woods: Cole Clark use native tonewoods that are in abundant supply, such as Bunya and Tasmanian Blackwood. These timbers sound great, look uniquely different and are responsibly sourced.
  • Genuinely different designs: if you’ve never seen a Hybrid thinline acoustic guitar with a strat pickguard and pickups, then you’ll not have seen what Cole Clark are doing over in Australia!

The Cole Clark Series: 1, 2 and 3

For the most part, Cole Clark guitars fall into three main series: the 1, 2 and 3 series. There is also the new for 2024 Studio AN Series, which I’ll check out just after I look at these main three series. Let me briefly detail what separates each:

  • 1 Series: The most affordable of these three series, with grade A timbers. They have the least amount of decoration (no purfling, binding or headstock fascia, for example) and the soundhole rosette is more simple. Cole Clark 1 Series guitars come supplied with a gig bag.
  • 2 Series: Upgraded AA timbers, available in a wider variety of species than the 1 series. These have more decorative elements, including binding, purfling on the top, a double ring soundhole rosette and the trademark headstock fascia. You also get abalone snowflake inlays, gold hardware and a hard case.
  • 3 Series: Top Quality AAA tonewoods and the highest offered level of decoration, which includes double binding, fretboard binding, complex purfling and abalone inlay work on the rosette and waist of the guitar as well as the fingerboard. Some timbers available to the 3 series are not available in the other ranges. Cole Clark 3 Series guitar come with a hard case too.

So that’s the majority of Cole Clark models in terms of the different Series available. I’ll go on to check out the body styles in a second, but first, let me explain the new Studio series…


Cole Clark Studio Grand Auditorium Series

The one series that is not entirely built in Melbourne is the Studio series. Made to be a more affordable option without cutting unnecessary corners, this series is still mostly made in Australia. It goes a little like this: 

  • The timbers (from Aussie timber suppliers) are cut and shaped in Melbourne. 
  • Once they are ready, they get shipped to China to be put together. 
  • After this, they are returned to Australia where elements like the saddle and the nut are precision cut and added to the body. 
  • A Plek setup is carried out and the guitars are then ready to ship.

This seems like a good compromise, particularly when the Chinese facility had been carefully chosen for its excellent build quality.



The Cole Clark Designs

Let’s now have a little look at the different body shapes that Cole Clark produce. They have their own names and codes, but they mostly relate to existing guitar bodies that you’ll be familiar with.



The Angel (AN in Cole Clark model name terminology) is probably Cole Clark’s most recognisable shape. It’s a Grand Auditorium body, with a relatively chunky body for good projection and a balanced tone.

Grand Auditorium guitars are generally a little smaller than a dreadnought, and offer a good platform for fingerpickers.


Fat Lady

The Fat Lady (FL) is Cole Clark’s take on the dreadnought. You’ll know this shape because it’s the most popular one in the world, but Cole Clark still manage to put their own spin on it with the unusual wood combos and distinctive headstock shape.

Dreadnoughts are so popular because they’re a great mix of volume, percussiveness and also subtlety: you get more ‘welly’ from a dreadnought than, say, a Grand Auditorium, but more definition than the likes of a jumbo.



The Mini (LL) is, as you’d no doubt guess, a smaller bodied guitar. The Cole Clark Mini still has good projection and volume, and that’s mainly due to the inner bracing & carving, along with the body shape allowing for a decent-sized chamber for resonance.

The scale length is slightly smaller, too (23.5”), in line with much of the industry’s practices in a post-GS Mini market! In every way, the Cole Clark Mini shares the same innovations and building practices as full-sized models.



Cole Clark’s Thinline (TL) guitars are perhaps the most interesting models they make. We’re talking about cutaway acoustics that are roughly Grand Auditorium in terms of the silhouette, but the bodies are shallower. Thinline models often have standard soundholes, but certain models have slash/f-hole type holes instead.

The Thinline range also encompasses the Hybrid models. These guitars are the ones that you’ll see with PAF-style humbuckers and sometimes even a full-on Strat style pickguard with pickups and a blade selector! (Some full-bodied Cole Clarks also get the cool humbucker treatment, so look out for those!)

It’s a pretty wild concept, but one well worth exploring if you’re of a more adventurous and ground-breaking temperament. The Hybrid models have two output jacks, so you can send the acoustic sounds to a PA or acoustic amp, and the electric guitar pickups to a guitar amp. One axe to rule them all? Try one and see for yourself!


Doing Things Differently

Cole Clark are not a run-of-the-mill guitar manufacturer. That’s one of the main things that interested us in the first place, along with their commitment to sustainable building and their ‘live guitar primarily’ mentality. It’s just a different way of doing things, and they are enjoying a lot of worldwide success with it. 

They aren’t D-45’s or Hummingbirds, and that is precisely the point: they are doing things differently. Why don’t you try one today and see what it does for your sound and your playing?

Click to View our Range of Cole Clark Guitars


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I'm a musician and artist originally from the South West coast of Scotland. I studied Visual Arts and Film Studies at...

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