The Genesis of the Technology

Notes from the Cole Clark Design & Production Studio

Bradley Clark's late business partner, and close friend, John Steward, developed 'DID' 'Direct Inject Drums' in the late eighties. The goal was to defeat spill/ crosstalk enhance the ease of the multi track recording of drums and to simultaneously provide a trigger. Patent Number 5,134,1920

The Story

Clark was employed by Maton in 1990 Credited with the vast improvements in production within that organisation between the early 90s and 2001 Positions: Factory Manager then CEO. Responsible for that company producing AP4, AP5 and APMic preamps systems. Prior to Clark's management/ input the company outsourced preamps.

Also responsible for re-jigging all aspects of production, including the introduction of CNC router or milling machines (Computer Numeric Control) CAD, (Computer Aided Drafting) and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacture). Increased that company's production and productivity: 15 production staff in the early 90s producing around 1000 pieces per year to 40 to 45 production staff producing over 5000 pieces per year by the late 90s

Patents held on Maton's behalf: A headstock join patent/ lapsed.

In around 1998, Clark noted while perusing the 'Wood in Australia' by Keith Bootle, what he considered, the suitable characteristics of Bunya Pine or Araucaria bidwillii for the sound board of an acoustic guitar: light weighted, strength that is good modulus of elasticity, and relatively soft or low Janka. This characteristic is associated with 'the roll of top end frequencies'.

Bunya is around 18% stronger than Spruce, the frequent traditional choice.

King William Pine, Athrotaxis selaginoides, a species indigenous to Tasmania had been trialled as 'a substitute' for Spruce, and yet it was considered by Clark to be too weak, the sound too 'mellow' or even 'dead', in Clark's view, a reflexion of the timbers lack of strength.

Different from Spruce, Bunya is relatively quick growing while maintaining its strength and there is a reasonable plantation resource in Southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. Bunya has environmental advantages.

Clark has interest in timber, timber resources, plantation and reafforestation. He points out that timber is still the most 'energy efficient' and therefore environmentally friendly building material.

Blackwood, Acacia Melanoxylon, is another favoured guitar making species. 'If more farmers and government instrumentalities would plant, or leave Blackwood grow along runoffs and water courses, our streams and our land would be in better condition. It is also a good financial investment. We intend to prove this by building guitars, adding value. Reafforestation and plantations often exclude Blackwood and other species which maybe considered 'less commercial' in favour of a 'monoculture' approach: this is likely to be short-sighted. Unless something is suitable for mass production, it can be marginalised. This is in opposition to bio diversity.

In many areas of Tasmania selective logging of old growth is considered not environmentally sound. And yet vast areas of clear felling, where habit and species are completely removed, have been tolerated. I would have advised a more balance consideration.

It makes good environmental sense to produce things from timber, to grow more trees.

Any maker must have respect for and a love of trees.'

It should be pointed out that Maton were experiencing some business difficulties in the early 90s and that an owner requested the assistance of Bradley Clark. Clark acceded to the request and went on to manage the factory.

However Clark was asked to leave Maton in mid 2001.

Clark has expressed his disappointment of the manner of the requests given his obvious and recognised substantial contribution over an eleven year period, but notes: 'such is the danger of a professional appointment, especially true of a family owned business'.

Cole Clark was initiated at the end of 2001. Clark points out that he did not consider instigating such a difficult enterprise until it was clear that his tenure at Maton was over.

Cole Clark's brief was to allow CNC, CAD and CAM technologies to more influence the product and production design.

The unprecedented accuracies achievable were to provide better assembly, better joins and it was expected that better fitment would also enhance the acoustic performance of the instruments.

The CNC milling machines would create/ mill much of the assembly jigging as well as the components producing a more integrated approach. While virtually all companies use similar technology, Clark observed that while components were made more accurately, that accuracy had not as significantly as possible contributed to fitment and sound.

Clark is an admirer of the more traditional Spanish classical approach to guitar making where the neck is a part of the construction rather than fitted to a pre-built body.

The question was asked: Why segment to rejoin such a key component?

The headstock join too was to some degree influence by Spanish and classical makers, and yet produced on CNC routing machines. Both are well proven methods, from the point of stability, strength as well with regards to acoustic performance.

It could be said the Cole Clark's design is an amalgam of classical making and highly accurate 5-axis CNC routing.

Clark describes the logic controller and the 5-axis movement of the relevant machine as 'close to complete creative and production freedom… anything you can draw, you can mill, and watch it appear… you have to love that!'

The method of construction, jigging is however new and novel and was patented: US May 23, 2006. Patent Number: 10/554,977

What is pointed out is that there are many aspects of the guitars which are substantially conservative.

It is clear that most players prefer to purchase acoustic guitars comprising acoustic pickups, and that the underbridge systems generally associated with the amplification of acoustic guitars are often considered inadequate.

By using 'DID' (a former invention and the subject of a patent) applied to the face and sometimes back of the acoustic guitar, the instrument's acoustic performance is better monitored.

In order to avoid acoustic feedback, prone to feedback frequencies, that is below 350Hz, are taken from a bridge saddle piezo set. Higher frequencies can be taken from the sensor on the face, or from the bridge saddle assembly, or a blend of the two can be created.

This concept is new and novel and is also the subject of a patent: PCT/Au 2044/000858 April 22, 2005. Bradley Clark.

In order to capture more of the performance of the soundboard a long sensor was applied to be the brace and the sensor simultaneously. This obvious step to increase the monitoring of the instrument's soundboard as unobtrusively as possible is referred to as the 'Face Brace Sensor'.

The concept is Patent Pending/ Provisional: 2005904741 January 31, 2006/ Bradley Clark

Cole Clark has amalgamated the sensors into the construction of the instrument: This integration reflects the importance of the amplification of acoustic guitars and the evolution of playing styles. Clark notes that it is also consistent with 'the player's desire to hear the timber and that many contemporary styles have evolved around the amplified sound'.

Cole Clark's ultimate and simple 'marketing goal' for their acoustic guitar range is to provide professional quality acoustic and amplified performance at affordable prices.

Clark notes: 'Like many, I tire of marketing bullshit'. 'I like the Subaru model. At one time Japanese cars did not achieve respect, and so they produced products like Subaru, where its obvious performance was its marketing.'

'You can be employed doing less noble less productive things, and in many instances we have achieved advantages by inventive step'.

'It is probably a credulous goal, and yet I would like to see more people playing together, exploring their creativity, their music, living their own lives rather than sitting tacit in front to the TV experiencing the creativity of others. We are attempting to make the right quality available.'

'Rather than worshiping music idols, be your own… I have met many of your idols, I can assure you that many are not worthy of your accolade. And after all, most of the greatest songs are written around a few chords… I have a great reverence for simplicity, good production and trees'.