Timbers Used

Timber grading |  Which timber is better |  Bunya Vs. Spruce |  The Cole Clark range


Timber Grading

The grading of Spruce and the relative merits of different timbers confuse many, so this has become a frequently asked question. It's a difficult one to answer - timber is naturally individual as every tree is unique, so choices can be subjective.

Close grain Spruce features 18 to 20 growth rings (or years) per inch, with limited runout – this means that the grain runs parallel with the soundboard when viewed from the soundboard's side. Minimising fibre runout enhances strength.

AAA grading relates to the appearance of the timber, and can indicate timber that is light and even in colour and clear of sap pockets or other blemishes. However, this does not mean that an instrument constructed with this grading of timber will sound superior to one that is not.

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Which Timber Is Better?

Rosewood, Ebony and AAA Spruce are more expensive for the simple reason they are more expensive for guitar makers to purchase. Does this mean they are better? Not necessarily.

Each timber or combination possesses its own sound signature, like an individual voice. This does not make one better than the other, simply different. A guitar's sound reflects several factors – the construction, the woods, the instrument's set up or action, the finish (including the age) and then the player and environment.
Some are accustomed to traditional wood choices simply through force of habit and so they have become the preferred option. Others rely more on playing, listening, comparing the characteristics of different timbers. This is the approach recommended by Cole Clark.

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Bunya vs. Spruce

Bunya is almost as light in weight as Spruce, is generally a little stronger, is more even in growth and possesses a similar janka (crush, or hardness when subjected to impact). The sound of Bunya reflects these characteristics. Soundboard timbers yellow with age and Bunya typically features more colour variation than Spruce, including darker areas. It is worth noting that soft timbers are generally chosen for soundboards, for reasons of top end roll-off or response. If you are considering a mellow sounding instrument, wider grain may be the considered choice and colour or defect may well be irrelevant. In many instances where customers have not already been brainwashed by the standard Spruce marketing, they will choose Bunya on tone and appearance.

A good Spruce guitar is naturally a worthy choice, though Bunya also has environmental advantages. Spruce grows slowly in the northern hemisphere and can take several hundred years to reach a sufficient size to be used in the construction of a guitar's soundboard. Bunya takes only sixty to eighty years and is indigenous to Australia. It grows well all year in plantations in southern Queensland, making it an environmentally friendly choice.

When you consider all these positive attributes, Bunya may well figure strongly in the future of guitar making and so Cole Clark promotes the timber.

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The Cole Clark Range

One of Cole Clark's aims is to dispel some of the industry's marketing bullshit (pardon the expletive, but for those who do not appreciate our candour perhaps other brands would be more suitable).

We make simple, solid timber instruments with high quality, practical amplification. Providing professional quality at affordable prices is our mission. We avoid the A, AA and AAA grading system, unless our customers request this traditional choice.

We avoid plywood, as it does not achieve as good as acoustic performance as solid timber in our view.

Also avoided are artificial price points and ranges aimed at increasing market share: We have chosen to use our technological advantage to provide an all-solid timber range; this is our 'marketing'.

Our ranges are simply visual upgrades; each model being better dressed than the previous one.
With the utmost respect we refer to them as 'ladies'.

Cole Clark demonstrates that environmentally friendly instruments can be created without foregoing quality. Cole Clark guitars are now used by some of the world's best players. Cole Clark CEO Brad Clark also has one.

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