||Download Example 1
Both pickups, ran through a Fryette S.A.S. overdrive pedal
||Download Example 2
Neck pickup on both guitar parts (tone rolled back on lead)
|Clips recorded using Fender Pro Junior amp, Planet Waves Custom Pro cables, and Apogee Duet into GarageBand
When the Australian team of guitar industry veterans Adam Cole and Brad Clark founded Cole Clark, in 2001, one of their primary motivations was to make modern interpretations of classic acoustic instruments using timbers indigenous to their country. A decade later the Cole Clark line has grown to include not just steel-strings favored by the likes of Jack Johnson and Ben Harper, but also solidbody, hollowbody, and lap steel electrics that, while rooted in traditional designs, have a style all their own. For this review we checked out the Hollow Baby, a semi-hollow that beneath its familiar Strat-type shape hides a host of cool design attributes that expand the sonic versatility of this guitar.
Carved Halves, Greater Whole
Cole Clark’s construction, while not unprecedented, is an uncommon approach. The body on our review model is made from bunya—an Australian pine comparable to spruce but said to be slightly stronger (it’s also available in Queensland maple.) Whereas a typical semi-hollowbody, say a Gibson ES, is built from separate parts—laminated maple rims, top, and back, and a solid hunk of maple running through the middle—the Hollow Baby begins life as a solid hunk of wood that is cut in half, chambered, given a bass-side f-hole, and glued back together.
Made from quarter-sawn maple and capped with a slab of rosewood, the bolt-on neck on our review model is more traditional in construction. (Blackwood and maple fretboards are also available.) On the headstock, a curlicue carve looks like a nod to the pioneering designs of guitar pioneer Paul Bigsby. The neck also features an easy-to-access truss rod adjuster.
The Hollow Baby is outfitted with choice components: vintage-style six-in-line Grover nickel tuners, a Graph Tech nut, medium-jumbo Dunlop frets, and a proprietary two-point tremolo system, which offers more stability than a vintage six-screw configuration and incorporates a solid-steel sustain block and a push-in arm.
The Hollow Baby is available with a choice of fine single-coil pickups: a trio of Seymour Duncan Vintage Flat SSL-2s, Cole Clark Ultrasounds, Kinman Zero Hums, or a pair of Kinman P-90 Hxs like the pickups in our review guitar. The electronic components are made by CTS, Switchcraft, and OAK, and include a traditional three-way switch along with a master volume and tone control, connected with vintage-style cloth-covered wir-ing.
Overall, our Hollow Baby is well built and handsome. The fretwork is impeccable, the nut and saddles are tidily cut, and the neck sits snuggly in its pocket. More time could have been spent, though, sanding the f-hole and smoothing out the pickguard’s edges. While the sunburst finish is attractively colored and flawlessly applied, the nitrocellulose satin finish (standard across all of Cole Clark's guitars) feels a little cheap—especially given the care given elsewhere on the guitar. It's a personal preference, but I would liked to see it offered in gloss. On this model the crème pickup covers clash with the white pickguard. But all things considered, it’s a nicely done guitar.