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This article was originally published in issue #31
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Centred in South Korea, Cort is one of the largest guitar makers in the world and doesn't just sell guitars under its own name - in fact it has long produced instruments for many other companies as well. With such production facilities it has huge advantages of scale which means its own guitars can offer really great value. We've had a few Cort acoustics here in the Quiet Room and have always been pleasantly surprised with their build quality and sound. In this review we're taking a look at the SFX-CED-NS, bit of a mouthful, but let's see what it has to offer. As always be sure to check out the video to hear it for yourself.
First impressions are that this is a good looking acoustic, the NS standing for Natural Satin, a cool dark finish on the headstock and matching tuners. The finish throughout was great, there were no seeping glue, blemishes, or sharp fret edges, the die cast tuners are of good quality, smooth and adjustable should they start to come loose over time. So far so good! Now how does it handle?
The Cort's maple neck with its rosewood fingerboard was a pleasure to play, a comfortable size making barre chords and harder stretches a breeze, mainly thanks to its modern V-shape. 20 frets and a generous cutaway make the upper end fairly accessible, the set-up on our sample was spot on with a perfect action that made it easy to play, but didn’t sacrifice tone and sound quality, there were no issues with fret buzz anywhere on the board. The dovetail neck joint was well constructed and didn’t hinder fretboard access as much as some fixed joints can.
What impressed us most about the Cort SFX was the construction, given the price range it sits in. This model has a solid cedar top with solid mahogany back and sides, as well as a slightly arched back to give full sound projection. Both cedar and mahogany tend to bring out the bottom end on the tone spectrum, which gives a very warm sounding guitar. Some feel this combination possibly lacks a little top end sparkle, but it comes down to personal taste. However if this is your sort of sound, this is high quality wood Cort has used in this guitar, so you certainly won’t be disappointed and being all-solid, it should mature well. The rosewood bridge, scalloped X-Bracing, premium abalone rosette, abalone inlay, and ivory binding also add to the overall high quality of this guitar.
One thing you might want to bear in mind is that cedar is quite a soft wood, so it may well dent and scratch more easily than some other types, but then people pay a lot of money these days for that vintage worn look!
Soundwise, although a fairly small sized acoustic, thanks to the wood choice and arched back it didn’t lack too much on the volume front, and depending on how you play it, it is also a very dynamic instrument, comfortable in many different acoustic styles.
As well as good quality wood you are also getting an electro-acoustic, which is good at this price. The electrics some courtesy of the familiar Fishman Isys Plus with Sonicore pickup, that also provides a built in tuner. The system worked well on this guitar - in fact it brought out some of that missing top end. It's not the best acoustic pickup in the world, but for the price of guitar it's hard to fault, and the built-in tuner works perfectly.
The acoustic market is saturated these days, especially in the “lower” price bracket, so it's hard for manufacturers to produce an instrument that really stands out from the crowd, but the Cort SFX-CED-NS certainly manages to, not only for its looks, but for the high-end finish and attention to detail throughout. The acoustic tone is also top notch, thanks to the high quality wood used and great set-up. The pickup may not be the greatest but the basic tone is there in spades so if you wish to upgrade the electrics in the future then you will only further enhance this guitar, I think this Cort would sound awesome miked-up through a decent PA, as is my preferred way to mic an acoustic anyway. A top electro-acoustic all round, well worth checking out!