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This article was originally published in issue #50
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There's no doubt that this new GB series means business. It has hardware a good class or two above what you'd expect for this sort of price and the sound is fabulous.
Great quality hardware
None at this price
Cort is pressing the industry's ‘big names’ ever harder as it breaks free of its former reputation as the maker of instruments sold with other peoples' names on the headstock. Electrics, basses, acoustics - we've seen a steady procession of top class products at excellent prices in the past few years. But can the new GB74 JJ bass keep the Cort flag waving? Dan Veall tried to find some flaws.
Cort's GB JJ basses are all new for 2017 and the company's aim with this series seems to be to offer traditionally styled instruments that, while they don't break a lot of design ground, get all the basics right at great prices. This is obvious from the moment you pick up the GB74 JJ and spot the official, lightweight Hipshot tuners - this is quality hardware. Then there's the big and chunky bridge, which is reminiscent of Leo Quan’s ‘bass guitar beast’ that has been used on countless mods. Cort reports that its bridge is machined from solid steel and I have to say looks bold, if but a little less curvy than other examples of high mass bridges that we’ve seen. Again, at the price point, I can't complain. For this sort of money you might have expected to find a cheap cast bridge and this is a cut above that, make no mistake!
The fretwork on our sample was really tidy. In fact I’ve played basses considerably higher in price that I felt were let down by the finish on the edge of the fretboard and which were inferior to this one's.
Again, the Cort scores on its woodwork. On this example, under that rather lovely ‘Aqua Blue’ stained finish is a swamp ash body which is light and as can be expected, resonant acoustically.
I’ve never been totally sure about having a clear pick guard on a guitar, but when you have a grain like this, it seems a shame not to show it off. You could of course argue that there’s no point having a pick guard at all, but for me personally, I prefer the benefits they bring.
Bolted on with a great ‘easy access’ joint is a Canadian hard rock maple neck with a maple fretboard. Again, Cort has gone for some really nice touches - I mentioned the fretwork earlier on this 22 fret example (yes, that high E is important to me ha ha!) but also the truss rod adjusted wheel! More of this please! No messing with removing pick guards, so easy to access and tidy too! Full marks here too, Cort.
All that said, a solid instrument is nothing if you can't hear it in a live setting, so turning our attention to the electronics, we have a pair of Cort ‘Voiced Tone’ pickups. I am inclined to agree with all that Cort say on its website about these. Through our reference rig, I have to say these Alnico ‘Jazz noiseless’ units offered a chiming clarity and good note definition with enough mids in the sound to give the bass its characteristic ‘Jazz’ sound. Interestingly, when I grabbed the electronics manual off of Cort’s website I was very interested to see that the EQ circuit on board is a Sandberg 2-band system according to the download. Either way, I have to say that again through a Bergantino B|Amp, all I wanted was a smidge of low end boost from this circuit and I was graced with the Jazz bass tone I really like. Clear with just a nice dollop of low end thump!
Controls for master volume, pickup balance and treble and bass make for quick adjustment and I am glad to see one single master volume here rather than a pair.
I think it’s pretty clear that I’m impressed with this bass. Is there anything I’d like to change? Well not really, though colour choices are limited, but certainly not boring. You can, if you want more options, select the GB74JH that features an MM style pickup in the bridge instead of the usual Jazz configuration. Then, just to mix things up even more, Cort delivers us another favour in the shape of a 5 string version, the GB75JJ, so maybe you'd rather have one of those? It has a very similar specification to the model we are reviewing here, but of course on 5 strings and yes, thankfully a 35” scale too and available in a wonderful honey hue to the ‘natural glossy’ finish according to the Cort website, if the Aqua Blue isn’t your thing.
There's no doubt that this new GB series means business. It has hardware a good class or two above what you'd expect for this sort of price and the sound is fabulous. As a hardworking bass for a player who wants that traditional image, it's hard to see how you could go wrong here. If Cort keeps this up, some of the big boys are really going to have to up their games.