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This article was originally published in issue #51
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Cort has knocked it out of the park with this guitar. All the care and attention in the design process has obviously paid dividends in the finished product, and Cort’s manufacturing powerhouse enables them to keep the cost surprisingly low.
Well balanced tone
Loud and resonant with loads of projection
Comfortable playing feel
Competitive price point
No piezo/mic option.
In the Gold series, Cort has set out to design a guitar for the player who is seeking a great instrument where each detail has been carefully considered, but without the unattainable price. Nick Jennison looks to find out if they have succeeded.
You’ve probably played more Cort guitars than you realise. As an OEM manufacturer for some bigger brands, the Cort factories in Korea, China and Indonesia build great guitars of all shapes, sizes, styles and price points. In light of the sheer quantity of guitars they've made, Cort’s claim that the new Gold series is the best acoustics they’ve ever built is a bold statement, but you know what? They might be right…
To put it crudely, an acoustic guitar is a big vibrating box with strings on it - the more the strings can vibrate the box, the better the guitar sounds. A gross oversimplification, but you get the idea. What Cort have done when designing this guitar is to look for things that interfere with the transference of vibration, and eliminated them.
Let’s start with the top; arguably the most important element in the tone of any acoustic guitar. It’s solid - not laminate - sitka spruce, which is pretty much the gold standard (pardon the pun) for acoustic guitar tops. That’s not all, though. It’s been treated to a process that Cort is calling ATV (Aged To Vintage). Naturally, they’re a little secretive on the actual process, but torrefaction is certainly a big part of it. Torrefaction, dear reader, is basically scorching the wood at between 200 and 320 °C in an airless environment to get all the excess water out. The end result is drier, lighter and ultimately more resonant.
Next up we have the bracing pattern, which Cort describe as “aggressively scalloped”. What this means is that the internal bracing that keeps the top from collapsing under the pressure of the strings is carved away in strategic places to ensure the top can vibrate as freely as possible.
After going to all the trouble of torrefying the wood and completely redesigning the bracing, covering the whole thing in a thick lacquer would be counterproductive. To that end, Cort uses a super thin finish to completely minimise the dampening effect while still protecting the wood from the rigours of playing.
Next up, it’s the neck. Made of solid mahogany with two rosewood inserts for stability, attached to the solid mahogany (again, not laminate) back and sides by a traditional dovetail joint and a bolt for good measure. The neck feels comfortable, not too chunky, and the thin UV finish is smooth and pleasant under the thumb. There’s also a bone nut and saddle, to help transfer the vibrations from the strings into the guitar with maximum efficiency.
Whew! That’s a lot of stuff to take in. Of course, the big question is how does it sound? Very good, as it happens! Strumming is loud and full bodied with the kind of mid-forward quality typical mahogany-backed guitars. Fingerpicking (even for a dirty electric player with no nails like myself) is responsive and even despite the size of the guitar, although I can’t help feeling that the smaller OM model would be more suited to this application. Flatpicking with a thicker pick is dynamic, with a nice bark when digging in and percussive players will love the variety of tones available.
Cort has knocked it out of the park with this guitar. All the care and attention in the design process has obviously paid dividends in the finished product, and Cort’s manufacturing powerhouse enables them to keep the cost surprisingly low. Yes, the name on the headstock might elicit glances from brand snobs, but the tone and projection are sure to silence their criticisms pretty quickly.