Gi73....The Bassment....Cort Artisan A4 Ultra Bass
Cort Artisan A4 Ultra Bass
MSRP (UK) £1149 (US) $TBC
Vintage / Modern 6
Specialised / Versatile 6
Warm / Bright 5
Affordable / High end 3
For fans of:
World-class materials, natural aesthetic, panga panga
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Utilising the new approach of adding ash top on a mahogany body ensuring a great balance of full and punchy sounding lows and bright yet clear and transparent highs, not to mention ash's beautiful wood grain for more a natural aesthetic. Dan Veall reviews an instrument designed with serious bassists in mind: Cort's Artisan A4 Ultra Bass
Once again, Cort delivers us a pair of quality instruments that compete with their market counterparts; modern appointments and an overall solid tone throughout making these a must-try-out for your shopping list.
In this review, I am looking at the A4 Ultra model, one of the more premium offerings in the Artisan range from Cort.
I am pleased to see that Cort refreshes their ranges periodically, not just with name changes but at times entire instrument facelifts as you'll see in this model.
The A4 Ultra's neck-through design is a five-piece laminate of Maple and Panga Panga: a little reading up in the past I discovered that the latter less known wood type is well suited physically and tonally and is said to be similar to Wenge. I've used Maple and Wenge as laminate choices in my own custom basses as it happens.
The striking look of the "sandblasted" Ash top is framed nicely by the mahogany body wings as you turn the bass over to reveal the darker wood and there's a pin-stripe to accent the transition, further adding to the overall sense of quality. It's a nice touch to have the grain contrasting to make it really 'pop'. But no stopping short here, the headstock gets a matching facing too.
Whilst we have the bass flipped over, the neck-through is a super comfortable transition in to the body, the Artisan's shape has always reminded me of one of my favourites which is probably why I love all those deep curves (also a bonus not having angular upper horns digging in to your rib cage night after night on stage!)
The balance of every Artisan I have reviewed has always been particularly good. You'll see in my video that letting go of the bass demonstrates it sitting, very well behaved on my leg. Of course this is due to a well designed instrument; the downsized headstock and super light weight quality Hipshot brand tuning keys.
Of course that's very welcome as is the standard 34" scale length, which I would imagine wouldn't feel too much of a stretch given the highly sculpted body offering a downsized feel.
Let's move on to the electronics where this particular configuration shines. On board the Cort A4 Ultra are a pair of Fishman Fluence Bass Soap bar pickups. These are very interesting as they are a little different to what we would call a "standard passive pickup" design. Without going into too much detail due to space, they do a superb job of being able to shape shift their tonal flavours and they "felt" good to play too. The switch from a passive to an active tone and back on these is in fact rather pleasing!
I will make a quick apology that whilst shooting this "lockdown" version of my usual reviews, I missed demonstrating the "single coil tone" option available by pulling up the switch on the volume control. I can tell you though it makes for a distinct tonal transition when engaged. Apologies!
At the time of writing, this review is my first to use Guitar Interactive's new system for summing up. Whether you rate your instruments on how they sound or how they look, I hope that I can confuse your choices more with this particular instrument whose multi-timbral pickup voicing and stylish looks will see it in a wide range of music styles.
The A4 Ultra fits the "modern" mould given it's specification but don't rule it out if you're looking for some old-school vibes. Flick the three way switch to "passive tone" and you'll be right in that pocket. It's a versatile instrument that is for sure.
For fans of: On this particular occasion I'm going to find it easier to list those that won't find a home for it in a particular setting! The A4 Ultra is a good choice for a wide range of genres and styles, you'll love the modern tones at the flick of a switch, but something a bit warmer should you need to go vintage in position 1.