Designed with simplicity in mind, Cort’s new Core Series acoustic guitars are focused on what truly makes acoustic guitars great. Tom Quayle reviews the Cort CORE-OC Spruce – an all-solid acoustic guitar, built with Cort’s world-class craftsmanship, that looks simple yet elegant with great playability and natural acoustic sound. The new Core Series is billed as delivering the performance and tone every player has envisioned in a great acoustic guitar, but just how good is it? Tom tells us more.
Over the last few years, most of the more budget-minded acoustic guitar manufacturers have begun producing affordable instruments with all solid wood construction. Using solid woods as opposed to laminate construction (especially for the all-important top) makes a huge difference to the quality of tone and sustain produced by an acoustic guitar but all too often leads to a significantly more expensive price point.
Cort’s Core-OC range of electro-acoustics aims to provide another all solid wood design to the market but with their panache for giving customers excellent value for money, something many players will value in the current financial climate.
The Core-OC Spruce is a handsome, modern-looking, cutaway acoustic constructed using solid mahogany back and sides, matched to a solid sitka spruce top. It’s not a flashy looking guitar, adorned with elaborate inlays or binding, but rather a simple and classy design finished in an open-pore trans-black stain for an unassuming but attractive aesthetic. Cort has paired the mahogany body with a mahogany neck and, unusually, an ovangkol fretboard and bridge - a more sustainable relative of rosewood more commonly seen on boutique metal guitars or high-end acoustic bodies, but very much at home on this OC-Spruce. This particular combination of woods is said to give a warm, and full midrange tone compared to rosewood and is very unusual for a guitar in this price range.
Little flourishes of detail add interest to the design with simple white purfling and black binding around the body and a beautiful, subtle abalone inlay on the headstock. Small fretboard dots and black die-cast tuners complete the design for a guitar that wouldn’t look out of place in the hands of a high-end fingerstylist or a campfire strummer.
Cort’s use of an open-pore finish allows the solid woods to resonate as freely as possible whilst offering some long term protection from sweaty performances and provides a much more comfortable playing experience overall than a sticky gloss alternative. This is an extremely friendly guitar to play all round, actually, thanks to the choice of body size and that generous cutaway, slightly rolled fretboard edges, great fretwork and a quality factory setup. The Core OC certainly gives a great first impression and is a guitar that will improve as it ages thanks to the all solid wood construction.
Tonally, the Core OC Spruce creates an equally great first impression with superb resonance and sustain and a rich, authoritative low end and dynamic range. As mentioned earlier, solid wood guitars always sound better in these regards, and the Core OC has a significantly richer tone than the other laminate top acoustic guitars that we checked out from Cort. The genuine bone nut and saddle offer great string vibration transfer for excellent projection and a quick attack that’s great for fingerstyle and plectrum work. It used to be that this kind of tone was out of the question at this price point, but these days Cort are one of many manufacturers producing such high quality builds at affordable prices. It’s a great time to be shopping for an acoustic.
Equally great is the choice of a Fishman Sonicore pickup and Sonitone preamp system. We’re big fans of this setup here at GI due to the excellent tone and hidden nature of the design. Rather than cutting a big hole in the side of the guitar and inserting an ugly preamp box, the Sonitone design is hidden inside the upper part of the sound hole with a simple volume and tone control layout for easy tonal shaping. This prevents any detrimental reduction in resonance and sustain but does sacrifice an inbuilt tuner - a problem easily solved with a headstock tuner or an outboard pedal solution.
Cort certainly has a great product on their hands with the Core OC range - to be able to get such great tone, construction and playability for such an affordable price is fantastic and, whilst they’re not the only company to achieve such a goal in 2021, they are absolutely worth a look if you’ve never considered them before. You’ll be surprised at just how much acoustic guitar you can get for your money these days.
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