Nick Jennison takes a look at the flagship model of the revamped G Series: the G280DX. Designed with the best possible playability and sonic performance in mind, the G280DX comprises of Alder body with Flame Maple top and Canadian hard Maple neck for a versatile sound that can be used for just about any style.
In the guitar world, codewords are part of the way we communicate. If you hear “Brit 800”, you know exactly which amplifier is being referred to. The same goes for “Cali 4x12”, “Green Screamer” and endless variations on “Centaur”. Likewise, “California Custom” has become less of a designation of origin and more of a codeword for a “genre” of guitars: sleek Strat-like designs with maple tops, maple (usually baked maple) necks, versatile pickup configurations and modern two-point tremolo.
While these guitars have historically been the preserve of high-end custom shops (hence the “custom”), recent years have seen a slew of these kinds of guitars at much more reasonable price points - no mean undertaking given the cost of the materials and work involved in producing such an instrument. That said, if there’s anyone that can bring custom shop building practices to the masses, it’s Cort. Their Korean, Chinese and Indonesian factories ghost-build guitars for some of the biggest names in the business, and the guitar lines they build under their own name are exceptionally high quality instruments - especially for the price!
The G280DX is just such a guitar. It boasts a Canadian hard maple neck, a flamed-maple-over-alder body, HSS pickup configuration and a very smooth 2-point tremolo. The neck is a very comfortable modern “C” with a compound fretboard radius: more rounded at the headstock end for comfy chord work, flattening out towards the body. This means the action can be set very low without bends choking out, which is definitely the case here. A slight criticism is the fret size - they’re pretty narrow, which is normal on this kind of guitar, but they’re also a little low for my liking. The truss rod wheel is a big plus though, making adjustments quick and simple in changing playing conditions. If I had my way, every guitar would have one of these!
The pickups strike a really nice balance between modern power and punch and vintage class - especially impressive on a notoriously tricky HSS configuration because of the different pot values each type of pickup likes to “see”. The bridge humbucker is throaty and full, while the the single coils chime and clang just as you’d hope.
The real fun starts when you engage the “direct output” switch. This little toggle bypasses the pickup selector, volume and tone controls and routes the bridge pickup straight to the output jack. The result is more output, more treble and a sharper transient “snap”. It also opens up a range of switching options. You can turn the volume control all the way down for “killswitch” type effects, or set the volume halfway down on the neck pickup to clean your amp up before engaging the direct output switch for crunchy bridge pickup tones.
The G280DX is great playing and looking guitar that boasts the same versatility and playability as the custom shop instruments that inspired it. If you’re looking for a guitar to “do it all” without breaking the bank, this might be the guitar for you!