Cort Clas­sic CT

WHEN ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST EX­PE­RI­ENCED MAIN­STREAM GUI­TAR MAK­ERS TEAMS UP WITH ONE OF THE FINEST CUS­TOM LUTHIERS, COOL STUFF IS BOUND TO HAP­PEN. WORDS BY

Australian Guitar - - Contents - PETER HODG­SON.

The case of Cort Gui­tars is a very in­ter­est­ing one. Over the years, the com­pany has made gui­tars not just for their own brand, but also as an OEM sup­plier plenty of other big names such as Ibanez, G&L and Squier.

Their Park­wood line of acous­tics was even­tu­ally spun off into its own brand, and more re­cently, the com­pany has part­nered with luthier Hugh Man­son of Man­son Gui­tar Works, per­haps most fa­mously known for the in­stru­ments he has crafted for Muse’s Matt Bel­lamy and Led Zep­pelin’s John Paul Jones.

Cort has never re­ally tried to es­tab­lish any one shape as its de­fin­i­tive model, but since Man­son came on board with the Matt Bel­lamy se­ries a few years ago, Man­son’s vaguely Tele-ish out­line has be­come a lit­tle more closely as­so­ci­ated with Cort. They’ve now part­nered on a new line in the form of the Clas­sic TC and the M-Jet, which are not ex­actly re-spec’d Bel­lamy mod­els – the out­lines look a lit­tle more squeezed and rounded than the gui­tars in that se­ries – but are still quite clearly Man­son-de­rived. While the M-Jet is de­signed with high-out­put pick­ups for heav­ier styles, the model on re­view here is the Clas­sic TC, which is avail­able in Scotch Blonde Nat­u­ral and Ice Blue Me­tal­lic fin­ishes.

CORT ON THE RUN

The Clas­sic TC is de­signed from the ground up by Man­son and his team in the UK, and it screams “cus­tom gui­tar” with a se­ries of very dis­tinc­tive de­sign tweaks. Man­son him­self worked on the body styling, with a spe­cially sculpted tummy cut on the back of the gui­tar which is de­signed for max­i­mum com­fort, while also min­imis­ing the amount of wood re­moved. Ditto for the fore­arm con­tour, which isn’t as steep as on some gui­tars, but is more care­fully an­gled.

The con­trol plate and hard­ware aren’t your stan­dard off-the-shelf Tele type; there’s a three-way blade switch in­be­tween the vol­ume and tone pots, and Man­son even spec­i­fied the ex­act travel dis­tance of the switch. A sim­i­lar level of at­ten­tion was paid to the bridge sad­dles, which might look pretty stan­dard from a glance, un­til you get up close and no­tice how finely they guide the break an­gle of the string to elim­i­nate ex­tra­ne­ous noises and en­hance in­to­na­tion ac­cu­racy and height ad­just­ment.

Th­ese aren’t just any stock stan­dard OEM pick­ups, ei­ther: Man­son de­signed and voiced them with the goal of mak­ing sure they go be­yond the stan­dard Tele sound you may ex­pect, push­ing things into a lit­tle more of a mod­ern di­rec­tion with the un­der­stand­ing that play­ers who buy this gui­tar will most likely spend as much time run­ning through over­drive or fuzz as they will through a pris­tine clean setup.

The other ma­jor tweak here, com­pared to stan­dard de­signs, is a spoke nut hotrod truss rod which is ad­justed at the body end of the neck. It’s sim­i­lar to the method those at Ernie Ball Mu­sic Man em­ploy.

The body is made of ash with a Cana­dian hard maple neck and a rose­wood or ja­toba fin­ger­board, with a com­pound ra­dius that goes from a slightly curved 12-inches at the first fret to a no­tice­ably more shred-friendly 15.75-inches at the 22nd fret. The scale length is your stan­dard 25.5-inches, and the fin­ger­board in­lays are simple dots.

THE HAUNTED MAN­SON

True to Man­son’s in­ten­sions, the Clas­sic TC sounds a hair more mod­ern than a tra­di­tional Tele­caster; the pick­ups feel a lit­tle higher-pow­ered and more con­trolled in the tre­ble range. The mid­dle pickup se­lec­tor set­ting is par­tic­u­larly fun, with a per­fectly bal­anced mix of neck-pickup smok­i­ness and bridge-pickup spank.

The neck pickup sounds a lit­tle dark by it­self, which is com­mon for Tele-style pick­ups, and is maybe bet­ter suited to clean and semi-dirty tones rather than a re­ally in-your-face noodly neck pickup. You can get a bit of that bluesy edge by dig­ging re­ally hard with the pick, too.

But the bridge pickup is the real star here. It’s ex­tremely re­ac­tive to your pick­ing and phras­ing choices, in that “I’m a ses­sion player for Steely Dan” kind of way. And the tone con­trol is re­ally ef­fec­tive and mu­si­cal.

The neck is also ridicu­lously fast. Tra­di­tional Tele­cast­ers can be some­what pun­ish­ing for play­ers who are used to more mod­ern gui­tars, but the Clas­sic TC re­ally takes care of that with the com­pound ra­dius and su­perbly fin­ished frets. And again, in keep­ing with Man­son’s de­sign re­quire­ments, the fore­arm con­tour and tummy cut are very com­fort­able.

It’s also a nicely bal­anced gui­tar to play sit­ting down or stand­ing up. In fact, it’s al­most like the fore­arm con­tour and tre­ble-side cut­away are in­ten­tion­ally de­signed to re­move spe­cific ar­eas of drag, so that the lower bout can gen­tly weigh the gui­tar down into a more er­gonomic and nat­u­ral po­si­tion.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

Al­though a lot of play­ers tend to think of Cort as a bud­get brand, their as­so­ci­a­tion with Man­son seems to have lifted their pro­file and mar­ket per­cep­tion.

This is a very ver­sa­tile in­stru­ment that’s very much suited to ad­vanced play­ers as well as those on a bud­get. And while it’s priced well above the typ­i­cal beginner’s en­try point, it would be a heck of a gui­tar for those will­ing to splash a lit­tle ex­tra cash for their first elec­tric.

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