Cort is one of the foremost Asian instrument manufacturers, responsible for products bearing many well-known brand names. The company's own catalogue is equally comprehensive, with electrics catering for price points from entry level upwards. Among the recent six-string additions is the Indonesian-built Yorktown-BV, which incorporates Gretsch design influences and a cosmetic approach long associated with the famous US maker.
"As its suffix suggests, this variation of the Yorktown six- string adds a Bigsby vibrato"
As its suffix suggests, this variation of the Yorktown six- string adds a Bigsby vibrato, but loses the standard's gold-plated metalwork. The BV's twin humbuckers and controls are obviously a Gibson nod, but overall appearances impart a strong Gretsch-like image.
Cort's headstock is slim and quite elegant, while the black face carries a simple inlay. The tuners are Gibson-style Kluson copies with plastic 'thistle' buttons, while the NuBone nut from Graph Tech is cut for minimal action and equidistant string spacing.
It heads a sleek- feeling rosewood fingerboard boasting a gentle radius with block position markers. The 20 frets are on the slim side, neatly installed and quite smoothly finished, although some sharp ends are apparent where they overlap the 'board binding.
The glued-in maple neck adopts a comfortably proportioned C profile and joins the body at the 14th fret, so fingering the upper end half-dozen demands quite a stretch.
Equipped with twin f-holes, the single-cutaway, all-acoustic body is smaller than some archtops. The Trans Orange finish very obviously hints at the Gretsch influence and reveals the timber choice, a spruce top allied to maple sides and back - laminated, of course.
The gold plastic pickguard is a nod in Gretsch's direction, but pickup selection is decidedly Gibson-esque: a brace of Cort's Classic Rocker-II humbuckers mounted in high-sided black plastic surrounds. The matt finish metal covers look very vintage, although they contradict the brighter nickel-plating employed elsewhere.
Circuitry is similarly Gibson-esque, with volume and tone pots per pickup partnered by a three-way toggle-type selector. This is sited on the upper bass-side shoulder and sits in a rubber ring to help eliminate microphonic clunks.
The six-saddle bridge is a Gibson tune-o-matic-type, but is mounted on a free-standing wooden base. It's partnered by a licensed Bigsby B60 vibrato tailpiece that can add shimmer to chords. As supplied, tuning stability is reasonable under restrained use, but the sharp-topped saddles and sideways string-pull at the nut conspire against consistent pitch return.
"Plugging in reveals that the pickups owe a definite debt to Gibson, rather than Gretsch"
Acoustic response is usefully loud, with a lower-mid-dominated tonality. Plugging in reveals that the pickups owe a definite debt to Gibson, rather than Gretsch. Performance is powerful but tone is well- balanced, with the neck humbucker providing plummy lows plus a smooth treble response.
Switching to the bridge 'bucker adds a sharper edge and increased midrange response, but the sound is far from over-bright or brash. Selecting both pickups introduces some nasal-tinged twang and chime - the most Gretsch-sounding option.
Clean sounds are naturally the Yorkville-BV's strong suit, but adding a degree or two of dirt makes it a bit meaner in a gritty, bluesier way. However, levels need to be watched, as the airy body ensures that feedback is quite easily invoked. The pots provide usefully smooth swells for both volume and tone, while noiseless switching confirms that rubber ring is doing its job.
The Yorktown-BV is obviously intended to appeal to Gretsch fans, but performance-wise this archtop owes much more to Gibson. Although that's not necessarily a drawback, it's somewhat contradictory and could disappoint if you pick it expecting it to do the Brian Setzer thing. That said, build quality is well up to scratch, and this model offers more character and originality than many traditionally conservative competitors.