Cort has been a very big name in guitar manufacturing for many years, supplying instruments under contract to a wide range of brands.
Since 1982, the company has also been producing guitars under its own name, quickly establishing a reputation for quality and value for money among those in the know. When Hugh Manson was looking for a factory to build the award-winning MBC-1 Matthew Bellamy Signature, that's exactly where he went.
Our review instrument forms part of Cort's Chinese-made Hollow Body series. The Bigsby vibrato has always been a popular choice for this type of guitar, but seems particularly in vogue at the moment. The 'B60' licensed version used here gives a classic look and performance we'd expect. The medium/slim maple 'C' shape neck is glued in at the body end with a dovetail joint.
Looking up towards the headstock, the popular and durable scarf joint construction is just visible through the semi-translucent finish behind the 2nd/3rd frets. Speaking of frets, these are of the medium (as opposed to jumbo) variety, 20 of them set into a dark rosewood 'board, with a 629mm (24.75-inch) scale length.
This classic influence also extends to the finish. The Tobacco Sunburst Yorktown shows superb attention to detail – everything from the fretboard block inlays to the neck and body binding are about as good as it gets. The volume and tone controls sit where you would expect from this school of design, as do the toggle pickup selectors. The Yorktown also features a rubber mount to keep switching noise to a minimum.
Feel and sounds
Strapping on the Yorktown, its light weight and balance feels like a very good sign. The neck has a comfortable C profile and well-fitted/dressed frets. Though this isn't really a guitar designed with string bending and vibrato in mind, it does suffer slightly from the same slightly abrasive frets as the Source.
That aside, a quick strum before plugging in reveals a very sweet, thick tone, possibly further enhanced by the laminated spruce top and completely hollow construction: no centre block here.
We're surprised to see brushed metal pickup covers in place of the more traditional nickel, but the first impression is of a well-crafted instrument with quality hardware.
It seems the obvious thing to do is to select the neck humbucker and plug into the Blues DeVille with a clean tone and a splash of reverb. The results are stunning: fat single-note lines and balanced chords really deliver what the name and design hint at.
After quite some time, we get around to trying out the other pickup selections and controls. With both pickups selected, there is a little more twang, as you would expect. The Classic Rocker Alnico II pickups are not really designed with this in mind, but a tweak of the treble control brings enough of this characteristic to the fore to make shimmering chords with the Bigsby quite enjoyable.
The bridge humbucker offers enough power to drive the amp, perhaps a little hotter than vintage, but not so much as say, a Duncan JB. Though it has a beautiful clean voice, it does become mushy very quickly under drive. This is hardly a surprise, given the hollowbody design and those pickups.
The lively resonance of a hollowbody like this at volume is tricky to control, but can be very rewarding. Tuning, courtesy of the same vintage-style tuners as the recently-reviewed Source, remains stable throughout our time with the Yorktown, but we did notice the intonation is not particularly well adjusted. However, five minutes with a flat screwdriver and a quick repositioning of the floating bridge improves this greatly.
Minor setup quibbles aside, this guitar is beautifully made and comes in at a very competitive price with a gigbag to boot.