Cort Z-Custom 1

LP-style electric with updated looks

With its mahogany body, quilted maple top and sunburst finish, the Z-Custom 1 is clearly making a play for the traditionalist's heartstrings, but when you get your hands on it there's a feeling that it's all been a big ruse. It might not have the sci-fi quality of, say, the self-tuning Gibson Robot Guitar, yet the Z-Custom nevertheless feels modern.

Build

"It feels modern and built for speed. Never mind where it took its design cues from, this is a guitar for now"

It's light, for starters - great news for your sciatica - with a slimmer, more contoured body profile than its sexagenarian design muse. The jack input is carved into the front of the body as opposed to mounted on the side. The glued neck joint is immaculate and ergonomically accommodating for upper-fret access; the three-piece maple neck, too, is whippet slim.

Pickup-wise, the Z-Custom is fitted with a pair of Seymour Duncan humbuckers - a JB in the bridge and '59 in the neck - with a coil-tap on a master tone pot, which allows you to access some Strat-style spank.

Cort fits a three-way toggle switch positioned down by the bridge instead of the customary mounting on the shoulder. This guitar feels modern and built for speed. Never mind where it took its design cues from, this is a guitar for now.

Sounds

The spec sheet is impressive, the price modest, but the Z-Custom fails to fully convince. Sure, it's a breeze to play and the high-gloss finish good enough not to gum up when you sweat, while the TonePros bridge is a solid unit, and its clean tone is nice and bright - brighter still when the coil-tap is engaged.

But when the amp's gain is being throttled, the Z-Custom's voice is just a little too bright, a little brittle and hard to tame. Rolling back the tone helps to keep things under control, and it's not such an issue when the neck's '59 is selected, but for a lot of players, particularly those with a proclivity for thick distortion, the Z-Custom's tonal sweet spots can be pretty hard to find.

Also, maddeningly, the three- way pickup selector is configured back-to-front, which might catch a few people out, especially since rote intuition says that it should select the pickup that it's pointing towards. Having it mounted by the bridge only exacerbates matters, making on-the-fly pickup changes a risky business.

These bugbears are frustrating, because the Z-Custom has a lot of potential. It's hard not to love its playability and range of clean tones, many of which are great for chicken-pickin' and blues, and with the amp just overdriven, the Z-Custom has a great, gnarly classic-rock voice. But its gelded high-gain voice... well, that might just be the deal-breaker.

MusicRadar Rating

3 / 5 stars
Pros

Good classic rock tones. Decent spec.

Cons

Pickup selection is confusing. Sounds overly bright through a high-gain amp.

Verdict

The Z-Custom has a great, gnarly classic-rock voice, but suffers a little in high-gain situations.

Scale Length (mm)

629

Scale Length (Inches)

24.75

No. of Frets

22

Hardware

Black nickel

Fingerboard Material

Rosewood

Neck Material

Maple, set 3-piece

Left Handed Model Available

Yes

Pickup Type

Seymour Duncan JB (bridge), Seymour Duncan '59 (neck)

Top Material

Quilted maple

Guitar Body Material

Mahogany

Circuitry Type

2x volume, 1x master tone w/coil-tap, 3-way pickup selector

Available Finish

Brown Sunburst

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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