What is it?
Many of us are looking for the one – the do-it-all wunderaxe, the Swiss army knife of six-strings, the workhorse weapon of tone… you get the picture. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could develop as players with one well-chosen instrument that can pretty much cover everything we need. We think we might have a candidate here.
Cort has been building a rep for high quality electrics in the mid-range price bracket. This looks like a distillation of that from the South Korean firm, on spec at least. Visually it’s a treat; a swamp ash body with an Antique Violin Burst flame maple top (one of two available finishes). The bolt-on birdseye maple neck is a stunner that looks like it was handpicked for a more expensive guitar – especially when you factor in the upmarket features that adorn it.
Locking machine heads, and a spoke-nut truss rod adjuster (which takes a nod from models like Misha Mansoor’s Jackson Juggernaut signature) are contemporary rock guitar features designed with quick, easy functionality in mind. The truss rod adjuster’s proximity encourages you to precisely tailor the neck bow to suit your needs rather than be afraid to touch it. Cort’s recessed CFA-III Tremolo’s stainless steel saddles, block and baseplate are here to aide sustain and those saddles look especially well matched to the brushed-look chrome pickup covers.
Some players think swamp ash is a lightweight tonewood. Cort is keen to stress this too, but the reality is different. Swamp ash can be light, but we’ve played heavy swamp ash doublecuts too. At 7.4lbs our test guitar weighs around the same as an average Strat. This guitar’s action is slinky, so it doesn’t suffer down-tuning too well without changing the strings from the gauge 9 set included here – but bluesy bends are effortless and Cort’s new Ergo V-neck profile has a comforting Fendery feel.
Performance and verdict
It’s a joy to play before we even plug in. Cort’s claim that its shape provides enhanced comfort across 22-fret neck and the playability here is undeniable. It’s a fast neck for legato lovers but the 12’’ to 15.75’’ compound radius fingerboard is just a great all-rounder for us.
When Cort call this a ‘session-style’ guitar it alludes to the workhorse idea we spoke of earlier. It suggests significant versatility because nobody needs that more than a session guitarist. And that’s where the pickups come in. Cort’s VTH-77s are high output humbuckers with a twist: there’s a five-way switch.
The three main ’bucker positions are impressive enough. The bridge is bright, chimey and articulate and the neck position avoids the dreaded darker tonality that position can suffer from in favour of glassy FAT punch. Lastly, the middle position – always an underrated place to visit – is reassuringly lively. It convincingly sells itself as a smoother and compelling alternative to the bridge for switching on the fly between and lead and rhythm tones. But there’s much more…
• Ibanez AZ224F
Great playability, with nine different combinations of Seymour Duncan Hyperion pickups and a Dyna-MIX9 switching system.
• Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas Style 1 HH FR
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The second and fourth positions here are coil splits to get you in the single-coil game. If you demand Fender twang and jangle it’s a tall order for any humbucker wiring mod like this but what it delivers is useful and distinct options to switch to. Tonally it is like having two guitars in one. Fancy some Morello-esque spank for your single note riffs? Well kindly switch to position 4 and enjoy! Texas blues bite? Position 2 will see you right. Indeed there’s much fun to be had for blues here between the buckers and splits, but the same could be said of jazz, metal and everything between too.
You probably get the picture by now; this G290 is versatile and playable. FAT tone indeed, sounds that will suit many different rock-based players if the look and feel also appeal. If you’re the guitarist in a covers band then this could easily get you through a varied set. And the strong range of features that accompany this sonic capability, offered at this price, is why we think Cort has issued another strong claim to be a go-to contemporary affordable brand.
MusicRadar verdict: The strong range of features that accompany this sonic capability, offered at this price (£549/$TBC), is why we think Cort has issued another strong claim to be a go-to contemporary affordable brand.
- BODY: Swamp ash / flamed maple top
- NECK: Birdseye maple
- SCALE: 25.5” (648mm)
- FINGERBOARD: Birdseye maple
- FRETS: 22
- PICKUPS: 2x Cort Voiced Tone VTH-77 humbuckers with coil-splitting
- CONTROLS: Five-way pickup switch,
- volume, tone
- HARDWARE: Cort CFA III two-point tremolo with steel block and steel plate, Cort chrome locking machine heads
- LEFT-HANDED: No
- Case: No
- FINISH: Antique Violin Burst (reviewed), Bright Blue Burst