What is it?
Cort formally announced its presence in the shark-infested market for the mid-priced electric guitar with 2019's G290 FAT.
The G290 FAT offered a quick neck, a well-balanced, offset S-Style body, carved out of swamp ash and topped with a luxurious looking piece of flamed maple. It played great. It sounded great, too, with a voice that made it suitable for for all kinds of rock and fusion styles. Crucially, at £549, it was affordable.
All this means we approach the G290 LE with some expectations. A limited edition model with a mahogany body and maple top, it is a little pricier but still comfortably below the £1,000 mark, and it too comports itself with a class that you might not necessarily expect for the money.
Exhibit A: the flamed maple top. Instead of opting for the easy route and sticking a fancy looking veneer on top, Cort has parked a 7mm AAAA piece of maple on top. It's exquisite. There is a bolt-on African mahogany neck, reinforced with graphite and offering a very tactile satin feel.
This is topped by an ebony fretboard with a very amenable 12-16" compound radius ebony fretboard, with 22 jumbo stainless steel frets. There is a chrome Cort CFA-III6-saddle vibrato with a push-in arm, Cort staggered-post locking tuners and a graphite nut.
A pair of direct mounted Cort Voiced Tone VTH-77 humbuckers are seated in the neck and bridge positions, with a five-way selector, volume and tone controls on hand to eek every bit of tone out of them.
The Lagoon Beach is pretty nifty, too.
Performance and verdict
Mahogany, a thick maple top? There's no denying the allure of a nice slap of tonewood to work with, but it comes at a price. The G290 LE is heavy, weighing in at 9.5lbs. For many, especially those drawn to the S-Style format as opposed to a lunking great singlecut, this too much.
But if you've got a thick, wide strap, you'll find that weight distributed quite nicely, and the contouring ensures that the G290 LE offers an easy ride. The compound radius is very welcome, playing the percentages between shredder's delight at the top end and a more conventionally rounded experience up near the nut.
Likewise, the G290 LE's neck is not the whip-thin profile you might expect from a shred guitar. It is more of a medium rounded C, with more support for the palm – a happy compromise between speed and comfort.
Upper-fret access is ample. There is a low profile heel with a generous scoop in the underside of the treble cutaway that allows you to park the palm of your fretting hand will noodling on past the 15th fret.
• Cort G290 FAT
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.
• Jackson X Series Soloist SL4 DX
A shred wolf in an old-time 50s-style finish, this Soloist is a rock animal on demand, don't overlook it for bluesy rock and fusion styles. This is a high-performance electric with hidden depths.
• Ibanez RG550
The entire SuperStrat niche of guitars owes the RG550 a huge debt of gratitude. With this reissue, Ibanez is casually reminding everyone who’s boss.
That mass of wood translates to warmth and sustain in abundance. There's a syrupy thickness to the G290 LE's tone that shows itself on both pickups. The Voiced Tone VTH-77 humbuckers are exceptional – and there is a lot of in between tones to seek out via the five-way selector.
You can cover a number of styles with the G290 LE. The fit and finish is flawless, the feel and tone superlative at any price. The vibrato is a quality piece of hardware, super stable, with a steel baseplate, stainless-steel saddles and a solid machined steel block. The headstock is very tidy, too; there's no need for string trees with these staggered locking tuners.
All in all, what your 900 bucks buys you is a very classy electric with a feel and tone that we'd be tempted to call boutique. A more affordable alternative to high-end counterparts such as the Ernie Ball Music Man Sabre, the G290 LE is ridiculously good value. It's ridiculously good, full-stop.
MusicRadar verdict: The G290 LE is a heavyweight contender at an accessible price. The AAAA flame maple-topped mahogany makes it a beast but it's no burden to tease a wide variety of tones from it, and the feel, finish and build is bang on.
The web says
"This is everything a great modern rock guitar should be. Flawless construction, first-class playability and an impressive tonal range. This thing is punching way above its pay grade."
- ORIGIN: Indonesia
- TYPE: Offset double-cutaway solid body electric guitar
- BODY: African mahogany w/ AAAA 7mm flame maple top
- NECK: African mahogany w/ graphite bar reinforcement bolt-on
- SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
- NUT/WIDTH: Graphite/42mm
- FINGERBOARD: Ebony, 305-406mm (12-16”) radius
- FRETS: 22, jumbo stainless steel
- HARDWARE: Chrome Cort CFA-III 6-saddle vibrato with push-in arm, Cort staggered-post locking tuners
- STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 53mm
- ELECTRICS: 2x direct mounted Cort Voiced Tone VTH-77 humbuckers with satin finish covers, 5-way pickup selector lever switch, master volume, master tone
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 4.4/9.5
- OPTIONS: None
- RANGE OPTIONS: Cort G290 FAT
- LEFT HANDERS: No
- FINISHES: Lagoon Beach (as reviewed)
- CONTACT: Cort Guitars