What if you could have a hot-rodded S-Style electric guitar that looks inspired by boutique brands like Xotic or Suhr, with build quality and spec that was absolutely professional-grade, no question, and the instrument only cost £749?
That's pretty much what Cort is offering here and as deals go they don't get much better. Of course, there's the name on the headstock. It's not as sexy as some, but then we all know that Cort make the PRS SE series to spectacular effect so maybe the Indonesian brand's proprietary line deserves a little more wow when you open the case.
But reputations are built up over time, and so long as Cort keeps on making guitars like the phenomenal G290 LE, the G290 FAT and this G300 Pro, that wow factor will come sooner rather than later. And guitars such as the recently unveiled G280 Select only serve to add strength to Cort's ranks.
Now, where were we? The G300 Pro is a 2021 model with a basswood body topped with 6mm of maple. It has a bolt-on roasted maple neck – heat treated to add stability and take on a mightily attractive deep caramel colour – topped with a matching fingerboard with a 12-16" compound radius and 24 jumbo stainless steel frets.
The precision-cut nut is by Graph Tech and like its siblings in the series you've got a set of staggered locking tuners on the headstock, and a very impressive Gotoh-esque CFA-III two-post six-saddle vibrato.
Both are finished in chrome. Our review model is finished in Vivid Burgundy but Black is an option, and either way you've got a smart contemporary design, with deep cutaway's exposing the feel extent of the fingerboard and a sculpted four-bolt neck joint that stays out of your way when you're in the upper registers.
So far, this is a very sweet instrument. The neck profile is a full D profile but is slim enough to please speed merchants – which makes sense, right? There's little point putting a 12-16" go-faster compound radius fingerboard in play only to erect a barrier to entry by way of a big old club neck.
But what makes this one of the most exciting guitars of 2021 is that Cort comes through with an impeccable pickup choice, seating a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker at the bridge and a Seymour Duncan Jazz humbucker at the neck.
As classic pairings go, this is gin and tonic, cheese and burger, Simon and Garfunkel... Seymour Duncan calls this its Hot Rodded set and its versatility is hard to beat.
The build quality is tip-top. That neck is irresistible, with a very subtle matt finish that'll age very well. The vibrato feels very solid and has a steel base plate and block that Cort says will enhance sustain and attack. The arm pushes in and is tension adjustable.
Performance and verdict
We mention the neck earlier but it's worth mentioning again how approachable this is. The D profile means the shoulders are a little more pronounced and it sits nicely in the palm while offering little resistance for lead or rhythm playing. Like the rest of the build, the neck makes little demands of the player, and nor does it suggest what type of player should be playing the guitar.
Indeed, the G290 Pro is something of a blank slate. This won't be to everyone's liking – well, what is? – but we like guitars that sit back and let the player impart their personality and style upon the instrument. This could be a shredder's guitar. The dimensions of the neck and the tones back this up. It could be a metal player's guitar – the Jazz/JB pairing has been a favourite of metal's best and brightest over the years.
But with the understated aesthetic, the range in its voice, the G290 Pro could be used for blues, jazz fusion, whatever, and that it is an all-rounder should alert gigging players looking for a do-it-all electric to tackle diverse setlists.
• Cort G290 LE
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.
• 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.
• Charvel Pro-Mod DK24 HSS
“It’s still a shred guitar,” we hear you cry. Actually, spec-wise, the DK24 isn’t a million miles away from something like a Suhr Modern. Once you get a grip of those caramel-coloured necks, you might not be so toffee-nosed about what we reckon is a modern classic.
Having the Jazz/JB pickup setup really does throw open the opens. There's a lot of clear road ahead for the sonically adventurous and dialling in your sound is a piece of cake. There are master volume and tone controls and a five-way pickup selector that helps you access all the nuances in those Seymour Duncan humbuckers.
At the neck, the Jazz remains super-articulate and a little more refined than its counterpart. Positions 2 and four on that five-way switch offers some lovely bouncy single-coil mix tones as it alternately partners the screw coils of both pickups in parallel and the inner slug coils in parallel. It's remarkably versatile.
As for the full-bore JB? It remains one of the classic pickup voicings. It's hot but not so hot that it loses all sense of sweetness, and seasons that mid-range bark with some harmonically interesting top end and plenty of fullness. It is at home with aggressive blues through classic rock and 80s metal.
That's the Cort G290 Pro to a tee, though. It's at home in any company, and thanks to the locking tuners and a well-engineered bridge it never loses its composure, holding its tuning well, and offering up a supremely impressive performance that makes open mockery of its price tag. Session players, gigging musicians, and anyone in serious need of a versatile, playable S-style should grab one while they can.
MusicRadar review: A super-classy operator that's a cheap date and a great night out, the G290 Pro is a six-string charm offensive from a brand that consistently hits all the right notes and yet is still bubbling under. It'll handle whatever you throw at it, and has one of the all-time classic pickup combos.
The web says
“In a different modern bolt-on style, the G300 Pro is a difficult guitar to fault – it’s the sort of instrument that spans pretty much every rock genre there is and quite a bit more, although it does veer towards generic in style. Parts of the market may care that this guitar lacks history, isn’t retro nor based on an instrument designed in the 1950s.
“But don’t for a moment think it isn’t fit for purpose: it’s a real everyman instrument that could sit in a modern metal band just as easily as a function pop/soul ensemble. In fact, for those stylistically diverse wedding/function setlists, we doubt you’d need more.“
- BODY: Basswood with 6mm maple top
- NECK: Roasted maple, bolt-on
- SCALE: 25.5” (648mm)
- FINGERBOARD: Roasted maple/12-16” radius
- FRETS: 24, jumbo stainless steel
- PICKUPS: Seymour Duncan JB (bridge) and Jazz (neck) humbuckers
- CONTROLS: Master volume and tone, 5-way lever pickup selector switch
- HARDWARE: Cort CFA-III two-post six-saddle vibrato, Cort staggered-post rear locking tuners – chrome-plated
- FINISH: Vivid Burgundy metallic (as reviewed), Black
- CONTACT: Cort