What is it?
Cort is not messing around with its first foray into the multi-scale electric guitar market with a seven-string built for city-levelling metal tone and off to market a price within reach of the ordinary working musician.
Available in either Star Dust Green or Star Dust Black, both eye-popping poplar veneers and with a pair of EMG-707 active soapbar humbuckers, a jagged-point headstock and multi-scale fanned fretboard, the KX500MS is serious contender in a market typically dominated by Ibanez, Jackson and Schecter.
We first started calling hot-rodded Strats "Superstrats" back in the '80s, and that evolutionary path was headed towards guitars such as the KX500MS.
But what of the multi-scale build? What is it and why do you want it? Well, when you think about how scale length, string tension, and tunings are all interdependent, it makes perfect sense that an extended-range guitar, with its seventh string typically tuned down to B or A, would benefit from a longer scale length to maintain string tension for riffing.
Then there's a trade-off; you don't want your top three strings too tight to bend. That's where the multi-scale format, as deployed here in 27-25.5", keeps your low seventh nice and tight while the high E, with its Fender-esque 25.5" scale, feels normal. It's a neat way of splitting the difference. Don't worry about the fanned fretboard design. It'll enhance intonation and does not take long to acclimatise to.
Elsewhere we've got a hardtail bridge design with six independent saddles – a little like Ibanez's Monorail bridges – and locking tuners.
Performance and verdict
For players migrating to an extended-range guitar for the first time, there is always a period of adjustment. The fretboard geography feels a little more expansive. The KX500MS felt a little neck-heavy at first but nothing too out of the ordinary. The locking tuners and smart bridge design help keep intonation and tuning in good order, which is always a key battle when accommodating low tunings.
The neck is a five-piece maple and purple heart (amaranth) that is bolted to the swamp ash body with a discrete heel for upper-fret access. It's very much of today's style – flat, satin-smooth, built for speed.
Tone-wise the KX500MS is going too much shred to do justice to your Bob Dylan songbook. We liked the cleans, of course. They take well to modulation and delay, and while the active EMGs ask big questions of your amp's headroom they are super-articulate. But of course, fed them gain and they start to sing. The bluesy crunch to classic rock spectrum of overdrive finds them perhaps lacking a little in dynamics and character, though harmonically vibrant with plenty of brightness to complement the low-end.
It's only when you apply a generous glug of contemporary saturated overdrive tone that they really hit their straps. The chug from an open A powerchord has that awe-inspiring growl extended-range guitars were built for – it's a bit like seeing the Terminator for the first time – while lead tones are hot enough to cut glass, with harmonic squeals on-tap. And that's what you are buying it for, right? Heavy-duty metal, next-gen shred... You need the right tool for the job, and the KX500MS won't let you down.
MusicRadar verdict: Crushing metal tones, excellent build and super-fast playability make Cort's top-line foray into multi-scale seven-strings a fearsome competitor in a fearsome market.
- CORT KX500MS
- BODY: Swamp ash with poplar burl top
- NECK: 5-piece maple and purple heart, bolt-on
- SCALE: 27-25.5” multi-scale
- FINGERBOARD: Macassar ebony with Raindrop inlay
- FRETS: 24
- PICKUPS: 2x EMG 707 humbuckers (neck and bridge)
- CONTROLS: 3-way pickup selector, 1x volume, 1x tone
- HARDWARE: Individual hardtail string-through body bridge unit, locking Cort tuners, black nickel
- LEFT-HANDED: No
- FINISH: Star Dust Green [as reviewed], Star Dust Black
- Cort Guitars