Cort Tube Craft CMV15: What is it?
The Cort brand name has been ascendant in recent years, bolstered by a wide range of quality acoustic, electric and bass guitars priced for the budget conscious through to the working pro.
The company’s role as builder-of-choice for PRS Guitars’ more affordable and superlative SE lineup offers another endorsement of its capabilities.
But we tend not to associate Cort with guitar amps, even though it has four series available – the beginner-friendly CM combos, the MIX series 150-watt acoustic/electric/bass combo, the AF acoustic guitar amp, and the Tube Craft series. Maybe the latter will change that.
The Tube Craft is a tantalising prospect. If the Craft CMV15 tube amp combo can do for amplification what the likes of the G290 FAT II do for the high-performance electric guitar it is big news indeed.
The Craft CMV15 looks the part, dressed in super-tough black vinyl, gold piping, black chickenhead dials on a black control panel, racing stripes of cream vinyl across its top and more gold piping, and finally the Cort badge on its front in gold. It is an aesthetic that looks inspired by high-end US brands.
An all-tube 15-watt combo, it was developed with the South Korean boutique pedal and amp company Moollon, whose badge adorns the lower right-hand corner of the grille cloth.
Other options in the Tube Craft series include a similarly powered amp head and the matching CMV112 speaker cabinet which, like the CMV15, houses a single 12” Moollon driver. The CMV15 houses a trio of 12AX7s in the preamp, with a pair of EL84 valves in the power amp.
The classy looks will appeal to many. The simplicity of the design to most. The front panel has controls for gain, bass, middle, treble, and master volume, arranged from left to right, with a red jewel lamp, hi and lo inputs, and your two on/off and power toggle switches.
Around the back, there is a series effects loop, speaker outputs (two, and that’s that. Plug in and play.
Cort Tube Craft CMV15: Performance and verdict
If the looks were giving it a US vibe the sound to our ears skews a little more British, with an upfront midrange. The brilliantly voiced passive EQ makes light work of dialling in a sound. The bass response is solid, and there is plenty of travel on that treble dial that can add sparkle or hand your tone a stiletto blade to help you fight through a mix.
• Laney Lionheart LT20-112
Impeccably constructed and voiced to give us the best of vintage British guitar tone and then some, the Lionheart LT20-112 is an incredible tube combo at a very fair price.
• Laney Cub-Super12
If you are looking for an affordable 1x12 tube combo, the Cub-Super12 is hard to beat. Its one-watt input makes it bedroom-friendly, while at 15 watts it is punchy and musical, with superb clean and drive tones.
• Orange Rocker 15 Combo
If Brit-rock, blues and classic 70s rock is your musical thing, you won’t be disappointed.
This isn’t the sort of EQ that you have to mind your Ps and Qs with. It’s forgiving, what you see is what you get. You can that Brit tube amp voicing and take it anywhere, but – and perhaps this is the racing stripe design speaking to us – the CMV15 really opens up when you push it into overdriven situations, where it really sings and offers a plethora of sounds that should broaden the appeal of the amp.
There’s a little bit of background noise that might require some processing if you’re using the CMV15 for recording, but playing along with a band is totally fine.
The CMV15 has a lovely dynamic response, and, as with many similarly design tube amps, where simplicity is key, it doesn’t overly sauce your guitar’s tone. This gives the player something of a blank canvas. While there is no shortage of charm and sparkle with single-coil pickups, and a boost or drive pedal will send the CMV15 giddy, but where it really excels when your tone has some humbucker meat on the bone.
Denizens of the unclaimed hinterland between blues and rock will love the overdrive sound from a fat humbucker. There’s enough power to handle small gigs, and plenty of headroom if you wish to use it as a pedalboard platform, too, with the effects loop expanding your options on that score.
The build is solid. To find hand-wired tube amps at this price is quite the proposition. The CMV15 would be well worth auditioning for players looking for a gutsy Brit-voiced tube combo that’s versatile, sure, but really turns on the charm for the denim-wearing classic rock crowd.
MusicRadar verdict: The CMV15 does for the tube amp what the likes of Cort’s G290 FAT do for the electric guitar, presenting a high-quality product for a very attainable price, with a stellar build and tone.
Cort Tube Craft CMV15: The web says
"Hand-wired amps are increasingly expensive things to buy these days, and while the Tube Craft CMV15 uses a few PCBs, the valve sockets are neatly hand-wired into an aluminium chassis here, and the component layout is based on turret board designs, giving this amp the kind of sonic integrity, build quality and reliability more often seen on products costing up to twice the price."
Cort Tube Craft CMV15: Hands-on demos
Cort Tube Craft CMV15: Specifications
- ORIGIN: Indonesia
- TYPE: All-tube combo
- OUTPUT: 15W RMS
- VALVES: 3x 12AX7, 2x EL84
- DIMENSIONS: 470 (h) x 500 (w) x 230mm (d)
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 17/37
- CABINET: Birch ply
- LOUDSPEAKERS: 1x Moollon G12-30M 12”
- CHANNELS: 2
- CONTROLS: Gain, bass, middle, treble, master volume
- ADDITIONAL FEATURES: Series effects loop
- FOOTSWITCH: None
- OPTIONS: None
- RANGE OPTIONS: CMV15H head is $749/£529
- CONTACT: Cort