Cort Guitars has been around for a long time, but are not often in the public eye. The company makes a myriad of models that are perfect for Metal, but you never hear much about them. Today we check out their 2021 lineup!
Cort Guitars: A Long History of Quality
Cort Guitars is a South Korean manufacturer that makes a literal ton of guitars. Chances are, you have played one of the Cort Guitar models, and you didn’t even know it. They have been contracted by a whole slew of larger companies over the years.
Big companies like Ibanez, Fender, G&L, Schecter and others have all contracted Cort Guitars to make affordable models for them at some point. These models are generally held in high regard for their quality and craftsmanship. Many guitar forums talk about the amazing quality the Cort Guitars factory produces for bigger brands.
The Cort Guitars factory became a benchmark for South Korean quality over the years. Cort has continued to make contracted guitars, but a little known fact is they have their own brand, not based on any major brand’s models. We will address why you don’t hear much about them, later in the article.
Like most people, I have often overlooked Cort Guitars as a stand-alone brand. Otherwise, I would have definitely included them in some of our “best of” lists. I just didn’t know about these original models! I mean, I knew they made their own brand of guitars, but I had no idea how expansive the lineup was.
These models come in all kinds of finishes and price points, and they have a pretty wide variety of shapes and features. Today we are going to check out some of the best models that Cort produces, along with the more affordable versions.
The Cort MBM-1 is the signature guitar of Matt Bellamy of the band MUSE. This guitar is a collaboration with Matt, Manson Guitars, and Cort. The MBM-1 is created exactly to Matt’s specs and features:
- Manson Signature Pickup set
- Locking Tuners
- Matt Bellamy Kill Button
- Ergonomic Body
- Soft V Neck Profile
- Spokewheel Truss Rod Adjustment
- Basswood Body
- 12″-16″(Compound Radius)
Manson Guitar Works is an internationally respected custom guitar builder in the U.K. that has been working with Matthew Bellamy for over two decades. They are a smaller operation, and their guitars can get quite pricey.
The solution was to make an affordable version of Matt’s custom Manson guitars. The collaboration with Cort Guitars means you can get the same guitar that Matt Bellamy uses on stage, for less than half the price!
While the guitar looks simple, it actually has quite a few cool features, starting with the neck profile. The neck has a “soft V” profile that is usually only found on Fender guitars. But this one has a compound radius, making the neck flatter as you ascend, and making it easier to solo.
The other standout feature is the kill button that is installed where you would usually find the three-way switch. Matt used to mod his guitars with the kill switch to produce the staccato effects that are now synonymous with MUSE’s music.
Overall, this is a great guitar for just about any genre, but the Manson pickups are perfect for Metal, and everything in between. Like most of Cort’s offerings, this is a lot of guitar for the money. But what about some of their original models?
The KX Series: KX300
Sometimes simple is better. Some people don’t need a ton of fancy features to get their shred on. The Cort Guitars KX300 is a simplistic Metal-focused guitar, that despite it’s looks, carries a ton of great features:
- Mahogany Body
- Bolt On Neck
- EMG Retroactive ’77 Pickups
- Cream Binding
- Spalted Maple Tops
- Raindrop Inlays
- Maple Neck
- Jatoba Fretboard
The KX300 is all killer, no filler when it comes to features. It has a simple hardtail bridge for those of you that dislike having to set up a trem system. personally, there is something elegant about how simple the KX300 is…
But “simple” does not mean it is lacking in features and soecs. The EMG pickups are the “Super 77” set, that mimic a hot PAF style humbucker and remain versatile no matter how much gain you put on them.
The KX300 is a barebones Metal machine for people that prefer simplicity. The price point comes in at under $1000, which is incredible for the workmanship and features you get with the KX300. If you are looking for more features, then the X Series is what you are looking for:
X Series: 300 & 500 Models
Cort Guitars uses the X Series as their main base for all of the varied models. The X300 series is a shredder’s dream guitar, and has all of the features your would expect, at a very low price.
“The new X300 features premium materials and components with renowned Cort quality, workmanship and value. Premium-grade Flame Maple is mated with American Basswood body and Maple neck and fretboard for a full range sound that is balanced, deep and cutting simultaneously.
The Floyd Rose Special tremolo allows for extreme dive-bombing and harmonic squeals while providing perfect tuning stability and the EMG Retroactive Hot 70 pickups deliver plenty of output with classic warm-sounding character.”
You get a proper Floyd Rose, and name brand pickups with the X300, with a great looking flamed top. So what about taking up a notch to the X500?
While the X300 is a great bargain shred-machine, the X500 series steps it up a little, and gives you more features. It still comes with a proper Floyd Rose trem, and EMG pickups.
But the difference lies in the neck through construction, usually only found on high-end guitars. The neck through body has lightweight Swamp Ash wings. Otherwise, the X500 has the same features as the little brother, the X300.
Which one is better? Well that’s a personal preference. Some people like a neck through construction and they think it provides a “snappier” tone. Otherwise, both models are designed to be great metal guitars.
The X Series: X700 Duality
This is the flagship model of the X Series. The X700 Duality is made from the highest quality woods and components that Cort offers. These come in two gorgeous finish options, and they have an impressive list of features:
- Swamp Ash Body
- Flame Maple Top
- Seymour Duncan SH2N & TB4 Humbuckers
- Custom Wired Electronics
- Cort CFAIII Tremolo
- Recessed Tremolo Route
- Ebony Fretboard
- 3 Piece Maple/Panga Panga Neck
- Luminlay Side Dots
- Stainless Steel Frets
- Locking Tuners
The X700 series has a huge amount of features for the price, and is truly the top of the line when it comes to Cort Guitars. The name brand Seymour Duncan pickups do everything from Jazz, to all out Metal. They are custom wired to have a “Tapped” and “out of phase” position for both pickups.
The construction has the best woods that Cort Guitars offers. Combine this with the stainless steel frets and Luminlay glow in in the dark side dots, and you have a monster guitar capable of just about anything.
But Wait! They Have Extended Range TOO!
The KX series 7 and 8 string models both have a beautiful spalted maple/poplar burl top. Both models also come with Fishman Fluence Pickups and they have a fanned fret, multi-scale design. Both models have a lot to offer to the extended range crowd, and are packed with premium features.
- Poplar Burl/Spalted Maple Top
- Swamps Ash Body
- Fishman Pickups
- Multi-Scale Design 25.5-28 scale
- Thin Neck
- Custom Nut
- Locking Tuners
Cort Guitars seems to have the market cornered when it comes to metal-focused instruments. The extended range series is fantastic for the 7 and 8 string shredders out there. It’s easy to see why Ibanez contracted Cort Guitars at one time!
Cort Guitars: Why Don’t You Hear More About Them?
Well, to be completely honest… they do not advertise the same way that other brands do. You may see a random ad here and there, but they just don’t put themselves out there the same way that the bigger brands do.
But those of us that do stumble across Cort Guitars, we find a great line of instruments that cover all the genres. I only listed the Rock/Metal focused guitars. They have a whole line that would appeal to classic model enthusiasts as well. Not to mention, the expansive acoustic lineup.
If you have never checked out Cort Guitars, head to their official website and give them a look!
Are Cort Guitars expensive?
Most models come under $1000 for MSRP, with the higher end being just a little more.
Are Cort Guitars a trusted brand?
Cort has made all kinds of models for big companies like Fender, Ibanez, and Schecter.
Are Cort Guitars reliable?
Cort is one of the best factories in South Korea, and their attention to detail is impeccable.
Does Cort ship direct?
No. They have a “find a dealer” function on the Official Website that allows you to find a dealer to ship, near you.