By Art Thompson Guitar makers tend to have pretty sharp eyes when it comes to style, and instead of gambling on the lure of bizarre shapes (a habit the U.S. auto industry regularly indulges in with results like the Avalanche and Hummer), many simply borrow from popular, time-tested patterns when designing new models. Take Cort’s M Series guitars, for example, which bear an striking resemblance to models made by Paul Reed Smith. The Ms are manufactured in Korea, which makes them very attractively priced, but, even for players who can afford more expensive guitars, these Corts are undeniable values. We tested Cort’s flagship M1200 solidbody (which streets for $790) in our April issue, and gave it an Editors’ Pick Award. Recently, we had the chance to shake out the four lower-priced siblings of the M clan, notably the M200, M520, M600, and M800. These guitars feature quality construction and hardware, and all but the M200 offer such upper-end amenities as mahogany bodies and glued-in mahogany necks. The M600 and M800 go a step further by adding carved, maple-veneer tops, and the hollowbody M800 sports full binding for an even more eye-catching look. I tested these guitars though a variety of amps, including a non-master Marshall 50-watt, a new Carvin Legacy VL412, and a Soldano Avenger. M200 The gateway model of the M Series is the M200 ($275 retail/ $190 street)—a stylish, bolt-on-neck guitar that offers the essential elements of what a dual-humbucker solidbody is all about. I hate to use the term “beginners model” to describe the M200 (after all, that’s what Les Paul Juniors were originally purported to be), but you could certainly do worse that this reasonably well made instrument when shopping for a young guitarist’s first electric. And even though the M200 I tested needs a little setup attention to rectify string buzz in the high positions, it has a comfy neck, it balances well on a strap, and its loud, brash voice is as aggressive as a freshly sharpened chainsaw.
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