Cort recently introduced three guitars designed to fill important niches for acoustic and electric players who want quality tones and playability for a reasonable price. The Earth Mini is a compact flat-top for travel, the L900P is a parlor-sized acoustic aimed at vintage Martin fans, and the M600T is a stylish, trem-equipped solidbody with EMG passive humbuckers. Let’s see what each has to offer.
Featuring a mini dreadnought-style body, the Earth Mini offers such full-sized construction details as a solid Engelmann spruce top, laminated mahogany back and sides, a dovetail neck joint, and a 2-way adjustable trussrod. The construction is good too, with tight joints between the neck and body and a near spotless satin finish. The frets are properly shaped, though not highly polished, but they’re also a tad sticky on the ends. Likewise, the rather large plastic nut is perfectly slotted but has corners that are sharp enough to cut your skin. A peek inside reveals nicely shaped and sanded braces, and no signs of excess glue or wood debris. The ornamentation is tastefully limited to a red pearloid rosette, a cream-colored heel cap, and tiny pearl dots on the fretboard.
The Earth Mini plays well and has a springy, tactile feel when tuned to standard pitch. The intonation is musical and the overall voicing is sweet and clear with the added warmth that mahogany brings to the recipe. Using a minimal finish on this guitar definitely helps the resonance, and the projection and overall balance are surprisingly good. The Earth Mini’s voice blends well with standard sized guitars, and its lively sound finds a cool place in the mix without any tendencies toward sounding either honky or thin.
In a nutshell, the Earth Mini is a satisfying little instrument that’s ideal for songwriting, weekend getaways, and jamming with friends. The included padded gig bag has room for slides, strings, and a tuner, and it allows you to stash the Earth Mini just about anywhere. Affordability goes hand-inhand with most 3/4-sized acoustics, but the Earth Mini brings the pricing to a level that anyone can afford.
Fans of Martin 00-28 “parlor” guitars who can’t afford their steep prices will love what the L900P brings to the party. Featuring a mahogany neck with slotted rosewoodfaced headstock, a diamond volute, and an ebony fretboard with gleaming snowflake inlays, the L900P is a sweet looker. It gets better too as you gaze on the herringbone binding that graces the solid cedar top, the abalone rosette, and the black bridge pins with their gold and abalone tops. There’s also binding around the solid rosewood back, which has a sweet looking wooden center strip that extends up through the endpin area.
The L900P’s 19 small frets are not highly polished, but they are set evenly and have reasonably smooth ends. Despite the instrument’s fairly low action there’s no significant string buzz, and the intonation is also musically sound. The “C” shaped neck feels great, and its satin finish has a texture that’s almost like raw wood. The only complaint I have concerns the excessively sharp edges of the chunky bone nut—couldn’t somebody have taken a few minutes to round these off a bit? On the inside, the L900P exhibits carefully sanded scalloped X bracing and tidy glue joints. The trussrod is easily accessed from where it exits through the forward brace at the front edge of the soundhole.
As with most classic 12-fretters (meaning 12 frets clear of the body), the L900P delivers a warm, vibrant sound that results from the bridge’s more central location on the top. Whatever reduction of brightness or presence there is compared to a 14th fret neck joint is of little consequence as you bask in the richness of the sounds. Everything is in the right proportions—the lows are firm and deep, the mids exude sweetness and complexity, and highs are nicely detailed.
The body size limits the volume and projection, of course, but then you don’t buy a parlor-sized guitar to play lead in a bluegrass band. What the L900P provides is as close to ideal as one could expect from a guitar in this price range. And what a great price for a guitar that made with all solid woods! The L900P satisfies on many levels and it earns an Editors’ Pick Award
Strutting a carved and beautifully figured maple top on a thick mahogany body, the M600T proves just how much guitar you can get for $400. The set neck has 22 polished jumbo frets and cool looking pearl block inlays (each embellished with a fan-shaped piece of abalone in one corner), and the three-on-a-side black headstock is carved at the tip to expose a swoop of natural mahogany. The chunky nut is notched accurately, but it also has some nasty corners that could scuff your hand when you lift this guitar off a stand. The M600T’s hardware consists of a Wilkinson trem bridge that’s adjusted to sit flat on the body, and a pair of EMG HZ humbuckers, which can be run in coil-split mode by pulling on the Tone pot.
Once we got rid of some excess fret buzz by dialing-in a touch of relief with the smooth turning trussrod adjuster, the M600T played well and offered a quick, easy feel thanks to its low action and medium profile neck. The intonation was also musical sounding in all regions of the fretboard. Offering a good selection of tones in the full humbucker mode, the M600T pushed a fairly hot signal though our primary test amp, a Matchless Avalon 30 Reverb. The tones were bright with good clarity in the mid and lower frequencies, and the Tone control has plenty of range to for eliciting creamier textures. Pulling the Tone control brings on the single- coil color, with extended highs and a skinnier set of mids and lows. Some loss of some output also accompanies the split mode, but not enough to make any impact with most amps.
Putting the M600T though its paces revealed a guitar that works well for lots of different styles, as it could sound crushing though a heavily overdriven amp or jangly and crisp when played with a cleaner amp setting. It sustains well too, delivering a bluesy wail when digging into it though the Matchless with the preamp gain set about halfway up. The trem also stayed in tune well once the strings had settled in, although its high spring tension made it difficult to perform subtle bends with a quick touch of the bar. Adjusting this unit to float would certainly improve the feel.
All in all, M600T is an impressive instrument that looks, plays, and sounds like it should cost way more than it does. If you’re in the market for a 22-fret guitar with humbuckers and a carved top, but can’t afford an expensive American-made axe, you definitely should give the M600T a try.
Learn more about Cort Guitars: www.cortguitar.com/