Price paid: $ 365
Purchased from: Fretted Instruments, Amherst, MA
Features: Early 2009 or so, dated by the early "Ion" instead of the later re-branded "Insys" pickup, made in a really nice place in China. 20 frets, 14 "open" to the cutaway. Solid spruce top, arched mahogany backed and mahogany sides, mahogany neck, rosewood fret board. I have the natural finish, i.e. transparent, it looks great. The Cort website only shows bad colors. Body style is closer to dreagnought-sized, but not too deep, and not quite as big. It's a venetian cutaway. Bridge style is a plastic but high-quality fixed tune-o-matic type. Active Fishman ION Plus (now called Insys Plus) pickup/preamp. Controls: built-in tuner, gain, bass, treble, phase. 9V battery easily accessible on side, TRS output right next to it, not in the endpin but rather a bit below it so it can be set down (thank heavens!). Pickup is an under-bridge piezo. Unknown tuner brand. There's another strap hole on the neck joint, no need for shoelaces :-P // 9
Sound: My style is mixed...from worship music to finger picking ala Ben Gibbard's "I will follow you into the dark," from Jason Mraz to Do Make Say Think. It suits them all fairly well. The arched back provides good projection; when finger picking a song it is actually possible to get good volume out of it w/o plugging it in. The built-in tuner is a plus, especially if I want to, say, drop D quickly... The single piezo pickup isn't the best in the world, but the bass, treble, and phase adjustments help make up for it a lot. I find I have to change settings a bit much in between songs, but other than that, they pretty much compensate and give this a good stage presence, in some cases better than w/o amp, some cases a little worse. Overall though, the electronics are just Stellar for this price range, they cannot be beat. You'd have to spend the price of the guitar to get much better. I think it's because Cort owns Fishman.
The tone is sufficient that each string is well differentiated, which you don't expect at this price point. IE if you're playing and open G5 and move it to an open G6, you'll clearly hear it. The tone is pretty bright, but as noted above, it also has a fullness. I wouldn't call it thick or rich, but it hasn't really matured much yet. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: No idea about the factory setup, as Fretted Instruments set it up (which is part of the price tag). Generally Cort has a good reputation though. The action is fantastic for a guitar of this price. Unbeatable, actually. No fret buzzing whatsoever, very good intonation. The pickup is set up great...the battery is very convenient as is the TRS jack. Everything is in great shape, but then the advantage of buying from a shop like Fretted is that they'll just send it back if it is bad, and set it up before you buy it. But again, I've heard Cort has a good reputation. // 8
Reliability & Durability: Live playing: yes. Hardware last: yes. Strap buttons: yes. Dependable: haven't owned it too long...seems so. Finish: smoothly applied, not a lot, doesn't scratch with my pick so far though. I don't know why it's not letting me submit this... Here's some more words... // 7
Overall Impression: I think it's a very versatile guitar. It's pretty folk-y, but I can see it being used over a wide Acoustic range. I've played guitar for about 3 months, but I've played stringed and other instruments for 10+ years, I can play about 12 different instruments. I wish I'd asked if they had two. I would definitely buy it again, this is the new standard acoustic-electric in its price range. I love just about everything. An XLR jack would be nice, but the TRS does the job well. I compared it to the Yamaha um..ABX? and that Takahami Jasmine thingy...and a bunch of others. They were all left in the dust. It was kind of sad. I wish it had an indefinite lifespan. // 9