Based on the fabled Grand Auditorium body shape, Cort’s new Grand Regal model bridges the gap between OM and dreadnought designs with a lower bout width of 405mm/15.9” and a body that hits 112mm/4.4” at its deepest point.
Cort has launched this new line with some interesting wood combinations such as solid red cedar over blackwood, and solid Sitka spruce top over mahogany. In this case we have a European spruce soundboard with Madagascar rosewood on the back and sides.
Although the laminate back and sides require a squint through the soundboard to confirm their identity, the spruce top is solid wood and looks good under a honey stain. While this is the sort of wood combination that you can see at all price points in escalating degrees of gorgeousness, it would be stretching the facts to suggest that this is the finest example of either timber that we’ve ever encountered. However, this is close to an entry level instrument and it’s encouraging to see guitar companies trying different timbers.
This guitar is not a million miles away from Taylor’s late 1990s design language, with a tortoiseshell pickguard, diamond inlays and toothpaste-white plastic body and fretboard binding. The ovangkol fretboard is a nice touch but ours needed a drop of lemon oil to bring out its lustre.
With a brace of strap buttons and Fishman’s dependable electronics, the GA5F-MD is stage ready. Its gentle C neck carve, 45mm/1.75” nut width and low action make it a comfortable squeeze.
Our first chords on this guitar reveal a woody, open character to the voice with perhaps a touch more sparkle than the average offering at this end of the market. With a pick, the trebles can get a little raw as you go up the neck and there is a noticeable (and not unexpected) dip in volume past the body join.
A fingerstyle approach works nicely, especially with short nails or bare fingers, which help tame the wilder treble frequencies. Digging in harder unlocks an impressive dusty blues voice with snappy mids and a growl to the wound strings, while slipping into drop-D drives the bass end nicely leading to some chunky strumming, where this instrument excels.
Plugged-in duties are facilitated by the active Fishman Sonicore under-saddle pickup which drives the shoulder-mounted Presys EQ, replete with handy built-in tuner and phase switches. While no-one will mistake the amplified sound for a mic’d up Olson, the results can be smoothed with a hint of EQ to kill off the quacky transients, and the guitar’s voice sits well in a band mix.
The Cort GA5F-MD may not be the most articulate flat-top out there but it can certainly hold its own with many guitars in the £500 and above category. We look forward to trying out the other wood combinations too.
- PRICE £469
- DESCRIPTION 6-string electro-acoustic, made in China
- BUILD Solid European spruce soundboard, laminated Madagascar rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, ovangkol fretboard and bridge, bone nut and saddle, ebony bridge pins, scalloped X bracing
- HARDWARE Die-cast tuners with ebony buttons, chrome strap buttons
- ELECTRONICS Fishman Sonicore Active Pickup system with Fishman Presys EQ
- SCALE LENGTH 643mm/25.3”
- NECK WIDTH 45mm at nut, 54.5mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 21mm at first fret, 23mm at 9th fret
- FINISH “Sonically enhanced” UV finish
- LEFT-HANDERS No
- CONTACT cortguitars.com