Córdoba Guitars Fusion 5 review: an accessible, modern hybrid nylon-string
Can this affordable crossover model tempt steel-string players towards the nylon side?
The evocative voice of a nylon-string guitar has tempted many players from the pop, folk and jazz worlds to explore these instruments. However, due to the wide necks and high actions typical of a guitar made for classical playing, first contact can be something of a shock to the nylon neophyte. The answer, for many, is a hybrid ‘crossover’ guitar designed to make the nylon experience a lot more accessible. One such example is the new Fusion 5 model which is described by its creator Córdoba Guitars as the perfect choice to transition from a steel-string to a nylon-string guitar.
There are several indicators here that we are dealing with a modern nylon hybrid. The cutaway and soundhole-mounted Fishman Sonitone controls are dead giveaways. Less immediately obvious is the slightly slimmer (but still broad by steel-string standards) 48mm nut width, along with the 16-inch fretboard radius and the side position markers. Classical players may prefer their frets undelineated but the side dots are a godsend for those of us used to getting their bearings from them.
The Fusion 5 also features a fan-braced solid spruce top with a laminated mahogany back and sides and a three-piece neck crowned with a pau ferro fretboard. The visual theme continues through the pau ferro bridge, pau ferro headstock veneer and composite binding, which give a unified, if slightly spartan look. Understated flourishes come in the form of Córdoba’s simple headstock logo in pearloid – inspired by the arches of the Mezquita mosque-cathedral in Córdoba in southern Spain – and an attractive pearloid rosette.
With its light weight, good balance and upper-fret access, the Fusion 5 is a very comfortable instrument on the lap. It’s also remarkably loud and lively acoustically, the fan-braced solid top giving it a fast response while the mahogany back and sides imbue each note with a strong, dry fundamental character more typical of the cutting sound of a flamenco instrument.
The setup is friendly with a low action that won’t feel excessively alien to the steel-string player but there’s scope for some further fret polishing and fretboard buffing. While classical players predominantly use a sideways vibrato, the majority of players coming to this instrument from a more contemporary playing background might find that their wider up-and-down vibrato technique causes more than a few extraneous noises.
If you’re not careful, this exacerbated somewhat by the choice of pickup system. Undersaddle pickups can be notoriously tricky on nylon-string instruments. In this case, you may find yourself reaching for the tone control to tame the slightly synthetic crunch to the initial transient of each note – additional equalisation from an acoustic preamp or effects processor offers greater control and helps sweeten the tone.
Though the competition from Yamaha’s NCX and NTX instruments is fierce, if you’re looking for a comfortable nylon-string electro at an entry-level price with which to unleash your inner José González, Jason Mraz or even Leonard Cohen then you could certainly do worse than the Fusion 5. And the Jet Black and sunburst alternatives are good-looking choices for stage use. However, you’ll have to budget for strap buttons to be fitted as they don’t come as standard.
- PRICE £372
- DESCRIPTION 6-string electro-acoustic single-cutaway nylon-string guitar, made in China
BUILD Fan-braced solid spruce top, laminated mahogany back and sides, three-piece mahogany neck with dovetail joint, pau ferro fingerboard with 16” radius, bone nut, pau ferro bridge with bone saddle, 19 medium-small frets
- HARDWARE Córdoba 14:1 tuners with black ebonoid buttons
- ELECTRONICS Fishman Sonitone Nylon Guitar System with combined 9v battery box and jack socket and soundhole-mounted volume and tone controls
- SCALE LENGTH 25.6”/650mm
- NECK WIDTH 48mm at nut, 58.5mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 21mm at first fret, 24mm at 9th fret
- STRING SPACING 38.9mm at nut, 59.7mm at bridge
- WEIGHT 1.6kg/3.5lb
- LEFT-HANDERS No
- FINISH Natural gloss polyurethane (as reviewed), Jet Black (£441), Sonata Burst (£441)
- CONTACT cordobaguitars.com