Cort KX508MS review – the ultimate entry instrument into the world of eight-string guitars?
If you’ve ever peered through the window of a music store at those guitars with too many strings and thought, ‘I wonder…’, then this may be your perfect companion for a journey into hitherto unexplored sonic depths.
The humble eight-string; scourge of the blues community, mortal enemy of the octophobiacs. Well, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. As long as the metal genre continues to thrive as it has done over the last 50 years, there will always be a desire for sounds from the deepest of the deep. But an addition to that, modern-day technical guitarists have found non-metal ways to incorporate the low tunings of extended range guitars into their styles.
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This is the first time Cort has manufactured an eight-string, so it makes sense that it has been allocated to their KX series of guitars; a range the company says is designed for “thoroughly modern guitar players who are willing to venture beyond traditional limits”.
As well as aesthetics, the KX508MS bears many, if not all, the appointments of its seven-string counterpart the KX507, with its sassafras body and poplar burl top, which lends an exotic quality to its appearance. At first glance the fretboard appears to be rosewood, but closer inspection reveals the trademark contrasting brown and black straight grain of Macassar ebony. A welcome sight; in our view an ebony or maple ‘board is a must for extended range guitars, with the snappier sound they can bring helping to shape and define the higher frequencies a little more.
A low F♯ on a scale length anything less than 27” would be impossible to intonate accurately, and conversely the same length on the high E string would make bending a painful experience. For this reason, a fanned-fret multi-scale is the sensible choice for an eight-string guitar, and here we have a sizeable 28” on the low F♯ and bearable 26.5” on the high E. The fanned frets may appear intimidating to newcomers, but it truly just takes us a few seconds to acclimatise, and the slim ‘D’ neck carve shape is surprisingly comfortable considering its shallow girth and sheer width here.
The biggest challenge for eight-string pickups is to produce enough grunt and sculpted low-end to ensure sonic cohabitation with the bass player, whilst at the same time not overcompensating low-end power at the expense of the treble strings. To that end Cort have appointed pickups that have fast become the staple of modern down-tuned guitars; the Fishman Fluence Modern.
To get anywhere near the brutal tones we’re imagining it also proves necessary to employ a high-pass filter and boost the higher frequencies on our virtual 5150, but once we have done so we are in djent heaven (djeaven?), achieving near perfect frequency separation in each of the three positions on the KX508MS’s toggle switch. Each pickup has two modes that basically translate to ‘high’ or ‘low’ power modes and are activated with the pull-push volume pot. Some uber-modern (think Polyphia) coil-split sounds can also be achieved via the push-pull tone control.
We really can’t speak more highly of the current crop of Cort guitars. They are superbly constructed and full of high-spec appointments. Even though the KX508 is not in the current entry-level price range for eight-string models, it rivals guitars three times the price and as such represents a great investment for newcomers and beyond. You can now satiate any extended range fantasies you’ve been harbouring at a relatively affordable price for the quality this delivers.
- PRICE £839, no case included
- DESCRIPTION Eight-string multi-scale double-cut electric guitar, made in Indonesia
- BUILD Poplar burl top, sassafras body, bolt-on 5-piece maple & purple heart neck with 15.75″/400mm radius, Macassar ebony fingerboard, 24 frets
- HARDWARE Black nickel Cort staggered locking tuners, individual bridge per string w/string-through body
- ELECTRONICS Fishman Fluence Modern humbucker set, 3-way toggle pickup selector, volume (push/pull to activate voice 1 or 2) and tone (push/pull to activate coil split)
- SCALE LENGTH 26.5-28″/673-711mm multi-scale
- NECK WIDTH 53.34mm at nut, 68.94mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 19.66mm at 1st fret, 21.43mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 74.4mm at bridge, 46.25mm at nut
- WEIGHT 3.5kg/7.72lb
- LEFT-HANDERS No
- FINISH Marina Blue Burst (as reviewed)
- CONTACT Cort