Founded in 1973, South Korean manufacturer Cort Guitars isn’t your typical brand. The company was once famously known for its low-cost copies of classic American guitars. But in recent years, Cort’s offerings have come to adopt a more distinctive style, borrowing features from high-end boutique instruments—while still remaining affordable. The Gold-Edge, which was introduced as a limited edition at the 2020 Winter NAMM show and has now been launched as a regular production model, is a good example of the modern Cort aesthetic. This lovely grand auditorium with Venetian cutaway and L.R. Baggs electronics stands out as an instrument designed with vintage feel and sound.
The Gold-Edge comes in a classy brown hardshell case with gold latches and plush burgundy lining. My first impression upon holding the guitar was that it seemed like it would fit in perfectly in an old-fashioned study, among classic books and luxurious furniture. That’s not at all to say that it seems antiquated, but rather that it has that kind of distinguished character.
This model has a torrefied solid Sitka spruce top with traditional scalloped X-bracing, solid flamed myrtlewood back and sides, a walnut-reinforced mahogany neck, and an ebony fretboard and bridge pins. The top, back, and sides have a glossy UV finish that’s about 30 percent thinner than standard polyurethane and allows the wood to breathe more freely.
Aside from the vintage feel, the Gold-Edge’s most distinctive feature is its triple bevel cut, where the armrest, cutaway, and ribrest are each rounded with a jet-black bevel. The color of the bevels and the surrounding black binding contributes to the overall contrast between the sepia-toned back and sides and the blonder spruce top, but most importantly, these features make the guitar comfortable to hold and play. The warm contrast is further embellished by the russet mahogany neck and the black front of the headstock. Vintage Grover tuners with black buttons and golden mechanisms complete the elegant look.
The Gold-Edge has a surprisingly bold sound, with a rich low end and midrange. Its tone is crisp, and you can hear each string individually when playing chords. Taking a pick to the guitar yields powerful results. Open chords are full and colorful, while those played with fretted notes ringing against the open top two strings show off the instrument’s expansive sonic palette. Fingerpicking, on the other hand, is less satisfying—as a well-made instrument, the guitar produces reliably resonant sounds, but more delicate playing seems to get somewhat lost in the high end.
That being said, as you visit each fret moving up the fingerboard, you can hear plentiful overtones ringing out. The E strings in particular sing for several seconds after being played, while the fretboard is especially hot in the midrange, between the fifth and ninth frets on the G, D, and A strings. This makes playing higher up the neck in that range that much more effective and inviting. Francisco Tárrega’s “Marieta Mazurka” is a good example of a piece that particularly suits this gutiar, as it climbs higher up the neck to the midrange and just above it.
The model I reviewed had comfortable action—just close enough to the fretboard to make it easy on my fretting hand, but without buzzing. And the neck’s satin finish made it perfect for sliding up and down, as did its slender shape. Mimicking boutique acoustic builders, Cort used a complex method to round the edges of the Gold-Edge’s frets—an aspect that ends up making a subtle difference to an effortlessly playable neck.
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The Gold-Edge comes equipped with an L.R. Baggs Anthem pickup, which is designed with a combination of an Element undersaddle pickup and Bagg’s patented Tru-Mic microphone, located right under the bridge. Placed under the top edge of the soundhole, the preamp allows you to adjust volume, phase, and the mix between the undersaddle pickup and the microphone. There’s also a handy button that allows you to check the battery life.
Plugged into my Roland CUBE Street EX, I found that the clarity from both pickups is excellent. I really liked the tone with the wheel turned all the way to the Element undersaddle side, but also found the Tru-Mic to have a wider, roomier sound. Having it in the center makes for a great balance between the two. Overall, the preamp has great fidelity and I was able to play loudly without unwanted distortion.
All in all, the Cort Gold-Edge is a classy, distinguished model with a warm, rich low end and midrange and a bold sound. It’s a great guitar for really digging in and is set up with quality electronics. I would recommend it for guitarists who play folk and country music, or any situation calling for a strong, vibrant sound that carries.
- BODY Grand auditorium size with Venetian cutaway; torrefied solid Sitka spruce top; solid flamed myrtlewood back and sides; hand-scalloped X-bracing; ebony bridge; triple bevel cut (armrest, cutaway, ribrest); bone saddle
- NECK Walnut-reinforced mahogany; DoubleLock neck joint; ebony fretboard; 25.3″ scale length; 1-3/4″ bone nut; Grover Vintage tuners
- OTHER L.R. Baggs Anthem preamp; D’Addario EXP16 strings (.012–.053); hardshell case
- MADE IN China
- PRICE $1,499.99 street
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.