Posted by Adam Pulmutter
Cort is undoubtedly a familiar name to guitarists, because so many of us started out on an instrument made by this South Korean company. Since the 1960s, Cort has concentrated on building a range of acoustic and electric guitars and basses for other manufacturers while at the same time offering its own line of instruments, which are based on classic American designs and intended to cover a broad range of musical applications. Cort’s MR710F, a cutaway dreadnought with built-in electronics, is one of its most popular acoustic guitars. The new version of the MR710F, which we received for review, is distinguished from its predecessor by its Fishman electronics, genuine bone nut and saddle, and scalloped X-bracing.
Tonewoods and Construction
The MR710F boasts the sort of solid Sitka soundboard usually reserved for more costly guitars. Our review model sports a particularly attractive example, with a warm reddish hue and fine grains punctuated by occasional bearclaw figuring. The laminated back and sides and three-piece neck are made from a luminous selection of mahogany, but the rosewood used for the fingerboard and bridge is a tepid brown.
Visually, the MR710F is not particularly distinctive but it is conventionally handsome. The fingerboard and body are trimmed with single-ply ivoroid binding, echoed in the heel cap. The top is wrapped with a fine brownwhite- brown border, and a ring of abalone, along with a series of concentric black-andwhite rings, encircles the soundhole. An oldfashioned tortoise-style pickguard is a nice touch here, too. Micro-dot position markers stud the fingerboard, and the headstock is embellished with the Cort logo in motherof- pearl, along with a triangles-anddiamond motif.
Overall, the MR710F is a solidly built guitar, but its craftsmanship could have been better. When held at certain angles, an orange-peel effect was apparent here and there on the body’s gloss finish; the nut wasn’t quite as wide as the neck on the bass side; and the bridge could have been more carefully shaped and sanded. Needless to say, these minor imperfections come as no big surprise on a guitar at this price and do not
Feel and Sound
Out of the box, the action on our MR710F review guitar was a hair high, but this could easily be addressed by a good guitar tech. The slots on the bone nut and saddle, on the other hand, did not need much in the way of adjustment. (Incidentally, as a thoughtful bonus the guitar comes with a second saddle, made of Tusq, which some players find offers enhanced sustain and clarity.) The medium-girth neck has a C-shaped profile that felt very comfortable in all regions when I played barre chords and single notes alike. Players with small hands will like the relatively narrow nut, at 1-11/16 inches, and the slightly shorter-thanstandard scale length of 25.3 inches, while those with larger mitts will also find the neck comfortable.
Subjected to some Travis-style picking on basic open chords, the MR710F was responsive and well balanced across the spectrum, with a warm mellowness, likely a product of the mahogany body. The guitar had a respectable amount of sustain, probably owing to its solid Sitka top, and it’s likely that the MR710F will sound even better as it ages.
When I played bluesy open-position lines in E, the fretted and open notes rang together nicely, without turning to mush. Higher up the neck, on some closedposition bluegrass and western swing-style runs, the MR710F had a clear, assertive voice with a bit of midrange bark—definitely not the compromised sound one might expect of a guitar at this price—and all the notes sounded true and clear, even in the uppermost regions of the fingerboard.
In D A D G A D and open-G tunings, the MR710F retained its attractive sound. The bass was strong but not overpowering, and the natural harmonics really sparkled and shone in this context. When tuned way down to open C, however, there was a hint of murkiness and the bottom end lost some of its robustness.
Current production MR710F’s include Fishman’s Presys electronics, but while our review guitar had the same Sonitone undersaddle pickup, it came with the previous generation Classic 4T preamp. According to Fishman’s Chris DeMaria, these preamps sound very similar, with the newer Presys being a bit quieter (in terms of noise.) Both systems include controls for volume and EQ and an onboard tuner.
To test the MR710F’s amplified sound, I plugged the guitar into a Fender Acoustasonic 150 amplifier. With the EQ section set flat, the guitar sounded pretty realistic, though just a hint tubby, which I fixed by dropping the mid a bit. Boosting the bass and treble made for a decent fingerpicking tone in which notes rang together clearly, while jacking up the treble alone produced a sound that would allow single-note solos to cut through a band in a live situation.
Smart Guitar, Smart Price
With its smooth cutaway, premium solid soundboard, and Fishman electronics, Cort’s MR710F is a lot of guitar for under $400. With a good setup the instrument would be an excellent choice for a beginning player, casual guitarist, or gigging electric guitarist who occasionally dabbles on acoustic. It’s a comfortable, nicesounding instrument that will work equally well for a number of different stylistic approaches and will likely develop a sweeter voice as it ages.
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SPECS Dreadnought body with Venetian cutaway. Solid Sitka spruce top with scalloped X-bracing. Mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck. Rosewood Fingerboard and bridge. Dovetail neck joint. 25.3-inch scale. 1 11/16-inch nut width. 2 1/8-inch string spacing at saddle. Clear gloss finish. Chrome die-cast tuners. Fishman Presys electronics. D’Addario EXP16 light-gauge strings (.012-.053). Made in China.
PRICE: $499 list/$369 street.
MAKER: Cort: (847) 498-6491 cortguitars.com.