From the November/December 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY NICK MILLEVOI
I’m frequently drawn to short-scale guitars. Their small size makes it so easy to get around I feel like a supercharged version of myself that can play faster, better articulate my notes, and reach wider chord grips. While this makes these instruments fun to play around with, my enthusiasm usually wanes as their tinny tone wears me down and I just want to hear a big, open-position chord full of warmth and life—something these little guitars tend not to supply.
Of course, this is understandable: most short-scale acoustic guitars, such as the 3/4-size Cort Mini, are either meant for young students who will soon outgrow them, or are meant to be travel guitars that get put away as soon as you’re back home with your old standby.
With the introduction of the Gold Mini F, Cort has given its entry-level Mini a serious upgrade, paying enough extra attention to detail to catch the eye of even a serious player looking for a fun addition to their collection.
Cort makes its intentions for the Gold Mini F very clear by selecting a torrefied solid Adirondack spruce top as this guitar’s leading feature. Adi, as it’s affectionally known, is the same wood used on highly-coveted prewar Martins. On higher-end modern instruments it’s usually an expensive upgrade from the more common Sitka spruce. It’s surprising, though very much welcome, to see this tonewood on an affordably priced, Chinese-made instrument such as this. Upon opening the case, I was immediately struck by how handsome this guitar is, mostly because of its attention-grabbing top.
Solid mahogany back and sides help give the guitar an elegant, vintage-style appearance, while gold-plated tuners and an abalone rosette supply just enough swank to strengthen the case for the Gold Mini F’s upmarket aspirations without appearing gaudy or excessive. It’s a sharp guitar that will catch some eyes if you take it out on a gig.
Resonance and Character
Playing the Gold Mini F is fun and easy. With a 22.8-inch scale and 1-11/16-inch nut width, the neck is noticeably short, but it’s easy to adjust and start maneuvering around without really thinking about it.
The 3/4-size dreadnought body sounds like what you’d expect from a full-size dreadnought, just a bit scaled-down. Given the excellent wood selection, it should be no surprise that this is a resonant guitar with a lot of character, but it’s unexpected how much it rewards digging in with a pick. While naturally lacking the deep, resonant bass notes of a gold-standard dreadnought like a Martin D-28, the Gold Mini F still has a pretty wide frequency range and punchy mids. And though I didn’t try it myself, the way this guitar is voiced leads me to believe that Nashville tuning would really sing on the Gold Mini F.
Our demo model came set up and ready to go with light-gauge strings and low action that gave it some of the easy playability of an electric. Hanging out in first position and playing open chords, I found the tone full and balanced, while moving around the neck, I could easily imagine this guitar cutting through some other instruments with some Western swing–style comping. I had the most fun playing leads at the high end of the fretboard, where I was pleasantly surprised to find that bending notes was a breeze, even on the G string: a welcome departure from the stiffer action on my full-size dreadnought.
The Gold Mini F is outfitted with an onboard Fishman Flex Plus system, which features an under-the-saddle Sonicore pickup and three low-profile knobs for volume, bass, and treble. When plugging in acoustic guitars with piezo pickups, I’m a big fan of using vintage tube amps for warmth and character, so I played the Gold Mini F through my 1970s Fender Champ. This opened up the guitar’s sound quite a bit; it allowed access to a wide frequency range and granted access to those big bass frequencies that were lacking acoustically. It’s easy to close your eyes and forget how tiny this guitar is once it’s plugged in!
The onboard pickup makes the Gold Mini F a solid asset to have around as an addition to a live rig or for home recording. If your set requires multiple guitars for alternate tunings, this little guitar would be a great way to lessen your gig load-in without sacrificing tone. Speaking of carrying it to a show, Cort sends the Gold Mini F in an upgraded case from the other Mini models. The included gig bag has thick foam padding with a heavy-duty reinforced neck block and padded back straps, so it’s ready to get tossed in the back seat.
Ultimately, the Gold Mini F is an impressive little guitar that is outfitted to handle a variety of playing duties. It’s affordable enough just for fun or travel, but it also sounds and looks good and has enough novel features to work it into your regular arsenal.
BODY 3/4-size dreadnought; torrefied solid Adirondack spruce top with hand scalloped x-bracing; solid mahogany back and sides; black binding with triple-ply purpling; abalone rosette; UV finish
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NECK 22.8″-scale mahogany neck with double-lock joint; Macassar ebony fretboard; 1-11/16″ nut; die-cast gold tuners
EXTRAS Fishman Flex Plus EQ system; Macassar ebony bridge with ebony pins; D’Addario EXP16 strings (.012–.053); padded gig bag
MADE IN China
PRICE $649.99 street
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.