I have seen enough Cort guitars to be convinced that the company employs interior designers rather than luthiers to build their instruments! The instruments are extremely high on aesthetics and visual appeal, and by comparison, very average, when it comes to performance.
Take a look at some of the appointments on this little body guitar that came to me recently.
- open-back butterbean ‘GROVER’ tuners with a ratio of 1:18. Though the tuning machines proudly proclaim ‘Grover’, I am not very sure if it is the same company. Why I doubt they were Grovers is because the real ones would never have their coating peel like these ones in just five or six years. 50 or 60 years, maybe!
- lovely two-piece solid Mahogany back (and sides) with a rope-design binding in between
- celluloid tortoise shell-bound headstock and fretboard (it actually lit up each time it caught the light). You want more?
It had a beautiful Venetian cutaway, a Fishman Presys – Sonicore pickup on board and a solid Red Cedar top.
This instrument was a L500F NAT, a model which the company has since discontinued (I tried searching for it on the Cort site but could not find it). Small of body, I guessed that it was more of a finger-stylist’s instrument of choice.
Wonder of wonders, it belonged to an accomplished performing/recording artist, capable of creating magic with it through his fingers.
His complaint was that the guitar had very poor intonation. As soon as he said that, my eyes went to the saddle.
Can you see the problem? Let me amplify the image a bit.
Do you see it now? That piece of paper stuck in front of the saddle meant that the saddle was falling over: too thin for the slot. Yeah! Sure enough!
I told the young man that I will change the saddle and nut, put in bone elements and everything would be fine.
Later, as I went about working on the instrument, I pulled out the saddle, lifted the piezo element, and…
…I could have jumped as if I had seen a snake hiding under it. I tell you, the logic of it beats me completely. You use a piece of plastic for a saddle and that too you need to shim up with whatever you can lay your hands on???
As I gave the instrument a once over, I noticed that the first five fretwires were a bit munched.
I started from here. I ‘mummified’ the first six frets
smoothed out the first five fretwires, threw in a new bone saddle and nut cleaned up the guitar and…I have no photographs to show!!!
Somehow, the memory card on my phone went on the blink and never captured any of the following photos!
With the new bone saddle in place, I checked the intonation, but strangely, it was more than a few cents off. I’ve never had that problem with a saddle that I replaced, and now that I was encountering it, it meant just one thing: the bridge was not in the right place.
What had to be done then, was to manually file the saddle and get the intonation within a couple of cents of acceptable limits.