Style and plugged-in performance come cheap in Cort’s handsome and inexpensive big-body flattop.
A good jumbo with easy playability and retro flair.
Laminated construction. Unplugged sound could be more powerful. Case not included.
Cort Guitars CJ Jumbo
High-end guitar makers like Bourgeois, Collings/Waterloo, Martin, and Santa Cruz have mined the potential of old-school designs for years. And it’s nice for retro-minded, budget-conscious players that companies at the other end of the price spectrum are following their lead. A good case in point is the South Korean company Cort, which has been a major player in the affordable guitar market for decades, making instruments under its own name and for others, like Ibanez and ESP.
Cort’s new CJ Retro Jumbo is an unabashedly retro acoustic-electric—at least outwardly. There’s more than a little influence from Gibson’s legendary, category-defining J-200. The top-mounted knobs also nod to the Gibson J-160 that the Beatles made famous. But unlike either of those iconic guitars, the CJ Retro Jumbo sells for a song at about $300 and offers a lot of bang for very few bucks.
There was a time when wallet-friendly acoustic guitars tended to have uninspired designs. But the CJ Retro Jumbo is emblematic of a trend toward stylishness at the most accessible prices. The guitar is made from the time-honored combination of a spruce top and mahogany back and sides—though all of the tonewood that makes up the body is laminated. (Before you scoff, keep in mind that Lennon and Harrison’s J-160s also had laminated tops, which didn’t keep them from featuring prominently on more than a few zillion-selling records). The neck, the fretboard, and bridge are fashioned out of merbau, a rosewood alternative. The fretboard sports snazzy overlapping parallelogram inlays that pay stylized homage to Gibson’s split parallelogram inlays and look very similar to those found on the Deluxe versions of Collings’ thinline electric guitars.
Overall, the CJ Retro Jumbo is well built, with a nicely set neck, decent fretwork, and cleanly cut nut and saddle slots. Things are clean inside the box, too, and the satin finish is a refreshing change from the thick, glossy polyurethane commonly seen on guitars in this class. The build quality is not perfect. There are areas were the binding/purfling could have been more attentively scraped, and the bridge feels a bit rough to the touch. Small finishing irregularities like these are not uncommon on guitars in this price class, however, and none of them affect playability.
Slim ‘n’ Fat
Like many modern inexpensive guitars, the CJ Retro Jumbo’s playability is worlds better than the budget offerings of yesteryear. The action is low, intonation is excellent, and it’s a breeze to play up and down the fretboard. The relatively narrow 1 11/16" nut width and the slim, shallow C-shaped neck will feel comfortable to electric players, too. It feels equally hospitable to pick or fingerstyle play.
Typically, jumbos possess power that can be heard and felt. Power wasn’t necessarily the first thing that came to mind when I initially strummed the CJ Retro Jumbo, which may be due to some extent to the laminated construction. That’s not to say that the guitar is without sonic merits, however. While it might lack the typical jumbo explosiveness, there are no dead spots on the neck, and balance between registers and from string to string is excellent, which make it extra nice for open tunings. Whether I played country-blues-style patterns, strummed vigorously like Pete Townshend, or performed classical right-hand studies or chord-melody style jazz, I appreciated the CJ Retro Jumbo’s clear, uncluttered sound—and the fact that it’s easy to discern the individual notes of complex and closely voiced chords.
The CJ Retro Jumbo is fitted with Fishman’s Neo D magnetic humbucking soundhole pickup (a value-priced take on Fishman’s acclaimed Rare Earth pickup) and Fishman’s VTB active electronics. The system feels well paired with the instrument. Plugged into a Fender Acoustasonic with the tone controls on both the guitar and the amp set flat, the CJ Retro Jumbo retained its balance between strings, but also sounded a bit more, well, Jumbo. The pickup adds body and shimmer and is very noise-free, to boot—a big plus for recording or performing.
Cort’s CJ Retro Jumbo might not win over any hardcore acoustic aficionados. But it would be a smart companion for a rock-oriented singer-songwriter, roots, or country player. And it’s not only gig-ready with its Fishman electronics—it’s also relatively feedback resistant, which makes it a working proposition for a loud band that likes an acoustic in the mix. Heck, it probably even works great as a rhythm guitar with a Twin Reverb. Stylish and inexpensive, the CJ Jumbo is a cool way to break out of the same old affordable acoustic box.
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This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA
MLA Pedals AC/OD - Music & Demo by A. Barrero
Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials