Cort GB75JH Review
Cort delivers a 35"-scale, 5-string beast of a bass that offers snap, pop, and sustain galore through a smart pickup combo and mindful construction.
Recorded using a PreSonus FireStudio and PreSonus Studio One 3
Clip 1: Humbucker soloed in passive mode. Bass EQ maxed.
Clip 2: Pickups blended in active mode with bass EQ maxed.
Clip 3: Neck (Jazz-style) pickup soloed. EQ flat.
Few brands can boast the broad base of players that Cort can. It’s no secret the company has been making an extensive line of budget friendly basses bearing its name for decades, but there are also lots of other brands being manufactured under Cort factory roofs as well. Chances are you’ve had your hands on something engineered and manufactured by the South Korea-based company.
“Budget friendly” and “master built” are rarely uttered in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence, but Cort has been working at altering the reputation that can follow a company after making a name in entry-level instruments. Artists such as Jeff Berlin and Frank Gambale have worked with Cort on successful, well-made artist models. And by aligning itself with such luminaries and building on their experience, Cort has come out swinging with new lines of mid-priced instruments, which blend affordability with well-detailed craftsmanship. One such bass is the GB75JH.
Let the Cort-ship Begin
Out of the box, the GB75JH just looks like a beast. It’s a 35"-scale, 5-string, Jazz-style bass with a fat humbucker staring at me—almost taunting. The presentation is slick and I like the Jazz-style/humbucker pickup combo, which can land us on many points of the tone map. My experience with this pickup combo has leaned more toward a modern, edgy sound with the Jazz-style pickup in the neck position being the yin to the humbucker’s yang.
I plugged the GB75JH into an Eden CXC210 combo as well as a Line 6 Helix for some processed tones. With the bass strapped up, it laid even and comfortably with zero neck dive. The body is comfortable, but the striking feature for me is the 12" radius on the neck. The wide neck and 19 mm string spacing made me work! If you are considering the jump from a 4- to 5-string with this bass, be prepared for quite an adjustment.
Dialing in a startup tone isn’t hard with the GB since the electronics are easy to navigate. The volume pot works double duty as a push-pull for active and passive switching. There is a pickup blend and a 2-band EQ. I also like how the controls sit out in the open, with the clear pickguard stopping short of including the controls. It’s a nice aesthetic touch.
With the controls even, pickups level, and the switch in passive mode, I was greeted with a bright, responsive bass that was comfortable with every note on the maple neck. Maple adds to the GB’s snap factor, for sure. Still, when rolling between the humbucker and the single-coil, I wasn’t terribly impressed in passive mode. The pickups do work well together, but singled out, each pickup was just okay. The humbucker was mid-heavy but a bit thin, and the Jazz-style was the mellower of the two, giving a slight vintage vibe. But wait, we have an EQ….
I jumped into active mode with all the controls set even—no cut or boost on the EQ. Active mode is the “down” position of the volume pot, which makes sense since a control knob sticking up all the time isn’t so aesthetically pleasing, and because most folks will probably be going with the active option. The GB gave me a robust and super-tight tone that rang with great clarity. With a little boost of the EQ’s lows, the bass starts sounding big and authoritative. I was still blending both pickups at this point, but then did some toggling.
Humbuckers on a bass make for a sweet and sparkly sound, and their funky mids have wormed their way onto so many great records across all genres. The humbucker on the GB75JH keeps this tradition alive with a huge and snappy tone that should find a home just about anywhere. The bass really popped when diming the EQ controls. The combination of the ash body and Canadian hard-rock-maple neck gave the bass a tornado of pop, and while crushing the EQ all the way might be a bit extreme (and a hair noisy), having this tonal option is nice. When I ran this setting through some effects on the Helix, I found that chorus sounded absolutely eloquent and overdrive was just wrong in the best way.
I must make note of the 5th string on the GB75JH. The 35" scale is no accident, because the low B is super tight—feeling more like an 4th string—and can be drop tuned to A with ease and without getting sloppy. Funk players rejoice!
On the other end of the sonic spectrum, the Jazz-style pickup is nicely voiced in active mode as well. With the bass rolled up and treble zeroed out, the GB75JH took on another face. The subdued vintage tone reminded me of, dare I say, a hollowbody bass—although not a complete tonal replication. Still, the big tone will do nicely in a pinch if that woody, earthy vibe is needed. Once again, this bass could be played all night on this setting as well.
The GB75JH from Cort is a winner. The build features are well planned, from the Hipshot Ultralight tuners to the high-mass Omega bridge, and the bass pops, sings, and sustains for days. The only real build issue I had was with the frets, which needed a little filing on the downward side. This could be due to a climate swing, so I’ll go easy on them. Also, the clear pickguard will scuff easily. But other than that, it appears Cort will be able to turn both heads and players’ ears with the new GB75JH—a marked lift from the previous version.