Cort Guitars is well known for producing instruments for several prominent brands—its own among them—with a primary focus on affordability. Lately, the company has been making a name for itself, perhaps most notably with the Gene Simmons Signature Axe Bass. (If you missed it, check out the August ’10 issue for a review of this “pinnacle of all rock instruments.”) While many of Cort’s budget basses hover in the $300–$500 range, the company’s Artisan series offers high-end models for players who want to tap into classy features but still leave enough in their wallet to pay for gas to the gig. For under $1,000, the A5-Custom Z does just that, boasting exotic woods, superior construction, and quality electronics.
The A5-Custom Z sports a dramatic zebrawood top. It gives the bass a bold look that might be too audacious for some, but I dig it. Zebrawood is a heavy and hardwood with a somewhat coarse grain; like most exotic tops, on basses, it works best as a thin veneer laid over a more sonically productive body. For the A5 body, Cort chose a well-established, warm-sounding wood, mahogany. Interestingly, they also added a zebrawood back as well, a nice surprise; I don’t find many basses where the back is as pleasing to the eye as the front. The matching headstock ties it all together, making the bass look good top to- bottom, front-to-back.