Review: Cort MBC-1 Matthew Bellamy Signature Guitar

(Image credit: Cort Guitars)

In addition to being one of the most original and innovative players to come along in quite a while, Muse guitarist Matthew Bellamy is well known for his supermassive collection of more than 40 custom-made Manson guitars, which he started playing in 2001.

The price of a custom Manson similar to any of the various models Bellamy has designed and plays starts at around $4,500, but recently Bellamy and Manson Guitar Works collaborated with Cort Guitars to offer a Matthew Bellamy signature model with many features found on Bellamy’s personal instruments while selling for a much more affordable price.

With its unique elongated Tele-style single-cutaway body shape, “matt” black finish, custom Manson pickups, and kill switch, the Cort MBC-1 Matthew Bellamy signature stands far apart from the average, run-of-the-mill budget guitars in its price range. The body is basswood, and the maple bolt-on neck has a rosewood fretboard, compound radius, 25 1/2-inch scale, and 22 medium-jumbo frets with a relatively flat profile.

The hardware is chrome-plated and includes Cort locking tuners with staggered-height pegs and a Tune-o-matic-style bridge with stop tailpiece. Pickups consist of a Manson-designed single-coil at the neck and a Manson-designed humbucker at the bridge. Controls include master volume, master tone, a three-position pickup selector toggle, and a mini “arcade-style” spring-loaded kill switch mounted on the upper bass bout.

The Cort MBC-1 most closely resembles the Manson Matt Black model that has been one of Bellamy’s main stage guitars since 2012.

The build quality and attention to detail are uncommon for a guitar in this price range, but this is a reflection of Manson’s involvement in both the design and development of the instrument. Our test example had a nearly perfect setup right out of the box, needing just a quick truss rod adjustment via the easily accessible wheel above the 22nd fret.

With its slim, rounded profile and gloss finish, the neck is very fast, and the generously contoured body offers a comfortable, unobtrusive feel in both sitting and standing playing positions. While it doesn’t have a built-in Sustainer, Kaoss pad, or other effects like many of Bellamy’s Mansons, it is still a very versatile instrument with crisp single-coil and dark humbucking pickup tones that enable it to go from bright to black in an instant. The kill switch is much more than a novelty, allowing players to manually create tremolo-style effects, DJ-like stutters, and even abrasive trills.

LIST PRICE: $799.99

• The custom-design Manson single-coil neck and humbucker bridge pickups provide balanced bright and dark tones or an alluring blend of both.

• Custom-quality touches include the “matt” black finish, locking tuners with staggered-height pegs, and kill switch.

Providing the feel and features of a custom instrument, the Cort MBC-1 Matthew Bellamy signature guitar offers an incredible bargain for both Muse fans and like-minded guitarists who prefer to pursue their own paths.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.