The new B5 Element from Cort draws on the most popular features of the brand’s Artisan range, adding to the mix a Bartolini electronics package, Hipshot and MetalCraft hardware, and a roasted maple fingerboard.
Given its affordable price, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Is the sum of the parts worthy of your attention? Let’s find out.
The rounded body curves, deep lower cutaway and contouring to the rear of the body make this a very comfortable bass guitar to wear, despite its 9.3-pound weight. Despite the existence of some noticeable headstock bias, this is solved when you play it on a strap.
The five-piece walnut and panga panga laminate neck is connected to the body courtesy of a four-bolt attachment. Though the neck appears at first to be solid and robust, there are two small gaps around the pocket where it doesn’t sit completely flush against the body.
I found the rounded neck profile a little clubby, although the bulky feel is offset by the almost-flat radius of the roasted maple fingerboard and as a whole, the neck feels substantial and well-finished, with no sharp fret ends. The warm shades of the neck and fingerboard timbers contrast markedly with the ash body top, but are very much in keeping with the mahogany core.
Black hardware reinforces the look of this instrument, with Hipshot Ultralite machine heads and a MetalCraft M5 bridge that facilitates both through-body and toploaded stringing.
Abalone position markers adorn the fingerboard, while white dots have been used along the side of the neck. The bass comes with a full Bartolini MK-1 package, comprising a pair of soapbar pickups. For controls, a three-band EQ circuit offers cut and boost across their respective frequencies, and there’s also an active/passive selector.
Sounds and Playability
From the moment you pick up the B5 Element, its forthright character is very apparent and no matter what playing style you wish to employ, a throaty midrange punch is noticeable. The bass has a pleasing ‘bounce’ in its core tone, and when played acoustically, the B5 projects notes from every string across the whole neck with an energetic spring.
If you want the EQ to dampen down some of this natural liveliness, you’ll be disappointed. The woody punch is with you from the moment you plug the bass in, particularly across the low-mid frequencies. Some players will be happy to hear this, of course, while others may not – it depends on how you want to put those lively tones to use.
If you want an old school rounded tone, pan across to the neck pickup, where the EQ will allow you to replace some of the punch with boosted bass frequencies; however, the gritty tone is still there. Slap, tap and pick players, though, may find that this punchy quality helps to raise the signal over a band mix, giving the bass more character and projection.
Having said all that, this bass has plenty of tonal power on tap, and the extensive EQ gives the player an impressive palette of tones from which to choose. The bass EQ is robust and full, while the treble performance is clear, delivering a considerable amount of finesse to your signal.
The midrange is where you need to focus your attention, and without a mid-sweep control to select a frequency to modulate, any boosting will accentuate the punchy qualities of this bass.
In terms of playability, the B5 Element is a pleasure to handle. Cort should be congratulated for taking the best qualities of their other basses and adding them to this model.
The neck is very rewarding to play, aided by an 18mm string spacing, and although the bass doesn’t feature a 35” scale length, the low B string performs impressively alongside the other strings, giving a consistent tonal performance across the whole neck.
This is a solid performer in every respect, with a core tone that will work for a lot of players. At this price, there is very little to complain about. The B5 Element gives other, more expensive instruments a run for their money, so if you’re looking for an affordable five-string, we recommend it.
- PRICE: $649
- MADE IN: Indonesia
- COLOR: Natural
- BODY: Mahogany core, ash top
- NECK: Walnut and panga panga, 34” scale
- NECK JOIN: Bolt-on
- FINGERBOARD: Roasted maple
- FRETS: 24
- PICKUPS: 2 x Bartolini MK-1
- ELECTRONICS: Bartolini MK-1 circuit, active, 9-volt
- CONTROLS: Volume, balance, bass / middle / treble cut / boost, active / passive switch
- HARDWARE: MetalCraft M5 bridge, Hipshot Ultralite machine heads
- WEIGHT: 9.3 lbs
- CASE/GIG-BAG INCLUDED: No
- LEFT-HANDED OPTION: No
- CONTACT: Cort