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Cort G290 LE & X300 LE Mosaic review

With boutique features and killer price tags, these new limited-edition Cort models are an absolute steal

Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Our Verdict

Super-playable, with a wide range of tones at a more than decent price, these Corts are serious shredders with a bit of depth to them. Okay, so we are not sold on the Mosaic's finish, but it's a screamer, while the G290 might just be the affordable boutique HH S-style you've been looking for.

For

  • The G290 has boutique quality, tone and performance.
  • Jaw-dropping price.
  • The Mosaic is a classic 80s rock and metal beast.
  • Great feel and tone.

Against

  • You'll love or hate the Mosaic's finish.
  • The weight could be an issue for some of you.

Last year, Cort released the sub-£1,000 G290 FAT, the greatest giant killer since David smacked Goliath on the nut with a pebble. Priced at a mere £579, this exceptional guitar set its sights on the boutique market and minds were blown. 

Now the brand has released a limited-edition mahogany-riddled version and what looks like a strummable chessboard. Time for some cross examination… The G290 LE on trial today is a limited-edition version of that groundbreaking G290. 

The standard model features a flame maple-topped swamp-ash body and bolt-on birdseye maple neck and fingerboard. Our LE is packing a flame maple top on an African-mahogany back. That top is a 7mm slice of AAAA flame maple. That’s two more As than the Bisto Kids used to describe their gravy. That’s how tasty this guitar’s top looks, too. 

The LE’s satin-finish neck is one-piece African mahogany working in cahoots with a thick ebony ’board with a 305mm to 406mm (12 to 16-inch) compound radius and 22 stainless-steel jumbo frets. The quality of the G290 LE’s hardware is exceptional. The recessed chrome CFA-III vibrato features a steel baseplate, stainless-steel saddles and a solid machined steel block. 

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Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
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Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The locking tuners are staggered to negate the need for string trees. Noise is produced via a pair of direct-mounted Cort Voiced Tone VTH-77 humbuckers, with satin-finish covers, routed through a master volume, master tone and a five-way pickup selector lever switch.

One thing we didn’t expect is the guitar’s weight. Most modern rock guitars are so light you have to tie them to things when unattended like they did with horses in John Wayne movies. The G290 LE troubles gravity to the tune of 4.2kg (9.5lb). That’s non-weight-relieved Gibson Les Paul or indeed 70s Fender Telecaster territory. Let’s see how that heft translates into tone…

Shining the table lamp on the X300 LE Mosaic reveals the limited-edition take on the existing X300 model. While that guitar comes spec’d with a flame maple top on an American basswood body, our new kid on the block features a maple, rosewood, panga panga and purpleheart concoction on a mahogany back.

Time to ’fess up. We’re not completely sold on this. It looks like a cross between a pair of old prog-rocker leggings and an artisanal chopping board. It’s not particularly well executed, either.

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Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
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Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
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Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
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Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The mix of tight and open pore wood, and a finish that looks like it was applied with a brush, looks awkward. There are rough spots on the edge of the body, too. The X300’s ill-advised block party aside, the rest of what’s on offer is much more agreeable.

At the body end, you get a chunky recessed Floyd Rose Special double-locking vibrato and a pair of open coil EMG Retro Active Hot 70 humbuckers wired to a master volume, master tone and three-way pickup selector switch. The active pups are fuelled by a nine-volt battery that lives under a wee hatch on the rear of the body.

The guitar’s DNA reveals its identity as a shred machine, as witnessed in its 400mm (15.75-inch) radius ebony fingerboard and 24 jumbo frets, all housed on a 648mm (25.5-inch) scale bolt-on maple neck. A locking top nut and die-cast tuners complete the case for the defence.

Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Feel & Sounds

The 400mm (15.75-inch) radius X300 LE is an out-and-out shredder. As a consequence, we prefer the wider appeal of the G290 LE’s compound radius. Upper-fret reach is assisted by the X300 LE’s sculpted heel, and the G290 LE goes one better with a pimped heel plus some radical reshaping on the rear of the treble side cutaway.

Feel wise, the X300 LE has a medium-to-slim D profile with a flat spot that runs down the length of the neck. The G290 LE features more of a medium rounded C vibe with enough additional meat in the shoulders to out girth its brother.

Cort in session? Well, first to take the stand is the X300 LE. It might present itself as a shred monster but the EMG Retro Active Hot 70 humbuckers offer some Jekyll-and-Hyde versatility.

It turns out the G290 LE sounds every bit as good as it looks

The ceramic-magnet-loaded bridge unit offers enough output to intimidate your amp’s front-end. It will do clean but not really to anyone’s absolute satisfaction. Feed it with some gain, however, and it opens for business.

Depending on the gain, you can move between Van Halen and, say, Slayer-type aural terrorism. Clarity remains razor-sharp at all stops along the way.

The neck pickup is loaded with Alnico 5 mags giving that position a warmer voice. There’s still plenty of power, mind, all with that famous active clarity. It might not be a blues-head’s dream pickup but it will allow shredders to venture into more vintage-sounding territory.

Time to call our next witness. It turns out the G290 LE sounds every bit as good as it looks. That old-school body weight translates into wonderful sustain and an underlying warmth that gives the direct mount Voiced Tone VTH-77 humbuckers something to build on.

Thanks to the coil-splitting five-way switch and twangy 648mm (25.5-inch) scale length you can get Jimi-style in-between tones on this thing. Clean, the bridge unit is bright and chimey but adding a touch of overdrive really gets it pumping.

The neck unit does all the warm blues and jazz stuff you could ever want but we couldn’t avoid the pull of the bridge pickup for too long. The combination of the body sustain and the smooth travel of the vibrato almost convinced us we were getting close to a Jeff Beck vibe.

Even if we were bound by our limitations, it seems there’s nothing this guitar can’t do…

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Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
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Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Verdict

There’s no hung jury here. While we enjoyed preparing our case with testimony from both of these guitars, one emerged as our star witness. The X300 LE Mosaic happily pleads guilty to being an old-school shredder that happens to possess a bit more tonal versatility than that charge sheet suggests.

This is everything a great modern rock guitar should be. Flawless construction, first-class playability and an impressive tonal range

Okay, the patchwork quilt top is an acquired taste but there’s no denying the value of that flat fingerboard radius, the jumbo frets and your classic double-locking Floyd Rose. The versatile EMG pickups round off the throwback 80s metal vibe. 

Competent as the X300 LE is, we’re stunned that the G290 LE costs a mere 200 sheets more. After a few hours with this impressive guitar our smile couldn’t have been wider if the Joker carved it there himself.

Yes, the weight may be an issue for some players but if you can shoulder that burden then you’re left with a boutique-style instrument at less than half the price of its intended rivals. This is everything a great modern rock guitar should be. Flawless construction, first-class playability and an impressive tonal range. This thing is punching way above its pay grade.

There’s no (open and shut) case or gigbag with either of these guitars, but the G290 LE is a giant killer for sure. In fact, add the LE to your wishlist of potential purchases and there’s a good chance that the competition may falter and you’ll be left, ahem, holding Cort. Trust us, the guitar is way better than our jokes.

Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Specs

Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

Cort X300 LE Mosaic (Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: $825 / £699
  • ORIGIN: Indonesia
  • TYPE: Offset double-cutaway solid body electric guitar
  • BODY: Mahogany w/ maple, rosewood, panga panga and purpleheart mosaic top
  • NECK: 3-piece Canadian hard maple, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Floyd Rose locking/42.85mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Ebony, 400mm (15.75”) radius
  • FRETS: 24, jumbo
  • HARDWARE: Black Floyd Rose Special double-locking vibrato, Cort die-cast tuners
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 54mm
  • ELECTRICS: 2x EMG Retro Active Hot 70 humbuckers, 3-way pickup selector lever switch, master volume, master tone,
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.6/7.14
  • OPTIONS: None
  • RANGE OPTIONS: Cort X300 (£449) has the same spec as X300 LE Mosaic apart from American basswood with flame maple top body in Brown Burst, Grey Burst and Blue Burst finishes
  • LEFT HANDERS: No
  • FINISHES: Mosaic (as reviewed)

Cort G290 LE and X300 LE Mosaic

Cort G290 LE  (Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: $1,061 / £899
  • ORIGIN: Indonesia
  • TYPE: Offset double-cutaway solid body electric guitar
  • BODY: African mahogany w/ AAAA 7mm flame maple top
  • NECK: African mahogany w/ graphite bar reinforcement bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Graphite/42mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Ebony, 305-406mm (12-16”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, jumbo stainless steel
  • HARDWARE: Chrome Cort CFA-III 6-saddle vibrato with push-in arm, Cort staggered-post locking tuners
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 53mm
  • ELECTRICS: 2x direct mounted Cort Voiced Tone VTH-77 humbuckers with satin finish covers, 5-way pickup selector lever switch, master volume, master tone
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 4.4/9.5
  • OPTIONS: None
  • RANGE OPTIONS: Cort G290 FAT (£579) has the same spec as LE except swamp ash body and flame maple top, birdseye maple neck and fingerboard in Antique Violin Burst and Bright Blue Burst
  • LEFT HANDERS: No
  • FINISHES: Lagoon Beach (as reviewed)
  • CONTACT: Cort Guitars