Cort Little CJ Walnut OP review

The small guitar that goes large on value? Little CJ is a travel-sized acoustic you'll love even if you're going nowhere

(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Guitar World Verdict

Pros

  • +

    Lovely tones that bely its size.

  • +

    With the curved back and neck profile, it's very comfortable.

  • +

    Excellent pickup and preamp.

  • +

    Vintage-style 18:1 open-gear tuners.

Cons

  • -

    If you need low-end boom, you'll need to look elsewhere.

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With Cort’s recent electric guitar (opens in new tab) output consistently impressing us, it’s time to cast our critical eyes and ears over to its acoustic (opens in new tab) line up. And this is a great way to start; Cort’s entry into the travel guitar market with a ¾ electro.  

Travel-size acoustics exist in a bit of a strange place. There are obvious compromises in sound and scale for the playing experience, but when the recipe is right, they make perfect sense. 

The portability and pick-up-and-play factor can encourage us to play more. We’ll take them away with us, we might even get so attached to our travel-size acoustic we gig with it. So have Cort got the mix right here? 

The ¾ jumbo Little CJ certainly looks the part; the build is very tidy indeed. The open pore (hence the OP in the name) solid Sitka spruce top is subtly framed with black and white purfling to look crisp and clean. The neck is even better news. It’s vital a short scale acoustic doesn’t cramp the playing experience and the V profile delivers here. 

It’s helped by a superb setup out of the box; low action and the kind of healthy slack that amounts to a fast neck. It’s one of the most playable acoustics we’ve encountered in some time.  

The mid warmth shines through for a full-bodied sound – you just wouldn’t know it was a small guitar if you heard this live

The tonality of small-bodied acoustics is sometimes described as boxy and mid-focussed, but that’s not a slight. This isn’t a guitar that is going to bely its dimensions to sound like a dreadnought in the low end, but it has its own charms to project; a ringing a defined separation that lets the high end detail breath in chords.

And for fingerstyle, the V neck reminds us of Yamaha’s CSF models in that you can forget you’re playing a ¾ size guitar.

The Little CJ features a subtly arched back that Cort claims enhances comfort – and we won’t argue with that after our playing experience.

The Little CJ features a subtly arched back that Cort claims enhances comfort – and we won’t argue with that after our playing experience. (Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The electro part of the equation here is no afterthought. With other brands opting for low profile, minimal preamp systems like the Fishman Sonitone, we’re pleased to see Cort opt for the company’s Presys II. 

This doesn’t just offer Bass, Treble and Phase control but an onboard tuner, too. Useful and very welcome. Moreover, the Little CJ sounds rather big plugged in. The mid warmth shines through for a full-bodied sound – you just wouldn’t know it was a small guitar if you heard this live. 

The Little CJ is one of the very best value travel acoustics on the market right now. There’s a lot of different players who would enjoy this; from younger starters, to electric players cautiously eyeing an acoustic purchase... Or anyone who just wants a little guitar in their life. And surely we’ve all got room for that.

Specs

  • PRICE: $599 / £369
  • TYPE: Mini jumbo ¾ size travel electro acoustic
  • TOP: Solid Sitka spruce
  • BACK AND SIDES: Walnut (laminate)
  • BRACING: Advanced X
  • SCALE LENGTH: 23.5” (597mm)
  • NECK: Mahogany
  • FINGERBOARD: Ovangkol
  • FINISH: Open Pore Spruce (also available: Little CJ Blackwood w/ blackwood top, back and sides; Little CJ Natural w/ mahogany back and sides)
  • ELECTRICS: Fishman Presys II with Volume, Bass, Treble, Phase switch, chromatic tuner; Fishman Sonicore undersaddle piezo
  • HARDWARE: Vintage-style open gear tuners, ovangkol bridge
  • LEFT-HANDED: No
  • CASE: Gig bag
  • CONTACT: Cort (opens in new tab) 

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Rob Laing

Rob is the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar (opens in new tab), handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar, he worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including as Editor of Total Guitar. He's currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with his own songs and is enjoying playing covers in function bands.