Sunday, 24 June 2012

Cort Curbow Bass Guitar Review

Key Info
  • Luthite Body
  • 3 Piece Hard Maple Neck
  • Bolt On Neck (5 screw)
  • Ebanol Fretboard
  • 27 Large Frets
  • 34 inch Scale
  • Bridge EB10
  • Bartolini AMK-1 Active Pickup
  • Slap Switch
  • Greg Curbow Design

The Cort Curbow has been described as "a beginners' guitar", and a few reviews complain about the small body and Luthite construction. Let's be clear. This is a fairly low-budget bass. It is not aimed at the professional musician doesn't know that!! I think it's a great bass with immense personality. The tonal range is perhaps not as flexible as some, but the EQ has great variation and we're all going to play it through an amp so you'll gain flexibility there too. The reviewed model is a 5 string, and for my taste (or ability!), it's a bit tight for slap and pop techniques, but there are some great exponents of the technique out there on YouTube who cope very nicely thank you!! 

This bass has Luthite body. So what on Earth is Luthite?? Google says it is a "lightweight synthetic composite material, designed as a substitute for wood for guitar and bass bodies". It has the advantage that it can be moulded into pretty much any shape, and is apparently designed to be more consistent than wood... Now, is it better than good old fashioned wood?... Well, it is lighter, so for that all night gig, it could save your back, however, some say it hasn't got the sound of wood and isn't as durable. Personally, I have found that it is indeed a little lighter than its wooden counterparts and it does indeed have its own bright and modern sound, which suits this bass very well. But is it better?...  Well, again, in my opinion, no! I prefer my wooden bodied guitars - they have more depth to their sound, even un-amplified. However, having said this we need to remember the price tag of this guitar. 

The neck is hard rock maple (3 piece construction) and is bolt-on, with five screws. It fits deep into the body, making the guitar seem smaller, almost a cross between a long and short scale and the depth of the neck placement is supposed to help with sustain, being so close to the pick up. 

The bass has an Ebanol fingerboard. Now the next question I hear you ask is "what is Ebanol??" Well, Ebanol is also synthetic. It is a "phenolic substance" (phenol is an organic compound). When phenol and aldehyde (organic molecules made from carbon atoms) are combined, they form a resin, and that's Ebanol. Basically, it's a versatile material used to make anything from Saucepan handles through billiard balls and car parts to, well, guitar fingerboards! Ebanol is hard wearing and used on some fretless fingerboards because of this. This Ebanol construction makes the Curbow's fingerboard very smooth and shiny, which looks good and works well. 

The Cort has an EB10 Bridge, which is solid and has the usual individual string height adjustment and intonation screws. The tuners are die cast and work well - the bass tunes up and stays in tune, so you can't ask much more. 

 On the rear of the bass is a battery compartment and the electronics cover. Within this cover are two tiny controls. These are fine adjustments for the slap switch, which are ingenious and effective. The slap switch is basically a switch that takes you from the normal EQ, controlled in the usual way with three knobs, Treble, Mid and Bass, to a slap sound that you've tweaked with the aforementioned tiny controls on the back. You can therefore quickly switch from your usual bass sound for a killer slap solo! It's worth noting that the standard EQ is disabled when in 'slap mode', but this is quite normal. 

The pickup on the tested model was a Bartolini and had a bright punchy, powerful sound. The pick up is at a set height however, so there is no opportunity for adjustment there. The bass is capable of taking a low action with careful tweaks to truss rod and saddles, but if you're not sure what to do, don't do it! Take it to a good luthier for a set up. 

Sound and Playability
...a word in advance..............

Sound, of course, is a very subjective thing and it would be difficult if not impossible to describe the sound in words! It would also be wrong to try and say the bass is only good for this or that style of music. However, it can be true to say that some basses lend themselves more to one style or another, so I will try to give a broad view of the sound.

The Cort Curbow is quite a loud guitar. It's not the most powerful I've ever played, but it's perfectly adequate and acceptable. It has a very clean punchy sound, in keeping with its modern looks, and a good range of control over the EQ. The sound can however, be toned down for a jazzier timbre, but if the bass and mid are turned up too much, it will become quite muddy. 

I've heard complaints about lack of sustain and dead spots on this bass. All I can say is that my bass didn't suffer from either. The sustain is good-to-above-average and there's no dead or flat spots. 

The neck is thin and fast, making it a joy to play. To be honest it plays better than a lot of more expensive basses I've played. The slap switch is more than a novelty, and if you are into slap and pop, then it is ideal for a quick change to 'that' sound. As I said earlier, it is a 5 string reviewed. If I was buying this bass for mostly slap, then I'd go 4 string, but that's just my preference for string spacings, and your mileage may vary! 

Value for Money
The Cort Curbow, to my mind, represents great value for money. Cort guitars are brilliantly made, so much better, in my opinion, than anything else in their price range and indeed higher price ranges. I would recommend the Curbow as one of the best buys for a first bass.

So is it just a beginners bass then? Well, I'd certainly say not. It is a well made guitar which plays beautifully, and is indeed a great beginners bass, but it's also fantastic as a backup bass if you don't want to drag the Warwick out! I think the Curbow represents excellent value for money and is hard to beat in this price range. 


  1. What a great variety of reviews. Thanks for leaving the link. I'm really enjoying reading through your posts.

    1. Thanks for your positive comments! Glad you like the site.

  2. The Cort Curbow 5 is a great bass. I have two Ernie Ball Musicman basses, Stingray 5 and older Sterling 4 and I play the Cort most of the time. I am a little guy and the Stingray 5 I own is just so big and heavy compared to the Cort. The Musicman's are awesome basses but the Cort holds it'a own plays great and sounds good, granted not the Musicman tone but it is a great bass in it's class.

  3. I'm been an amateur bassist with 30+ years experience, and I tried a Cort Curbow a few days ago... GREAT BASS!!! So, I'm going to buy my own Cort Curbow 5 TOMORROW MORNING. I'll tell you my experience in a few days...
    Thanks for you very accurate comments!!!!

    1. Well, I have my own Cort Curbow 5 for more than a month. I played it on live gigs, at home, at sudio, on rehersals... And I have just one word for it: AWESOME!!!!

  4. I've been a Curbow owner and player for about 10 years. I recently splashed out on an Ibanez sr 600, but was back to my Curbow in no time. I'm a metal/punk pick player and prefer a punchy, American sound. It sounds amazing through my Trace Elliot stack.

  5. Can anyone tell me how much the cort curbow 5 string actually weighs? The review says it's lightweight and talks about the materials but doesn't state the actual weight. Many thanks.


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