In a world where size matters... Words by Steve Henderson.
Note: This piece first appeared in Australian Guitar #133. Subscribe to our print edition here!
When I first saw the Cort Gold Mini, I thought it was a very nicely presented instrument, but couldn’t imagine why the world would need another travel guitar. However, in practice, some of these smaller guitars aren’t just for travel – many offer an real alternative in tone and feel. After all, none of the current travel guitars will fit into an overhead. And, let’s not forget that, for many hundreds of years, this size wasn’t small – it was normal.
PUTTING THE RICH IN “RICH TONES”
A closer look at the Gold Mini reveals a truly professional feature set, a professional feel, and a surprisingly rich sound. Its shrunk-down dreadnought shape offers all-solid timbers: mahogany back and sides, Adirondack Spruce top, mahogany neck, plus Macassar ebony bridge and fretboard, abalone rosette, and gold tuners.
But the devil’s in the details, right? The body is full gloss, rendered with a special UV process; the X brace is hand scalloped for extra responsiveness; it has real binding (three-ply) to protect the edges; and the ‘Double-Lock’ neck joint combines a traditional dovetail with an internal bolt. All good stuff.
A GOLDEN ROAST
But the big news is the spruce top. It’s been torrefied – roasted to dry it out and make it stiffer, stronger, lighter and more responsive, effectively ‘aging’ the timber so that it responds like an older soundboard. Torrefication is a fairly recent development and usually only found in higher-end guitars; on the Mini, the results show themselves in a rich tone and a faster response. It’s surprising to find a roasted top on this type of guitar, but its benefits are immediately apparent.
The tone is balanced from top to bottom and extremely satisfying. Low notes have body and definition, and the highs are warm and complex.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Playing the Gold Mini reveals its true value. It strums very nicely, but its real strength lies in fingerstyle playing’ its note separation offers a clarity usually only found even in more expensive fingerstyle guitars, and the strings have a rich, musical sustain.
There are 19 perfectly dressed frets and the Mini plays true across all of them. If you’re after an alternative
to your ‘big’ guitar, or a shorter scale length for a young beginner – or even a fresh sound for recording – the Cort Gold Mini offers more bang for your buck than just about anything on the market.
It’s a serious, pro-level instrument (that comes in a serious, pro-level gig bag) for not a lot of money. But then again, maybe you just want a great travel guitar – obviously, the Gold Mini should be your first choice!
• Torrefied solid spruce top
• Solid mahogany body, full gloss
• 22.8-inch scale length
• Dovetail double-lock neck joint
• Superb build quality
• Plays and sounds great
• Serious gig bag
• Limited colour choice
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