This sub $500 electro-acoustic features Fishman’s Isys Plus pickup system. Scott Devine takes a look…
The instrument manufacturing business in the Far East, like the rest of its economy, is booming. While there are still lower-qulity guitars being built, the quality on offer from certain quarters keeps getting better. Cort’s success is a blueprint of how to build a decent guitar to an affordable price. At first glance, the AB850F is a smart if fairly unassuming bit of kit. It comes in a standard gig bag and is similar in size to any typical jumbo design. The back and sides are made from mahogany, which is a good start. Confidence grows when you look at the top, which is made from spruce. Where cheaper electro-acoustic instruments often fall short is in the quality of their pickup systems, but this bass has a secret weapon. The Fishman Isys Plus pickup system comprises an active preamp and a Sonicore pickup. The preamp module incorporates a flip-top battery compartment that can be easily accessed by pulling on the small tab at the top of the panel. Alongside master volume, bass and treble controls, there’s a neat chromatic tuner and a small red indicator light that will flash to warn you if the battery is running low (remember to unplug your lead when not playing in order to conserve battery power). An additional two-way phase switch can also counter feedback, as well as compensating for any phase difference between the on-board pickup and any outboard microphones.
Cort seem to be really pushing the price/quality ratio here, and you get the feeling that this is a bass to be worked hard and played hard. Played hard yes, but not hard to play! The friendly setup helps to make this acoustic feel like a proper bass that you can get stuck into while still being an easy instrument to play for all but the most wussy of electric bass players. When played acoustically, it delivers an impressive amount of volume. There is a strong emphasis in the bottom end, with slightly scooped mids and a sustained clarity among the top frequencies that makes for an impressive all-round bass sound. It’s also possible that, after six month’s solid playing, it will start to open up and offer a more fully developed tone. The Fishman Isys Plus system provides a decent plugged-in sound, with plenty of EQ adjustment potential. The ability to use the tuner at any time, even when the bass is not plugged in, is useful, but be careful the on switch doesn’t get pushed as you put the bass back in the case. Hitting the tuner on/off switch and accidentally leaving it on will mean you end up changing the battery more often than necessry. The AB850F acoustic bass is properly built and feels great to play. Much of the spec is way above the competition and players more accustomed to a solidbody electric will immediately feel at home with the dimensions. This is a very playable bass that represents great value for money.
Scale length: 863mm (34-inches)
Body: Spruce top, mahogany back & sides
Finish: Black or natural
Nut Width: 43mm
Controls: Volume, Fishman Isys Plus 2-band EQ, phase, tuner
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