More For Less: Checks Out the Cort CR250


More For Less: Checks Out the Cort CR250

Marc Johnson for

The topic always comes up. Standing underneath a row of hanging Gibson, Fender, and PRS guitars, one of us is always bound to mumble, “Why do these things cost so damn much?” Loyal followers of will know that we are always wrestling with this question. There’s a myriad of reasons why a guitar costs what it does, but it’s not what you’d expect. It’s not always about quality. Well, Cort Guitars has something to say, and, with the introduction of their Classic Rock 250, they want to show the world that you don’t need to pay four figures to get a five-star guitar.

Cort has been in business for over 50 years, and all of us have seen their guitars and basses swinging in local shops. And, many of us have been put off by the fact that it doesn’t say Gibson or Fender on the headstock. But ask yourself: “Could you tell the difference in a blind taste test?” Before we get to The Tone King’s answer to that question, let’s start by taking a look at some specs.

The CR250 includes: a Set-in 24 ¾ scale neck; Mahogany body; Flame maple top; Three finish options; Mahogany “C” shape neck; Rosewood fretboard with 12” radius; Rectangular white pearl inlay; T.O.M. bridge with stop tailpiece; Vintage style tuners; Two volume, two tone and three way toggle controls; and Nickel-plated hardware. One of the features that Cort is most proud of, though, is the pickups. The ClassicRocker II Humbuckers were modeled after a classic PAF, built to have the same smooth cleans and ballsy crunch with a bit of “extra power” so your leads will cut through the mix. U.S. street price on this is less than $400 bucks.

When we pulled the CR250 out of the case, we noticed how vivid the flames were on the maple top. Usually, when a company boasts a “flame maple top,” you’re left with a piece of veneer so thin that it’s almost transparent. Although it’s impossible to tell how thick it is because of the binding, the cut of maple is thick enough to give off a deep flame.

On further inspection, the heel (where the neck meets the body) was set-in to the body well. Usually, on less expensive guitars, the set of the heel can be off which makes itself known with cracks in the finish or a fretboard that doesn’t come in contact with the body. In this case, the fretboard was flush and seated flat against the top.

The frets were crowned and mounted to the neck well, and the tang of the frets looked like they were properly trimmed to accommodate the binding on the neck. No sharp fret end, which tells us that the wood was properly prepared. There’s nothing worse than buying a new axe with razors sticking out of the side of the neck.

Line 6

Inlays are usually a problem with less expensive guitars. Most times, they look cheap and dull, screaming plastic. The CR250’s white pearl inlays has depth. It was also a nice touch to see the logo with the same inlay material, versus the decals you typically find on other similarly priced instruments. We also noticed that the insignia below the logo on the headstock had a nice touch of abalone in it.

So, how does it sound?

Strumming a few chords before plugging it in showed how well the guitar resonated, a sign of a good piece of mahogany. When we plugged it in, cleans were reminiscent of the warm, but not boomy, tone of a Les Paul Standard. Once we put a little gain to it, Zeppelin-like tones were easy to come by. Dirty and nasty, muddy on the neck pick-up and clear and bright on the bridge. When we went a little heavier, we dialed in to a bit of that heavy modern metal. Zack Wylde and Metallica tones were both accessible. Pushing it just a bit further, we can see what Cort had in mind when they say a bit of “extra power,” as it handles high-gain well enough to get solos to cut through the mix.

Simply put, the guitar sounds and feels great.

We at the TTK have played our fair share of Gibsons, and if we couldn’t see the logo on the headstock, we’re not sure we could tell the difference between the CR250 and a Les Paul Standard. Granted, some of you Gibson enthusiasts might be able to find a subtle tonal or feel difference, but is it a $3,000 difference? Hell, is it a $1,000 difference? Because if you stuck on that Gibson logo, that’s how much more you’ll be looking to pay.

Because it’s a guitar that costs so little that boasts so much, we looked at this thing with a freaking magnifying glass, and, still, we had no complaints. Cort’s CR250 looked great, it felt great, and it sounded great, showing you that you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to get good tone. We’ll always love our classics, but we’re not so beholden to them that we’re not going to try something different that may make our rent payment easier to meet. And the Cort Classic Rock 250 is changing the perception that ‘less cash means less guitar’ into the idea that ‘you can get more guitar for less cash.’ Besides, which would you rather do, save money for a guitar, or just play one?  For more information, check out the CR250 on

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Filed Under: FeaturedReviewsGuitars

About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.

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  1. Miguel says:

    Totally agree. In fact I own the same guitar and others too, and I more use the Cort in comparison. Great axe!

  2. Timothy Plonk says:

    Great review,I’ve had Gibsons that were not this good. Excellent value.

  3. Timothy Plonk says:

    Hey TONE King,thanks for the review. As a matter of fact,I bought a CR250 because of this comparison. I was VERY HAPPY with the purchase. It came set up with low action,no buzzing,and sounded great. I’ve had LP”s that were not this good.Great neck.

  4. addy says:

    yeah yeah boycott this, boycott that, shame on them, shame shame shame, what if i tell you the company i work in is mistreating me as well? i get low pay, work my fingers to the bone and no appreciation instead when things foul up i am the one always to be blamed….it is what it is in the corporate world. what good would it do to boycott the company? to put people out of jobs? don’t blow this out of proportion guys. cort guitars are good and affordable. let’s just leave it at that

  5. jrk says:

    there has been some comments about boycotting cort, i read the article about there labour dispute, i also read that there was a lawsuit against cort by there employes and to my understanding the employes won, not 100% sure. anyway after doing a lot of research i chose a ts250 for my son, only because i could’nt afford the one i wanted, i don’t know much about guitars but this one looks and sounds great, i’ve been told that the cort is a licenced copy of a les paul custom, is this true?

  6. amol says:

    hey guys just tell me can use cr250 as a professional guitar????
    cuz thinking of buying it….so plz tell me urgently….

  7. Enjoyed reading through this, very good stuff, appreciate it. “Be not careless in deeds, nor confused in words, nor rambling in thought.” by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

  8. Big Lou says:

    You sure do get more than your moneys worth with these guitars. Debating between one of these or a DBZ for under $200 since DBZ is no longer being made by Dean Zelinisky. I want to put a hot set of Active pups in one of these guitars. Even with the added cost of a $200 pair of pups you still have a less than Gibson priced guitar.

  9. Abhiroop says:

    Dude can u tell how this guitar compares to the epiphone les paul 100 when playing metal???

  10. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.

    I’m quite certain I’ll learn many new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  11. recently i bought a CR200 in Gold Top finish… compare to the CR250 the only diference is the Flamed Maple top veneer… but i liked better the Gold Top… used the guitar on a little tour i did last holy week to be exact 3 nights… everything about the guitar rocks… its sound and amazing tone and the only downside are the tuners but nothing a good set of locking ones can’t fix…
    besides that everyone praised my new axe… nice guitar and tone by Cort… i’m buying a CR250 next !!!

  12. […] More For Less: Checks Out the Cort CR250 : The Tone King | Awesome review for the cr250 so wont the cr280 be a little better? Or will there be a difference? […]

  13. Mocker says:

    Ro Kholum,

    You must be boycotting alot of sneaker, clothing, and other sorts of manufacturers to the point US companies would have to demand their CEO’s take pay cuts. As long as consumers demand the best price, corporate governance will look to foreign (cheaper) labor. And that foreign labor management will try to ensure they contimune to provide the economic manufacturing advantage.

    If you want to Boycott, then the best way would to pony up your dollars and buy guitars that are made here in the USA. But you’re still not going to change foreign cultures, and the greed of US company leadership.

    I say, enjoy your well made Cort guitar. They’re fine instruments and as TKK review qualifies, worthy of looking to save money for those of us who are not coportate CEO’s or their dependents. Of course, there are those who use the tactic to drum up concern about foreign labor when their intent is to bolster US labor. There are more honest ways to promote Made in the USA products though for these people. But agendas drive people to extremes and at times dishonesty…

  14. sirweesarunch says:

    I dont want to see any company mistreat their employees , but at the same time i am opposed to boycotting any company . reason being that not all employees feel “mistreated” or abused in a large company . So boycotting causes harm to many other employees who are perfectly happy to work at a business and who dont feel they are being exploited or mistreated… I always take these employee grievences with some suspicion because if an employer was as awfull to all employees all the time as some claim they would all just walk out and leave the business in shambles …

  15. Erock says:

    Several weeks ago I pickup a used Cort Garage 2, the Matthias Jabs signature Cort guitar. I got it for a very good price, and it’s a nice playing instrument that stays in tune. I’ve dumped two Epi LP’s because they just would not stay in tune. The guitar has already been gigged twice, and sounds excellent clean or distorted. The maple fretboard is very fast and playable, and the MJ pups clean up well with volume knob.

    Employment conditions aside, it’s a great instrument.

  16. Ro Kholum says:

    No doubt, the employees/luthiers/craftsmen/craftswomen at a Korean guitar corporate,Cort were sympathetic for their alleged mistreatment by their employers. This deplorable condition happened when the facility was based in Korea, which is now shifted to Indonesia. I feel it is inhuman and really hurts my sentiment when I saw the videos of the employees’ protest at NAMM show and back home at Korea. Thier protest for the cause inspired me so much that I want to give up playing my Cort KX-Custom and buying no more Cort guitars henceforth. But in my humble view, boycotting the brand outright is not feasible and is not the solution for settling their grievances. The employers should not be too adamant to meet the demands of the deprived employees as they produce these lovely instruments so that everyone can play Cort guitars with a smile.

  17. Ian Harris says:

    Bought this guitar.Love it.Looks great,feels nice,sounds amazing.Got this cr250 before I saw the videos of the Cort employees struggle.I have huge sympathy for them but would it help them in any way to boycott the Cort brand?Hard to do too when they manufacture such a huge number of instruments for other guitar brands.I use this guitar for all my gigs.I’m sorry but I won’t be giving it back.Still it’s important to be aware of the situation of these workers who do an awesome job in making these amazing guitars.

  18. Rather informative many thanks, I presume your current followers would definitely want way more stories along these lines continue the good effort.

  19. jparecki says:

    Beautiful looking guitar! And for $400 it’s a steal!

  20. MNman says:

    “TK Please do NOT support CORT guitars! BOYCOTT them for their cruelty and continual mistreatment of their staff!

    These guitars are all stained with tears and the master craftsmen & women who work for CORT have been at loggerheads for the past 2 years.”

    ***Dang, if this is the case, then it seems that Cort runs their company just like Gibson! lol. How ironic…this guitar is simliar to a Gibson LP and the way they run their companies and treat their employees are the same too! Who would have thought!**

  21. Gibson has been buyin their Epiphone and Kramer guitars from Korea, China, and Indonesia for 10 years or more now. I’m pretty sure these are sourced from some of the same factories.

  22. Axeman69 says:

    TK Please do NOT support CORT guitars! BOYCOTT them for their cruelty and continual mistreatment of their staff!

    These guitars are all stained with tears and the master craftsmen & women who work for CORT have been at loggerheads for the past 2 years.

    I wanted an M900 by Cort, now that I found out the truth about how these Korean craftsmen are treated, I will NEVER buy a CORT made guitar.

    PLEASE look into this TK, there is plenty of news stories on the net and many videos of Corts’ employees’ struggle with the Company!

    For SHAME Cort! For shame!

  23. SlimMetal says:

    If i’m right, Cort is actually, or have been in the past, commissioned by Fender and a couple other Big Name companies to produce some of their production line guitars. Cort rocks

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