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PROS: Excellent balance, great electronics, ability to cover a lot of sounds
CONS: Aesthetics on our test model were kind of bland, pickup blend control range is slightly limited
While not a household name like Fender, Cort has been making instruments for decades. By partnering up with noted builders like McSwain and Curbow, they’ve been bringing custom features to reasonably priced instruments. Their partnership with Sandberg Guitars is no exception.
The 34” scale neck is 3-piece maple, which gives it plenty of stability. Shaped with a modern feel, it gives the impression of a much more expensive instrument. The rosewood fingerboard has simple dot inlays, and the frets are a bit larger than vintage size. The added touch here is the addition of a zero fret just before the nut. The idea here is to give open strings the same attack as fretted notes. The graphite nut is cut nicely, with no rough edges, and the headstock has a nice veneer. Smooth and beefy closed back tuning machines round out the design.
The body is alder, and our test model was finished in gloss black. A swamp ash body is also available, with a translucent “open pore brown burst.” It’s lightweight and balanced very nicely. The lower cutaway gives easy access to the upper frets, and the upper cutaway is elongated to provide balance; playing this for hours won’t cause fatigue.
Sandberg designed the bridge, which is hefty, to say the least. It’s one of those touches that pushes the Arona a step above a lot of other basses in its price range. The bridge design provides plenty of adjustability, especially compared to a simple, stamped steel bridge.
The electronics are the heart of this bass, though. The pickups are Desonic (by Delano), with a single coil in the neck position, and a humbucker in the bridge. The controls are simple; a volume knob, pickup selector blend knob, and 2-band active EQ.
The active EQ can be bypassed via the push/pull volume knob. A center detent on the pickup blend knob allows balance of both pickups; however, the range of the blend on both sides is a little limited. After rotating in either direction after about halfway between the center, the pickup that’s being favored overpowers the other one. The EQ controls are nice and simple and the range is useful in both directions. Sounds can go from smooth to almost overdriven with the right combination of pickup and EQ selections. The ability to get great J bass sounds, P bass sounds, and even Music Man sounds in one bass is especially nice. In a situation where a lot of accurate bass tones are needed, either in the studio or on stage, this model should do the job nicely. If you can’t get a decent tone out of this bass, something else must be wrong!
While the 4-string test model in gloss black was by no means slumming it, the translucent finish option definitely screams “high-end.” While it’s a great sounding instrument, it could get lost on the wall of a music store among all the other basses. A 5-string version of the Arona is also available.
PRICE: $795 MSRP
BODY: Swap Ash or Alder
FRETBOARD: Rosewood, 15 3/4″ Radius (400mm)
FRETS: 24/Large (2.7mm)
SCALE: 34″ (864mm)
INLAY: White Pearl
TUNERS: Die Cast
BRIDGE: Sandberg 4 Bridge
PICKUPS: Desonic By Delano, Jazz-F & MM-R Pickup
STRINGS: D’Addario EXL 165 (105-045)
COLORS: Open Pore Brown Burst or Black