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Cort Sunset Nylectric Electro-Classical Guitar

What do you get when you cross a nylon string with an electric guitar?


by Phil O'Keefe

 




The very first guitars I started playing on were nylon-string models. The reason? They were readily available at my high school; our band director taught a guitar class and always kept a few around the band room, and they drew my attention like a magnet. As with many neophyte guitarists, it wasn't long before I transitioned to steel-string acoustics and electric guitars, but there are still times when a nylon string's unique tonal characteristics come in handy. You can always get a dedicated nylon-string acoustic for recording purposes, but you invariably run into amplification challenges when you try to use it in a band setting onstage - not to mention the considerable difference in neck width and feel when switching from an electric to a classical guitar. Addressing those concerns is what led Cort to create the newest guitar in their Sunset line - the Sunset Nylectric.  




What You Need To Know

  • The Sunset Nylectric is an Indonesian-built hybrid instrument that combines elements of a classical guitar with a modern electric guitar.

  • The single-cutaway body is made of chambered mahogany. This is topped off with a laminated spruce top, and the combined thickness is 2.1" (53 mm). The body's top edge is adorned with white binding.

  • Strap buttons mounted at the end of the guitar as well as on the upper bout near the neck let you strap on the Cort Sunset Nylectric like any other electric guitar.

  • The bridge is rosewood, and the strings tie down at the bridge end, in traditional classical guitar style.

 

 

  • Mounted under the compensated PPS saddle is a Fishman Sonicore pickup, which couples to a  Fishman VTB preamp system. This delivers very natural sound quality when fed into an acoustic amp or run direct to the board, either in a live or studio situation.

  • Onboard volume, bass, and treble controls are top mounted in the location where you would typically find them on an electric guitar, and provide all the control you really need. The onboard electronics are powered by a 9V battery. A tool-free cover on the guitar's back accesses the battery compartment.

 

 

  • Plugging into the 1/4" output jack on the side of the Sunset Nylectric also switches on the onboard electronics, so don't forget to unplug when you're not using it to preserve battery life. The guitar has excellent feedback resistance compared to a traditional acoustic, which will be appreciated at high-volume live gigs.

  • The Sunset Nylectric's top is available in three colors, including translucent red, black, and natural (the color of the guitar being reviewed). The rear of this guitar's body is finished in a dark mahogany color, and like the top, it's glossy. The finish quality is quite good, with no flaws or blemishes.

  • The top itself has no pickguard, and lacks the visible pickups of an electric as well as the soundhole of an acoustic, giving it a very stripped down look.  

  • Truss rod adjustment is done through a hole at the body end of the neck.

 

 

  • The bolt-on neck is also mahogany, and is capped with a inlay-free rosewood fingerboard with a 12" radius. There are side position markers at the 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th and 15th frets. The neck has 22 medium-sized nickel frets. The guitar came well set up from the factory, with appropriate action, proper neck setup and well-dressed frets.

  • The neck is finished with a dark reddish stain that reminds me somewhat of a cross between rosewood and mahogany, and the finish has a smooth satin texture that feels very nice.

  • The 25.6" scale length neck is attached with four bolts. The bolt-on area is beveled, which, along with the cutaway, makes it very easy to access the upper frets.

 

 

  • The neck profile is a wide C-shape, with a somewhat flat backside. The neck measures 0.866" (22 mm) thick at the first fret according to my digital calipers. By classical standards the neck is very svelte and fast, and even expansive chord shapes feel relatively easy to reach.

  • The fingerboard is 1-3/4" inches (45mm) wide at the nut, making it a bit wider than your typical steel string acoustic's neck, but about 1/4" narrower than what you'll find on the average classical guitar. This makes it much easier and more familiar for those used to playing steel string instruments, while leaving enough width for the nylon strings to vibrate properly, and for classical style right-hand picking technique.

 

 

  • The slotted headstock sports a mother of pearl Cort logo inlay, and open gear classical-style tuners with black plastic tuner buttons and a 15:1 gear ratio.

 

 

  • While it's the nature of the beast for nylon strings to stretch and go out of tune fairly easily compared to steel strings, the overall tuning stability of the Nylectric is very good for a nylon-string guitar.

  • The Cort Sunset Nylectric comes equipped with D'Addario EXP46N strings and is ready to travel inside the included gig bag.  






Limitations

  • Traditional classical guitarists may find it takes some time to adjust to the 1-3/4" nut width and the feel of the electric-thin body. Likewise, while the neck is narrower than a traditional classical guitar, steel string players will probably have to adjust slightly too since it's still wider than what they play.

  • The lack of any pickups, pickguard or soundhole / rosette may make the visuals a bit too bare for some people's tastes.



Conclusions

The Cort Sunset Nylectric feels like an electric and sounds like a classical, and is a great choice for anyone looking for nylon-string tones on stage, or who finds a traditional classical guitar's neck too wide. It does an impressive job of combining classical guitar sounds with the playing vibe and attitude of an electric guitar. Don't be confused - while this may look somewhat like an acoustic guitar, it's an electric. Although the volume and tone of the chambered body Nylectric are fine for unplugged practice, it's really not designed to be miked up in the studio. Fortunately, the onboard Fishman Sonicore pickup and VTB preamp system is very balanced and natural sounding, provides plenty of control, and sounds great through an amp, the PA, and for direct recording too.

I hadn't played a nylon string guitar for quite some time before the Cort Sunset Nylectric arrived, and I had forgotten just how fun and expressive they can be. The narrower fretboard of the Nylectric may turn off some traditionalists, but it really does make this guitar much faster, more responsive, and much more fun to play. But it's not like they just threw a regular steel string neck on it either. Nylon strings need a bit more space between them and a bit higher action due to the way they vibrate, and the Sunset Nylectric's neck isn't so narrow that it causes any problems. It's definitely a hybrid that combines major elements of a classical nylon-string guitar and a modern electric, giving players who are not used to traditional classical guitars an instrument to which they can adapt more easily, and that works great live with a band. While Cort is certainly not the first company to combine classical and electric features (I owned a Hohner TWP Classic N solid-body, nylon-string in the mid 1980s, which was probably heavily influenced by the Gibson Chet Atkins CE model), Cort really struck a good balance of classical and electric features with the Sunset Nylectric and brought it all in at a very reasonable price. It's a guitar that I think a lot of musicians in a variety of genres are really going to enjoy.  -HC-


Resources

Cort Sunset Nylectric electro-classical guitar ($649.99 MSRP, $449.99 "street")

Cort Sunset Nylectric product web page    

 

If you'd like to discuss the Cort Sunset Nylectric, then be sure to stop by this thread in the Harmony Central Electric Guitar forum.











__________________________________________________

 




Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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