WHEN CORT INTRODUCED THE GENE
Simmons Axe [see Soundroom, August 2010], it delivered a bass that was as visually striking as the man whose name it bore. You couldn’t blend into the crowd with that bass if you wanted to (unless attending an 18th century executioner conference). Unfortunately, you couldn’t sit down while playing it, either. The newest in Cort’s GS series, the GS-Punisher-2, is noticeably less edgy than its predecessor, yet it retains the GS line’s aggressive looks while expanding the range of comfortable playing positions.
The Punisher-2 may not look as edgy as the Axe, but it is fully capable of standing out onstage. The jet-black body, white pin striping, chrome hardware, and diamond pearl inlays give it a crisp look. The pointed horns & pointed tailpiece are eye-catching and create a look that is aggressive but not as overthe- top as its bladed predecessor. The Punisher-2’s black canvas case comes with half of Gene’s face stretched across the front. Yes, four feet of painted face and 12 inches of dangling tongue make sure you don’t forget which case is yours. Carrying it down the sidewalk in my suburban neighborhood, I felt a tad bit conspicuous, but I appreciated how light the whole setup was. Case and all, it weighs in at just a shade over 15 pounds.
READY TO ROCK
The bass arrived ready to play, requiring few adjustments, as the action was a little high for my taste (admittedly, I prefer pretty low action). For stadium-rocking bass lines that call for aggressive picking and a heavy attack, the Cort’s higher action worked perfectly. Though proper testing of this kind of bass would require donning face paint, studded leather shoulder pads, and a skin-tight leotard, I had access to none of those items. So in a very non-KISS manner—sitting on the edge of my coffee table, headphones & iPod plugged into a practice amp—I cycled through a variety of tunes to explore the sound and feel of the Punisher-2. While the Punisher-2 is constructed out of the same materials as the Axe, it doesn’t have the executioner’s blade and therefore balances well when played while sitting. When played standing, however, the Punisher-2 shares its predecessor’s tendency to neck-dive.
“Torpedo Girl” happens to feature one of my personal favorite KISS bass lines, so I was excited to plug the Punisher-2 in and fi nd out if it played the part as well as it looked it. With the bass’s pickup selector in the middle setting and with t my picking hand hovering close to the chrome bridge cover, I was duly impressed with how close the bass resembled the original sound. The mahogany body, maple neck, rosewood fi ngerboard, and Mighty Mite pickups combined to produce the kind of punchy midrange prowess one would expect from a bass made to rock arenas. When I moved on to play along with hiphop and acoustic tunes, I was pleasantly surprised how comfortable I felt grooving with the Punisher to tunes that stretched far beyond rock & roll.
THUMBS UP OR TONGUE OUT?
The Punisher-2’s aggressive look, punchy tone, and economical price make it worthy of consideration for bassists of all stripes; you don’t need 10” heels or a chain-link necklace to appreciate this axe. That said: does the Punisher get two thumbs up or one fully extended and wagging tongue? For those who love it loud and wanna rock & roll all night, the answer is clear.
Pros Attention-commanding bass with sonic versatility, great value
Cons Neck tends to dive when played standing
Pickups Mighty Mite MMPB-4 & MMJB-R with silver logo
Controls Volume, tone, 3-way pickup switch
Strings D’Addario EXL165 (.045–.105)
Weight 8 lbs
Made in Indonesia