Sterling Cutlass Short Scale Review & Prices

Sterling Cutlass Short Scale Review
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  • From Sterling's 2020 Cutlass series
  • Made in Indonesia
  • 6 strings
  • 24"'' scale
  • 12" Fretboard Radius
  • Poplar body
  • Hard Maple neck
  • Maple fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: Sterling Humbucker (Humbucker/Passive)
  • Neck pickup: Sterling Single Coil (Single Coil/Passive)
  • 1 volume and 1 tone Bell knobs
  • 3-way Switch
  • Fulcrum Tremolo bridge
  • Cutlass Bolt-On neck
  • 22 Narrow Tall frets
  • Diecast tuners
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 82
Sound 66
Build quality 57
Value for money 78
Overall Score 68
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
Sterling Cutlass Short Scale
  • Compensated Nut
  • Tremolo
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in Indonesia
  • No Expensive Woods
  • No Top Brand Pickups
  • No Neck-Through Build
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $750, which means that the Sterling Cutlass Short Scale is around 53% cheaper than the competition. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Tremolo bridge that are made in Indonesia.

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Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

Weight

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Tuning stability

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Neck speed (thickness)

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Neck access to high frets

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Neck profile shape

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Fret edges

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Pickups power

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Is it Easy to Play?

The Sterling Cutlass Short Scale meets 6 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's a good guitar to start with as a complete beginner. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

Sterling Cutlass Short Scale
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Locking tuners

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the Sterling Cutlass Short Scale's construction favors people with relatively small hands.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the Sterling Cutlass Short Scale's 24" scale length compared to other common sizes:

Sterling Cutlass Short Scale Scale Length Comparison
Sterling Cutlass Short Scale's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

There are advantages and disadvantages to a short scale length like this. This guitar will be very easy to play, especially if you have small hands because the frets will be close to each other. Also, since the distance between the bridge and nut is short, the strings will have less tension, so they'll be really easy to bend. However, this also means that you won't be able to lower the action (lower the saddles and get the strings closer to the fretboard) too much or you will get fret buzz since the strings will be a bit loose.

Also, short scales give less space for the harmonics to 'breath', so this ends up making the tone of the guitar sound more 'bassy' than a loger scale where there's more separation between harmonics, which gives the tone more chime.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

Sterling Cutlass Short Scale Neck Profile
Sterling Cutlass Short Scale's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

The Sterling Cutlass Short Scale's neck thickness is approximately 0.827'' (21mm) at the first fret, and 0.965'' (24.5mm) at the twelfth.

These measurements were taken either from the official Sterling website, or, in case this information wasn't provided, by researching multiple online marketplaces and forums where owners of this model have posted their measurements.

It has a C type neck. C-shaped necks like this have been the most popular for the last years. The reason is that they feel good in most hands. It's generally a thin neck that doesn't get in your way when playing fast, but that also has enough mass to give your hands a comfortable grip for chords if they aren't too big.

Thin necks like this make it easier to move your hand across the neck and it helps when playing fast solos, especially if you like to leave your thumb free while playing high on the fretboard. However, thinner necks are also weaker and will need adjustment more often than a thicker neck.

More for different hand sizes

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The Sterling Cutlass Short Scale has a 12" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

Sterling Cutlass Short Scale Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
Sterling Cutlass Short Scale's fretboard radius compared to others

This is the same radius that Gibson uses in most of their guitars. When compare to the other popular radius of Fender Stratocasters, you can see that it's a lot flatter. Guitars with this radius are usually made to bring a good balance between single-note and chord playing.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the Sterling Cutlass Short Scale has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

24'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.65'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
14'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
14'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
14'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.65'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

Sterling Cutlass Short Scale Nut Width
Sterling Cutlass Short Scale Nut Width

The Sterling Cutlass Short Scale has a nut width of 41.9mm (1.65''). This is considered a narrow width for a 6-string guitar. This means that this guitar will have a narrower string separation at the nut, which will affect your fretting hand.

If you are a player with big hands, you might find it difficult to play chords without muting strings. However, this is good for players who have smaller hands, as it will allow them to reach each string more easily at the nut.

Frets

The Sterling Cutlass Short Scale has 22 frets. Even though 24 frets has become really popular, there's still a good reason to get fewer frets; the pickup at the neck position will be further away from the bridge. This makes the neck pickup achieve a warmer tone. You might want this if you're playing Jazz or similar genres.

However, if you don't care about the warmer neck pickup, more frets will always be better. It's always nice to have the option to play higher notes if you want to.

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

Sterling Cutlass Short Scale Fret Size Comparison
Sterling Cutlass Short Scale's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The Sterling Cutlass Short Scale's frets are Narrow Tall size. These are similar to Jumbos, but they might be slightly shorter (or taller, depending on the maker), and they tend to have a narrower crown width. You'll be able to press the strings easily, but if you're not used to them, you might get the notes out of pitch if you press down too hard on the strings since their height won't let you feel the fretboard.

More with the same type of frets:

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 95
Chord Playability 70
Solo Playability 80
Playability 82

Tone Analysis

Wood will have little influence in the final tone of an electric guitar or bass. Instead, the hardware, especially the pickups, will be the most important thing to look at. Bur first, let's see the quality of the wood.

Wood

Poplar wood pattern used for guitar building
Poplar Body
Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Maple Neck, Fretboard

Poplar Body: It's similar to Alder in terms of tone as it has a fat low-end with strong mids, but it's a lot cheaper and softer. It's a bit heavier so it's mostly used for tops.

Maple Neck and Fretboard: This is one of the most popular types of wood used in all kinds of guitars. It's heavy, strong and compact, which makes it great for necks. However, it's also used for fretboards, bodies and tops due to its light color, resistance and beautiful patterns. When it comes to tone, it highlights the mid and high frequencies.

More made with the same wood:

Pickups

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with pickups from one of the top brands. This doesn't mean you will get bad pickups, but you might want to consider a pickup upgrade after some time.

These are passive pickups, so you can expect a rounder sound and a moderade level of output.

The Sterling Cutlass Short Scale's configuration is HS. One humbucker at the bridge will give you a lot of output, but you'll also have the bright sound of a Tele or Strat neck pickup for your clean tones.

More with the same pickups

22 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
Sterling Humbucker Bridge Pickup
Sterling Single Coil Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
Sterling Humbucker Bridge Pickup
Sterling Humbucker Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
Sterling Humbucker Bridge Pickup
Sterling Humbucker Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
Sterling Humbucker Bridge Pickup
Sterling Humbucker Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
Sterling Humbucker Bridge Pickup
Sterling Humbucker Neck Pickup

Versatility

It comes with the popular 3-way switch that is present in most guitars. For more versatility, players tend to prefer a 5-way switch, although it all depends on what you want to use your guitar for.

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with more options for coil split or coil tapping. This makes it less versatile than some competitors.

Diagram

Sterling Cutlass Short Scale pickups switch and push knobs diagram
Sterling Cutlass Short Scale's switch options

What music genre is it good for?

As a 6 strings, Solid Body guitar with HS configuration and Passive pickups, we'd recommend it for genres like Hard Rock or similar. However, you can use almost any guitar for any genre. This is just the typical type of music for this particular one.

Sound Score

Pickups 60
Sustain 75
Versatility 64
Tuning Stability 65
Sound 66

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The Sterling Cutlass Short Scale is made in Indonesia. Many people prefer the quality of an Indonesian guitar over a Chinese. Respectable brands like Epiphone, Ibanez and Schecter are building in this country because of the great quality and lower price. Some people like to compare them to the ones built in Japan during the 80s, when Japanese guitar makers made a name for themselves.

Bridge

Fulcrum Tremolo: This type of bridge allows you to change the pitch of the notes by pulling the bridge with the attached bar, which gives you better versatility. Also, since the bridge is not fixed to the guitar body, the bridge will move as you bend the strings. So you'll have to increase the distance of your bends to reach the same tension (note) compared to a fixed bridge. This allows you to perform smoother bends but will also make you slower. Finally, remember that this type of bridge requires a bit more maintenance than fixed ones, especially when changing strings.

More with the same type of bridge:

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the Sterling Cutlass Short Scale has a Compensated nut. It's cut in a way that makes each string have the correct length for perfect intonation across the fretboard. It provides excellent tuning stability.

More with the same nut material:

Neck Joint

The neck joint is the part where the neck of the guitar meets the body. There are three main techniques to attach both parts together: Set-In, Bolt-On and Neck-Through. The latter two provide different advantages, although neck-throughs are the most expensive.

This guitar has a Bolt-On neck joint. Even though this type of neck was looked down upon for a long time, nowadays bolt-on necks are well built and provide just as much sustain as any other join method. First of all, it's cheap to make because it consists of simply 4 bolts that attach the neck to the body. And you can travel with the guitar more easily, swap out the neck if you damage it, or upgrade to a more comfortable neck later on.

More with the same build:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 51
Features 55
Quality Control 65
Build Quality 57

All Specs

Sterling Cutlass Short Scale
General
Brand: Sterling
Year: 2020
Configuration: HS
Strings: 6
Made in: Indonesia
Series: Cutlass
Colors: Green, Pink
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Type: Solid Body
Body Material: Poplar
Bridge: Fulcrum Tremolo
Neck
Neck Joint: Bolt-On
Tuners: Diecast
Fretboard: Maple
Neck Material: Hard Maple
Decoration: Dot Markers
Scale Size: 24"
Shape: Cutlass
Thickness: 1st Fret: 0.827'' (21mm) - 12th Fret: 0.965'' (24.5mm)
Frets: 22 Narrow Tall
Fretboard Radius: 12"
Nut: Compensated
Nut Width: 41.9mm (1.65'')
Electronics
Switch: 3 Way
Knobs: Bell
Volume Controls: 1
Tone Controls: 1
Bridge Pickup: Sterling Humbucker (Humbucker / Passive)
Neck Pickup: Sterling Single Coil (Single Coil / Passive)

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