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Tell me about Aria Pro II guitars

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  • Tell me about Aria Pro II guitars

    Saw this thing on ebay. Did not bid but boy was i tempted.

    This thing just looks stunning em27ca440dee&item=170897182190&nma=true&pt=Guitar& rt=nc&si=VzqnGAYZ3OIbAntr9WO%252FSIT4smI%253D&orig _cvip=true&rt=nc#ht_11913wt_1271

    Made me wonder just how good these things are? Are we talking epiphone quality or higher? Also what's the difference between Aria, Aria Pro II etc.? Never got that.
    Originally posted by fu2jobu"1999 was all about me wanting to find Lou Bega and giving him a few good bitch slaps. "FS/FT - LTD Mirage guitar with EMG pickups. (MIJ)

  • #2
    The Arai company has used different logos on their instruments over the years. AriaProII was used on their electrics from the 70s-90s. Early ones from 70s-mid80s were made in Japan at Masumoku (I always spell that wrong) factory and are considered high quality. Higher than current Epiphones for sure. Some real good finds out there as while many people know about them, they're still mostly not highly collected so you can grab them for a bargain. Back in the 80s you could steal these 70s guitars for $100 bc there was no want for them and no Internet to spread the word of the quality.

    Now if you buy an 80's model, it could be 30 years old. Condition will be only as good as it was cared for over those 30 years.

    I'm a fan - my 3rd guitar back in 1990 was an Urchin. (still have it). Was my #1 for over a decade. I've owned half a dozen AriaProII's over the years. Good stuff, but bc of the age, best to play one in person when deciding to buy one - unless you can set up guitars. They set up well in my experience. Just make sure it's a made in Japan model.
    Ashtray plays Fender Stratocasters & Telecasters through:
    '67 Fender BF Bandmaster


    • #3
      Owned by Pedro Martinez of the Expos!
      Harold Horatio Heckuba (Triple H)


      • #4
        For $351, Jump on dat ****************e



        • #5
          I have a few of the older ones. A bass, a strat and a TS model.

          That one you were looking at is newer.

          You can read and learn about the history of the company here...

          That site covers the made in Japan era at the matsumoku factory up until the mid 80's I think.

          The one you were looking at is a "modern" Aria. It's a little hard to find much information about the modern company. But that one is Korean made. They still make some of the very high end models in Japan but those run into the 2000 dollar range.

          The old PE model came in price ranges all up and down the spectrum and the new ones seem to be similar.

          So it's best to do your homework and learn how to spot the differences between old and new and also low and high end.


          • #6
            My first guitar was an Aria Pro II Strat copy, made in the mid 90s. The electronics crapped out after about two years, and the frets were showing serious wear after just over a year. The guitar had nice features (a coil splitter switch for the bridge HB), the finish looked good, and the neck carve was nice, but it was a very cheap guitar. I've returned to it a few times to try to mod it to make it a playable instrument again, but I'll need to switch out a whole lot of parts, and give it a refret besides (which is well beyond my ability). Aria Pro IIs get enough good feedback here and around the net, but while I loved my first guitar more than anything else in the world at the time, it was a very cheap guitar.
            Guitars: 3 Fender Strats, Fender Jazzmaster, Squier Bullet, 2 Gibson Les Pauls, Gibson ES-339, Gibson Les Paul Jr. Special, Epiphone Les Paul, Epiphone Dot, Epiphone SG, PRS SE Custom 24, Ibanez AS73, Hamer Duotone, Larrivee D-03R, Takamine EG5013S, 1951 Epiphone Devon, Ibanez SR305 (bass)Pedal Chain: BBE Green Screamer -> MXR Distortion III -> Boss CE-5 -> EH Stereo Pulsar -> Boss DD-20 -> BBE Boosta GrandeAmps: Vox AC4, AC15, AC30, Pathfinder 10, DA5SoundCloud


            • #7
              The Japanese ones have become legendary, but I'm afraid it IS a bit of a legend. They're quite nicely made, but nothing really special, pickups are pretty characterless, and pots are garbage. They were regarded as pretty good value at the time as there weren't many good guitars in the low/mid price bracket, but it's nostalgia rather than stunning quality which is fueling their current prices.

              The one pictured is a later Korean model, so although it's riding a little on the (not particularly well-founded) reputation of the earlier Japanese models, it really is exactly what it looks like, i.e, a perfectly ok, slightly boring modern Asian guitar, a category they pretty well invented.

              FWIW I have a 1980 Aria 335-type, with varitone, gold hardware, and a deep, bookmatched, flamed violin burst. It looks lovely, plays well, and overall is just, well, ok really.


              • #8
                $351?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!

                Man, why do i never get those kind of deals?

                I tried this guitar (same shape, also Aria proII and nice appointments, etc.) and it was in an entirely different league than Epiphone. not even to compare.
                __________________________________________________ ___________________

                Yamaholic --- PpP --- Old geezer with a grey beard


                • #9
                  Can't really see why you don't own it yet.

                  I realize, it's from Korea but sure does look made well to me.

                  Mine is Japanese. There's nothing, I repeat NOTHING that couldn't be easily upgraded that wouldn't put this guitar on a par with Gibsons, never mind Epiphones. The wood and craftsmanship are gorgeous.
                  Campbell UK-1

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                  • #10
                    Well that's the thing with Aria's. They weren't the best Japan was making. Yeah they had some mid/higher end PE models like Fretts' there, and a few other rare exceptions. But for the most part they occupied a lower rung than companies like Greco, Tokai, and Burny. Most of Aria's models were low to mid range overall.

                    The best deals in my opinion...are those mid range (which was pretty much the top of THEIR line) fender and gibson copies that weren't available in the US. For example my strat...

                    This thing cost me about 170 bucks (before shipping from japan...less than 250 to my door). It's a 79. It has one of the nicest maple necks I've ever felt. Matsumoku was still a "done by hand" factory back in those days. The body is 2 piece alder. 2 piece. What fender gives you a 2 piece body? Certainly not mexican. Factory USA? Maybe..if you're lucky.

                    Where it doesn't measure up to better MIJ brands is in it's pickups and electronics, and it's finish. Their poly finish sucks and it's too thick. And ALL my Aria's are like that. But when people talk about "modding platforms"...I can't think of anything even remotely close to the kind of basic quality the neck and body are on these old Aria's.

                    Thing is though...the "fender copies" that made it to N. America were different than these ones. The Aria Les Paul copies in Japan are also a nice 'bang for the buck' level guitar.


                    • #11
                      In the 80's they were a dollar a dozen.....played a few...MEH. Never did ANYTHING for me.
                      Originally Posted by chainsaw fats
                      Can I drink your piss?

                      Great people: d_dave_c, wbcsound.


                      • #12
                        The Cardinal series were great, and I fancied an Urchin, though by that time they were getting more 'budget' oriented. I'd like a late 70s PE Cardinal, but they are rare and expensive and probably no better than some guitars I already own.
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                        • Kentdog007
                          Kentdog007 commented
                          Editing a comment

                          Here is my Aria Pro II.  This one is very late 80's to early 90's (I think) and is made with great woods.  Very solid, sounds great.  THink I am going to offer it for sale but its fun while it is here.



                          Attached Files

                      • #13
                        The Ari Pro II Guitars - The Matsumoku Factory

                        The Ari Pro II Guitars from ‘75 to mid ‘80’s were built in the Matsumoku Factory in Japan. The Matsumoku Company were the General Motors of Guitars. Just like GM they made a guitar in every price range and quality level from a Chevy to a Cadillac. They made guitars for Ibanez, Aria Pro II, Yamaha, Epiphone, Washburn, Kramer Westone, Vantage, Greco, Frontier, Skylark and others. Their low end guitars were a good bang for the buck and played better than most cheap guitars of that era. On the other hand, their high-end guitars were some of best guitars ever made. Many of these guitars are 5 piece maple-walnut neck-thru with Ash bodies. They play like butter. Most all were 24 fret with coil taps and out of phase switches. Many had 6 way tone switches and features such as 1 or 2 active power boosts or active EQ pre amps. With this combination you had a guitar that could get an acoustical tone as well as the heavy metal blaster sounds with distortion. Their hardware, pots, switches, bridges and pick-ups were not the greatest in older models but by the time the RS Series came out they were much improved and some used Dimarzio pickups. Because the price of many of these high-end models was only slightly lower than the cost of some top US brands they were often overlooked and did not sell well in America. In the ’70’s and ‘80’s people in the US had never heard of the Matsumoku Company or knew anything about their build quality. Why get a Japanese off-brand when for a few hundred dollars more you could get a Gibson or Fender?

                        Aria Pros II high-end models

                        The high-end Aria Pros II models are awesome guitars and arguably better guitars than many top US brands including Gibson and Fender. It has only been in the last few years that the high-end Matsumoku Factory built guitars have become highly sought after by collectors due to their special features, 5 piece neck-thru body design, ebony fretboards and top build quality.

                        High-End Collectables worthy of checking out:

                        The TS-600 “Thor” and the RS-X70 and RS-X80 models (X80 had fancy inlay and nicer neck) are 2 exceptional neck-thru rock guitars that can also grab acoustical tones with no problem. Finger picking or sheading is no problem with these babies. These are in your face guitars that can still be bought for a fair price (TS is cheaper).

                        The TS-600 “Thor” has 24 frets, ebony fretboard, a 5 piece neck-thru bodies, coil taps, out of phase switches, 6 way tone switches and 1 active power boosts pre amp.

                        The RS Series X70 and X80 are the later model that slowly phased out the TS series, slightly different body shape. These guitars have much better hardware. They had 24 frets, ebony fretboard, a 5 piece neck-thru bodies, coil taps, out of phase switches, Dimarzio pickups and 2 active power boosts pre amps.

                        The RS-800-12 model is a 12 string electric with 24 frets, ebony fretboard, a 5 piece neck-thru bodies, coil taps and out of phase switches and the highly sensitive hum-free design MH-I Humbucker pickups that were used on the SH Models.

                        The SH-800 and SH-1000 (1000 had 2 active EQ pre amps) is the most unusual model they made. Much can be said about this guitar. It was designed at the Matsumoku Factory by top Luther Nobuaki Hayashi (H.Noble). This guitar seemed to sell well in the US. The SH model (also called FS model) is a 22 fret, ebony fretboard, 5 piece neck-thru “Hollow Body” guitar. It may be the only neck-thru hollow body guitar ever made. It is a very complex design. Each side of the body, top and back, is a solid piece of wood that is split down the middle into a 2 piece chamber-structure. The insides of the 2 pieces (on each side of the neck) are carved out and sandwiched back together making the top and back of the guitar solid pieces of hollowed out wood blocks. Unlike most hollow bodies, it is not light. This is a very heavy guitar.
                        With the 2 active EQ pre amps it can deliver many sounds and tones. It has warm tones like a Gibson 335 or ‘60’s Gretsch hollow bodies, but has sustain that only a neck-thru body guitar can deliver. With the EQ switch in the 1st position and pickup switch in the middle position you can get an acoustical guitar sound that is great for finger picking. The EQ adjusts each string to the same volume level.
                        Also note that this is one of the most beautiful guitars ever built. It is gorgeous. It is a work of art. The bodies were available in 4 different wood stains over the years, natural stain (N), light oak stain (O), walnut stain (WA) or a very dark stain (AR). These guitars are almost too pretty to play. The flame in the Ash wood body, MOP tuners, the highly sensitive hum-free designMH-I Humbucker” pickups, custom made Noble Bridge, and build quality are all amazing. The back covers are matching wood. They even have pearloid inlay inside the S-Holes. Everything about this guitar is top of the line. These guitars play great, sound great and are very collectable.
                        The first year models in 1978 were sold as “FS” models. It was a one year only model and somewhat different from the later models. These models, the FS-750 and FS-1000 had 24 fret necks, Humbuckers, but not the highly sensitive MH-I Humbucker pickups and the 1000 model only had one S-Hole cutout in the top half. They also had a different volume/switch control layout and some had painted bodies. Also note that in Europe these guitars were often sold as a “FS” models rather than “SH” models. There is no information as to why this occurred. I have seen both FS-1000 and SH-1000 that appear to be the same guitars and same year. To really confuse things in the late ‘80’s they made a Strat-Style model FS-1000’s. In the US most of these guitars seemed to be sold as SH models. The production run was from 1978 to 1981. Although the SH models are quite often for sale there is very little information available about these unique guitars.

                        The PE-R80 though it is not a neck-thru, it is a great Les Paul Copy with humbuckers, coil taps, maple top and back, built in heel-less cutaway maple neck, Gold Hardware, matching wood covers on back.

                        Aria Pro II Downside

                        Although the high-end Aria Pro II models such as the TS, RS, SH and others were great guitars they had their downside. Their hardware was never great. Some of their Bridges and Pots were terrible. Some bridges were made of pot metal. The TS model came with at least 4 different types of bridges that are different sizes with different holes placements. Trying to find a replacement bridge for a TS model is next impossible. They are no reproduction or replacement parts anywhere.
                        Aria Pro II also made many cheap guitars and out right copies (clones) of other guitar brands. This was their downfall. They copied the Gibson 335, Les Paul, Flying V, Explorer, the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster, the Rickenbacker’s, the BC Rich’s and many other heavy hitters of the day. Each model came in many different price ranges from bolt on necks, jointed necks, to neck-thru. They made many low-end, bolt on neck guitars with cheap pots, switches, bridges, pick-ups etc. When it came to coping other brands, they would rip off the Rabbi and piss on the Pope to make a quick buck. They had no shame. Although some of the high-end clones such as the PE-R80 Les Paul copy were very good guitars the cheaper models sold far better. They flooded the market with low-end models. This gave them a “knock-off” reputation that they have never lived down to this day. Even though they made some great models, with outstanding features, they are often remembered as a Company of “Cheap Copies.” They sold many cheap guitars but far less high-end, more expensive, models. History tends to remember the quality of a guitar not the price. Because so few high-end guitars were sold in the US you don’t see them or hear as much about them. In the ‘80s they continued clone and copy anything, even pickups. The Aria Pro II MK 1300 and 1600 were copies of a BC Rich “Mockingbird.” Although not a bad guitar, it could not come close to the workmanship and quality of a handmade guitar by Bernie Rico. BC Rich Guitars in the mid ’70’s to mid ‘80’s were custom handmade guitars. They used the best woods in the world like Koa and Curly Maple, coupled with the most expensive hardware and pickups available on the market. Aria Pro II should have never went down that road. The Urchin U100 was another attempt to compete with the BC Rich “Bich.” Although the guitars shape was radically different, the switch layout was the same. It was still somewhat a copy of a “Bich” and clearly aimed at the BC Rich market. The Urchin U100 was to be their “flagship” model, with the most elaborate electronic features, as well as becoming their highest priced guitar. It quickly gained the reputation of just another BC Rich knock-off and they did not sell well. They also flooded the market with low-end, bolt on neck, cheap priced Urchin models (U60, U70, and Deluxe). Many people have never heard of the U100 and very few people have seen or played one. Over the years the Urchin U100 has proven to be pretty good guitar. They are quite rare and highly collectable today’s market.
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by FrankE2Yoo; 08-25-2015, 06:06 AM.


                        • #14
                          I saw an Aria pro II The cat series and I want to buy it. I'm not sure that the guitar was made in Japan. The seller told me that is Japanese (made in 1986) but I want to check it. Could you help me?
                          Here are the pictures that I have. The seller is from my city, so I can test the guitar before buying it.


                          • Ancient Mariner
                            Ancient Mariner commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Do a little google research, go see the guitar and try it to see if it plays well, look for a made in Japan sticker (might still be there). In line with the comments above, Arias weren't necessarily the very best guitars to come out of Japan, but were good players instruments. Buy it to play - not to collect.

                        • #15


                          • vpeche
                            vpeche commented
                            Editing a comment