Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #132995  by James-T
 Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:56 am
This just arrived via eBay from Portugal via Canada Post. It’s an Aria Pro II RS-750. :-) Here is my demo of it:

It’s a fairly obscure guitar made in the Matsu. factory over what I believe was a 2-3 year period. I suspect these were destined for the European and Japanese domestic market. This one was purchased second hand from my seller from the original owner in 1981 in Faro on the southern tip of Portugal.

It’s in better shape than the only guitar I ever bought new! It plays like a dream – perfectly balanced. I wanted something with brass hardware to replace a vintage Carvin DC160 which I sold recently. There is no comparison at all to the Carvin and I think it’s nicer than my PRS CU22 – different for sure, and just feels like its not even there when I’m playing it. I might post this review in the Bobby section as well because it makes one hell of a rhythm guitar.


It’s got an Alembic California vibe and the pickups have more clarity than anything I played before. You hear everything on this guitar – it’s like you can count how many frets you slide down by listening to the recording. It’s a hybrid neck and the closest thing I can compare it to is the neck on my 67 Gibson SG Junior in a 25.5” scale which is as wide as a typical strat. It’s super thin and has an amazing radius on it. The fretboard is a massive slab on Rosewood at the nut which tapers towards the body of the guitar – very three dimensional in its design. These guitars were made by hand! :smile:

I think the tone resembles the Wolf 1.0 (not that my playin’ does!) but you can be the judge of that! The body looks to be a Japanese Ash (the specs list it as Zebrawood but its not that gaudy!). It's got a really nice yellow color to it. The neck is Walnut and Maple (bird's eye in the center lamination).

So here is a question for any electronics savvy folks out there. The middle pick-up is a slave. I can’t really tell what exactly it’s doing – but I assume it’s there to put things out of phase – or perhaps it puts each pick-up into a humbucking mode – if that’s possible?. The electronics are near perfect. The only modification I can think of for this guitar is to drop in a middle pick-up, perhaps a ½ Dual Sound, or SDS-1 or a splitable strat style humbucker.

Anyone have any thoughts on this – would it kill the tone of the neck and bridge pick-ups by getting rid of the slave (if the slave is always activated)?

The switch on the horn is an Alembic style (possible an actual Alembic unit) 3 way switch. It’s pretty funky. I thought I could go to one master tone and use the third pot as a 5 way rotary switch.








 #132997  by TeeJay
 Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:04 pm
Fantastic sounding demo James. Super nice find. I love the flying saucer looking fretboard inlays. -TJ
 #133113  by James-T
 Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:48 pm
Hey thanks TeeJay,

Yes it was a good find. I had never even heard of Aria until a few weeks ago from an RUKind post. :-)

Definately designed for DeadHeads although just by accident!

Yes the flying saucers give this guitar a trippy vibe and we are playing Roberts Creek BC in a few weeks, a pocket of BC that's still stuck in the 60's so I'm stoked to break it out. :smile:


 #133116  by ccw3432
 Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:43 pm
Very cool guitar. Are you liking the electronics and slave middle pickup? Are you going to leave the electronics as is or make modifications?
 #133119  by James-T
 Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:29 pm
Great question. To be honest I don't quite understand the whole slave thing and am not sure on which settings it is in play. It could be integral to all the settings.

When you google slave pick-ups there is not a whole lot discussed or written about them. I understand Garcia had a slave on one of his Bean's, but that drove a synth that I think he used for the recording of Terrapin Station. Besides that I haven't been able to discover much about what the slave is actually doing.

I really love the killer clean tones this thing has. I pimped out my PRS with a Waldo buffer, and routered in a middle position dual sound yet it still at its core like a PRS. This guitar really sounds unique and cuts right through the mix.

My only caveat is it takes a lot of dirt to get an overdriven sound and and that it's not that creamy, but I think that's asking a lot of an instrument. My thought was to explore taking out the slave and dropping in a super distortion in some configuration, but I think the dirt tone I get now has a unique signature which is pretty cool.

It's actually conceivable that the electronics might be a straight knock off of the Alembic pick-ups of the day may even be alembics. It was common for Aria and other brands to use Dimarzio electronics on thier high end products and on the Alembic forum Susan W. chimned in about Alembic having a relationship with Aria. I asked Rick Turner about this and it certainly wasn't the case when he was with Alembic, but then again he left before these units were brought to market.

I'm discovering now that like Ibanez's of that era there are some guys that are completely fanatical about these guitars and have whole collections of just the rev-sound models.


James :smile:
 #133120  by ccw3432
 Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:40 pm
Very cool James. If you're really liking the tone and it's something unique, maybe best not to monkey with it...or if you do at least be able to put it back to stock as an option. That guitar has a great look to it. I'm real happy with my Aria as well. I did a full mod on it, but the pickups, pots, and wiring it came with were junk.