Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Aria Pro II SB-1000 Cliff Burton Re-issue Bass

Here is another gem from the Japanese guitar market that you will not see every day.

This is a current production Aria Pro II SB-100 Cliff Burton signature model bass. These were styled after the old black and gold Arias that Cliff used to play before his untimely demise. Aria started making this model a few years ago, and they are very hard to find in the US.

These are pretty much the same as the revered SB-1000 that was introduced in the late 1970’s, with the exception of the all-black finish, and a brace of black hardware.

It is a neck-through bass, with 24 frets and a brass nut. The fretboard looks like ebony to me. The tuners are not marked Aria Pro II, but they are manufactured by Gotoh.

The electronics package is standard Aria Super Bass, with an MB humbucker, 18-volt pre-amplifier, a six-position tone switch and an LED. Everybody and their brother wants an LED on their bass…

One improvement over the original basses is that it has separate battery boxes on the back of the bass, so you do not have to find a screwdriver to crack open the control plate on a regular basis.

These either come with no serial number, or a hokey serial number sticker that falls off, so figuring out when they were made is next to impossible. Equally difficult is find out where they are made. I have heard both Japan and Korea. I guess it does not really matter much, because the build quality is first-rate.

The one downside that I have found with these is that they all sound different, and some of them have an awful tone. I sold the best-sounding one that I ever had to a friend of mine, and it was exceptional (you have to take care of your friends). So, the moral of the story is: do not buy one sight-unseen, or you may be sorry.

Despite the inconsistancy of tone, all of the ones I have seen play well, and come with level frets and a spectacular finish. They are worth the money you would pay for one in Japan, but not in the US (unless you are a die-hard Cliff Burton fan.
US sellers are asking $2300 for these new. In Japan they run about $500 to $800 for a used one, and about $1200 new.

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