Friday, September 7, 2012

1977 Aria Pro II RB-750 Lawsuit Bass Review

Hi there!

This is the story of the one that got away. I saw one of these beautiful Aria Pro II Rickenbacker 4001 copies at a secondhand store in Japan a few years ago, but I already had already picked up a few SB-1000 basses and there was simply no more room to bring this one home.

I did some research after I got home, and figured out that it was a 1977 Aria Pro II RB-750CH, finished in a lovely cherryburst fade. The body and headstock shapes, as well as many of the features were direct lifts from Rickenbacker, and one could easily see how this may have upset them. As far as I can tell, these basses were only made in 1977 and 1978.

If I remember correctly, it was neck-through bass and even had the dual-truss rod system. The wood looked like alder to me, with a rosewood stringer for the maple neck. There was a simple 1-ply white binding around the top and back as well as along the edges of the fretboard. The fretboard was rosewood with triangular mother of pearl inlays. Unlike the 4001 basses, there was no heavy clear finish over the fretboard, which is a huge improvement in my book.

The electronics were strikingly similar to the Rickenbacker as well. There were two single coil pickups that were wired for both mono and stereo (Rick-O-Sound!). Amazingly, the neck pickup still had its cover on it. The controls were also the same as a Rick, with volume and tone for both pickups, and a three-way selector switch.

The hardware was a bit of a hodge-podge with a swoosh-shaped trussrod cover, faithful copies of the Rickenbacker tailpiece and bridge, and some cheap-o closed back Japanese tuners. The tuners are really the worst thing about this bass, and putting some Schallers on it would make it look more like a Rickenbacker. They would surely hold better, too.

And holy cow this was one really slick-playing bass. The neck and fretboard radius had more of a Fender profile, and it was very comfortable feeling, unlike every 4001 or 4003 I have ever owned. It was well under ten pounds and was nicely balanced on a strap without any neck-dive. On top of this it sounded great – very much a Jazz Bass tone.

Pretty much it was a winner, and was priced at only around $400 – keeping in mind this was when the Yen was around 120 to the dollar. It would have been a no-brainer to buy it, if only I had the room to bring it home. If I had it to do over again, I would have figured out a way to ship it home or have a friend hold it until I got over there again to pick it up. Opportunities like this don’t come up every day, you know….



  1. Mahalo, Rex!

    Those tuners shown are copies of the terrible Grover-made "wave" tuners that Rickenbacker used in the mid-to-late-70s. They were easily one of the worst tuners ever to bear the Grover logo, and were infamous for tearing themselves apart. The Japanese copies were probably an improvement!

  2. You made me head back to the books there, Corey! I would have to reconsider my tuner choice if I ever find one of these basses again. Thanks, buddy!

  3. I have just managed to lay my hands on one of these in the UK, it was free of charge and in perfect condition, just needed restringing. It is complete and original and plays like a dream. Jllp128

  4. I picked one up for free. Great condition and plays extremely well

    1. Dang, John, you got a free one too? I need to start hanging out somewhere different so I can find deals like that!

  5. Yep, courtesy of Freecycle, and do you know what... I very nearly did not bother with the ad and deleted it. I am pleased that I didn't

  6. I got one of these because it was a McCartney double, in Okinawa, in 1976 I'm thinking while in the Air Force. The feel and sound were excellent and the price was 70,000 yen or $277 I figured and that was a big draw as I hadn't planned on getting one at the time. Stereo first then guitar later. I wish I had never got rid of it.

  7. I own fourteen late '70s/early '80s, Japanese-made 4001 clones, including four Grecos, one CMI, one Aria Pro II, two Cimars, one Stagg, two El Mayas, one Ibanez, one Fresher, and one Custom (a short-lived Ibanez brand). Every single one of them is way better than the real thing, period.