Saturday, November 26, 2016

1987 Aria Pro II XRB-2A Electric Bass Review

Hi there!

Today we are looking at a bass that is pretty darned close to one that I bought new back when I was in college. This is a 1987 Aria Pro II XRB-2A bass, finished in transparent red over a flamed maple top and back. These models were made from 1987 to 1989, and were some of the last Aria instruments that were made in Japan before production moved to Korea.

If you remember the mid to late 1980s, there was a lot of metal music floating around, and everybody knew that if you wanted to bang heads, you needed a pointy headstock on your guitar. This bass delivers exactly that and more: a Precision Bass body, a Jazz Bass neck, P-J active pickups, AND a pointy headstock. Boom!

I am pretty sure that all of the XRB basses came with alder bodies, but this one is unique and I have never seen one with the figured maple top and back before. But I figure the body is still alder underneath, as it weighs the same as other ones that I have owned - around 8 ¾ pounds. The body is nicely contoured without losing the pleasantly traditional Fender shape.

The body is loaded up with a set of Aria P and J pickups that are powered by a 9-volt preamp. The controls include a master volume control (that can actually be clicked to an off position), a tone knob, and a blend knob with a center detent. The blend knob seems like overkill as there is also a 3-way pickup selector switch. The other toggle switch changes the electronics from active mode to passive mode, though there is no real benefit to this as the tone is about the same in either setting, though it would be handy if the pre-amp battery happens to go dead at the most inopportune time. Maybe the pre-amp is crapping out on me…

My favorite part of this Aria bass is the neck, which is eerily similar to the one on the Fender Jazz Bass Specials. The profile is very similar and easy to play, with a thin jazz profile and a 1/5-inch wide nut. There is clear glossy poly sprayed on the back of the maple neck, and the rosewood fretboard has 21 frets with tiny dot markers (for some reason the marker for the 21st is missing). There are no string trees, as that pointy headstock is tilted back 14 degrees to hold the proper string tension across the nut.

The condition of this XRB-2A bass is amazing, and there is almost no wear and the only blemish is a little cracking in the veneer around the output jack. The bass plays well, but it sounds kind of meh. I like the idea of this bass a lot (and part of that is probably sentimental value) so this one might be a candidate for a pickup change, and I am thinking of going with a set of EMGs.

I will let you all know what happens!

Mahalo!

1 comment:

  1. Greetings,

    I have the same bass, albeit not in the same condition ;-)

    I changed the pickups to Wilde Pickups (Bill Lawrence p/j set). They are very nice priced, are low noise and set the bass 100 years ahead.

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