Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Aria Pro II SB-1000 Exhibition Models!

UPDATE: I noticed the Japanese site has removed all of the exhibition models! So I've added all of the photos I have of these basses...
I came across some very unusual Aria SB-1000's on Aria's Japanese site. They are apparently exhibition models and it doesn't seem like they will be produced on a large scale. However, it does look like they are for sale since they have prices listed (around 180,000 Yen!) on the site along with the specs! They're definitely some of the most unique SBs I've ever come across! There's even a model with a Kahler Tremolo! I'm kind of partial to the black 5 string with orange stripes!
Here are some pics, but be sure to follow the link to Aria's site for even more photos!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Family Photo

Here is a recent 'family photo' of my basses in Korea (except my SB-1000CB, but you saw it a couple of posts ago. :) ) From left to right: IGB-85B (modded with SB pickups), SB-Black 'n' Gold II (with Alembic pickups/electronics), SB-R60 (with Alembic pickup/electronics), SB-Integra, IGB-600.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Aria Pro + Alembic = Awesome!

Well, Rudy Sarzo thought so, and I have to agree! Rudy has an SB-Black 'n' Gold II with Alembic pickups in this photo (thanks Nuno!).

Here are my two Aria SB basses that have been modded with Alembic pickups and electronics. I can tell you it is a great combination! I actually got the p'ups/electronics from Aria Pro II SB-LTD basses that had been damaged. Alembic and Aria have a history that goes back to the late '80s/early '90s, possibly due to Rudy Sarzo having his Aria basses modded with Alembic electronics. Aria produced the LTD series for a few years. Click here for some specs.

The first bass I had modified was an SB-R60. The bass, which was produced in 1982, plays extremely well and with the Alembic electronics is just a terrific instrument. I had my friend Lance install a red LED battery indicator on the bass. I also made this a 'stealth' bass by add black Gotoh tuners and a black SB bridge. In the future, I may have an Alembic Q switch installed. G-Cat in Seoul, Korea did the pickup installation.

The second SB I had modded was an SB-Black 'n' Gold II, also 1982 vintage. The truss rod cover says Toshi' Model 5 on it, whatever that means. I had to have this bass refretted in addition to the p'up/electronics swap. It has a little different sound than the R60, due to the double pickup configuration, but is just as great sounding and playing as the R60! Again, I had Lance add an LED battery indicator, but this one is blue. MD Guitars did the mods and repairs on this bass.
Lastly, here is a photo of three SB basses stocked with Alembics. My SB-BnG and R60 along with an SB-LTD, which now resides happily with Nuno!
As usual, more photos can be seen at my photobucket sites. SB-R60 and SB-BnG.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Aria Pro II SB-1000CB Cliff Burton Tribute

Recently I came across a very used, older model SB-1000CB in Japan. The bass had a lot of wear and also a major problem: a warped neck and a maxed out truss rod, making it virtually unplayable. I decided it was a good candidate for a Cliff Burton tribute bass. As you probably know, the 'CB' in the name of the bass stands for Cliff Burton, but the specs of the bass aren't exactly what Cliff actually used. The re-issue SB-1000CB comes with oval inlays, black Gotoh hardware, and of course the active BB Circuit/6 position tone selector. Cliff did use an SB-1000 for a short time (see photo), but it didn't have black hardware or oval inlays. His Black 'n' Gold model did have oval inlays, though. So it seems Aria decided to combine the two models and add some modern touches such as the black Gotoh hardware. I actually like the look of the new re-issue models, but I wanted to try and make the bass look more like what Cliff used.

I pulled out some old Aria Pro tuners, an original SB bridge, and some original SB knobs for the tribute bass. I know the string spacing on the original SB-1000s is different (narrower), but I didn't have one of those bridges and also I wasn't sure it would be a good fit for this neck profile.

The bass was repaired and modified by in Seoul, Korea. The repair included removing the frets, 'dressing' the fingerboard (sanding it down to make it straight), re-setting the truss rod and finally re-fretting the bass. In addition, I had him make a new rosewood truss rod cover since the original was lost. He also had to do some routing to accommodate the original SB bridge. The bass was pretty scratched up when I got it, but he restored a lot of shine to the bass! It's currently setup with RotoSound Swing Bass 45-65-80-105 steel strings. I'm very happy with how the bass turned out - it plays and sounds wonderfully now!
You can see more pictures of the bass here. There are some pictures of the bass before it was modified/repaired, too.

A few more notes about the bass: First, it is very heavy! I don't have a scale, but will weigh it when I get access to one. The neck profile is much different than the original SB-1000s. This re-issue is thinner at the nut and gets wider towards the bridge, more like a standard bass. The original models were a little wider at the nut but did not widen as much towards the bridge, making for a very playable bass in the higher registers. I find the neck profile of this bass to be more similar to the SB-Elite models. The serial number of this bass starts with a 95, so I'm not sure if it means it was made in 1999 or 1995, but it was certainly not made in 2009. The contours of the bass (body and headstock) are slightly more rounded than original SB basses. The Aria Pro II logo is a little bit smaller than the original SBs, too. There are a few other minor differences but overall the bass keeps the look and sound of the originals very well.