Thursday, September 30, 2010

Aria Pro II RSB Deluxe Modification

David from Canada sends in pics of a beautifully modified 1985 RSB Deluxe bass. David says the bass, originally black, was damaged slightly on a plane trip. Although the damage was not severe, he took the opportunity to give the bass a complete makeover using exotic woods. The result is a bass that looks like it came out straight out of the Aria Pro Custom Shop!

David selected Imbuia (Brazilian walnut) for the 'wings' and and the lighter shaded Zebrano (Zebrawood) for the middle and headstock. The bass also looks terrific under stage lighting. In addition to the woodwork, David also had EMGs installed.

Unfortunately, David sold the bass but hopes to one day buy it back or even have another bass modified with exotic wood tops. Send in the pics if you do, David!

Aria Pro II SB-1010

from Wisconsin has obtained a very rare version of the SB-1000 called the SB-1010. His is from 1985. It's a medium scale version of the SB-1000. Fellow Aria fan Yutaka was able to translate the 1986 catalog info on the SB-1010. There isn't a photo of the SB-1010 in the catalog, just a short description. The SB-1010 has the same BB Circuit as the 1000. However the bridge is not brass, and does not have the narrow string spacing like the Sb-1000. The 1010 has a chrome bridge found on other SB models such as the SB-R60. The body and headstock are noticeably smaller on the SB-1010. Yutaka explained that it was designed for the smaller Japanese players. Although the catalog states they were available in black and padouk red, I've only seen black versions. Here are some pictures from Jason. You can see the difference between the 1010 and the 1000, and the shorter headstock:

Another example of the SB-1010 can be found on Graeme's SB pages.

Thanks again to Jason for sending in pics of this rare model. You can see more photos of his basses here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cliff Burton - 1962-1986

Cliff Burton, pictured here with one of his SB-Black 'n' Gold I's, is one of the main reasons I got interested in Aria basses. Here is his final performance of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" from September 26th, 1986 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gary Shea of New England / Alcatrazz

Steve Vai: "I gotta get me one of them Arias."

While searching for videos of Aria bass players, I found some cool videos of the band Alcatrazz. I really didn't know much about them at first but quickly discovered they were a very talented yet underrated rock band that seemed destined for stardom but never quite became as popular as perhaps they should have been. First off, the band featured guitar virtuosos Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai (at different times of course!). Secondly, they also boasted Graham Bonnet, veteran singer of Rainbow and the Michael Schenker Group. The band obviously had talent. However, things didn't quite turnout the way they were expected to, for a variety of reasons. For more about what happened with Alcatrazz check out this interesting interview with Gary in two parts.

But as this is a bass blog I want to focus on Gary Shea and his Aria basses. He was part of the rhythm section, along with drummer Jan Uvena, that held things together while the guitarists and Bonnet went off. Gary was kind enough to give me some great info and photos to use on this blog! Thank you Gary!

Gary says he had 6 basses and 1 acoustic guitar from his endorsement deal with Aria. Among these were a pair of white SB-Elite II's, a couple RSB Deluxe I's, a red SB-R60 with an EMG pickup (pictured below, left and middle) and an odd, Steinberger looking bass. The bass has the same body as the Aria Wedge series, but the headstock is very different. That bass, pictured below, to the right, was mainly used on tour buses and hotels.

As Malmsteen was also an endorser of Aria at the time, he talks a bit about his Arias in this short interview followed by the instrumental "Evil Eye", with Alcatrazz. In the interview, Yngwie says that he has several Arias and that his "V" was one of his favorites (along with the Strats). You can get a look at some of them along with Gary's white SB-Elite II bass. At the end, Yngwie destroys one of his guitars...thankfully it's not an Aria!
Here is a picture of Gary and his red SB and Yngwie with an RS model. Also, you can see one of Gary's RSB basses in the background of the "Hiroshima Mon Amour" video, and also in the Alcatrazz Aria Pro ads.

Gary's main basses seemed to be the SB-Elite II basses. He had them both modified with EMG pickups and one of them has a Badass bridge. In the opening photo of this post, you can see Gary playing the Elite with EMGs and a Badass with Steve Vai looking on. Below on the right, you can see the bass again. Gary used Arias for recording the Alcatrazz albums "Disturbing the Peace" and "Dangerous Games". Below to the left you can see him playing in the studio with the Elite with stock bridge. The photo was from the "Disturbing the Peace" sessions. He also used the Aria to record for The Jonas Hannson Band, and here you can see him playing it in a promo video. As always Gary's playing is solid in the song and you can see numerous closeups of his bass.

Maybe the coolest thing is that Gary is still rocking the Arias to this day, long after Yngwie and other big name players either gave them away to Hard Rock Cafes or maybe even smashed them to bits! Gary played the SB Elite on reunion gigs with another of his old bands, New England, a few years ago.

Once again thanks to Gary Shea for the great info and photos! Check out Gary on Myspace for more pictures, videos and music!

Friday, September 17, 2010

SB-1000F Restoration

Here is a simply amazing restoration by Pete of an SB-1000F (fretless) that had the original pickup removed and two jazz pickups installed.

Pete managed to do the routing and accommodate two Armstrong SB replacement pickups, and then filled in the cavities left by the old pickups. The result is basically an SB-900.

Pete then refinished the bass black and even managed to re-apply the Aria Pro logos and patent text on the headstock! Check out the full restoration process over at the Guitars of Matsumoku! You can also check out Pete playing the blues in that same thread.