At long last, an official Aria Pro II Cliff Burton Signature Bass.
Although Aria Guitars have produced other "unofficial" Cliff Burton models (SB-1000CB, SB-CB), this is the first official signature that has both Metallica's and the Burton family's blessing. Of course it is a Re-Issue of the Black 'n' Gold I, which was made from around 1982-1987. It looks pretty good from the first batch of pictures! Aria has really tried to pay attention to the details this time around. Although my one little nitpick (so far): the knobs are not the original SB style. They look like the bevel top knobs used on current SB Re-Issues. Again, not a big thing, just something I noticed. However, they did get the "Aria Pro II" logo on the tuners, which is a pretty cool detail (for geeks like me at least).
As I wrote regarding my own Cliff Burton Tribute SB-1000, the first attempts made by Aria, while cool, didn't really look like the basses Cliff actually played. Those early attempts had all black hardware and SB-1000 electronics which the Black 'n' Gold did not have. This new signature does have the correct look (except for the knobs!), even down to the RotoSound strings with the red silk wrap. It appears the original SB style "quick hook bridge" is back, which was a big part of the original SB, in my opinion. This is a welcome addition and hopefully they put the original style bridges on the other SB Re-Issues as well. The "Cliff Burton" signature on the back of the headstock is a nice touch, too. It's also something that appears to make Cliff's dad, Ray, happy, which is cool. Who wouldn't want their late son remembered?
As far as the technical specs (see Metallica link below), the nut width is 40mm according so I will need to measure my Black 'n' Gold the next time I have access for a comparison! The pickup is listed as a MB-V while the original was listed as MB-II. Personally, I don't care what they call it as long as it sounds like an SB. The real test will of course be if has the SB tone! So, if anyone has the chance to go to NAMM (Zuma?!) give us a review, please!
I'm sure this will not be a cheap bass, but it's cool to see something like this and hopefully I'll be able to try one out one of these days!
Also, for comparison, here is one of Cliff's actual Black 'n' Gold basses that was on auction in 2008. Final price: $17,187.50! Let's hope the Re-Issue isn't that much! I haven't seen any pricing information yet, but if you are able to attend NAMM in Southern California this year (Friday, January 25 at noon), you can get a first hand look and meet Ray Burton, Cliff's father.
I'm sure there will be plenty of cynics out there who just decry this as another Metallica money grab, but in other news, water is wet...If Fender can make Jaco and SRV re-issues, then why not this?
More information and pictures can be found at Metallica's website. I'm still awaiting a link to Aria's site about this. I will update when it becomes available.
Update: More information and pictures from Aria Guitar's website.
Apparently this will be a limited edition of 250 instruments at a price of 588,000 Yen. However the street price looks to be 499,000 Yen.