- Alder body
- Maple neck
- Rosewood fretboard
- HSS configuration
- Vintage-Style tremolo
- Mini toggle for HB coil split
I'm a big fan of the older Japanese Arias. They are extremely cheap on the used market and sound and play amazing. I saw this on my local Craigslist one day and decided that, even though it was a cheaper model and much newer than the ones I know and love, the price was worth a shot. I emailed the kid selling it and we actually ended up working out a straight trade for some old computer hardware I had laying around that I wasn't using, and probably never would use again.
I was actually very surprised by this guitar. For the "price" I paid, this guitar is easily the best I've played under $500. The neck is very fast and smooth and the fretwork on the guitar is better than any Epiphone or lower end Ibanez guitar I've ever played.
For a relatively unknown brand, Aria has been along for a very long time, and seems to be still making quality instruments.
One thing I was very impressed with was, I ended up refinishing this guitar, mine had plenty of dings in it when I got it, and I wanted it to look like a new instrument. When I stripped all the paint, I was happy to find out that the wood you see on the top is, indeed, the same wood that is used for the rest of the body (it's not a veneer). Most lower end guitars like this, you find that the company uses a veneer to make the guitar look more pleasing to the eye. Aria actually uses a quality cut of Alder on these (though, I did put a flame veneer on it once I refinished it).
Sound-wise, I was actually fairly impressed with the stock pickups. Epiphones and Squiers often come with pickups that sound good at low gain, but really come up short at high gain. The pickups in this guitar sound great for the price you pay. Nice, chimey clean tones all the way up to high gain leads with ease.
The HSS configuration makes it easy to switch between a vast array of tones with the flick of a switch, and a mini toggle allows for splitting of the humbucker, so you essentially have an HSS and an SSS configuration. Definitely something you don't ever find on a "cheap" guitar from other brands.
I actually ended up changing the pickups out for a set of EMG 81/S/S pickups, just because after I refinished my guitar, I decided I was going to upgrade the electronics too. I'm not really a big fan of EMGs, but I got them cheap, and they look great with the purple flame top I put on it.
Overall, this is an excellent guitar for a beginner to intermediate level player. While I wouldn't suggest it for the professional as a main guitar, I'd certainly suggest it if you're looking for a guitar for some different tones on the cheap.
This guitar is certainly not "professional quality," and could use some upgrades if you wanted it to be really great, but for the price I see these for on the used market, there's not a single other guitar out there that can even touch it in its price range!