Oops, forgot to check back in - the AB10 is very serviceable. Woody upright-ish tone, not much buzzing. I mostly play it in church and when my wife's library has open mic-type events with poets reading and stuff.
OK, so the fate of the Aria; got it down to the basement and got to work ripping frets out...
My lovely assistant helps with lemon oil on the board - someone on TB posted that can help keep the wood from chipping when you pull the frets....
First fret out!
My assistant has a go with the fret nippers. I've seen cautions against doing this with a screwdriver and pliers, so spent about $12 on a pair of fret nippers. They didn't need to be ground down to work.
The slots were definitely rough when the frets came out, but didn't lose a lot of large chips in the process. I think there were a total of three or four big enough to need gluing back in.
Starting to fill the slots. Cleaned each out with a hack saw blade and used an oak veneer to fill (the only kind that the local Home Depot had... this was an on-the-cheap project...). Then I used an Exacto knife to trim the veneer as low as I could and the rest was sanding. I had picked up some putty too in case it needed further filling but the veneer seemed to fit in pretty tight.
All in! You could definitely feel the slots as you passed your finger over them at this stage, which had me a bit concerned. But a few coats of polyurethane and lots of sanding and polishing and it evened out nicely.
The final product!
Seems to play well. I filed the nut down a bit for playability, to keep action low with no fret crowns to press against. I think I may take it to oldies-band practice this afternoon and see how it sits in the mix.
That's what I've done so far. Down the line I'm thinking of doing a fabric refinish like pklima's burberry basses, and maybe swapping out electronics for something with more oomph than the stock pickups.