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Aria & Aria Pro II Club (Part Four)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Deathblade Eric, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. ModuMan

    ModuMan How many is too many? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Bristol, CT #19
    Cool link, thanks!
  2. zuma


    Dec 21, 2006
    East Los Angeles
    There is way to much to be tempted with there pskafidas. You are a very bad man. ;)
  3. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    Well, I had the back of the SB1000 again today (to install one of Prostheta's lovely little pre-amps :)) and as promised, here is a better photo of the control cavity ...


    As you can see, it seems to be fairly stock (I think) :meh: . The original preamp, which was installed in the bass when I got it, looks like this ....



    Pretty familiar to SB1000 owners everywhere, I assume :meh:!?

    So, no 'magic boxes' to be seen :crying:. Either alanbass1 thought that the standard pre-amp in this bass was actually a custom job, or else the bass that he played all those years ago was a different one (although this is the only Aria that Gerry Laffy has ever owned, so it didn't come from him).

    :atoz: Not sure that this really resolves the mystery. Sorry folks!
  4. pskafidas


    Oct 16, 2012
    Hi Andy,

    Unfortunately looks like a standard SB1000. Here's one of mine.


    I guess the SB1000's elecs are a bit of a rats nest... Especially the circuit wrapped in tape. Makes it look like an amateur mod. Someone might see that and assume it's non standard. At least you can take comfort knowing your nut sizes and your exposed cavity are both normal.
  5. Alembic83

    Alembic83 Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2005
    Salem, Oregon
    Here is my AP2 collection in Japan...It's always going to be in flux, but I thought I'd get a picture before any of these are out the door! I also have a couple of RSB-Deluxes but they are currently out of order and disassembled...

    From left to right: erstwhile SB-1000 (will need a full restore and refinish some day), SB-Elite I, SB-700, TSB-550 Black 'n' Gold, SB-Integra.

    stuntbass77 likes this.
  6. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    Thanks for posting that, pskafidas, it really reassures me to know that my bass is all original :).

    I agree about the (LED?) circuit all wrapped in tape. As soon as I had the cover off of my bass for the first time I thought, ":rollno: Oh great, someone's butchered this poor bass - it won't be worth a thing now".


    Nice collection indeed there, A83 :). I'm sure that I've seen that middle one on a certain world-famous auction site recently :D.

    Just out of curiosity, what's your favourite colour ;)?
  7. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    Hello fellow Aria fans :)!

    As many of us know, these Arias (especially the SB range) can become an addiction, with some poor souls ending up with whole rooms full of the things :p! Well, I hope that I never quite reach that stage, but I have gone a little crazy, buying four of these basses this year alone :eyebrow:.

    This is the latest one and I have to say, I think it's a pretty rare beast (at least, in this colour) :meh:. It's a 1983 SB Elite II in 'Phantom Blue'. I've seen a couple of SB Elite I's in this colour, as well as SB Elite II's in other colours, but never this combination before (except for in the catalouges ;)).







    I've been very lucky with the other two 'vintage' Aria SBs, which I bought recently, as they were both in more or less 'closet classic' condition. This bass was a different story :meh:.

    When I went to collect it, I was a bit shocked to discover that rather than having "just a couple of scratches and dings", it actually had a lot of cracked paint along the sides of the neck near to the nut :eyebrow:. The fretboard had begun to separate slightly from the neck and so I realised that I was going to have to glue it and (somehow) re-paint a small area of neck :(. I don't have a workshop, a garage or even an outside area where I can spray paint around, so this was going to have to be a 'brush job' :p.

    Well, long story made short, I managed to fix the split securely and restore the paint to a degree. It's not 'invisible' by any means, but it's not a very obvious repair when you pick up the bass.




    The other issue with the bass was that the bridge was almost seized solid :(. It doesn't look too bad here, but the screws took a lot of persuasion to start moving ...


    Unfortunately, one of the grub screws had a stripped-out head, so I couldn't move it at all. I've had to compensate for this by placing a small nut underneath the affected (G string) saddle, in order to raise it up level with the other side :meh: ...


    It's fairly unobtrusive and doesn't rattle, as it's clamped down pretty tight.

    So that's the bad news over with.

    The good news is that, after a lot of gentle truss rod tweaking (and a thorough clean-up all round ;)), the bass is now playing superbly and the electronics all function perfectly and very, very noiselessly compared to my other old Arias :). There's very little fret wear indeed and the action is now getting very low indeed (although a further tightening of the truss rod in a few weeks time should improve things even further).

    As for the sound, as always with Aria basses, I am undecided :p! The controls do allow for quite a lot of variations, including a more 'scooped' sound than the single pickup basses tend to produce, but at the same time there is the characteristic Aria 'bite' and punch.

    Incidentally, the rear pickup is a Kent Armstrong replacement, whilst the front pickup is original. They both seem quite well matched for output and tone though, even though it's hard to judge two pickup installed in different positions :meh:.

    All in all, this is a very solid and sound bass guitar, which really needs to be played :bassist: more than just looked at. Shame that I don't play in a band any more, as I could see myself using this - it sounds especially great when played with a pick and slaps a lot better (IMHO) than the single pickup basses (thanks to the more scooped sound)!

    It weighs 10.4lbs, which seems about right for this model and the neck is one of the most comfortable that I've come across (YMMV of course).

    Cosmetically, it has such potential (I like the colour :)), but is rather let down by the condition of the metalwork. The gold plating has partly gone from the bridge and the tuners have gone almost totally nickel colour on their bodies (although the keys seem to have survived better, as they seem to have been lacquered :confused:) ...


    And the moral of this story is :meh:!? If you buy a bass from someone who puts the strings on like this ...


    .... don't expect miracles :D!!!

    Finally though, it's the bridge that really stops this bass from being able to be described as 'in good working order'. The intonation screws move OK, but two of the bridge saddles (the outer two) are a challenge to adjust and the pale colour of the plating doesn't help. Really, this bass is crying out for a replacement gold bridge and tuners for it to really shine again :smug:. If the proposed bridge build that Prostheta was discussing recently goes ahead, I think that I may well be 'in' ;)!

    Thanks for looking!
    stuntbass77 likes this.
  8. Basstovsky

    Basstovsky The guy with the dumb username...

    Feb 29, 2008




    I need to keep an eye out for an Elite 1 with that color, it's just great.
  9. Prostheta


    Mar 19, 2010
    Pori, Finland
    I'm still to hear from Hipshot on this one. I am hoping that we can get sufficient numbers together to make it feasible. What are people's thoughts on making this happen via Indiegogo? It would give a centralised point to monitor interest and direct people.
  10. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    It's nice, isn't it :)?

    I think that it would actually look good with black hardware, since it's the bridge and tuners that detract from the aesthetics. Just not sure if I fancy the idea of painting that bridge :scowl:.

    Not sure what Indiegogo is (yet), but it sounds like the right way forward to have some kind of 'hub' for monitoring serious interest :).
  11. Prostheta


    Mar 19, 2010
    Pori, Finland
    A way of organising crowd-sourced funding for projects essentially. Kickstarter tends to be for businesses and products, Indiegogo is more event, thing, product, etc. Not really put much thought into the specifics yet as I have not had numbers to throw around.
  12. SDMFJay


    Jan 27, 2011
    NBD!!! Just had this dropped off at the house and I must say it's THE most gorgeous bass I have EVER spent $500 on. Absolutely amazing. I'm in if numbers are given out. LOVE this bass!!!

    blipndub and stuntbass77 like this.
  13. Prostheta


    Mar 19, 2010
    Pori, Finland
    Okay, I need as much input on this as possible so that I have an accurate understanding of what people want from this bridge project.

    The proposal with Hipshot can go one of three ways. One is "completely original". The second being "original style baseplate with Hipshot adjustable saddles" and the third, "modified Hipshot A or B style bridge to fit in a Quickhook-sized footprint".

    Immediately obvious is the economy from using standard parts that Hipshot already produce plus modifications on existing patterning mean less setup and dedicated machining time. This is the balance I am trying to establish. Are we wanting an economical solution that presents adjustment advantages or a more expensive authentic original along with the inherent design shortfalls?

    Going completely original requires that Hipshot make dedicated CNC workholding for each stage of the machining processes. I would expect the baseplates to require two machining cycles - one for the top and one for the bottom. It would also require a separate component be made for the riser which may require machining off three planes. More work cycles mean more operator involvement and hence longer job times and costing. Despite the saddles being a simple design they may also be problematic because of their size and lack of easy mounting points during milling.

    I attempted to fit standard Hipshot saddles onto the baseplates of a wide (18mm) and a narrow (16mm) bridge with moderate success on both counts. One height adjustment screw fell into the lengthwise saddle slots but otherwise the saddles are a perfect fit. Identical string witness point locations in both directions! If those saddle slots did not exist, we could all ditch the basic original saddles and throw on a set of Hipshots. Certainly, the finer adjustment would be useful.

    This is how I perceive a hybrid Hipshot "A style" bridge with a Quickhook footprint to look. The original screwholes are marked in red, and yes I forgot to alter the radii on the corners! I welcome opinions on the altered mounting.

    This is an 18mm "original" baseplate with no slots and Hipshot saddles, again one issue with mounting:
  14. Prostheta


    Mar 19, 2010
    Pori, Finland
    IGB-50 18mm bridge loaded with Hipshot saddles. String tension reduced to prevent the saddles falling into the slots for the purposes of illustration.

  15. Prostheta


    Mar 19, 2010
    Pori, Finland
    Welcome onboard, SDMFJay! Apologies that you had to walk in on this crazy bridge project stuff. I agree that for $500 you got a great deal there. How come it was so cheap? Normally we have to get compromising photos of the seller to hit prices like that.
  16. Basstovsky

    Basstovsky The guy with the dumb username...

    Feb 29, 2008
    I'm personally only interested in the fully Aria-styled bridge, not either of the Hipshot alternates :meh:
  17. SDMFJay


    Jan 27, 2011
    Haha. Thank you for the welcome and here's the little story behind this purchase... a month ago I was browsing around a few sites and ended up on hello music. I literally had to do a double take (maybe even triple) when they listed this. Somehow I also had a little bit of credit with them as well to knock it down even lower than what was listed. I must have signed up with them a while back but I didn't remember doing so lol. Three weeks went by with no status update on when this was shipping and I was getting seriously worried. Two emails later about a week ago, I got a shipment confirmation and today it arrived. Amazing bass for the price and one of the nicest Korean made RI I've played. Very happy with it and can't wait to crank it up this weekend.
  18. ModuMan

    ModuMan How many is too many? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Bristol, CT #19
    I prefer the Aria-style replacement bridge as well.

    I understand the point of using the Hipshot saddles and if that's what the group decides, then so be it.

    But I'd much prefer the original.
  19. zuma


    Dec 21, 2006
    East Los Angeles
    My opinion is a little more convoluted. In a perfect world I want "completely original". What I am willing to pay for it though?

    In US$ a Hipshot A style in brass (without choosing a Chrome, Black or Gold finish) is $116.65. (I am hoping they would let us leave them unfinished) I would pay approximately $175 for a "direct replica." If I only wanted one then perhaps I would pay more but I am looking at buying three. This led me into another line of thinking.

    Since I have the original bridges then perhaps all that REALLY matters for me is that I don't drill any holes in my basses. So, if the Hipshot saddles are a pretty good fit then "original style baseplate with Hipshot adjustable saddles" would be a great alternative to a prohibitively expensive replica.

    Question though - are the Hipshot saddles brass when ordered with a brass bridge option? It may not be a deal-breaker but I'm just curious.

    I am all for improving the bridge design in this way. Nothing wrong with a little forward progress if I'm not altering my instruments. Totally reversible is the key.

    In that spirit, I don't mind "modified Hipshot A or B style bridge to fit in a Quickhook-sized footprint" as long as, again, the screw hole pattern of the original remains intact. I wouldn't want too much extra space around the edges either.

    For options two and three I suppose I would want to pay around $140. Am I even close to being realistic? I know it's probably early to talk money but it's kind of a chicken/egg thing I suppose.
  20. Prostheta


    Mar 19, 2010
    Pori, Finland
    That's an excellent pragmatic answer Zuma, just what is needed. I am happy to go forward with 100% original however the problem is of course cost. Original will appeal to more or less 100% of owners bringing price down through quantity. Whether the initial high cost of reproduction (arf) turns some owners off or not is one of the balancing acts I'm trying to play. I am certainly of the opinion that Matsumoku-era instruments are on the cusp of becoming a "new vintage" which means that having the option to maintain them with retrofit parts is essential otherwise we end up having to bury them under the bed unplayed to stop the rot setting into these irreplaceable parts. Sealing original parts in a ziplock bag with a silica gel sachet or some rice becomes a realisable option with the availability of repro parts.

    Also as an aside, I need to ensure that the design itself is not patented or otherwise protected. The age of the SB-1000 design (36 years now) and that nothing except for the patent info on the headstock has been forthcoming leads me to believe that it is not. Aria producing the Cliff Burton signature re-issue with an original Quickhook style bridge makes me want to ask the question of course, however Aria do not have a bridge product on the open market which could be construed as making it "competition".

    I don't think that it IS too early to talk figures. Ultimately that is what breaks the deal for most people. A gold-plated brass repro is worth the money, especially when it is made to the standard Hipshot are known for. Equally, widening the product offering by producing a chrome/nickel aluminium 18mm spaced bridge allows non-SB1000 owners to upgrade and maintain their - and I believe that this is an appropriate word - potential investment. Both brass and gold plating are premium options for bridges, putting the SB-1000 repro at the top end of the price scale. I would like to think we can pull this back from your suggestions of $175 but only grouping together will make that happen. Much of that cost is inflated by the substantial qualities of the bridge so I can't see it being far off that. Still, no specific numbers have been discussed so I am still gathering information to allow us to calculate this. Off the top of my head I think we are looking at ten units which is likely insufficient to make it happen as it stands. If I had the capital available I would invest so that people who are unaware of this project can pick them up after the fact, hence me throwing crowd-sourcing out there.

    Having spinners like Veijo Rautia producing excellent repro pickups with proper thermo-formed shells only makes the situation for Mat bass owners better. I thoroughly endorse his work.

    This all reminds me. I'm down to the last unit stock of the SB-1000 pre-amps. Time to get a new order in with the fab which is more "money going away". :crying: