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Aria STB P-Bass - First mini-project bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sandvich Hero, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. Hi guys,

    I was looking for a cheap bass to get me started on a small modding project without risking too much. I found this Aria STB sunburst P-copy in the classified and paid 80$CA for it (advertised as a "jazz style guitar" :rolleyes:).

    The neck is in great shape and it`s just a breeze to play, so I will most probably keep it as a great classic/passive complement to my Ibanez SR400. It`s got great sustain with the current hardware on the strings that are not dead yet (3 of the strings are so corroded I wonder if I shouldn't go get a tetanus shot :D).

    I was thinking at stringing it with flatwounds first, just to give it a try. Any suggestion at fitting flats for a P-bass ?

    I will probably try to find a S. Duncan SPB-1 or similar to replace the stock pickup. The tone pot crackles when turned and the input jack is rusty a bit, so I will swap those too. While I'm at it, I might as well get a new volume pot and .1uF cap and get all the electronics replaced.

    One thing I noticed is that it`s quite neck-heavy (dives a bit). I never played much on a P-bass before so I don`t know if it`s a P-bass standard, but that would be my only complaint. The body itself is on the light side, but the headstock with those humongous tuners adds quite a bit of weight. Is there any "light" P-bass tuners out there (while keeping the look) I could find ???

    Other than that, the neck and current setup are great, but a fret job will be welcome. Cosmetically, a good and thorough cleanup will probably improve it a lot already. Theres a bunch of superficial stains and every possible hole is filled with dust. A red tort pickguard is also somewhere on the list of mods to do :cool:.

    Finally, if anyone knows if the build year is in their serial number, that would be a welcome info. All my google searches leads to information on 70s and 80s matsumoku-made instruments and this one is probably a later korean-made cheaper version (no "made in japan" or "matsumoku" on the neck plate, and it certainly doesn't look like it`s 20 years old anyways). The SN is CH091278, and it`s no more than a couple years old (and certainly not a 2009 .......).

    Anyways, I just felt like sharing that with the folks here and of course, pics to come in a couple minutes.
  2. Here you go :



  3. honestjohnny


    Nov 24, 2006
    Check out bestbassgear.com for:

    Hipshot Ultralight Tuners
    New Pickup and electronics

  4. Thanks for the tips.

    Those hipshot ultralight might be just what I need to give it back a decent balance.

    I'll try to find my stuff directly in Canada though, ordering from the states, after the high shipping cost, currency exchange, interest on currency exchange and sometimes customs is more often than not not worth it for this kind of stuff. I see it as a constant evolution project anyways and I will see what comes up as far as parts goes. Might end up with whatever pickup I find in a pawn shop / ads ... I'll let it build itself ...
  5. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    That's a nice looking bass you have there.

    For input Jacks, just go to Radio shack, they are the same thing as GC has, for about half the price.

    Also, before you switch out the pots, try giving them a cleaning with electrical component cleaner. You can get some at any auto store (or pay more for the same product from GC). I've saved many a pot with a few applications of this stuff. Just spray and then work the knob back and forth. Applications from the top and bottom of the pot are effective.

    Lasty if, as you indicate, this is going to be a secondary project instrument, I wouldn't invest alot in pickups, parts, etc. A nice set of ultralights (about 100 bucks) may be necessary for the neck dive,
    but a second hand Duncan or Dimarzio can be had here or on TB for 50 bucks or so, and GFS, makes a good quality alnico p-bass pup that is available for less than 40 bucks new.

    Some info on dating Arias here http://www.ariaguitars.com/int/00int_main/archives_main.html (bottom of page has some serial # info) Indicates that your bass probably does not have a "date coded" serial number...

    and here http://www.ariaguitars.com/int/00int_main/archives_ebass02.html indicates that your bass was made sometime between 1993 and the present. Sorry I can't find anything more precise.
  6. Thanks a lot for the info.

    What you found about serials pretty much confirmed what I deducted. It must be a korean-made non-dated-serial unit.

    I will replace all the electronics just because I probably won`t pay for it :)
    I will order any non bass specific stuff (pots, cap and input) from the job (aviation-grade parts) and our boss usually let it go for free if it`s a small order ...

    Of course, I will try to keep the cost at a minimum. As nice as it is, it`s still a 80$ bass ...
    I know I will find a suitable pickup in the next weeks/months and if it`s too nice for this bass, it will only end up in the P/J Ibanez :p

    Might have to order new tuners though, I bet those don`t come up used too often (and 90% of the time, won`t ship to Canada ...)
  7. Here is a follow-up of the little work I did today. I don't care much if that's not interesting, I write this so I keep a journal for myself :D

    I have a new input jack, as well as a 0.1uF 250Vdc cap (I have no idea what was there before, no markings on the component, but from what I have read from other threads, that`s what I should put in there).

    Pickguard removed, ready to go :

    The workshop :

    New input jack solder points :

    New capacitor solders :

    I also sprayed the pots with contact cleaner in hope that they would work better. Sounds good, I may not have to swap them immediately (would have to order them and wait a week anyways ...)

    I then cleaned the pickguard and the body and reassembled. Looks much better already, and no more crackling from the pots.

    Next step will be this, yikes :

    Needs a good cleaning and oiling, but I will probably wait until I am ready to swap the tuners and the pickup, and install at the same time some flatwound strings. The bridge will also need a good cleaning at this time.
  8. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I'll share a trick with you that I used to balance a Turser JTB-401 ('54 P clone) that had such a light body the neck overblalanced it.

    I added a bridge cover and put adhesive tire weights on the inside of the cover and on the bridge just in front of the saddles. It made the bass neutrally balanced and since it was already so light, the instrument still only weighs 7.5 pounds. The bridge cover hides all the weights.

    Here are pix of the bridge cover and bridge:

    Aras likes this.
  9. Lol at that, but that's certainly not a bad idea. I will try hanging some stuff off the body to see how much weight I would need to balance it correctly, and then if I am comfortable with that total weight (I'm sure not a big guy ...).

    If that works out, I may just go this way, as the current tuners, as heavy as they are, work and look great. That would also reduce the cost as an ashtray bridge cover must certainly not cost 100$ ...

    Maybe I can also put some of the weights in the cavity (careful if they are metal, I know) but then they would be more in the center and further from the "end" of the bass and require a bit more total weight to get the same balance. Just a thought ...

    Thank you for the tip, sir :bassist:
  10. So, I'm pretty much done with this one, for now. I found a used 1/4 Pounder here in the classified, then went and bought a set of Labella DTB 760FL Flats.

    First step : take care of the fretboard. I read a couple tutorials on the internetz and went pretty simple. Lemon oil for the board, and light sanding then 0000 steel wool on the frets. I am really happy with the result, a lot smoother, a lot shinier, and a lot cleaner ....


    With the strings on, later :


    Then, pickup swap and cavity shielding :



    Then I removed the bridge because I suspected the ground connection to be intermittent (sometimes, I would get a buzz if my hands were not touching the strings, sometimes not).
    Turns out the ground wire was just sitting on the wood, "hoping" to get a good contact by the bridge pressure (don't know if it's standard, first time I remove a bridge). But since the wire had eaten a bit in the finish, it was loosely hanging. I just replaced the wire for a longer one and this time gave it a turn or 2 around one of the screws. That should take care of it. I also took the occasion to dismantle the bridge and clean/polish it with the same steel wool as the frets.


    Headstock with the Labellas :


    1/4 Pounder with flats might seem a wierd mix, I'll see how it sounds, maybe get back to rounds if I don't like it :bassist:

    One last thing I want to do is take care of the neck dive (probably with lighter tuners) but I'm not in a rush ... whenever I find something in the classified.
  11. Lighter tuners Less Sustain! Learn from Leo Fenders!