What did I just buy? Vintage Japanese Aria??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BigDanT, Apr 8, 2018.


  1. BigDanT

    BigDanT Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2011
    Indianapolis
    Ok so I just picked this up at a guitar show for what was a seemingly reasonable price. The neck is pretty great and the neck pup looks like it has been swapped with a Bill Lawrence (I think). It says Aria Jazz 51. Does anybody know anything about these guitars? It plays and sounds pretty dang nice.

    Also I’d be curious what a value on something like this might be.

    Thanks guys.
     

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  2. My guess is early/mid 70's Aria Jazz bass copy. The "51" and "Jazz" not being original. I would bet the bridge pickup is original. Looks a bit like this Ventura:

    upload_2018-4-8_15-19-17.jpeg

    Check out this Vid:

     
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  3. BigDanT

    BigDanT Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2011
    Indianapolis
    Great call. It looks a lot like both basses right down to the truss cover on the neck. So did one company make the Aria, Greco and Ventura guitars? I wonder if someone actually added the water slide jazz and 51 or what? Interesting.
     
  4. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    South Bend, Indiana
    Yes, most likely an early/mid '70s Matsumoku - made Aria. They made lots of other people's instruments; Epiphone, Davidson, Aria... Not sure about Greco, though; Fugi-Gen, maybe..? Anyway, they are generally pretty nice basses, considering their age. The bridge pick up might be original; looks like the pick ups in my '70s Japanese Epiphones, anyway. Nice, loud humbuckers they are, too. Most of these instruments have really skinny necks - the Japanese hadn't figured out that Americans have bigger hands - and they sometimes warp badly; but... Other than the tuners not being exactly top shelf - and being rather old as well - and the neck probably needing a shim (again, simply from age; mine did), it should be a very nice, perfectly playable bass. Nice find; enjoy it! :thumbsup:
    EDIT; What's it worth? Of all the "brands" Matsumoku made, the Arias are almost always the most desirable. But, that one has been messed with; the neck pick up and the head stock decals - if they are not stock - will lower the value quite a bit for a collector. And yes, there are an increasing number of people who collect these instruments, as the usual collectibles dry up. As it sits right now, it's worth what you paid for it...;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
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  5. BigDanT

    BigDanT Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2011
    Indianapolis
    I’m pretty sure the bridge pickup is original after finding some more pics of the Grecos from that era.

    The guy who sold it to me said the neck pup is a replacement Bill Lawrence and, though I haven’t pulled it to check, it looks the part.

    Well, I paid $120 for it and given the nice neck and the sound I’d have to say I’m pretty happy.
     
  6. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    The bridge pickup *is* original, and it is single coil. The dual row of polepieces is a sham. It's still a great pickup, though.
     
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  7. Tvrtko

    Tvrtko

    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    Been there myself
    Epicentar u Cajavecu.jpg
    Great wood. Electronics is crap. Pickups are pure sh** multiply by 2. That is one single bass instrument responsible for me not becoming professional bass player. I hated that sound so much, I could not practice on it...
    Pull out that junk, install some active soap-bars and you have killer bass (replace bridge too)!
     
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  8. Tvrtko

    Tvrtko

    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    Most likely that's Kasuga brand. Aria had J-bass knobs like Fender...
    Greco, Kasuga (and a few others) did not have Fender J knobs
     
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  9. BigDanT

    BigDanT Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2011
    Indianapolis
    That’s a great pic!
    Thanks for the info. The pickups info!!

     
  10. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    With the BL pickup $120 outs about what they're worth. However the solid neck (not laminate) puts it ahead of the earlier crapos.

    Looks to be from the era when MIJ was about to become a good thing.

    Two questions.
    -short or long scale?
    -solid or plywood body
     
  11. BigDanT

    BigDanT Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2011
    Indianapolis
    It seems to be a standard scale and the body looks to be solid based on the areas where the finish has worn through.
     
  12. MattZilla

    MattZilla

    Jun 26, 2013
    CNY
    The rails look kinda thin like the "Bill Lawrence USA" pickups, not actually made by the Lawrence family and rumored to be feedback prone. If it's actually one of Bill's, you've got a cool bass loaded with a sweet guitar pickup that responds well to series/parallel switching.
     
  13. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    I wouldn't ditch the bridge pickup until you've tried rounds on the bass. I admit it's not a frequently encountered sound, but I happen to like it a lot.
     
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  14. Rompin Roddy

    Rompin Roddy

    Jun 29, 2016
    Tacony
    A cool $120.

    I would've bought it too.
     
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  15. Rompin Roddy

    Rompin Roddy

    Jun 29, 2016
    Tacony
    Sunburst looks surprisingly nice for an early 70s.
     
  16. BigDanT

    BigDanT Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2011
    Indianapolis
    I’ll probably pop the pups out and take a look at em in the near future. As it is set up now and it really sounds pretty good. The bridge pup isn’t real honky or burpy it’s kind of a more mellow sound. Not a lot of mids at all. The neck PUP is really kind of thick and woody but pretty well defined. Overall, whatever the pups are they sound pretty decent. If anything just a bit mid-weak.
     
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  17. BigDanT

    BigDanT Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2011
    Indianapolis
    That definitely might be the case. I will have to take a look at the bottoms to be sure.
     
  18. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    The generic term for those pickups is "Maxon" pickups, because Maxons were the first basses on which they were seen a lot. But not solely. I've got an Electra Long-necker (euphemism for boat-anchor) Jazz and a Global Jazz with those same pickups.
     
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  19. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    That's good news but I'd recommend checking the neck pocket to be sure.

    Theres no real defined eras but you might consider this a transition piece.

    It had the crappy pickups and tuners of earlier basses which are almost novelty pieces by today's standards.

    On the other hand the neck is solid wood and the full scale are upgrades from the plywood and short scales of the earlier versions.

    However the multi piece headstock and truss rod cover show that they hadn't quite gotten to the spot on clones that the uninformed refer to as "lawsuit" instruments.

    Best of luck whatever you decide. If the neck and body are solid it might be a good candidate for new tuners and a pair of Guild Bisonic pickups.
     
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  20. DanAdams

    DanAdams Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2013
    Maine
    Cool bass. I'm betting it's plywood as the burst stops before the contours. they had to do this to cover up the fact that they are plywood. when real wood is used the burst generally go all the way to the edge. That is likely a replacement bridge too... it's so shiny!
    I agree about it likely being Matsumoku, and the neck pickup is a guitar pickup. I would look for a large pickup that could be cut into the pickgaurd and mounted in the neck position. old Kawai basses of that era may be a good match, it looks as though the pole pieces on that one barely hit the E string.
    Japanese basses of this era often get a bad rap because they were people's first basses, beat to heck, with rusty old strings and never set up. A little care and attention goes a long way these.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
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