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Alembic Club » Miscellaneous » Archive: 2006 » Archive through December 01, 2006 » Aria Pro SB-LTD with stock Alembic pickups « Previous Next »

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alembic83
Junior
Username: alembic83

Post Number: 22
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2006 - 9:04 am:   Edit Post

Hi, I remember seeing a thread earlier about putting Alembics in an Aria SB...I'm not sure if it's been brought up, but Aria produced a model in the early 90s (91-93 or so) that came stock with Alembics.

I thought I'd share some info I came across in some early 90s Aria catalogs I purchased. According to the catalogs, the pickups were "2AXY/AE-1". And the controls were two volumes and one active control. The bass was available in see through black or see through red and had oval inlays with the black dots. The retail price was listed as 150,000 Yen. If I had a scanner readily available I would post a pic from the catalog (perhaps in the near future). Really a nice looking bass, very similar to lg71's Alembicized SB.

In addition, Aria's custom shop was listing some really fantastic looking SB style basses at the time. They looked even more Alembic influenced than the regular SBs, due to the more exotic types of wood they were using.

A little off topic now... I know Aria was never really considered a top of the line kind of brand, but they did have a nice run in the early to mid 80s. Is it just me or have they really dropped off since then? Time was you could name several Aria players from mainstream bands...How about now? Steve Bailey...if he even still endorses them? Maybe they are just concentrating on their domestic market in Japan since they have a lot of the re-issue SBs available, and just send the cheap, made in China or Korea beginner models elsewhere? You can see the activity on the Aria Japan website so I know the company is still alive and well there. But Aria USA seems to be a moribund company...Anyone have any ideas about that? As I collect some of their older basses, I really wish the company was run more like Alembic.

Well, to come back to the original topic. :-) I don't suppose anyone has tried the SB-LTD with stock Alembics?
Jason
lg71
Advanced Member
Username: lg71

Post Number: 202
Registered: 3-2006
Posted on Sunday, November 05, 2006 - 11:42 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Jason, I'd be very interested to see some close up of those pictures you have, maybe you could try taking photos with a camera?

I personally think that the best period for Aria was the era of the SBs, and even before that, the Diamond series were very good as well, and they are even harder to find!

But now, Aria is kinda "dead" really, I have seen the new ones, they look and sound terrible! I visited the Aria workshop in the UK, one day I brought my SB down there and made friend with the man who was setting up basses before being dispatched to the shops, and we had a chat, and obviously, as you can imagined, he too was disappointed...

When it comes down to quality and unique/special wood, Alembic is the king. Otherwise, to get something as good as the old SBs... you can keep looking...

BTW: As you know, the Matsumoku factory moved back then, and as opposed to most people think, the newer stuff were not worse at all, especially the wood, the wood as always been top quality on SBs, no matter the year (not RI), but thing where they cut corners where, tuners, then PUs (on the cheaper models) and the bridges (die cast as opposed to brass). But you see, the most important thing on a bass, it's the wood, especially on neck through instruments, while tuners, bridges and PUs can always be upgraded...

Hope to see those nice photos you have.
BTW: I have uploaded more pictures of the "LG MK2"
alembic83
Junior
Username: alembic83

Post Number: 24
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Wednesday, November 08, 2006 - 7:08 am:   Edit Post

Hi, I will try and get some scans of the early 90s SBs from the catalogs. Probably in Decemeber/January! There are some very nice basses in there...

And yeah, Aria seems dead - in the US anyway - which is too bad. But I have one of the new Re-issues (Japanese made) and while not the same as the original basses, it's still very high quality in my opinion. The wood appears to be pretty nice on the new John Taylor models, which I've had the chance to look at in person. The hardware is all good (Gotoh), too. But they only seem to make these for the Japanese market. Meanwhile, if you ask for an Aria Pro in the US they probably just think you're looking for a cheap P bass knockoff which is a shame. I think the US target market is for beginners while in Japan they still target some pros and people who want decent quality. And I don't even consider the new generation of SBs (the ugly ones with kind of pointy heads) - they don't exist to me. :-) I can't believe Aria can call them "SB"s. I don't know how they play/sound, but I don't really care to find out...

BTW, you may remember I asked you about your extra SB pickups. That's because I have a red SB-R60 bass (single pickup model) that appears to have a dead pickup. I'm not quite ready to make an "Arialembic" out of it, though. Not that I wouldn't like to, but I don't have the funds to undertake a project like that right now. I'm thinking of contacting a shop in Japan that said they could get me an Aria SB (re-issue) pickup for it. We'll see...
Jason
lg71
Advanced Member
Username: lg71

Post Number: 228
Registered: 3-2006
Posted on Wednesday, November 08, 2006 - 7:56 am:   Edit Post

Hi Jason, I really look forward to these photos, thanks.

Maybe Aria Japan is now "selfish" and don't want to share the good bass with world, I don't know why... I saw an SB1000 RI here in London, it didn't look that great, the two Walnut stripes didn't match, and the neck wasn't the old straight/parralell anymore, it was more standard, narrow at the nut and wide(r) at the other end. It was expensive as well, around 1500/$3000 if I remember.

Regarding your pickup, I heard from someone on this forum who managed to order a RI from Japan (I don't know how), he said that it was bigger and it didn't fit, it required some extra carving/routing, maybe you want to find out. You can also check with your RI, see it it's the same dimensions, I don't know if they have more than one size available either.

I need to get two or three Alembic PUs soon (before my Birthday hopefully) , because my Arialembic MK1 doesn't have PUs anymore, so;

If you make me an offer for an SB PU (you'd choose + pay shipping option, it'd be easier and more flexible for you I think),
and if I am happy with it, we can go from there. You can email me directly if you want. And because I have got four in total, I don't mind selling two, but I'd want to keep the other two at least.

Thanks,
LG
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1072
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, November 08, 2006 - 2:14 pm:   Edit Post

The terrific vintage Aria / Aria Pro II (and more) website, 'The Guitar Gallery', has a new web address, www.matsumoku.org. Thank Goodness there were no FIVE-string SBs, I can stay out of this particular lust.

I still say the Aria SBs, the Ibanez Musicians, the BB Yamahas, and the Daion Double X's, were remarkable axes for their day, remarkable still, and are real proof the Japanese were floored by Alembic.

It's also VERY interesting to me that in the headlong rush of EVERYBODY on this side of the pond building their version of a Jazz Bass, the Far East has passed on this with the exception of where they are building copies for American companies (the G+L Tributes, Lakland Skylines, etc.) Soundgears, BTBs, TRBs, BBs, don't fall into the Fender clone zone. Present day Aria in America is a ghost of the 80s Aria, maybe they do qualify . . . they seem to be in competition with OLP, JB Player, and Galveston. Aria in Japan is not nearly that crummy.

J o e y
alembic83
Junior
Username: alembic83

Post Number: 25
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Thursday, November 09, 2006 - 5:19 am:   Edit Post

Joey, there were some 5 string SBs! They were not from the Matsumoku era, though. In my early 90s Aria catalogs they have some custom shop 5 string SBs, very nice looking! I will try and get those images scanned in a couple months when I get back to the US. As far as I know there weren't any SB 5 stringers in mass production, though. So unless you get lucky and find one of those custom shop fivers, I think your wallet is safe!

Also, I recently got a reply from Hanser Holdings in Ohio, who are now the current US distributer for Aria - they bought out NHF in May 2005. The rep sent me a very long and detailed reply and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. He had some encouraging things to say, but I guess what else was he going to say? "We're a doomed company?" :-) In a nutshell, he said they are in the process of rebuilding the US dealership base, they will begin updating the ariausa.com website more in January, and they will try to bring Aria back to prominence in the US market but it will take some time. He also said NHF had several million dollars of inventory on hand that HH sold off and had about 300 different Aria models. In order to better compete they decided to pare it down to about 65 different models in the US market (the ones with the best sales).

As far the Aria US line that I've seen, I think they have their share of Fender clones (the STB series) but they still have some of the more original models such as the Integra and the SBs, it just seems they haven't been too successful at promoting them here. I think you are right about their competition being OLP, et al since most of their models are now made in China except for the SB-RIs and a few others. Aria Japan definitely caters to a different market. I was in Tokyo and many of the shops had the SB-RIs but I didn't see too many of the Fender clones or cheap throw away models.

LG, about the SB-RIs, I suppose they could be more inconsistent in quality these days. I never came across a shoddy original SB. The RI I have is fine, though. You're right about the more standard neck, too. They kind of lost a bit of their unique feel when they changed that, didn't they? Maybe John Taylor, for whom it seems the model was resurrected for, wanted a more standard feel to the neck. According to the Aria site he also wanted the Gotoh bridge and black hardware change.
BTW, I will think about the pickup offer. Now that you mention it, I have heard that the RI pickups weren't the same size as the older ones.
Thanks,
Jason
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1074
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, November 09, 2006 - 11:10 am:   Edit Post

I KNOW I could look at Aria Japan's catalog and pick out 65 models (!), capitalize a US distributor, be at the Winter NAMM, and make a hell of a start at bringing them back in this country. Any VocED class in high school could have done better than NHF.

The trick is managing the quality as production in the Far East inexorably moves out of Korea and Taiwan (just as it moved out of Japan as production costs rose with their rising economies) and into primarily China, with Indonesia and VietNam filling in. Yamaha is closing their Taiwan subsidiary, and moving the bulk of its production to China. We'll see what happens.

J o e y
lg71
Advanced Member
Username: lg71

Post Number: 231
Registered: 3-2006
Posted on Thursday, November 09, 2006 - 3:39 pm:   Edit Post

Joey, what can you do? It's life, sometimes its not as nice as it could be, you know...
Look at me for example, I came up with a wicked idea with this "Alembic" Media player, yet, everyone is ditching it! :-(

Jason, I sent you an email.

THIS IS FUNNY BTW: You Jason, want my Aria SB PUs, and me LG, I want Joey AXYs... we are both on the same thread!!! :-) LOL

Thanks,
LG

Come on Joey, let them go those AXYs...

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