Pro II RS MIJ review by Aria

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (3 votes)
Aria: Pro II RS MIJ

Price paid: $ 155

Purchased from: used

Sound — 8
The sound is very subjective as all older guitars with 3 single coils. The pups are med/low output, think Texas Specials. They will do SRV, Beck and so on. Add a little spice to the amp settings and they do classic rock and grindy blues very well also. This guitar, given the 2 singles, is not a metal giant. It does blues, jazz and some classic rock very well. I play a little bit of everything so this fits those moods when I want this style of guitar. The guitar is quiet... Very little hum from the singles. Very versatile... Very Strat like.

Overall Impression — 9
I play a bit of blues, jazz, rock, metal and so on. This fits the bill for the lighter side of all of those. It is NOT a metal guitar. But does most other styles with ease. I've been playing a while and know good guitars. I've had other 80's Arias... Have this one, a Knight Warrior and a Stray Cat. If it were stolen. I would buy another but this exact setup is very very rare. It has the FR style trem and thin neck like a Metal guitar and the Strat style pups/controls... Very unique. I love everything about it... For its unique style. I compare the quality with my S540, RG570, RG3120 and other older MIJ guitars. They are simply the best I've found for the money. They easily compare with Carvins, Charvels, MusicMan, IB Prestige, MIJ ESP's and other top axes... If you find one. Get it and keep it.

Reliability & Durability — 9
Well its 27 years old and plays better than most guitars I own. Its made in the Matsumoku factory as the best guitars of the 80's were so its better now than most others are new. It will take abuse and keep coming back for more. I would trust this live without a backup, but wouldn't do that with my Japanese ESP custom shops either... Really. Any guitar can break a string at THAT EXACT WRONG TIME! The finish is aging very well. Back of the neck is flawless. Aged maple. The white is now an off white cream. Nuff said.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The action sucked... But just required a thorough setup as all guitars do. The people who buy a guitar from a store and say it was setup perfectly, I seriously wonder what and how much they smoked before they wrote the review. MOST if NOT ALL guitars require some tailoring to your playing style and setup preferences. Unless you are a total newbie. I adjusted the neck relief to a very shallow bend, adjust the trem to the right height to give it a nice low action, pickups so they sound balanced given their output and style of pup, etc. Every guitarist should have the ability to do this to their own guitars. I would have to pay a good tech around 50-75$ for this because... I'm VERY PICKY!

Features — 9
Made in 86 in Mak. Japanese factory. Its an Aria Pro II RS series, very much like the Knight Warrior that George Lynch played in the 80's. It's an Alder body, 22 fret maple neck with rosewood board. Medium jumbo SS frets. The RS series of guitars of the era had a very distinct double horn shape... They have an aggressive turned in shape on the ends, like horns. This has the ACT 3 trem, FR style and design. The locknut is on the headstock past an actual nut. Common design of the era. This is setup to be a shredder but has 3 single coil pups... Very Strat like Vintage sound as they are med/low output. It has the typical 5 way switch as is standard with the pickup configuration. Has 1 volume and 1 tone control... That actually let you "roll off" the sound... Like a tapered pot should do! Very cool! The tuners are Gotoh, like MIJ Ib's are also. All in all a very solid guitar. The neck profile is very very thin... Very wizard like yet is comfy to play.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have the Aria ProII RS Straycat. I believe they only made this model for 2 years 84-86 I think. It is made in Japan. I dropped a Zakk Wylde EMG Pickup kit in it and replaced the Selector switch with a Factory Gibson Les Paul Switch. The stock humbuckers and wiring was quit noisy. But since the upgrades, It the best sounding and playing Axe I ever had. Including a Gibson Les Paul Custom, A Gibson 3 Pickup SG Custom And a USA Texas Special Strat.
    I don't know how much money you want to spend on it but you might want to consider putting an EMG Pickup Kit in it. I'm glad I did. If yours is like a Strat, Pick Guard and all. EMG has them ready to drop right in less than 5 minutes. Everything is mounted to the pick guard Hell you don't even have to take off the strings, just loosen them slide the old pick guard out slide the EMG in, Retune and and your done. My project wasn't that easy LOL.
    Sounds like a better model than my earlier Aria strat. However I do love my guitar's ash body and gorgeous maple fretboard