Sound — 10
... wood SHMOOD, this guitar sounds bloody marvelous. I don't know how they did it, and frankly I don't really care all that much. But however the material is composed it resonates beautifully with the instrument and its design. (Interesting side note, the best way to check the resonant qualities of an electric guitar is simply to play it unplugged. A well-made guitar will give off a nice warm and sweet sounding hum with very little buzzing through the whole body when you pluck the strings. And at the end of the day this quality is the difference between say a Stradivarius and well, an instrument you'd find in a toy store.) So for those of you who really are not sold, by the whole "composite material" bit, I really suggest you pick one of these up and play it before you make your final judgement. You will be at least surprised if not impressed. Also, for those who want to know more about the "Arium" material, check out the Aristides website, they go into some detail on the process. But on to more pressing matters. As far as the pickups are concerned the Seymour Duncan setup pretty much covers all your bases. When I looked it up, and for the sake of Precision, the 010 has the following setup: USA TB-5 (bridge) APS-2rwrp (middle) APS-2 (neck) All things said, the guitar basically sounds like a super-charged "fat-Stratocaster". The bridge pickup can be changed from humbucker to single-coil by pulling out on the volume knob. To say the least it makes for a wide range of sound possibilities. I mean, my band plays everything from "Johnny B. Goode" to Rage Against the Machines "Killing In The Name", and the guitar basically did whatever I needed it to and kept great tone and sustain the whole time.
Overall Impression — 9
The only thing I would change about this guitar is I would ask the folks at Aristides to make me one that looked a bit less "metal" and a bit more "bluesy"... but that is really just a point of personal preference. Either way, as a guy who plays many different styles of music I have to say that this guitar, for its price range, is great. The amount of care and attention put into its many innovations and details is readily apparent from the moment you pick it up. Combine that with the overall simplicity of its design and the quality of its components and you have a very well made guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 10
So, I'd like to say first and foremost that I am a fan of taking GOOD care of ones equipment. Instruments and gear that are treated with respect last, ones that aren't don't. That said, everything on this guitar (except the fretboard) is made out of either the Arium composite, or metal. And while I don't recommend it, it feels like you could probably use the thing to beat back out-of-control front-row fans and it might even stay in tune... when is the next Reading Festival anyway?
Features — 9
I will start off by saying that for all of the innovation put into the Aristides 010, it is definitely still a guitar. And that is the most important thing. It sounds a bit silly to say, but a guitar should FEEL like a guitar. Yes, looking cool is one thing, but have you ever picked up a guitar that looked great and then felt completely awkward in your hands? Me too. So kudos are in order for the folks at Aristides who were able to find that careful balance aesthetics and comfort. A real Triumph. That said, lets get into the knitty-gritty of the thing. The first thing I noticed about the 010 was the bridge (which I looked up and apparently it's the "Wilkinson VS100N tremolo bridge by Gotoh"). It's like they took the tremolo from a Strat and instead of digging it into the body, raised it up onto the top of the guitar. This seemed totally odd at first, but the more I played the guitar seemed to make excellent sense for 2 reasons. 1.) It appears to mimic a Floyd Rose setup. Basically that means it gives you all the range and fluidity you really want out of a suspended bridge. You can dive bomb your low E string (or I guess even your low D string for you real metalloids out there) and squeal your high harmonics by pulling up on the tremolo bar all in one place. 2.) A bit redundant, but it mimics a Floyd Rose setup WITHOUT the painful tuning issues. Unlike a Floyd Rose bridge (don't get me wrong, those have their advantages) changing strings on the 010 is as easy as changing the strings on a Strat. So, whether your guitar tech is on vacation or you are just a "do it yourself" person like yours truly, changing strings and tuning up doesn't have to take your entire lunch hour. But enough about the bridge. As far as the other aspects of the guitar go, the thing is pretty much "dressed to the nines". Its a one-piece molded body and neck, ebony fretboard, locking tuners, and its built out of a composite material called Arium that was made from pieces of an alien space craft... JUST KIDDING... This point in the review, however, is where you purists out there (myself included) say, "Now wait just one minute?! You mean this guitar is NOT made of wood? How can it even claim to sound halfway decent?" And indeed, it is not made of wood. But I ask all nonbelievers to bear with me and continue reading on into the SOUND portion of my review...