Aria Pro II SB600
Made In: Japan
Specs: Maple body, three-piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard
Electronics: MB1 humbucking pickup
Controls: Volume, Tone, series/parallel switch
This appeared on a local site with an asking price of €50 so, naturally, I instantly leapt on it. A long-term goal has been to secure a decent late 70’s or early 80’s SB, one of the great underrated bass designs, in my opinion. Being an early model, I was really rather excited about getting this home and checking it out properly. It was in poor shape but I do enjoy a challenge.
The dot inlay SB basses, I believe, indicate they were aimed at the domestic Japanese market and feature very narrow string spacing. The strings almost run parallel from bridge to nut. In the past, this would have been an issue but, as I’ve gotten older, my technique has evolved to the stage where I wasn’t too concerned. Everything except the electronics appeared to be original, at first glance, and the Aria branded tuners were present and working.
The body consisted of a heavy maple lamination which had cracked along some of the many seams. It was largely aesthetic damage, however, as it was structurally sound overall. It was incredibly heavy, but nothing which would discourage me. The pots were faulty and the series/parallel switch was entirely disconnected. Someone had tried some repairs at some point and failed, by the looks of it. Once the pickup worked I would be happy enough though.
The neck was in good shape and was one of the few SBs not to feature neck-through construction. The design of the bolt-on neck joint was quite interesting. I’ve never encountered another quite like it.
Two extra screws were hidden under the plate for additional stability. Possibly among the first six-bolt neck designs?
The neck was a chunky P style affair with a very rounded back – substantial but not uncomfortable. It was still straight and true and the truss rod was in good working order. Generally, the build quality of these Japanese SBs was excellent.
As ever, my quest in life is to find an old SB with working pickups and, sadly, this wasn’t it. I had to bypass the pots to check the pickup and, sure enough, it suffered from the now common dead coil syndrome, like every other SB I’ve owned. I didn’t fancy going through the ordeal of sourcing a replacement or having a new one made, so I decided to ease this one out the door and keep the search going. I’m an optimist. Some day, it will happen.