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Aria Pro


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I promised to do some pretty fancy artwork on my mates guitar. So he wouldnt be without a guitar while I am working on it he gave me an old guitar to set up. The headstock decal says Aria Pro II the cat series. The body is quite curvy and I actually really like it. Its fitted with a kahler flyer tremolo, and locking nut and H/s/s pup config. The tone knob has a push pull thing on it to split the coils on the humbucker. The funny thing is theyve obviously gone to a reasonable amount of effort with the hardware, but the body is made of plywood. doesnt make sense to me.

Does anyone have any idea of where i could get a rough value of this guitar (my mate asked me to, but i cant find any info anywhere) im guessing its an american guitar, and its abviously pretty old, but thats about as much as i know. ill try and post a pic soon (im still using 35mm). was thinking of puttin a swirl finish on it, it would really look sweet with that body shape :DB)

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I have now narrowed it down to a guitar after 1977. i still cant find anything at all on the cat series....... oh yeah, its japanese, as im sure you gentlemen will want to take the piss out of me for saying it was probably american. :D

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ok, maybe im getting better at this whole internet thing....Its from 1986-87. still nothing on value though


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well, I don't know much about aria pro guitars except they were typically cheaply made guitars, they looked and played ok, but I've never seen one that had a very high value, in fact the highest value I've ever seen on an Aria guitar was about $350US brand new. I've seen lots of them in pawn shops and such for $100 or so. Not to say they didn't have higher end ones, I just don't really know and I never saw any.

is this what it looks like?


There is one at this pawn website for $170


So considering pawn shops are usually high, and ebay for stuff like this is usually low, I would figure somewhere in $100 to $125 is likely for that guitar, just my guess though.

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Well, if it's lasted this long, it's probably a pretty solidly-built axe. Since it's not worth anything and it has a cool body shape, play around with it a little! Refinish it, replace the electronics, or even dupe the body out of a better wood, it's all up to you.

I remember around '98 I saw a couple neat Aria Pro electrics. They looked like Strats, but they turned the input jack 180 degrees so that the cable couldn't fall out and you could run it between the body and the strap much more comfortably. They also mounted the bridge pickup, an SD JB Jr., to the wood and didn't have the pickguard covering it up. Neat looking guitars, those Arias.

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Guest AlexVDL

Aria pro II had some very nice and extremely well built gibson copies in the 70's. But unfortunately they also made very crappy guitars which was a disaster for the name.

I have an aria pro II les paul, one piece mahogany body with thick bookmatched maple top, 3 piece maple set neck, ebony fingerboard and real mop block inlays. This guitar is an exact copy of a 70's gibson LP. It sounds great but plays even better.

I also had a n aria pro II ES copy which had a set neck, solid top, back and sides and mahogany set neck. So only by the name you cannot tell if it's a good one or bad one.

Yours is one of the lower budget guitars and not very sought after.



pic 2

pic 3

pic 4

pic 5

pic 6

Sorry for the low quality pics :D But as you can see, this Aria is not cheap crap B)

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thanks guys, thats what i was needing to know. Dunno if i'm gonna bother changing the electrics on it. I was originally just goin to set up the action so that my mate could use it while i was working on his other guitar. but then I decided I was gonna do a freebie swirl job on it. (his other guitars a freebie job to! still, i need to build up my portfolio!) I love the body shape on it though, dunno what it is about it, but i think its cool! It looks the same as the guitar in LGM's first link, but doesnt have a scratchplate, or a spring cavity in the back (the trem is all self contained, tiny springs are under the block of the tre itself and attatched to the frame of it and theres a built in roller bridge) The existing body colour is white so I think that the swirl paint job will look pretty smart on it, cos the colours should be nice and bright. I'll post some pics in the inlays and finishing section when I'm done. havent had much luck finding paint that works well for dipping yet though.....


oh yeah, the headstock is the other way round on to LGM's pic

Edited by demon
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  • 3 months later...

Slightly off subject i know but at a guitar show recently i played an Aria LP copy (blue sunburst) It played AMAZINGLY nice and for a price tag of £190 i was amazed B)

Just about to buy it when i saw a KKV across the room, i HAD to go and play it... and then decided to take the KKV ... played nicer, looked nicer (in my opinion) and was a Sig by Kerry King :D and it only cost a little more

SOryr for the off topic post... just seemed a little relevant and wanted to help :D:D

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Check out this link for some good Aria info:



I had an Aria LP copy back in the 70's that was very similar to yours. It wasn't a PRO2, just Aria. Brown burst color, with chrome hardware and pickups, and a set neck. It was the first brand new guitar I ever bought, and when I picked it up off the rack in the store, I thought it was Gibson until I looked at the name on the head. My brother has a 1969 Gibson LP Custom, and we played the Gibson and Aria side by side for comparison. I personally thought my Aria played BETTER than his Gibson. We both agreed the Aria sounded a bit thinner, and a bit quieter. Overall, it was an excellent guitar for the price. I traded it away on a Dean in the early 80's. Nothing against Deans, especially the 70's and 80's Deans, but I often wish I would have kept the Aria. It was a great guitar!

That link above gives me an error now, but if you go to the homepage, (www.rathole.org), click on guitar gallery, then click on models/labels specs, it will take you to the Aria stuff.

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Better yet, show up for the forums on that site. You'll find a bunch of people there (myself included) who know that Matsumoku-made guitars, including Aria Pro, are the best kept secret as far as high quality, yet they command a shockingly low price. Guitars like yours typically sell on ebay for around 200$, far less than other guitars of similar quality.

The Aria Pro name was also used later on for Korean-made guitars, and the quality was not the same- same for Vantage, Washburn, etc. So yes, there are guitars out there under that name that aren't great. Look for models made before 1987.

I have one Aria Pro II (the rest are other Matsumoku-made) and although I find it kinda ugly (it's a ZZ, sort of a sculpted Explorer) it's a great player and would be my first choice for a working guitar- something I can get bottles thrown at tonight and play in the studio tomorrow. It's a workhorse with great action and superb sound. There are also high-end models with through necks, flamed tops, etc. but even the most humble of low-end Matsumoku guitars are excellent players' guitars.




Edited by x189player
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Do you know if Matsumoko (Uncle Mat!! lol) is still making guitars?

There are some new Aria's on the market now, but I don't know anything about them. I remember seeing them somewhere on the web, maybe Ed Roman?

Anyway, thanks for the info, I might have to check out that forum. All this is REALLY making me wish I still had that bad boy...

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Matsumoku's last guitars came out in 86 (and a few 87). The rumor has long been that their factory burned, but that's apparently not true, more likely financial problems of some kind brought down the company (wasn't the late 80's the beginning of the big economic downturn in Japan?).

Matsumoku was one of the makers involved in the famous 'lawsuit' era guitars, but unlike the others they went on to mostly produce their own guitars, not licensed Fenders and Gibsons. (but the term 'lawsuit' gets constantly misused on ebay to hype up sales). Unlike the others (like Fujen Gakke, etc) they were a small family business that made guitars in relatively small batches.


Players of their guitars are unanimous that not only are they of great quality, but they also have a real feeling of 'soul' like they were made with care. This makes more sense when you realize Matsumoku was originally a family woodworking business which for generations made statuary for Buddhist temples. After WWII they got the contract to make wooden cabinets for Singer sewing machines, and around the 60's they started making guitars.


Some of the labels made by Matsumoku include Aria, Aria Pro, Aria Pro II, Vantage, Westbury, early Greco, Washburn, Skylark, Lyle, and my favorites, which were made for Saint Louis Music: Electra and Westone. (some of these labels were also made by other factories, especially after the 80's.)

Of all the Uncle Matt guitars, I find Electras to be the most undervalued- you can get a pro-quality instrument usually for under $200 in today's used market. Electra as a aname was so strongly associated with Gibosn copies that it never quite recovered and gained accepatance despite its high quality. Check ebay for Electra Phoenix, Electra Westone, and Westone Spectrum, and I promise you won't be disappointed. Their higher-end guitars have set necks and feel like they've been lavished with 'custom shop' attention.





Matsumoku isn't the only japanese maker who turned out super-quality guitars, but they are among the most consistently good, and like I say, they have real soul. Today they have a cult following. I've owned more than four dozen Uncle Matt guitars of various kinds, and they were all superb. Even the most humble of them are really fine quality- even if the materials were inexpensive (like your plywood Cat) the workmanship and attention to detail are very good. And they do have soul...

There are new Arias on the market now, not sure who's making them. Some of the Uncle Matt forum regulars have been tracking them down, but so far there's been a language barrier problem. Likewise the name Westone is being used for modern british-made (I think) guitars, but the quality is unrelated.

Edited by x189player
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Yeah, I see that "law suit era" stuff on ebay all the time, and seldom does it directly apply to the instrument being sold. I remember back then that the Ibanez Les Pauls were regarded as being really great, but I never liked the way they played. Actually, I hated the playability of all of the Ibanez guitars in the 70's. It wasn't until the 80's or so that they became decent playable guitars IMO. I had an Iceman back in 78 or 79, and I loved the look and the tone, but I couldn't play the !@#$ thing!! I could chord ok, and my fingers would ACHE after one song, and forget any fast lead work. I adjusted the action, put on lighter strings, etc. and nothing worked to make it play better. Back in the case it would go, and out came the Aria.

I had a Gibson LP Deluxe back then, too. But the Aria was still my fav.

It's cool to see those old Electra's and Westones, etc. I had all but forgotten about them. I remember those effect modules that plugged into the back of the body. Was that wild or what?!!

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