Here is an increasingly rare Aria Pro II TS-600. This top-of-the-line model was built at the Matsumoku manufacturing plant in 1980/81 at the height of the golden age of Japanese guitar manufacturing.
By the late seventies Matsumoku was making some absolutely superb guitars and before closing their facility in 1987 they made some of the greatest guitars on the planet.
Back in the day many of us didn’t really get into these “timber finish” guitars much. Many thought these types of guitars were played by session musos and professional players (& not by the likes of us). They were heavily influenced by brands like Alembic who started in the late sixties and made very high-end through neck guitars with stained timber finishes from a workshop centred around the Grateful Dead.
By the mid to late seventies these types of guitars were influencing many manufacturers and Japan was there at the forefront of these influences.
Both the Matsumoku and Fujigen factories made high quality guitars and basses heavily influenced by these guitars from the late seventies and well into the eighties. Laminated high quality timber bodies with laminated set or through neck construction was a very expensive and time consuming way of making guitars so these factories offered similar instruments with set necks and bolt on necks to cover all price points.
Based loosely on an SG shape, the TS stood for Tri-Sound when the TS 400, 500, & 600 models hit the market. The 500/600/ variants had active electronics and the 600 had a full through neck with an ebony fretboard.
The body is a beautiful piece of construction using a maple and sycamore laminate with a natural or stained finish. This one is in Natural and shows off its grain perfectly.
The set neck is laminated maple and is very comfortable and super playable. The fretboard is a beautiful piece of ebony fitted with a full 24 frets and access all the way to the top. Early versions such as this had the six a side headstock which turned into the more common three per side ARIA headstock later in 1981.
Interestingly the TS “Tri-Sound” was changed to “Thor Sound” around the time of this new headstock with some late six a sides having Thor Sound. This one pre-dates that change.
The pickups are all Arias Protomatic humbuckers although different models in the range had slightly different specs like output and coil tapping. These were made by Maxon but carry no markings to verify that, which isn’t uncommon.
They are strong and high output with heaps of frequency response and sound good in single coil mode as well, which is not always the case.
– Onboard booster pre amp (to our ears an onboard DOD overdrive)
– Phase switching
– Coil taps
– 6 position Varitone switch
– 5 ply maple/walnut thru body neck
– Brass nut
– Ebony fingerboard
– 24 frets
– Ash body with maple centre block, walnut stripes
– Poly finish
– 25.5″ scale length
– Weight is 8.0 lbs
1. 3-position pickup selector switch
2. Master volume control
3. Master tone control
4. 6-position tone selector switch: Selects a by-pass circuit or Lo-cut/Hi-cut filters in 5 steps
5. Booster (overdrive) switch
6. Booster level control: You can pre-set selected volume levels and achieve instant distortion on a flick of a switch. Even if the battery power is exhausted, normal sound can be obtained with the booster switch in “OFF”
7. Dual sound switch (front)
8. Dual sound switch (rear): Selects either series or parallel connection
9 Phase reversal switch: Changes the phase between the front and rear pickups to achieve the distinctive “out-of-phase” sound providing really good attack and sound variations
This is a solidly-built, well crafted instrument. It is all original and fully functional. The neck-thru design features a 5 ply maple/walnut with ash body wings and a string-thru-body bridge with chrome saddles, a brass nut, and Kluson style tuners.
This is a mighty cool guitar that sounds as good as it looks. It is in excellent original condition with no changes or modifications that we can see. A few chips & dings here and there, but nothing objectionable. The neck is straight & true, truss rod works fine, medium jumbo frets in good condition.
It is a very playable and super versatile guitar, somewhat approaching Alembic-like specs without the serious price tag. The onboard extras are well thought out and very useable. And, amazingly, the circuits are all intact and working as they should.
Definitely one out of the box, and something quite unique with a look, sound and vibe all its own.
Comes in its original Aria branded hard shell case in good condition.