Nick Jennison takes a look at the latest member of the Aria Pro II Hot Rod Collection in the form of the 718-MK2 Brooklyn. Showcasing a combination of a roasted maple neck and an open pore finish body, the Aria 718-MK2 Brooklyn also comes equipped with Aria's original Classic Power pickups.
Aria's Hot Rod series of guitars have offered players some seriously high spec instruments for very little outlay. In previous issues of GI we've taken a look at the "Fullerton" and "Nashville" models - a superstrat and a three pickup Tele-type guitar respectively. They're sophisticated, versatile instruments for modern players. The 718-MK2 "Brooklyn", however, is a different beast entirely.
If it's stablemates are like metaphorical Swiss Army Knives, the 718-MK2 is a sledgehammer: a rugged, no-nonsense rock machine with a stripped back look and a sound to match. It sports a mahogany body, set neck, a pair of humbuckers and a 24.75" scale, but it's much more "Junior" than "Standard", if you catch me drift. The flat top and open pore finish give the guitar an old school aggressive character, and the super solid Wilkinson wraparound tailpiece and simplified control layout (three way blade, master volume and master tone) are fittingly un-fussy.
There are a few features that buck the formula somewhat though. The neck is a 5-piece roasted maple design with a slim and flat profile that feels distinctly modern, and the heel-less join offers effortless upper fret access. A cool old school detail comes in the form of the traditional Aria Pro II headstock design, which is a nice touch for fans of those iconic instruments from the 80s and 90s.
Another really cool feature is the aluminium pickguard. It a really eye-catching addition that sets off the open pore finish beautifully, with a killer "industrial" vibe that I'm a big fan of. I will say that this kind of pickguard can feel a little jarring for a "nails-on-body" player like myself, as the texture isn't the most pleasant under the fingernails, but for most players this will be a non-issue.
The Brooklyn is fitted with a pair of Aria's own Classic Power humbuckers, which are thick and dark sounding with a comparatively moderate output level. There's not a whole lot of sparkle for cleaner styles, but the middle position is great for Motown rhythm chops. Likewise, the lack of upper midrange attack means that tight metal tones will need a bit of help from a pedal. Where the Brooklyn really shines is in the middle ground: classic rock crunch, thick fuzz, bluesy leads, slide - the Brooklyn handles all of them with gusto.
All tolled, the 718-Mk2 Brooklyn is a very fine instrument (especially for the money) with a powerful vibe and sense of identity. It's not a modern, "guitar for all seasons" type of instrument, but that's what makes it great. For authoritative, dark humbucker tones and a totally unique aesthetic, look no further.
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