Published 6 months ago on April 12, 2023

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Aria FET-R1

MSRP (UK) £249  (US) $TBC


Nick Jennison reviews Aria's FET-R1 passive electro-acoustic guitar. Featuring an onboard piezo pickup that makes it simple to amplify or connect with your PC via interfaces for home recording use, the FET-R1 continues Aria's legacy of Great tone and playability at an affordable cost.

I often lament the "sea of spruce dreadnoughts" that make up the entry-level acoustic guitar market. That's not to say there's anything *wrong* with spruce dreads (to quote the great Guthrie Govan, "nothing ever became cliché by being bad"), but like eating spaghetti bolognese every day, the classic recipe gets tired after a while.

This is why I'm always happy to see guitar like Aria's new FET-R1. It's a "large parlour" guitar, with a gorgeous metallic (Pelham?) blue finish, Aria's classic 3-a-side headstock and an electric-esque D-shaped neck. It's a bold aesthetic statement that harkens back to the "Headbanger's Ball" era, and I'm very much here for it.

It's also an entirely passive electro-acoustic. What this means is the undersaddle pickup requires no power, and comes with no controls. This can be a blessing, because it's easy to get lost in your acoustic guitar's preamp, sliding your tone into oblivion, one slider at a time. Instead, the FET-R1 gives you a clean, natural sounding rendition of your acoustic tone that sounds great into an acoustic amp, or DI into a PA system or a recording interface. A word of warning though - you will need to use a high impedance "instrument" input, or you'll likely lose some high end detail.

Acoustically, the FET-R1 sounds warm and rustic, with a full midrange and a rolled-off low and high end that lends itself very well to single-note playing. That's not to say that this guitar can't handle heavy-handed strumming - it absolutely can, but instead of dreadnought punch or jumbo sparkle, you'll get a warm and round tone that's perfect for blues, down-home country or other rootsy styles.

Another area where Aria have separated themselves from the pack at this end of the market is playability. While many entry-level acoustics play just fine in the open position, but become finger-breakingly stiff past the fifth fret, the FET-R1 plays like an electric guitar. The action is low, the neck is fat but comfy, and the fretwork is very good, even up into the dusty end.

Aria's FET-R1 is a refreshing change to the "sea of spruce dreadnoughts" in the budget acoustic space. It looks cool, plays well, has a really pleasant warm tone, and offers a no-fuss way of amplifying your acoustic tone. It's also crazy affordable!


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