Published 1 month ago on August 16, 2023

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Aria Pro II J TL
MSRP: (UK) £279 / (US) $319

Aria Guitars has been at the forefront of Japanese guitar building for over 60 years—which adds up to a wealth of knowledge and expertise. The core value remains the same today, to constantly strive to achieve a higher level of excellence, quality and value for musicians. Sam Bell reviews the historic brand's latest addition to the J series: the Aria Pro II J TL.

In this review, I’ll be looking at a new addition to Aria Pro II’s ‘J’ family of instruments. The J Series are all classic style single cut-away designs which are available at different price points. Aria makes some seriously high-quality instruments that are well worth checking out. I had the pleasure of looking at the Jet TL in a two-tone sunburst.

Out of the box, it reminded me of a T-Style guitar; we have a single cutaway, an ashtray bridge, a T-Style 3-way pickup selector, tone, and volume. However, what Aria is bringing to the table here is a nice mix of classic and modern. The single-cut design has its own unique flavour, and compared to a regular T-style guitar, they have designed the body to be more ergonomic and practical for the contemporary guitar player. For example, the rear end of the body has a contour that makes it much more comfortable to rest your picking hands and arms on the body. The single cut is much more extreme than a traditional T-style guitar would have, allowing better access to the upper frets. Which by the way, there are 24 of them, which is definitely unique for this style of instrument.

The instrument has a unique scale length of 24 ¾ inches, which is ¾’s an inch shorter than a standard S-style guitar and, to my knowledge, most T-style guitars. This reduces the tension on the strings slightly and makes the guitar feel more compact to play. The Maple neck and fingerboard feel great, complimented with medium fretwork loaded onto a C-shaped neck. Perfect for chordal playing and technical single-note work.

Sound-wise, be sure to check out the video section of this review! But I can safely say here that it does the T-Style thing perfectly. The J-TL is loaded with 2 classic-style single coils, which deliver the classic tone that you’d expect from an instrument that looks like this. The bridge is punchy and has some lovely high-end sparkle, possibly accentuated by the ashtray bridge. The neck feels like it's slightly lower in output and offers a warmer tone. Both of these pickups respond really well to the tone control allowing a wide range of tones from classic rock, country to funky single-note work.

The guitar is very affordable, coming in at an RRP of £279.00, and for the quality of the instrument, I’d say this is high value. It’s a cheaper guitar, but it feels great to play and sounds brilliant to my ears. Perfect for someone looking for a T-style workhorse or someone who would love something a bit quirky and classic. It really does cross both worlds very well, and for that RRP, it's worth checking out!

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