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This article was originally published in issue #49
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In conclusion, the Aria A-48CE is a great guitar that encourages you to play, it was so effortless and rewarding that I really didn’t want to put it down.
Rare format - works, too!
Really fun and rewarding guitar to play
Tone maybe a little thin but probably to be expected at this size
Looking for a thin bodied nylon strung guitar that you can easily take on stage? Aria may have the very thing. Lewis Turner checks it out.
Nylon strung guitars seem to be undergoing something of a renaissance of interest at the moment. Perhaps it's because of the boom in all things acoustic in recent years, or perhaps more electric guitar players are realising what people as diverse as Zakk Wylde, Tony Iommi and Randy Rhoads worked out long ago - that there is something very special about a Spanish or classical guitar that even the hardest Rocker can enjoy? Whatever the reason, rewarding though they can be to play, finding one you can use in a live band performance isn't quite so easy. They tend to be quite bulky in depth, don't often come with a pickup and access to the top frets can be awkward. Fortunately, all these angles are covered by the guitar I am reviewing here, the Aria A-48CE.
I have reviewed a few Aria guitars here at GI in the past and have always been pleasantly surprised by them in terms of build and tonal quality at a great price and this latest addition to the range certainly lives up to the tradition of Aria pricing, even before you start playing it. This isn't an expensive guitar for what it sets out to offer - but does it deliver? Read on!
The A-48CE from Aria features a solid spruce top with a natural finish and the sides and back are flamed maple, making this is a good looking instrument which brings together a classic styled headstock, with a more modern cutaway thin-line body shape. A brief inspection confirmed what I have become to expect from Aria - a top quality finish and attention to detail throughout. The 19 fret mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard was an absolute pleasure to play and the whole guitar was very well set up. At this price range we quite often find acoustic guitars with high actions, fret buzzing and poor intonation and I am happy to report that there were no such problems with the Aria.
The neck size was very similar to that of an electric guitar, making things very easy going, which is ideal for a beginner or younger player, or if you are swapping from one instrument to another in a performance. This guitar plays amazingly well and Aria has clearly designed the playability around the style and the type of player this guitar will probably attract. Now, as you may have worked out if you watched the video, I'm no classical guitarist, but I do love the sound of Jazz and Latin music on a nylon guitar, and on this instrument I found quick complex Jazz chord changes were easy to pull off and lead playing all over the fretboard was a total breeze, helped by the cutaway to give better upper fret access.
This is a very thin bodied guitar, however, and therefore it doesn’t produce the type of volume or tonal depth you might expect from a regular sized acoustic, but that is an inevitable trade-off. The wood quality, especially at this price level, was good, giving a good tonal spectrum despite that slight thinness to the sound and all the notes rang clear, including individual notes in a chord, nothing ever sounded muddy or lost in the mix. Overall, the guitar resonated well, generating workable acoustic volume for its size and good dynamic range.
As mentioned above, this is an electro-acoustic and this model uses a Fishman Classica III pre-amp with built in tuner. I hate to keep on about the price, but once again this is above and beyond what you might expect in this range, the tuner was clear and precise, and the EQ controls all worked well. The sound quality when plugged in was much like the guitar itself, pretty good considering the thin body, if a little thin, but there were no problems with feedback or over compression.
In conclusion, the Aria A-48CE is a great guitar that encourages you to play, it was so effortless and rewarding that I really didn’t want to put it down. If, like me, you like to play around on a nylon strung guitar from time to time, or you have to use one for gigs but don’t really have the classical chops to warrant spending a large amount of money, then this is the perfect buy. It's also ideal for players starting out, as the body size is much more forgiving. A great fun guitar to play at a very affordable price for what's on offer!