Originally released back in 1995, the all-new and improved 615-MK2 evokes a heritage of the original Aria Pro II Nashville, however, it comes full of modern tweaks. Featuring a roasted maple neck and fingerboard, Poplar Body and fitted with some powerful alnico-5 pickups, the Aria Pro II 615-MK2-Nashville is a serious tone machine. Nick Jennison reviews.
It’s really hard to beat the sound of a great single-coil guitar. But which single coil? While humbuckers share many of the same qualities regardless of output and magnet type, Strat and Tele style single coils are wildly different beasts. Strat pickups shimmer, sparkle and bite. Tele pickups punch, growl and twang. Whatever your preference, you need both flavours in your arsenal.
Aria’s 615-MK2 “Nashville” is a perfect blend of both sounds in a single guitar. With a single-cutaway body and Tele style neck and bridge pickups (the latter replete with the signature bridge plate), it’s pretty clear where the inspiration for this guitar comes from. It’s definitely not a straight Telecaster copy though, with a number of notable differences. The body is sleeker and slimmer, with forearm and belly contours for added comfort. The poplar and flames maple construction has a distinctly luxurious look, with a Pearloid pickguard as a finishing touch. Oh, and there’s a Strat middle pickup too!
While it’s not the first time we’ve seen these mods to the Telecaster format, it’s unusual to see a “Nashville Tele” pickup layout on a guitar with “boutique” looks, but it’s a combination that really works. The three-way pickup switch offers the standard array of Tele tones, while a push-pull switch brings the middle pickup into the circuit in any position. While this might seem like a convoluted way of wiring this pickup arrangement, it’s actually very intuitive to use.
The neck and bridge pickups sound superb, with buckets of character and punch. There are great country and classic rock tones to be had, with surprisingly convincing metal and jazz tones through the right amp. You’d be forgiven for thinking that adding the middle pickup would produce more output and fatness, it’s quite the opposite, yielding very convincing Strat “2 and 4” tones that are killer for funk, pop and fusion. Be warned, there’s not a lot of compression in these open sounding pickups which can make shredding feel like hard work, but there’s little else this guitar can’t handle.
From a playability perspective, the 615-MK2 is excellent. The roasted maple neck feels great, with enough meat for “thumb-over” playing without being cumbersome, and the jumbo frets make bending a breeze - particularly country style pedal steel bends. The body contours make for a much more comfortable right-hand position too (I personally really struggle with slab body guitars).
The Aria 615-MK2 “Nashville” is a guitar that can do it all. From country to fusion, metal to jazz, classic rock to funk - there’s a sound in this guitar for every style.
Loads of superb Strat and Tele tones.
Roasted maple neck feels superb.
Premium quality hardware.
Not the friendliest guitar for shredders.
Roasted Maple Neck
Pickups: TN-5/OS-5/TB-5 (Alnico 5)
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