Nick Jennison takes a look at the latest release from Aria in the form of the Aria Pro II Jet-1. Continuing the brand's resurgence of late, the Jet 1 is another superb six-string at a price tag that's hard to believe.
It's no secret how impressed I've been with the guitars Aria has been producing of late. For one, It's great to see a brand with such a legacy-making a serious return to form. It's also really impressive to see how much guitar can be had these days for relatively little outlay. So far, the Aria range has offered seriously spec'd-out takes on familiar designs, from "California-custom" style superstrats to traditional dual-humbucker single cuts. But their new Jet line of guitars is something different. It's a band new design that takes cues from a bunch of classic guitars to create something unique, but still familiar.
The first thing you'll notice about the Jet-1 is the body shape - it's an offset single-cut shape with a sharp Florentine cutaway: somewhere between a Jazz Bass, a Manson and a PRS Vela. It's also surprisingly small and comfortable, with comfort contours front and back and absolutely impeccable balance on either leg. It's quite difficult to get an unconventional shape to look "right", but I think Aria has done a great job here with the bold line of the horns matched by the pickguard and the rear bout.
The 24-fret maple neck is a comfortable modern "C" that's slim without being "Wizard-thin". It's actually rather unusual to find a 24 fret neck on a "vintage"-style guitar, but it really works here, both aesthetically and functionally. A criticism I had of the very first Aria guitar I looked at was the fret size, which they've definitely remedied here. The frets on this guitar are very modern feeling and finished beautifully without any sharp edges.
The pickup layout is a very effective but fairly uncommon H/S configuration, with an Alnico-5 single-coil in the neck and a Classic Power humbucker in the bridge. There's a master volume, master tone and a three-way toggle on the lower horn - a very comfortable spot for rapid pickup changes, but it does tend to get knocked by your leg when you play this guitar sitting down.
It can be a challenge to make humbuckers and single coils get along since they generally benefit from different pot values, but the pickups in this guitar balance very well. The humbucker is thick and fat, but retains enough presence to be cut, while the single-coil is clear and glassy with a great throaty "clang" when you wind up the gain.
There are two models in the Jet range, a hardtail and the tremolo model featured in this review. The tremolo is a traditional six-screw design, but it functions very well thanks to a well-cut nut and straight string pull at the headstock. Floyd-esque histrionics are probably too much to ask, but for everything else, the tremolo on the Jet-1 performs admirably.
The Jet-1 is a fine addition to Aria's ever-growing guitar line. It offers a unique combination of features while still feeling and sounding like an old school instrument.
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