Japan’s Aria released their first electric guitar in 1963 and has enjoyed a reputation for making solid, budget-friendly instruments ever since. But the company isn’t only known for entry-level instruments—top-shelf bassists like Duran Duran’s John Taylor and Metallica’s Cliff Burton have championed Aria’s pro-level offerings. One such bass is the new IGB-RC, a 4-string machine boasting smart design, great tones, and more than a little flash.
Aria We There Yet?
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but still, the 33"-scale IGB-RC looks pretty badass. The metal-flake finish and dual racing stripes provide a touch of glam, while the silver-finished neck and headstock complement the vibe. The paint job is flawless from top to bottom.
The electronics include an Aria-designed active P/J set (with a reverse-P layout) and onboard 2-band EQ via a stacked dual knob. The tidy wiring cavity is easily accessible, as is the 9V battery compartment.
Several design features distinguish the IGB-RC from traditional builds. The 4-bolt neck offers more sustain and beef than most bolt-on instrument. (I love the string-through-body sustain of the IGB-RC as it arrived, though the Gotoh 404SJ bridge permits top loading as well.) The tight, compact ayous body features a contoured belly scoop and a carved top that adds a third dimension to the metal-flake finish. A rosewood fingerboard tops the maple neck, and lightweight Gotoh Res-O-Lite tuners help keep the bass evenly balanced.
There are no flaws on the bass’s seams. The neck joint is super-tight. The frets are perfect, and all the screws are tight. The only imperfection I found was a loose EQ pot, easily fixed. The care evident in the IGB-RC’s assembly and setup is truly impressive.
Aria You Experienced?
I started out playing unplugged, just to get a feel for the bass. The IGB-RC has a smaller footprint than a beefy P, and it sits just right on the body. The factory string setup is low and ultra-fast, and the lower cutaway affords access to all 24 frets. Unplugged, this bass sustains like crazy. I also dig the way the reverse-P set lets me comfortably anchor my thumb on a 3rd/4th-string pickup that’s closer to the bridge than on a traditional P.
Next I ran the IGB-RC through an Eden CXC210 combo with the pickups at equal power and the EQ flat. The bass has great midrange punch, very modern and concise. Tones are articulate and pointed, which should make slappers happy. Keeping the pickups centered, I moved the active EQ around and was glad to find that there isn’t too much EQ with which to get in trouble. Cranking the highs enhanced the pointedness (handy for when you need help cutting through the mix) but didn’t make tones harsh and unusable.
When I rolled the pickup balance toward the P side, tones got somewhat darker, though they lack some of the warmth I expect from a P-style axe. Adjusting the bass EQ helped, but didn’t quite give me the frequencies I was hoping to pull out. Favoring the J-style pickup provided plenty of bite and aggression, and beefing up the low EQ a touch gave me a pickup I could hang with all night.
After moving from pickup to pickup, I found I favored the combined sound, which provides smooth, balanced tones that lie just right. Now, remember: This is a modern-style bass—if you need rounder, vintage-type tones, you may have to look elsewhere. But if you need extra pop for fast fingerstyle runs, well, here you go!
The IGB-RC’s design is smart. Its weight and balance can make three-set gigs more comfortable. The compact styling may suit players who are small in stature, though the lofty price tag may keep the bass out of reach for those who are small in wallet. It’s a flashy, well built bass whose bold finish and modern tones just may get you noticed in a hurry.
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