Mind Your Ps and Js

This well-constructed 4-string takes cues from yesteryear’s sounds, looks, and price tags. The PG Aria Pro II Detroit review.

Recorded direct into Focusrite Scarlet 2i4 into Garageband.
Clip 1: Neck pickup only. Tone at 75 percent.
Clip 2: Neck and bridge pickups blended 50/50 using pick. Tone at 75 percent.



Comfy neck. Easy fret access. Versatility of P/J configuration.

Non-spectacular bridge pickup. Typical 60-cycle hum with bridge soloed.


Aria Pro II





Shaped similarly to the SB basses that found favor with heavy hitters from Cliff Burton to John Taylor, the Aria Pro II Detroit is the company’s latest offering in their new Hot Rod Collection. The ash body’s sunburst open-pore finish gives off a kind of rustic-glamor vibe. The 6-bolt, roasted-maple neck is quick, and the frets atop the rosewood fretboard were dressed cleanly. At a comfy 40 mm, the nut width falls somewhere between a P and J, and easy access to all frets comes thanks to the Detroit’s deep body cut. I didn’t find a single ding or scratch, and all joinery was spot-on.

Plugged in, the 34"-scale Detroit sounds much like it looks: old-school.

Plugged in, the 34"-scale Detroit sounds much like it looks: old-school. I started with the alnico-5 split-coil with the tone flat, and I was greeted with a pretty fat, full, and round sound that thickened and softened to a more mellow Motown-esque flavor as I rolled the tone down. The tone pot has a decent operating range, and diming it got me to a more present and open rock tone while using a pick, without having to touch my amp. I like P/J configurations for versatility’s sake, but I found the Detroit’s bridge pickup to be a little anemic in the bite department when soloed. That said, I like the bit of crispness and high-end clarity it contributes when blended with the neck and the tone dial almost maxed. The vintage flavor, nice build, and approachable price certainly make the Detroit a worthwhile place to visit.

Test Gear: Gallien-Krueger 800RB, Orange OBC212, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4.

A bone nut being back-filed for proper string placement and correct action height.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to change your acoustic guitar’s tone and playability.

In my early days, all the guitars I played (which all happened to be pre-1950s) used bone nuts and saddles. I took this for granted, and so did my musician friends. With the exception of the ebony nuts on some turn-of-the-century parlors and the occasional use of ivory, the use of bone was a simple fact of our guitar playing lives, and alternative materials were simply uncommon to us.

Read More Show less

While Monolord has no shortage of the dark and heavy, guitarist and vocalist Thomas V Jäger comes at it from a perspective more common to pop songsmiths.

Photo by Chad Kelco

Melodies, hooks, clean tones, and no guitar solos. Are we sure this Elliott Smith fan fronts a doom-metal band? (We’re sure!)

Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didn’t matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. It’s a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, it’s Monolord.

Read More Show less