Aria (guitar company)
Aria was formed in Japan in 1953 by Shiro Arai as Arai and Company. They began retailing acoustic guitars in 1960, although the company didn't actually start manufacturing their own until 1964. Aria arranged for Matsumoku, the musical instrument maker, to build the guitars for them under contract. Arai and Matsumoku started building acoustic guitars in 1964, and then electric guitars in 1966, using Arai, Aria, Aria Diamond, Diamond, and much less frequently, Arita brand names. The Aria brandname was changed to Aria Pro II in late 1975, though this has been used mostly (but not exclusively) for electric guitars and basses. All guitars were made in Japan until 1988, when production of less expensive models (Magna MAB/MAC and Integra IGB series) was switched to Korea. In the mid-1990s a few models (including the Fender Stratocaster-inspired Fullerton series guitars and the Steve Bailey 6-string fretless signature bass) were made in the United States. Guitar designer and audio engineer, Ronnie Parker started his career with Aria in 1985 when they were located in the City of Industry, California.
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Aria Pro II did some copies of famous American guitars like the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul though it also did its own style of guitars. In the 70s and early 80s the company came into its own in the United States with a series of high end professional instruments. The company had professional endorsements from Herb Ellis, Yngwie Malmsteen, Neal Schon, John Taylor, and many more. Cliff Burton of Metallica used an Aria SB Black N Gold I as well as an SB-1000 bass but was never an official endorser. He has a posthumous "Signature Model" (his name is not mentioned on the Aria site) called the SB-CB produced in Korea. The guitars were distributed at this point by Tillman Distributors in Charlotte NC. Aria makes guitars ranging from beginner to professional models. Some of their professional models were known as Firebrands because of the Firebranded Aria logo on the reverse of the headstock. The Firebrand guitars were produced in very small runs. They were then given to either named artists who promoted Aria Guitars or to the very top dealers as gifts. Firebranded Guitars were produced to a much greater standard than production runs.
Aria also has built amps, such as the 10W Birdy.
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