Someone bought in an early 80's Vantage for me to identify and have a look at in the shop yesterday and it reminded me I hadn't finished this blog.
I've written about these wonderful Aria Pro II TS models before as we have sold a few of them over the years in both guitar and bass versions. These Matsumoku made guitars in bolt on (Cardinal) and set and through neck construction are all great guitars, especially when you pick them up for a bargain. The quality of materials and assembly/finish is superb.
The 2 shown here are set neck versions and the 400 is the start of the TS series introduced in '79 although not appearing that year catalogue which was still packed with great copies of the major US brands with the exception of the MK (Mockingbird) models. The 500 is essentially the same guitar with Arias active electronics with the 600 and 800 being through neck construction with the 800 coming stock with DiMarzio humbuckers.
Early versions had this 6 a side headstock which moved to the "classic" Aria 3 a side similar to Vantage and Westone headstocks which were also made by this factory.
These TS series guitars were great quality for a great price and the Cardinal (CS) versions was a cheap and popular well made instrument in the early 80's. In tradition Japanese catalogue numbering systems the number of the model designates the price at which they were retailed with the 400 being 40.000 JY and 500 being 50.000 JY. The CS series also had a 400 in the series with a set neck and carved top but didn't feature the 24 fret neck and multi laminate construction.
Check my other blog for more history on the actual model.
These are both great guitars that have already gone to the shop and if active isn't your thing then the 400 is for you although I do like the dark stain on the 500 here. I also like the active electronics which are well designed and nicely made. The catalogue explained the electronics as such.
1V, 1T, 3-way, phase, 2 coil-cut, booster volume, boost switch, 6-position rotary tone whereas the 400 had 1V, 2T, 3-way, phase, coil-cut with both running Arias Protomatic III HBs.
The 500 is hard maple and ash laminated body and set 3 piece hard maple neck with a rosewood fretboard while the 400 is the same but with sycamore wings.
All the hardware is great quality and these earlier 6 a side models had Kluson style tuners while later 3 a side had Gotoh sealed gear tuners.
I think there were quite a lot of us who didn't really appreciate just how great these guitars were back in the day despite one of my first "real" guitars being a CS-300 which I loved and was probably the guitar that introduced me to this series properly.