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Aria SB Integra Bass



OPINION



This bass reveals the divide that has opened between the Japanese-made and the Korean-made guitars of some oriental brands. Thus Aria have their cheaper Cat range of Korean basses, and they have their Japanese SB Integras, like this one.

You can tell it's an expensive bass as soon as you pick it up. Not just because it's heavy, but because it feels right the instant you start plucking, electrically or acoustically (the latter a good clue to quality - does it sing without electricity?). Straight away there's a comfortable feel that encourages you to play. This is good; such things are worth paying for. How much they're worth paying for is another matter.

There are several features that assist the Integra's playfulness, not least the very agreeable fingerboard. Phenolic is a less pejorative word than plastic, but it's the same thing. And perfect it seems for fingerboards, slippy and firm at the same time (no jokes, now). The frets are wide-ish and rounded; the bridge is a good 'un, with simple string slots, chunky saddles, and working fine-tuners. The small headstock rounds off the neat feel of this bass.

On first grapple the controls are odd. There are four knobs. The top two govern pickup balance and volume: the volume will be used more and would have been better placed as the front of the two. The pickup balance knob is useful to have in this fashion (rather than the usual front/both/back switch) as the range of tone between the extremes is surprisingly wide, and subtly alters the resulting sound with even small movements.

A flickswitch behind the volume turns the active electronics on; when they're off the back tone knob gives overall tone, while the front one does nothing (nothing audible, anyway). With the active on, the tone knobs become active bass and treble - very smooth varieties they are, and very quiet the circuit is. This combined with the high level that the Integra shoves out gives a wonderfully clean sound.

DECISION



What this bass does so well is to channel your efforts into playing; it's an extremely comfortable package, and thought has evidently been given to balance, feel and versatility in relatively equal measure. All praise, in fact, for playability, quietness and, er, poke. The small minus marks come in the control department where a little re-arrangement would ease matters, though there's little doubt that the present set-up would become familiar with use. There is, however, the question of price. At £400 we would recommend it, though that hardly makes it Bible fodder. It's certainly better than, for example, the Ibanez 760 we reviewed in January. Open your purse with caution.

SPEC - ARIA SB INTEGRA BASS

PRICE £599
BODY ash
NECK bolt-on maple
FINGERBOARD phenolic, 24 frets
PICKUPS one split, one bar
CONTROLS pickup balance; volume with click-on; active tone; high-low pass filter
CIRCUITRY low impedance
HARDWARE chrome
COLOURS black/white/red



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Smoke

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Set List Science


Making Music - Copyright: Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

 

Making Music - Apr 1987

Gear in this article:

Bass > Aria > SB Integra

Review by Tony Bacon

Previous article in this issue:

> Smoke

Next article in this issue:

> Set List Science


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