Aria Pro II PE-F80 | Review

Published 4 weeks ago on May 18, 2024

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Aria Pro II PE-F80 | Review

MSRP: (UK) £549 / (US) $599

Sam Bell reviews the PE-F80 from Aria. A budget-friendly version of "PE-R80″ which was originally launched in 1980. The PE-F80 inherits the genuine elegance of what "PE-R80" offers, such as a strong curved body top with recessed control knobs and switch, cloud-shaped fingerboard inlays, and a heel-less cutaway neck joint while a contoured flat body back reduces the overall body weight.

When Aria Pro II first started in 1975, they released a series of guitars a year later known as the PE model series. These guitars were used by prolific guitarists such as Neal Schon of Journey and Andy Summers of The Police. Aria Pro II makes some high-quality instruments with classic yet quirky designs that make them stand out and aren't going to break the bank.

In my recent visit to the Gi studios, I had the pleasure of checking out the PE-F80, which is a classic single-cut LP-flavoured style guitar at the bottom. Let's dive into some of the specs.

The body is an Okoume, Carved Top. Not sure what the tone quality is meant to be for Okoume, but the guitar feels well-balanced, and the carved top is a nice aesthetic feature which allows for a more ergonomic experience. The back of the body features a belly cut, and the body is thinner than the average single-cut guitar.

The set neck features a heel-less cutaway and is made from Mahogany, topped with a Rosewood fingerboard. The cutaway allows for better access to the higher frets and also adds some flow to the design of the guitar. The fretboard has a 12' Radius over 22 frets. The neck itself isn't as thick as some single-cut guitars can be, but provides enough beef for balance and ease of chordal playing.

The guitar looks gorgeous, the stained brown finish, the gold hardware, the Aria SPT Bridge & QH Tailpiece, the unique headstock, everything looks well balanced. There's the familiarity mixed with a bit of the unknown in this guitar that makes it tasty!

Electronically, we have two pickups, in the Neck and Bridge are listed on Aria's website as  CPH-1G "Classic Power II" Alnico-5. After playing these in the studio and listening, I'd say they are modelled on a classic PAF sound, medium output humbucking pickups. Great for many styles. And this guitar honours it, the guitar has a bright warmth to it, no thinness or dull-ness in the pickups at all. These two pickups are controlled by their own master volume and tone. But there's an added bonus to this guitar, we have the Dual Sound Switch which takes us between Series and Parallel wiring. When in Parallel, give a faux single coil sound. Combined with the 3-way pickup switch, the Dual sound switch takes us from 3 to at least 6 pickup selections, which make very objective differences to the sound and feel. As I demonstrated in the video section of this review, there are a whole range of sounds available from this set up!

The sound is brilliant, it's everything you'd expect from a single cut guitar and more. Warm sustaining leads, thick and punchy cleans and the option to 'thin' out the sound for more single coil esc tones. This guitar could be a session players workhorse. There are lots of brands offering a similar guitar, but there's something special about this one in the way it plays, sounds and looks. It's an experience. If you like me are looking for a LP-style guitar, but can't get on with the heavy and inconsistent designs of the originals, or simply can't afford it. The PE-F80 is well worth checking out, I can't fault it. Superb guitar!

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