View Full Version : older Aria F Style

Jun-20-2006, 6:04pm
I don't know if a 70's era mandolin qualifies as 'vintage' yet (what would that make me?) but I did various searches without much luck so I thought to begin here:

I have a mid-70's Aria F style M-700 (it is not a 'Pro' series) that I traded for long, long ago. (For a short-scale Gibson EBO bass which I'd like to have back.) The interior label says "Made in Japan" though I believe current construction is in Korea, right?

The detail is pretty basic, but it is pretty solid and has always played fairly well. I should play it more than I do.

Anyone else have/had this era Aria? With all the recent back-and-forth viz Asian-factory made F copies, I wondered if there were opinions on these.



Jun-21-2006, 8:35am
I owned a 70s Epiphone F5. I believe that it was made by Aria. Mine had a thick finish, and was somewhat deficient in the bass end, but was a nice looking, pretty good sounding instrument. Some if the Japanese-made instruments of the 70s were nothing to be ashamed of. Many folks consider them superior to the Korean instruments that replaced them in the 80s and 90s.

Jun-29-2006, 1:12pm
I have an Aria FM-180 from the late 1970's that I use for a camping mando (An A with F holes) it is everything you mention: pretty basic, but it is pretty solid and has always played fairly well.

It's opened up a little in 30 years and compares well to the Korean Johnson's and Kentucky's. I'd rather have a newer Eastman but then I might be afraid to take it fishing.

The AriaUS archive shows the old model line ups if you are interested: Aria Archive Page (http://www.ariausa.com/archives/ban.html)


1916 Gibson A0
1924 Gibson A1 Snakehead
1977 Aria FM-180

Jun-29-2006, 4:49pm
Thanks, Mike. The Aria Archive puts mine in the '76-78 era. Still made in Japan then? #I probably got this around '80 if memory serves me well. #I probably didn't touch it for about a good 20 years of that time, sad to say.

Now that I'm playing again, it is nice to have around, I guess, though I keep thinking of selling it, which is why I've been soliciting comment. I haven't played enough F style models to make any comparative judgement, so your response has been helpful.


Willie Poole
Jul-05-2006, 7:58pm
Mick...I bought an Aria F model in the `70`s, made in Japan, and it was a great mandolin...I played it on a festival one day and Dale Reno asked me if he could borrow it to play when he went on stage with his dad...He was playing a `60`s Gibson F5 at the time and he loved the sound of my Aria...I later gave it to a young man that was an up and coming future star....a lot of times I wish I still had it becuase I never had to tune it much and it never need any tweaking all the time I had it, about 10 years...I did have the top re-finished and painted black...didn`t hurt the sound any, I know I might have had an exception but I have since owned three Gibsons and the Aria didn`t have to take a back seat to any of those although I love the Gibsons and still have two of them...Just because the builder has slanted eyes shouldn`t make a difference in quality and craftsmanship.....Willie

John Uhrig
Jul-07-2006, 3:26pm
Well I have a late 70's Aria PM-780 Pro II that I bought about 5 years ago. Really like it a lot. Has good treble but does leave a little to be desired on the bass side. Very easy to play and stays in tune well. I've been using the flattop strings on it. They sound good and are easier for me to fret. Think I'll be keeping it.

Jul-07-2006, 8:48pm
Thanks, Mandonucs....this pretty much describes my Aria M-700. I think your model probably has a bit more design flourish than mine. I like the mandolin and have grown attached to it but the volume and low-end have never been what I would imagine. However, it is easy to play and I rarely have to tune it. The neck has stayed straight. The finish has been more durable than most automobiles I have owned, which may account for some acoustical issues, but I'm not sure.

I'm interested in hearing from any more Japan-built Aria F style owners as to their experiences and evaluations.


Jul-07-2006, 10:35pm
Mine had a real skinny neck, but it was a great deal when I bought it in the 80s. It was a PM-780 "Aria Pro II", which I sold about 2 years ago to a happy picker.