Roughly 26 years after his untimely passing, bass titan Cliff Burton will be honored with a tribute series Aria bass modeled after the same one he used consistently during his time in Metallica. Via an announcement made on Metallica’s official website, the Burton family and Metallica’s guitar techs worked very closely with Aria Guitars to ensure that the bass would be designed very closely to the original one. During his early years in Metallica, Burton often played a red Rickenbacker bass, but later switched to the black Aria Pro II, which can be seen in numerous photographs of the late bassist.
According to the official press release, this tribute model’s design and construction took over one year to finalize with “painstaking attention to detail.” The model will be officially introduced at the winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) trade show on Friday 25th January 2013, with Cliff Burton’s father Ray Burton on hand to sign autographs.
This tribute model consists of an alder body and a “a 7-ply maple/walnut neck with a neck-through, heel-less neck design” with Cliff’s signature on the back of the headstock. Additionally, the hardware will all be handmade brass, with the tuners, bridge, and strap buttons all gold-plated. The electronics consist of an Aria MB-V passive pickup with one volume knob, one tone knob, and a toggle switch. The case for this guitar is a deluxe hardshell with an ostrich skin coating and comes complete with a certificate of authenticity signed by Ray Burton. Pictures of the model can be seen below.
Commenting on the instrument, Ray Burton stated: “The first year Cliff was with Metallica he played a Rickenbacker guitar that he purchased in 1982. He loved his guitar, but he did not feel it was a strong enough instrument to withstand the rugged treatment of the daily rigors of heavy metal touring. Early in 1984 Cliff was treated to an Aria Pro II bass guitar. He really liked it and therefore did not seek any other bass to play. He told me it was strong and ideal to play. I never heard a discouraging word about his Aria bass guitars. To give testament to his preference, he had several of them at the time of his death.”
Exact specifications for the the tribute model are as follows (courtesy of Metallica.com):
Headstock: Original SB Design
Neck Shape: Standard, Medium
Neck: 7 Ply Maple/Walnut
Neck Joint: Neck-through, Heel-less Cutaway
Tuners: Handmade Solid Brass Tuner Buttons, 24 K Gold Plated
Nut: 40mm Width Solid Brass
Truss rod Cover: Solid Brass
Headstock Front Inlays: Patent Statement
Headstock Back Inlay: Cliff Burton Authorized Signature
Fretboard Scale: 34″ or 864mm
Frets: 24 Frets
Fretboard Inlays: Cat Eye, Mother of Pearl Inlays
Body Shape: Original SB Shape, Super Balanced Body
Body Material: Alder
Pickup: Aria MB-V Passive Pickup
Controls: 1xVolume, 1xTone, 1-Dual Sound Mini-Toggle Switch
Knobs: Black SB Knobs
Tailpiece: Solid Brass With 24K Gold Plated Saddles and Black Plated Body
Strap Pins: 18K Gold Plated Solid Brass
Strings: Rotosound RS66LB (35, 55, 70, 90)
Certificate: Certificate of Authenticity Signed by Ray Burton and Toshi Matsumura
Case: Deluxe Ostrich Hardshell Case With Gold Hardware
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