Aria Pro II Thor Sound Guitars

Aria Pro II Thor Sound Guitars

Lick Of The Week with Steve Kuykandall

Stevie K gets angry :-)! Here's an upsetting pull-off lick that requires just the right touch. A simple movement and mechanics, but the delivery requires execution from both hands. Practice to get the right touch using pick drags, squawks, and pull-offs.

Aria Pro II TS Models

Shiro Arai opened the Arai Company in 1956 in Japan, first to import classical guitars and sheet music. That was followed by importing American electrics and amplifiers.

The name changed to Aria in 1958 when the company started exporting classical guitars to southeast Asia, presumably using the Guyatone factory for production. Not only is the word “aria” a play on the founder’s name, but it means song, melody, or tune. 

There ended up being quality control issues with Guyatone so during the guitar explosion decade of the 1960s Aria contracted with manufacturer Matsumoku Industrial to build electric guitars for them.  

Matsumoku is a legendary producer of guitars for many brands including Epiphone, Ibanez, Washburn, and Yamaha to name a few. 

(Matsumoku didn’t have their own house brand until acquiring the naming rights to Westone guitars in 1975.)

So in 1963 Aria released their first electric guitars in Japan and soon began exporting to the U.S. Most of the body shapes were American inspired designs. 

In 1975 Aria came out with the Aria Pro II custom shop series of guitars and basses exhibiting their first original designs. Playing into the 70s’ “natural finish” popularity of Travis Bean, Kramer, and Alembic came the Tri-Sound (TS) series of guitars introduced in 1979.  You will also find these listed as “Thor Sound” and the name change coincided with a headstock change from six on a side to a three on a side. 

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Original models included the TS-400, 500, 600, and 800 all of the same body style, but different appointments including set neck or neck through construction and active electronics. In 1981 the TS-300 came out, same body as the others in the series but it had a bolt on neck. On these models the pickups were Aria Protomatic humbuckers and are known for their high-output and solid single-coil response.

The TS-800 was the premium model and featured DiMarzio pickups, a maple neck-through with ebony fretboard, ash or maple body.  Also a reflection of the era is the myriad of switches: master volume, booster volume, master tone, a rotary 6-way tone selector, pickup selector, two coil taps, booster switch, and phase switch. 

The TS series was discontinued in 1983 and the 400/500 models can still be found at respectable prices. The 600/800 are increasingly pricey.

Here are links to the best deals I found on few of these models for sale in various in the U.S. They are much more affordable in Japan :-).

Aria Pro II TS-300 $1,000 (FB Marketplace)

Aria Pro II TS-500 $600 (Reverb, a very good deal)

Aria Pro II TS-400 $1,075 (Reverb)

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