Firstly thank you so much for having me on your site - I will try & behave myself!

 A good friend - Bobby Blue Shankaran - owns this very rare Aria. I would like to share his knowledge of it & hear from anyone who can add to it.

The instr. was purchased new in mid 1970's. Evidently only 3 were ever made - as demonstration models to travel around music retailers. Bobby thinks 1 went to Herb Ellis & the other to Eric Gale. They have both sadly passed on. But what of their instruments? The neck pikup was replaced when purchased by what was then just called the Jazz pikup - designed to help reduce feedback in hollow bodies. The tone is quite incredible for a Japanese version of a Gibson. Sadly a recent fall is why it is currently in my workshop/lounge! The top has partially separated from the side.

 I have 30 yrs as a cabmkr with experience on every thing from superyachts to antique restoration but am only now turning my skills to instrument repair & hopefully soon to construction.

Novices/ newbies take note - Since I began my career I have been spending a few dollars whenever I can on the rarest & finest wood available - alas I wish I had bought more black ebony. I do have Brazilian rosewood & mahog., Honduras walnut, Cuban mahog., & the only 2 cub mtrs in existance of old growth Tasmanian celery top pine - 120 growth rings across a 105mm board! & 4 lge slabs of Tas. Myrtle.  I knew very early on that when I got old & had fine skills there would be no fine wood avail. to work with.

 I would be glad to share the skills I have & will be seeking knowledge on guitar repair & construction.

 To hear this beauty search Bobby's name on myspace. The tune "Mood Swings" is one of my favourites. He is actually making this up while recording it! The producer had a backing track & wanted guitar on it.

Question to moderators - am I allowed to post link to my youtube site? this would allow members to see my skills & ask relevant questions (inlay, finishing etc.)

Fine jazz music = Aural sex!



Tags: 2, Aria, Pro

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Hi Dean,

   Welcome aboard.

   Nice looking guitar. Can I ask where the PE185 designation came from? Some years ago I worked on one and did some research on it at the time. My findings of the Aria Pro II PE185 model (which was produced in minimal numbers in, I believe 78-79) and indeed the instrument I set up, were copies of the Gibson/Epiphone Howard Roberts, which have the distinguishing feature of an oval soundhole.

   The instrument you've attached looks like the Aria Pro II PE175, which was the designated "Herb Ellis" model (and produced for around 10yrs as I recall...from the late 70's to the late 80's)  and the instrument Herb played before going back to Gibson. I've seen and worked on a number of these although most have had a headstock more akin to a Heritage as well as a "Herb Ellis" inlay on an upper position fret.

   Gluing the top back down shouldn't be much of a hassle and you'd likely want to tend to the deteriorating binding. A nice little project to start into the fun of instrument repairs.

Best wishes,


Hi Doc,

 great to find this site. I have incl. pix re first question. This may well be one of those rare unknown "sleepers". I could not find any mention of this model on i/net. What I did find stated the PE 175 became the L1000 ( if my memory serves me right). The initials HE are carved into the pik guard & painted white. The white paint & overall lacquer are not quite of the quality I would expect to find - may have been redone at some time. I believe this model was based on 3 other guitars. Note the truss rod cover -  does it look familiar to you?

 The old binding had deteriorated onto pcs about half an inch long - already gone. Alas I don't get to see many(any) fine jazz guitars & like Mr Blue I am little known in Aus. I have had a few prominent American clients (superyachts & inlaid boxes) who rated my work as "the best we've seen " but when the Aus $ got stronger than the US $ a few yrs ago foreign ckients disappeared - overnight!

 There has been an amatuer attempt to repair the damage with superglue - the residue of which is now preventing the join from closing properly. I have never actually used superglue. Can you inform me of it's properties regarding removing it. Will it melt with hot knife or is a thin file a better option.Some of my favourite tools are antique scalpels & old bone handled knives - great steel - razor sharp. The scalpel was used to score the lacquer to prevent chipping before removing binding & was then used as scraper to clean off old glue.

As the top can not be completely removed(due to neck) what is an appropriate glue for the top repair. I regularly use titebond(regular) & hot hide glue. I have purchased rubber bands (Stewmc) & binding for repair but assume these(rub bnd) may not be suitable for top repair. I don't have caul type clamps so think I will use small F clamps with 1 inch thick shaped block to distribute pressure around top edge. The separation starts from tail piece & travels about 35cm around to control knobs + a small 5cm section in cutaway which has barely lifted.

Thanks a lot for sharing knowledge. To get some idea of my experience search "Dean Sibley Antiques" on youtube.




Hi Dean,

   Super glues can be softened by acetone. Be careful with it, perhaps checking first to see if the finish will be effected by the solvent. Caution should be used regardless. Titebond or HHG should be fine for fixing the top back down, so it's your choice really. Your idea of the F-clamps with the shaped blocks should be fine. Protect both the top and back when clamping.

   Now, your guitar is a bit of an oddball indeed. That particular "Aria Pro II" on the headstock is not one I'm familiar with. I've seen this model with the "Aria Pro II" straight across the headstock. The serial number of yours is a head scratcher as it gives a manufacture date of 1978. Although I should note the serial number is rather long, generally of 6 or 7 digits. The first two numbers signify the year on Aria instruments made in the mid-to-late 70's. In the following link, you can see the Aria 1980 catalog showing the PE 175. The production model they show has the Heritage style headstock and the version Herb Ellis is playing, has the "Aria Pro II" such as I am familiar with: Aria Catalog 1980

   The following link (which you may have already come across) shows what may be a prototype of the PE 175. Uniquely, it has the serial number 1. However, in the article, it notes that perhaps this was a mistake at the Matsumoku factory. There may be a chance that considering this logic, the "PE 185" designation on your instrument is also an error. Note the instrument in the link has no "Herb Ellis" inlay and the "HE" on the pickguard, such as yours. But it has the "Aria Pro II" on the headstock I am more familiar with.  Premier Guitar Article

   Here is a link to another instrument where the seller also believes it to be a prototype model PE 175, however without any serial number. In all other regards, it is the same as the one from the Premier Guitar article. Reverb Offering

   Also, in the 11th post in the following link (Play Jazz Guitar Article) a gentleman mentions he owns an example from 1980 and shares two links to photos of the instrument. His example is also similar to the two linked above, although as he mentions a date of 1980, I have to assume it has a serial number beginning with 0. In the 80's, it was only the first number that designated the year of manufacture for Aria instruments.

   So in summation, I have no idea what to make of your instrument, other than to say I like it. I'm sure you'll have fun with the repairs.

Best wishes,


No problem  - go ahead and post the link to your YouTube stuff.

Too bad - - it looks as though that ol' Aria is suffering a serious case of binding rot. . .

Thanks Frank.

This one is a bit of a basket case. Frets worn to the neck! & cracks in lacquer where neck joins body are not a good sign. Fine, hairline cracks in side close to the back. If this was not in hard case when accident occurred it would probably be match stix. Alas Bobby has no money & I myself can have periods with no work which seriously strain the budget. I am donating time & materials for this to keep me out of mischief! Seriously I have experienced frequent under employment in 30 yrs in Aus & it is during these times I have taught myself nearly all the skills I have with no help or advice - thank god the i/net now allows me to communicate with genuinely talented people around the world.



The interwebs is wonderful for autodidacts isnt it?

Regarding the ca glue removal, youll want to use mechanical means, as the heat required to even weaken it will cook everything you dont want cooked before the glue gives much, and you seem to have pretty easy access to the joint. Remove as much as you can with a sharp knife (a scalpel's edge may break down in a hurry against ca though) or small/thin file as you mentioned without forcing it open much. You can finish off with a bit of sandpaper backed with packing tape to stop it ripping - I prefer A weight paper for this kind of thing. Keep it taught as you hold the joint closed on it in such a fashion as to keep the joint flush (obviously).
Id not go with hide glue as ca (usually) wets out wood effectively and hide glue wont like that at all. titebond type glue should be okay/good, but it still wont be an ideal joint because of the ca. You could go with ca glue again (Id probably use a medium viscosity here) but there are risks involved and everything must be lined up perfectly, since you cant really soften it again, so you only get one shot with it. You also need to be familiar with how your particular ca glue goes off in different situations or you can get stuck with a surprise or fighting with it. Good brands are more predictable and reliable than whatevers at the local hardware store, no question - I like the "Hot Stuff" brand. Just thought Id point thse out since youre encountering ca here. Using it again is your judgement call.

I cant comment much about the cracks near the neck you mentioned without good pics - they might be of small significance, or there may be a repair required before the guitar can stay under string tension. Sometimes finish cracks can occur in that area because of normal wood movement, and sometimes theyre telling you something important. A little careful flexing of the neck and close observation in good light (maybe with magnification) is generally in order and a good place to start.

Fortunately, you shouldnt need too much in the way of materials here, and from the sounds of things you probably have a pretty good selection of tools, so if you proceed with caution youre off to a good start :).


   I have softened CA's countless times with acetone when correcting cracks (and such) that have failed when a handyman has tried to repair an instrument with CA. Satellite City; makers of "Hot Stuff" also offers a debonder/solvent that is a nitroalkane formula which they claim works faster and is safer than acetone. IF Dean can get that in Aus, then it's likely a better option however, acetone is readily available and will indeed soften CA.

Best wishes,


Duly noted. Lee Valley sells that stuff ("Super Solvent"), so he can get it I think, but the shipping may not be appropriate. Seems I mostly encounter little previous ca boogers finish adjacent rather than joints with much surface area, so I dont get tempted to go chemical on it much.

Ive got two bottles of that super solvent from buying kits and havent opened them once. Perhaps I should read up and do some experiments.

You are absolutely correct Andrew...caution must be primary with finishes. For cracks, I'll lightly dampen some thicker string with the solvent (I have the "Super Solvent" too and will use it or acetone) and come from inside the instrument to the crack. Having it backed with a piece of tape, you just feel around for the crack and let the string and void mate up, then have the rest of the tape hold it in place. I've been able to use HHG without issue in most cases after cleaning the crack from the outside, often just with agressive pressure from a toothbrush. The CA boogers (I'm stealing that one) can be knocked off fairly easily with an x-acto blade or the like.

Best wishes,


Ill trade you for the string trick. Does it work on ca'ed bridges? ;) lol

If you mean to clean off CA from a bridge partially lifted, I'd moisten the end of a separating pallet knife and work slowly; cautious of the finish as you've noted. If the bridge is off and you want to clean the mess and Boogers, a paper towel the size of the bridge foot lightly moistened will help and reduce possibilities of tear-outs when scraping or chiseling out to fresh wood.

Best wishes,


Hi Guys,

 we seem to have stirred up a hornets nest here with many unanswered questions on identification. I have just got off the ph. to Bobby(Aria owner) & he is likely to join the site soon. I have more info: he purchased the guitar in L.A. - can't remember excactly when but had it when he attended music school in 1975! The serial # should relate closely to that on H.E's guitar - but guitars for celebrities may have minor variations(head piece) to make them unique.

Purch. from Cerrito's Music shop(spelling may not be accurate) - manager was Roberto Rodriguez. Cost about $1000 or more way back then.

 Design based on 3 Gibsons - super400 (fretbd) - L4 (body) - L5 (tailpiece)

Bobby has an interesting story which resulted in earlier repair - he will relate this when he joins.

 Basically the back came off ( wait for the story) - not without assistance -

& was repaired after which the hairline cracks appeared in the new lacquer & around the neck.

I will soon start a new discussion on lacquers ( iso-cyanates) - quite frankly I hate the #### - insert swear word here(it did try to kill me - unsuccessfully!). But that's another story.

The super glue used is supermarket variety in green/yellow container.

I have just remembered I have a tool which I thought might be handy 1 day - your wives/girlfriends probably have what looks like a nail file but has sand paper type finish (emery board?) . I did not want to use sandpaper alone as it is hard to maintain definition - sharp edges etc. But some home made emery boards of various grits might just work - I can't touch solvents any more - lethal!

Hope this gives you all something to chew over!

I think we are going to get to know each other well - I have v. old Ibanez accoustic with nasty neck - that may be next project.

Bobby Blue Shankaran music is also on Soundcloud - will post links as soon as I get them.

Logging off now for some of that aural sex!




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