NGD: Smurf-Shmear Aristides Content

Discussion in 'Standard Guitars' started by narad, May 16, 2019.

  1. narad

    narad Owned a Zune

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    So the major downside about Japan is that there’s some pretty extreme humidity swings that in theory should make guitar stuff a nightmare. I haven’t been too bothered, but I also have been wondering for some time if I’d notice any appreciable benefit from a composite instrument. Yada yada yada, now there’s an Aristides!

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    Anyone whose familiar with my NGDs knows that I don’t like to get rosey eyed, overstate things, and I’m not much into hyperbole (in the non-OT SSO sections at least). But Aristides builds a pretty much perfect guitar. I guess this one is the fourth one I’ve experienced before, and as far as craftsmanship, finish work, fret work, I haven’t noticed a single thing off. I have a couple other guitars/brands I could say this about, but they don’t make guitars in the $3k range (I guess this is more $4k, but that’s mostly what color you choose). Hat’s off to Pascal and the guys there.

    Obviously it’s the blueberry chameleon marble finish. Looks amazing, and photographs really well. In person I think the angle of the guitar in relation to your eyes is just not as extreme and the chameleon effects tend to be over-emphasized in photos. Some parts of the marble, especially around the knobs, are a bit coarse (essentially low res / paint drip looking), compared to the really fine hatching on the back and upper horn, so I feel like there’s still some potential for improvement, but it’s really cool as is. I think I probably prefer the sparkle burst stuff over this though.

    The pickups are M6s. I’ve wanted to try this for FOREVER. About as good as I had ever hoped for. I know they’re pretty aggressively voiced and I was worried that they wouldn’t feel great to play, but I dig it. They don’t seem like a particularly versatile set though, so I could see them not being the best choice for something like this guitar, which in theory covers a scale length close to an LP, to a typical Daemoness-y type 7-string.

    Regarding the shape/scale, also positives. The shape is great. It may have the best 24-fret access of all my guitars — you can really be right up there and not even realize it. If there were more frets, something like 28-30 fret access on this guitar would feel like 24 fret access on a strat. The scale’s pretty comfortable (25" - 26.1"). Given the pickups I can’t get much “sweetness” in the high-end (in terms of sound), but playing more classic rock type stuff is comfortable. And I think the low scale is pretty good. For M pickups, the 070S would have probably been the right choice.

    Some arium thoughts. I had been hands-on with @Jonathan20022 many Aristides earlier and had general positive impressions of the build and finish. Tonally I thought they sounded like Alder, and sounded good. Many months have passed and based on some internet discussion, and shop vids showing how they were made, I wanted to check out a few things.

    First: rigidity. You know how with most guitars you can strum something, and pull back a bit on your fretting hand, and perceive a slight bend to the notes? Not here. Maybe The Mountain could do it, but using my usual pressure (and maybe a bit more), the next remains completely stiff. In fact, the more I played around with it, the more I’m starting to think this is a defining characteristic. There’s simply less “give” in every aspect of playing. Now that I’m looking for it, it’s a cool feeling. It's easy to overlook how much movement is actually going on in a typical guitar during play.

    I’m not sure I agree with any talk of resonance or acoustic loudness. It’s on the loud side, sure, maybe a hint louder than my Suhr (which is one of my louder ones), but nothing significant. In terms of resonance, there is no appreciable difference between the two. What I do notice is a much longer sustain of what is essentially “the note”. Where I think most of my guitars, and certainly the ones I have setup right now, decay and fade out, the Aristides is noticeably stronger. I think it’s a double-edged sword: there’s something musical about the decay and the harmonics present in the Suhr, but there’s also something technically appreciable about having a note sound strongly and for longer. Like imagine the guitar was a digital instrument, and it played exactly when, and for as long as, your fingers were on the board. An Aristides is a little bit more in that direction, IMO.

    I previously thought the base tone was Alder-ish, but I have to revise that. It’s more different than I remember, not from alder, but wood in general. I guess Alder would be the closest wood I’d choose to describe it, but the overall experience is probably more different from all my guitars collectively, than it is to the alder ones I used to own.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it. My wood guitars aren’t going anywhere, but my interest in guitar construction and tone and sustain is almost academic, more than it is practical. As a tool, I think an Aristides is one of the best options out there, and seem to be very consistently putting out instruments that are essentially flawlessly made.

    Only real dig is not at Aristides, but in buying this used I asked the seller if it had inlay. He said “no inlay”. But in fact it was “yes inlay” I despise 12th fret inlays and passed up tons of good Aristides deals solely because I wanted the blank board, but after paying import fees and shipping, I’m kinda stuck. Literally could not see it in like the 20 pics I saw prior to it arriving here.
     

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  2. Jonathan20022

    Jonathan20022 Engineer

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    Still shocked the previous owner missed that he had an inlay :lol:

    I have a black epoxy inlay on my 070 and while it is pretty hidden under certain lighting he must have opened it played it for all of 10 minutes and kept it in it's case to forget something like that. It's still pretty noticeable when looking straight at it, but HNGD regardless glad you dig homie :D If I tuned low at all I'd want to grab a multi, but I'm pretty happy with the standard models either way.

    Also the marble in your photos actually looks pretty blue, I didn't initially love this color because there's some weird hint of desaturated green in the actual marble when mixed in with these chameleons at least in the photos. Like the latest red/gold chameleon marble, the marble ended up being pinkish with the slightest bit of green tinge.
     
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  3. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    That looks awesome but at the same time.... the finish kinda looks like it's covered in some mud that I would always want to clean off, but it would never come off because it's the finish. I'm not brave enough for this finish. :lol: I'd bet it plays awesome though.
     
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  4. technomancer

    technomancer Gearus Pimptasticus Super Moderator

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    Looks like a dirty car after a brief rain in pollen season :ugh: and that's coming from someone who loves chameleon and marble finishes...
     
  5. narad

    narad Owned a Zune

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    Excuse me. A dirty car from "The Fast and the Furious" after a brief rain in pollen season.
     
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  6. technomancer

    technomancer Gearus Pimptasticus Super Moderator

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    Given the chameleon I will accept that answer :lol:
     
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  7. xzacx

    xzacx SS.org Regular

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    Amazing finish. And if it makes you feel any better, my first thought was "Oh great, no inlay!" But this is the only reason I've yet to buy one.
     
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  8. pott

    pott SS.org Regular

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    <3 GREAT finish there!

    It's funny, I got my own 060s (also in blueburry chamelon) with the Aristides Customs. I LOVE these pickups in my 070 but really didn't enjoy them in the 060s.
    So I ordered an M6/TheOne set from Lundgren. When I'm out of my guitar-playing hiatus I'll put them in. The M6s are insane (in the proper sense of the word; not used as when people say 'ridiculous' but don't specify how). The sound is absolutely crushing.
     
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  9. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd has left the building Contributor

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    That's exactly what it looks like. But it still looks pretty cool.
     
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  10. Ordacleaphobia

    Ordacleaphobia Shameless Contrarian

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    Whaaaat, sparkle over marble? Man, I love their marble stuff. Although....I love their sparkle stuff too...decisions...:lol:
    HNGD dude, it's been years and my Aristides GAS hasn't subsided in the least. Definitely need to pick one of these up one day.

    Man that inlay is hiding. I could only make it out in one of the photos.
     
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  11. AkiraSpectrum

    AkiraSpectrum SS.org Regular

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    super sexy!
     
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  12. Darkscience

    Darkscience SS.org Regular

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    Not a fan of the finish or inlay. Sucks that the dude did not mention the inlay.
     
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  13. Jason B

    Jason B Unbanned

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    If arium sounds like alder, then what does alder sound like?
     
  14. narad

    narad Owned a Zune

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    I just meant that when comparing arium to other tone woods, it sounds closest to alder, because they both begin with an "ah" sound.
     
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  15. narad

    narad Owned a Zune

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    Yea, I'm torn. I see where you're coming from and I get that vibe a lot when you look at the neck joint area. When I imagine it with just the usual chameleon gloss, no marker inlays, it just seems like it would be a bit boring. I'm thinking of doing an HSS floyd sort of thing, and maybe doing blueberry chameleon no-marble.

    But like, guitar finishes are weird:

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    * also, I should have clarified in the first post, I'm not actually an Aristides dealer. Just a self-proclaimed one, like Red Dragon Guitars.
     
  16. StevenC

    StevenC SS.org Regular

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    Wait a second... How are we pronouncing arium?
     
  17. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    The finish is... different.

    I got my Aristides (060R) a few months ago, and I agree with much of what you said

    Build quality is exceptional. Almost flawless. Frets were incredibly well done.

    Totally agree about the resonance. It's loud, but nothing crazy if you compare to resonant, well-made wooden guitars.

    In terms of tuning stability, I actually don't find it better than my wood guitars. When the temperature humidity rises, and the A/C gets cranked, they all go out of tune. The action on my Aristides was low out of the box in winter. Now that it's getting warm, I've done 2 truss rod adjustments so far. The high E was lying on the frets, lol

    If I had to sum up the guitar in one word, I'd say "clinical". It's very easy to play. Balanced. Fretwork is perfect. Sounds great. But somehow lacking the character of some of my other guitars.
     
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  18. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    The same as planetarium.
     
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  19. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    wow..someone got and sold a 60s already.

    I wants it.

    I've got like monsoon humidity season weather in china too. My Anderson and prs do all right but all my other guitars get wrecked.
     
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  20. shadowlife

    shadowlife Contributor

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    Congrats, I'm really intrigued by those guitars, and yours is a cool looking one for sure.

    I never would have known there was an inlay if it hadn't been mentioned.
     
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