Published On: Tue, Jul 7th, 2009

Aria MM-20 acoustic guitar review

Acoustic Guitar Review- The MM-20 acoustic guitar from Aria.Solid spruce deep bodies acoustic guitar.

The medium-light MM-20 is very full in the neck – it’s really deep, and 1.75" wide at the nut – and has an all-over satin finish and a top that’s tanned like a cable TV presenter. It’s maybe a shade too far, but we like the dark, narrow binding and the pale double coachlines that run around the sides, neatly mitred into corners by the neck heel and down at the butt. The top is solid spruce with a disappointingly divergent grain that splays far away from the centre-line around the upper bouts, and there’s a knot on the treble side. The back and sides are laminated with rosewood both inside and out, and the super-long 26.5" scale, 14-fret neck is mahogany with a stacked heel and a slotted head carrying satin gold Kluson-alikes with nice creamy buttons. The rosewood fingerboard carries 21 quite well-finished frets plus an authentic zero fret and a white plastic string-guide. The ebonised bridge is pre-compensated and, like the 1932-’33 originals, has a central section that floats free between two glued-on ears and contacts the belly over its full length. The light gold-plated tailpiece has raised knobs with holes to act as string-retainers, and includes a strap button. The neck relief is fine, the action is high – and lowering it, as with all these guitars, would be best left to a luthier.

SOUNDS
The Aria feels loose yet has a fairly narrow tonal focus. Played hard with a pick there’s an immediacy and a fast decay that suits the Django style, yet it may take some time for the top E to match the over-prominent B. Closed chords are brash and chunky, but when whacked there’s a mushiness and loss of separation. The MM-20 sounds almost normal when played in a folky plectrum style, but has a distinctive twist in the lower mids. Playing bare-fingered is a success, with a semi-classical response and an odd but attractive tubular ‘ooo’ sound in the trebles. It’s no Selmer, but as a ‘different’ all-rounder, it does work.

FINAL SCORE
Build Quality ……………………… 14
Playability …………………………. 15
Sound ……………………………….. 14
Value for money ………………… 18
Vibe ………………………………….. 13
TOTAL ……………………….. 74%

Description: Maccaferri-style acoustic guitar. Made in China
Price: £299
Build: Solid spruce top, laminated rosewood back and sides, rosewood fingerboard, mahogany neck
Options: The MM-20E adds a piezo pickup. The MM-10 is a D-hole 12-fret version with a shorter 640mm scale; the MM-10E comes with a piezo
pickup fitted
Left-handers: No
Finish: Semi-gloss all over
Scale length: 670mm
Neck width: Nut 45mm, 12th fret 57mm
Depth of neck: First fret 23mm, 9th fret 24mm
String spacing: Nut 36mm, Bridge 58mm
Action as supplied: 12th fret treble 2.4mm, 12th fret bass 3.2mm
Max body depth: 99mm
Max body width: 403mm
Fingerboard radius: 18mm
Weight: 4.2lb/1.9kg
Contact: Aria 0208 572 0033
 

Verdict

Tempted? You should be, but bear three things in mind: first, youll only get the real authentic sound by using the proper super-light, copper-wound, silver-plated Savarez Argentine strings; second, you should budget for a pro set-up from a luthier who knows their onions; and third, on these petit bouche models, fitting a magnetic soundhole pickup is impossible and installing internal bugs is a nightmare. Luckily the Aria comes with a pickup option, but visually its drastic sunbed tan lets it down. As a plectrum guitar it works well played gently, and also offers fingerstylists an unusual tonality. Hardcore Djangoistas on a budget may care to look elsewhere.

Build Quality Playability Sound Value Vibe Score

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