Fans of Metallica’s 1980s music have long wondered why there has never been a signature bass awarded to the group’s late bass player Cliff Burton, who died at the age of 24 in a coach crash in September 1986. Cliff, who appeared on the San Francisco headbangers’ first three albums and played a pivotal role in educating his band-members in musical theory and songwriting, played an Aria Pro II in the last three years of his life, an unusual move for a thrash metal bassist and one that has helped to keep the instrument’s profile high over the years. Twenty-seven years after Cliff’s death, Aria Japan has announced the release of this splendid-looking Pro II Cliff Burton Signature Bass, made with the authorisation of the Burton family and Metallica.
The Aria Pro II Cliff Burton Signature Bass is a replica of the black and gold instrument that Cliff played, with a seven-ply maple/walnut neck and a neck-through, heel-less neck design. It has the same headstock with the patent statement on the front and Cliff’s signature on the back. Each of the tuners are handcrafted out of brass and gold-plated and the 40mm nut is made of brass. The neck has a 34 inch scale with 24 frets. The fretboard is made of rosewood with cat eye and mother of pearl inlays. The body is the original SB shape and made of alder, loaded with an Aria MB-V passive pickup. It has a single tone and volume control with a dual sound mini-toggle switch. The bridge is solid brass with gold plated saddles. It is supplied with a deluxe ostrich hardshell case and a certificate of authenticity signed by Ray Burton, Cliff’s father.
Ray said, “What a beautiful instrument and a wonderful tribute to Cliff. 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 rigours 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.”
When price details are released we’ll let you know: keep an eye out for a review as soon as we can get one.