Aristides is possibly the biggest guitar manufacturing company of the Netherlands right now and maybe the biggest player globally when it comes to non-traditional wooden guitars. In preparation of NAMM 2019 the company released two new models. Like every Aristides guitar these are made in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Lords of Metal was invited to take a look at the new workshop, where from mixing the base material to finishing the guitars is done. What do you need to make three music journalists to shut up? Just tell them all they want to know, and more.
Aristides Instruments builds unique guitars made of the composite material Arium that is developed in cooperation with Delft University of Technology as a material with the best resonance. The guitars are produced by injecting the material into molds where at specific locations the composite is reinforced by carbon fiber. The fretboards were the only wooden part of the guitar until a couple of years ago and now also are composite. This design leads to a guitar that translates the vibration of the strings on the best way possible and makes the guitar almost independent on local weather conditions. Especially for the touring guitarist this is a big relief. The community of Aristides guitarists is growing and is participating in the development in the company.
Since September 2018 Aristides has a new and bigger workshop in Haarlem. At this new location there are 40 guitars made every month, all custom built and this is slowly growing into larger numbers. Due to the big fanbase in the US the company can keep on expanding and new models and configurations for guitar and bass are announced. The new location and guitars are an excellent reason to check out the production and new ideas at Aristides.
The futuristic looking guitars are known of their sublime finishes. To reach such a quality the finish takes a lot of time, while listening to stomping deathcore in the sanding and polishing room at the workshop, by Aristides self-educated employees. All this effort make the guitars not suitable for every income. To reach more guitarists and to meet the big demand of Aristides guitars the company comes with a raw finish that is priced more friendly then the custom builds. The goal is to deliver out of stock, in comparison to the current delivery time of approximately six to seven months.
The Raw guitar is made of the same material, but now the base material is colored (at our visit the colors anthracite, red and orange where available). The material is finished by sanding and oil. These guitars standard come with active Fluence pickups by Fishman and hipshot bridge and tuners. By a push-pull function on the volume are all the functionalities of the pickups accessible. On the transparent backside is a USB miniport added to charge the active pickups. The Raw series will be available in 060 070 and 080, for six, seven and eight string guitars.
The playability of this guitar is amazing, the neck is thin and fast. Our test model was tuned to C and came with a string gauge of 0.14 - 0.58. In the beginning you experience the feel of the composite material as strange, but you will forget about it soon. The Fluence pickups are really versatile, fitted for metal tones, but also for more classic electric guitar sounds. Usually I am not into active pickups, but these really give a lot of dynamics, also at clean sounds. This proves they made the right choice for this guitar.
The Aristides 070S is a seven string guitar with fanned frets. The multiscale principle gives you a better scale length per string (particularly lower strings sound more tight with a longer scale length), this is compensated by fanning the frets over the fretboard. This concept is seen more at various companies where Aristides again is distinctive in quality. The pickups are custom built Aristides bareknuckle of which the magnetic poles are lined out perfectly. Also the bridge hardware by hipshot is custom built to the specs of Aristides. The 060 and 080 also come in a S version.
The color of the test guitar is not regularly white, this has a pearl finish that stands out in luxury, in every angle the color is a little different. The fretboard is dark with the 070 inlay on the twelfth fret and a logo inlay on the first fret. To find your way around the fretboard the side luminlays will guide you.
The first riffs played on this guitar is a little strange with the fanned frets, but the golden rule is, do not look, just play. And this guitar is a player, the looks and playability lead to one big problem, you will not stop. These guitars are built to love them. Also tonewise the bareknuckles growl as if a voice from an angle whisper in your ear. Defined and powerful.
Aristides brings the Raw series to reach out a bigger crowd with a Aristides with good basic setup. The guitar is filled with technical specs and engineering, and still it is a working man guitar that is made to play live. The 070S is a multiscale guitar in excellent quality. The custom options and possibilities are various and even though it needs some more waiting than a Raw, for the money this is a killer axe. The only aspect to criticize for me is the shape of the guitar, it must suit you and it has his own modern look. Due to the construction this is not easy adjustable. Maybe it is too modern for the more traditional player and at the same time not pointy enough for the exotic pointy guitar lover. After all, there were a lot of complaints on a guitar made out of plastic in the early days and see where the company is now. A lot of progress is made. The creative vibe in the company is catching and the community that Aristides built up with contributing players is something every company wants. The custom options are almost unlimited, included the wanted finish. Even if they think its hideous they will make it for you, when you ask for it very friendly. Every guitar is top notch. When you play an Aristides you know this is the real deal.