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Restoring a vintage late '70s Aria Les Paul

Aria Pro II did some copies of famous American guitars such as the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul though it also did its own style of guitars. In the 70s and early 80s the company came into its own in the United States with a series of high end professional instruments.


As you would imagine, this guitar was covered in patina and gunk. The frets were actually in great shape and all they needed is a good polishing job. The plan was to restore the dried up fretboard, polish the frets, remove any DNA accumulated over the decades of playing and upgrade the pickups to original Gibsons.

Planned upgrades:


pickup upgrade

fret polishing

fretboard restoration

basic polishing



Parts used:


8000 grit fret polishing cloth

Dunlop 65 fretboar oil

Dunlop 65 Clean and Polish

Gibson Classic 57 pickups

The best thing you can do for your rosewood fretboard is to treat it with Dunlop 65 lemon oil about once a year during string changing to keep the wood hidrated and looking like new. As you can imagine this fretboard was all dried up from years of play and weather changes. It needed to be treated about 5 times with lemon oil for dirations of about 10 minutes.


After that the wood regained it's natural color, shine and shape.


The neck tension was perfect despite the years, so no truss adjustment was needed. The action was nice and low, with no high frets or notes chocking out up and down the neck.


The frets were in very good shape as far as wearing out, but it had bad patina all over and green spots near the wood. This is normal after several decades, but the state of the frets only proves the quality that went in Aria guitars. We used 8000 grit fret polishing cloth from Dunlop to restore the mirror shine.


As for the pickups, we decided to go with original Gibson pickups in this guitar, as the quality of the instrument demanded the best pickups available.


We decided to go with Gibson Classic 57 pickups, for that vintage tone Les Paul guitars are known for. We chose black version with no cover as it was decided not to remove the patina from gold-plated hardware to retain a vintage look. New gold plated covered pickups would stand out a bit too much on an old instrument like this.


With basic soldering skills this job is pretty straight forward and just a matter of unsoldering the old pickups and soldering the new ones. Removing and mounting humbuckers in a Les Paul is down to a few turns of a Philips screwdriver. 


All repair and setup articles on this website are provided 'as is' without warranty of any kind.. The entire risk as to the results and the performance of the information is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Bluesmannus be liable for any consequential, incidental or direct damages suffered in the course of using the information on this site. If you are not sure you can do this you are safer leaving the process to a professional. - Bluesmannus Team