Aria Pro II Late 1970s
(click on the above to enlarge)
· Original arch top converted to flat head configuration by Arthur Hatfield
· Maple neck with rosewood (or possibly ebony) fingerboard
· Maple resonator with concentric rings
· Carved heel stock
· ‘Traditional’ neck inlay and ‘hearts and flowers’ fiddle shaped peg head overlay
· Pre-two band gold plated Gotoh tuners
· Hatfield gold plated 20 hole flat head tone ring
· All original hardware (other than tone ring and tuners)
· Presto four hump tail piece
· Levy’s Leather strap
· Early 80s Gretsch case
“As a lowly grad student at UT Knoxville in the late 70s, I loved to visit Pick ‘n Grin music store where my favorite banjos were the Aria Pro II models they had in stock. I looked forward to the day when I would be able to afford one of those. In the early 80s, I traded for a flat head version from Geoff Hohwald who was then working with the Music Mart located in Smyrna, GA. I later (1987) traded this banjo for a Gibson RB100 at Pick ‘n Grin. Truth be known, the Pro II was a better quality instrument than the mid-sixties RB100, but it was “not a Gibson!” In the mid-90s, I began my search anew for a Pro II – in particular the arch top version seen here. After a search that lasted about a year and a half, I located one through David E. Schenkman at Turtle Hill Banjos in Bryantown, Maryland. It was in excellent shape and had been played very little. I happened to be in Knoxville at that time and carried it to Pick ‘n Grin for spikes to be installed.
Though it was an excellent instrument, I really felt the arch top configuration was not the best it could be and around 2005, I carried it to Arthur Hatfield to convert to a flat head configuration. He replaced the multi-ply rim with a 3 ply Cox and added one of his gold plated 20 hole flat head tone rings. Everything else was kept original. The banjo was actually a bit lighter and the sound is all one could expect from a maple flat head banjo with wood that is approaching forty years of age (neck and resonator). I also replaced the original tuners with a set of gold plated pre-two band Gotoh tuners and I like the contrast between the chrome (arm rest and other hardware) and gold plating.
This banjo has had a great journey to this point and it is a favorite player for me. And my memories of Pick ‘n Grin with Bud Brewster, Glen Laney, Ed Wing and others who worked there are intertwined with this instrument.”
Inquire for price) This banjo is no
longer available through this website.