Arbor AS310

Monday, July 5, 2010| by Will Chen

Arbor guitars are distributed in America by Musicorp LLC which also distributes such brands as Barcus- Berry, Dean, and Luna. Per their marketing material, Arbor strives to balance excellent playability with affordability. Always looking for excellent deals from the smaller labels, I decided to put their AS310 model to the test.

Arbod AS310

The AS310 has historically been a run of the mill Strat tribute, but Arbor recently redesigned the guitar to a more exotic design tapering the waist inwards and thinning out and slightly extending the horns. Combined with the sleek curves of the pickguard the AS310 has both a unique and familiar look, a rather difficult design achievement for which Arbor receives major kudos. Features of the guitar include a poplar body, one piece 25 1/2" 21 fret maple neck, maple fretboard, and standard fat strat style electronics (humbucker bridge, single coil middle/neck, and dual tone w/ master volume).

Cosmetically, the sunburst finish of the AS310 was beautiful and flawless. The only giveaway that I wasn't looking at a much higher dollar instrument was the viewable seems of the 3 piece body. Given the affordability of figured veneered tops, I would have much preferred one applied here or the option of solid colors (the AS310 is also available in see-through red and blue finishes). I’d love to see these in candy apple red, daphne blue, or black. A nice surprise was how light the guitar was, definitely one of the lightest I've felt.

Arbor has done a great job of selecting pickups with a complementary output...I felt equally at home upping the gain and palm muting at breakneck speeds as dialing in a subtle break up and serving up bluesy bends.

The 21 fret maple neck has a nice medium profile and a very light satin finish which was an absolute pleasure to hold. Coupled with the modern flatter radius and medium jumbo frets the feel of the guitar, just like its looks, is a meeting of the old and new which should please everyone other than those who prefer ultra-thin necks. One huge point which earns the AS310 big points is the usage a very nice tuners. Action was extremely smooth and even, a rarity in more affordable guitars. In combination with the nicely cut nut, the guitar stayed in tune remarkably well especially when considering the light gauge stirrings and vintage Strat style tremolo.

Tonally, the guitar sounds exactly as I'd expect a fat strat to sound, Arbor has done a great job of selecting pickups with a complementary output making each position of the pickup selector a useable tone. The output of the single coils has been goosed a bit giving them a nice balance of girth and chime paired with a medium output humbucker. I felt equally at home upping the gain and palm muting at breakneck speeds as dialing in a subtle break up and serving up bluesy bends.

One of the first steps I take when auditioning a new guitar is to swap out the strings. I was ready to give this guitar a second round audition with some heavier stings so off came the stock stings. All the strings stuck a little in the trem block, which isn't uncommon with tremolo bridges, especially many of the newer variety which seem to be made of softer metal. However, one string I just couldn't get out. I tried to poke it out from the top and it just wouldn't come free. So I took off the tremolo spring cover and it the trem block had a gouge in the side of it which somehow locked the string in place! Huge bummer! Fortunately, Adam at Ceceila's music (the vendor from which the guitar was purchased) was extremely responsive and took care of the issue for me.

In spite of the defect (which I've been guaranteed isn't a sign of Arbor's typical quality) , Arbor has crafted a nice guitar in the new AS310 which should turn those on looking for an affordable strat alternative a little less ordinary.

Price: ~$140 USD
Pros: Excellent playability
Cons: Visible multi-piece construction, bridge defect in review model

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Filed Under: Arbor, Reviews