Micro-Frets Signature Fretless Electric Bass Guitar (1973)

Micro-Frets  Signature Fretless Electric Bass Guitar  (1973)
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Item # 10108
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Micro-Frets Signature Fretless Model Electric Bass Guitar (1973), made in Fredrick, Maryland, cherry lacquer finish, maple body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original black tolex hard shell case.

Some of the most original American guitars and basses of the late 1960's and early 1970's came out of Frederick, Maryland, where the small Micro-Frets company designed and built their beautifully engineered (if slightly oddball) fretted offerings. This Micro-Frets Signature bass is one of the company's later instruments, built not long before the end of production in 1974-5.

The oddity on this bass is that it is a fretless model; this is definitely factory built as such and not a later modification. The frets are replaced with inlaid lines denoting their position; this is simply a standard slotted fingerboard re-purposed! Micro-Frets did not catalog a fretless bass option, but it was a "happening' thing in the early 1970s. The small company was usually open to custom orders, so that's almost certainly what this is. We have never seen another like it, though we have encountered other custom instruments from the factory; after all their original slogan was "the Personal guitar".

Apart from the fretless neck this bass carries many of the firm's trademark design elements. The light semi-hollow body is carved out from the inside, not unlike Rickenbacker practice and finished in a brilliant cherry lacquer. It mounts two of the company's later pattern white-plastic encased pickups, with controls carried on a top-mounted pickguard topped off with a raised clear acrylic section emblazoned with the "batarang" Micro-Frets logo. The 3-way pickup selector is mounted alongside a tone modifier switch, which bypasses the rotary tone control.

The maple neck has the bass version of the patented Micro-Nut, which allows strings to be individually raised and lowered. The unbound rosewood fingerboard has numerous pearl dot markers along with the inlaid fret lines, so it is easier to play than many unmarked fretless basses. The tuners are original Schaller bass machines and the "reverse hockey stick" headstock also carries the brand logo and model name.

This is a very good playing and sounding bass, with a slim neck and extremely powerful and responsive pickups. The sound is excellent and slightly unusual; very bright and hi-fi for a short scale instrument, and the tonal range impressive. There are very few short-scale fretless basses extant, and this would almost certainly be one of the best ever made.

Micro-Frets may have had a fairly short history (although the company has been recently revived), but the instruments they left behind are very fine examples of American guitar ingenuity and well worthy of the attention of both players and collectors.
Overall length is 44 1/2 in. (113 cm.), 14 1/2 in. (36.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 30 in. (762 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This is a very clean and all-original bass, showing just some minor finish wear and no repairs alterations. The finish has some small dings, dents and scuffs and minor buckle wear to the back. It is an excellent player despite its eccentricities, and comes complete in the original large Micro-Frets HSC. There is an original hangtag included; the price is $329 plus 74.50 for the case; the serial number is not matching however so this is probably from another bass. Still it is a cool piece of case candy!. Excellent Condition.