N(O)BD: Univox fretless

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by StratoCraig, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. StratoCraig

    StratoCraig Member

    Dec 14, 2013
    The Fortress of Solitude
    Here's something I came across recently in a store. At first, I just thought of it as a curiosity, but when I came back a few days later and it was still there, I finally took it down and tried it out, only to find that I liked it all too much.


    This is a Univox U1970 fretless bass, made in Japan at some point in the early to mid 1970s. There was also a fretted (but otherwise identical) model called the U1970F. Some online sources say that the U1970 was the fretted version and the U1970F fretless, but this is not correct. Mine clearly marked U1970, and I've seen a Univox magazine advertisement from the '70s that indicates that the F version has frets.

    This model, aside from the lack of frets, is obviously based on Gibson's original EB bass (later known as the EB-1) from the 1950s. Aside from the body shape, which is a dead ringer for the Gibson EB, the headstock shows the Gibson DNA clearly:


    But unlike the Gibson, which was a solid-body, this Univox is at least partly hollow, and the neck is bolted on rather than set.

    The instrument weighs about 7.5 lbs and is pretty reasonably balanced (it doesn't have a neck-dive problem, at least). The scale is 30.5", a perfect fit for the short-scale La Bella Deep Talkin' Bass flatwounds I bought for it. The humbucking pickup gives it a nice, warm tone with a distinct stand-up bass vibe to it, and there is a soft foam pad on the underside of the bridge cover to enhance the stand-up feeling. I suspect the pad is the original one; it looks pretty worn, so I may replace it.

    I believe the bridge cover is supposed to be gold-plated, but much of the gold seems to have worn off over the years.

    I'm not sure how obvious it is in the picture, but the body is not black; it's actually a sort of transparent brown burst, with a rich, deep brown over most of the body, through which the wood grain can be seen clearly, and it fades to a solid black at the edges.

    The instrument has a pretty cool sound and it's a lot of fun to play.
  2. M138

    M138 100% Fenriz Approved

    May 24, 2014
    That is a sweet bass. And the pic does show the colour fairly well IMO.

  3. georgestrings

    georgestrings Senior Member

    May 21, 2012
    Very nice - I used to have the fretted version, but it wasn't in as nice of condition as yours... The only pic I could find of mine is in an old group shot, but here it is:


    - georgestrings
  4. mcrofutt

    mcrofutt Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    I own one of those. Great instrument.

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