M-85 II fretless


Jul 21, 2007
Reaction score
Northern CA
Guild Total
Model: M-85 II fretless
Year: 1971?
Purchased new or used: used
Price paid: rather not say right now
Owned since: approx 2009

Scale length: short scale (approx. 30")
Pickups: Guild humbuckers

Rate 1 (least appreciated) to 10 (most appreciated) in following categories with comments as desired:

Looks: 9 - not 100% satisfied with the curves of the M-85, but definitely a cool bass - did a smoker own this for a while? binding is very yellowed
Sound: 8 - still experimenting - the anti-Guild-humbucker bias is strong, but it doesn't sound bad by any means - good and deep sounding - neck pickup soloed has a bit of a P-Bass growl to it
Electronics: 7 - grounding problem, buzzes if I'm not touching strings or pickups, even sometimes when I am! most likely due to age?
Build Quality: 9 - this bass is almost 40 years old, but feels good and solid
Playability: 8 - I was able to set the action medium-low, plays great
Comfort: 9 - not heavy at all, comfortable on a strap or seated - gotta love short scale!
Sustain: 7 - sustain isn't something I particularly look for in a bass, but this one definitely feels a bit short on the sustain side - perhaps related to the classic bridge design?

Condition (Mint/Excellent/Good/Fair/Poor): good - this was definitely a player - finish wear all over, nicks and dents all over. Missing original pickup selector switch. Non-original truss rod cover?

Favorite Strings: LaBella flatwounds

Would you buy another if lost/sold: Not for more than I paid for this one

Overall Assessment: A fun little bass! Not sure if I would use it much in a live situation, it has small dots on the side of the fingerboard where the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, etc. frets would be, but probably not too visible on a dark stage.
Most Appreciated Characteristic: Coolness and rarity! M-85s have gone up in value due to Sheryl Crow and Brian Ray, so I got mine for a comparative steal. Plus, being fretless (which may have kept the price down) it is rather rare.
Least Appreciated: Didn't come with the original case - due to the huge headstock, it doesn't fit in my Gibson Les Paul Triumph hardshell case, need to use a gig bag
Favorite Story/Moment: Being contacted by a previous owner of this bass - he gets dibs if I ever decide to sell it!

Other observations/comments: Different version of review template; pics and videos in later posts