Classics: September 2023

Bill Fudge’s Micro-Frets Huntington
Classics: September 2023
Bill Fudge’s Micro-Frets Huntington carries serial number 1496; it’s “4-24-1969” stamp indicates an assembly date. It was modded by Ralph Jones at the Micro-Frets factory.

Several years before he became a luthier who deserves much greater recognition, Ralph Jones sold new Fender guitars and amps out of his home studio in Rockville, Maryland.

One early customer was Bill Fudge, a high-school kid who in 1959 was ready to move beyond his Silvertone and into his first real rig – a demo/holdover sunburst ’57 Strat and new tweed Bandmaster. In the years to come, he’d use it in a few different bands, including one called The Upsetters (the name admittedly stolen from Little Richard’s defunct backing band) with other local musicians named Bobby Fischgrund, Bill Hawkins, Leroy Taylor, Nicky Dawson, Paurl Hersh, and Jack Casady. They stayed busy playing rock and roll at teen dances and even earned a one-year recording contract with a local label, where Mickey Baker helped with their music. Still, they never released a song, and a few years later Casady went west to join Jefferson Airplane.

After getting his Fender set, Fudge didn’t talk to Jones for nearly a decade before Jones called one day to say he was building a line of guitars – and being sued by Fender over his designs! To prep his defense, he asked to borrow Fudge’s Strat, loaning him a Jaguar to play in the meantime. A year later, Jones called again.

“He told me he’d won the lawsuit and was going into full production at his factory in Frederick,” Fudge recalled. “He thanked me for helping him and, in appreciation, offered to build a guitar for me.”

After yet another year, Jones presented Fudge with a top-of-the-line Micro-Frets Huntington.

Bill Fudge (left) with his Huntington in The Elderados, 1985. In front with a Strat is Al Crandall, his bandmate going back to junior high. The Corvette was a Fudge restoration from just a body and frame. The ’57 Bel Air belonged to Crandell. Photo courtesy of Bill Fudge.

“He said he’d built eight blond versions of it, kept the first for himself, and gave others to Buddy Merrill, Carl Perkins, Charlie Byrd, Mark Farner, me, and two others I don’t remember. He showed me a photo of Mark Farner holding his outside the front door of the factory.

“They were nice instruments, and although I wasn’t in a band at the time, I played mine around the house,” Fudge noted. “It was big, and being all maple, a little heavy. After awhile, I didn’t care for the positioning of the control knobs under the edge of the pickguard.”

He took it back and asked Jones to give it guitar knobs similar to his Strat. “He was reluctant, but he did it, believe it or not (chuckles). He also carved a new pickguard that looked like the original but was scalloped near the controls. When he put the Fender knobs on, I could see them better and knew exactly where I was with them. He gave me back the original pickguard and knobs, and I kept all of it.”

The end result was a one-of-a-kind instrument.

Unfortunately, Jones suffered a heart attack and died on April 18, 1972.

Through the ’70s and early ’80s, Fudge didn’t play out while raising a family. He occasionally noodled on the Huntington, but it mostly stayed in its case until 1985, when he got a call from his old friend and bandmate Al Crandall, saying he was gathering a group to play ’50s and early-’60s rock-and-roll at local venues.

“I said, ‘That sounds like a lot of fun!’ and we started The Elderados (laughs) and we did shows for about a year and a half – pool parties in the neighborhood and other stuff before Al moved away. But it was a lot of fun for us old guys (laughs).”

Until five years ago, Fudge was clueless about Mirco-Frets’ status in the vintage market.

“I took it to a dealer to have it cleaned, and he told me some of the early models were going for $6,000 and up. He’d dealt with some, but not a blond Huntington because they’re so rare.”

Now 81 and with his playing days behind him, in May of ’23, Fudge decided the Huntington should find a new home, and he consigned it to a retailer.

For more on Ralph Jones and the Micro-Frets story, grab the March ’17 issue of VG or visit

This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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