Mosrite

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Mosrite Ventures model
Mosrite guitar

Mosrite is an American guitar manufacturing company, based in Bakersfield, California, from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. Founded by Semie Moseley, Mosrite guitars were played by many rock and roll and country artists.

Mosrite guitars were known for innovative design, high-quality engineering, very thin, low-fretted and narrow necks, and extremely hot (high output) pickups. Moseley's design for The Ventures, known as the "Ventures Model" (later known as the "Mark I"), was generally considered to be the flagship of the line.

History[edit]

Apprenticeship[edit]

In Bakersfield, Semie Moseley started playing guitar in an evangelical group at age 13.[1] Semie and his brother Andy experimented with guitars from their teen-age years, refinishing instruments and building new necks.[2]

Semie Moseley began building guitars in the Los Angeles area around 1952 or 1953. He began by apprenticing at the Rickenbacker factory, where he learned much of his guitar making skills from Roger Rossmeisl, a German immigrant who brought old-world luthier techniques into the modern electric guitar manufacturing process. One of the most recognizable features on most Mosrite guitars is the "German Carve" on the top that Moseley learned from Rossmeisl. During the same time, Moseley apprenticed with Paul Bigsby in Downey, California, the man who made the first modern solid-body guitar for Merle Travis in 1948, and who invented the Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, which is still used today.

Mosrite founded[edit]

Joe Maphis's double-neck by Mosrite

In 1954 Semie built a triple-neck guitar in his garage (the longest neck was a standard guitar, the second-longest neck an octave higher, the shortest was an eight-string mandolin). He presented a double-neck to Joe Maphis, a Los Angeles-area TV performer. By 1956, with an investment from Ray Boatwright, a local Los Angeles minister, Semie and Andy started their company, Mosrite of California. In gratitude to Boatwright, Moseley named the company by combining his and Boatwright's last names; the name is properly pronounced MOZE-rite, based on the pronunciation Semie Moseley used for his own name.[3] Semie, who built guitars for the L.A.-based Rickenbacker company, said to his co-workers that he was making his own product, and he was fired by Rickenbacker.[2]

When they began, their production was all custom, handmade guitars, built in garages, tin storage sheds, wherever the Moseleys could put equipment.[2]

In 1959, Andy moved to Nashville, Tennessee, for a year to popularize the Mosrite name and sold a few, including to Grand Ole Opry entertainers and road musicians. Andy said: "And that’s how we kept the factory going at the time: custom guitars".[2]

Moseley made guitars in Los Angeles until 1959, when he moved to Oildale, California, just north of Bakersfield.

In 1962 he moved his shop to Panama Lane where he designed and produced the first Joe Maphis model guitars, One model of which would eventually evolve into the "Ventures model" guitar and bass (Joe Maphis would later get a model of his own, similar to a Mosrite Combo model but without the F-hole). At this time, Mosrite made everything in-house, except for the tuners.[4]

[This Gospel guitar information is not correct. Semie died in 1992.] Semie was a very accomplished Gospel musician, often earning significant amounts, which he sometimes used to keep his guitar company afloat. During a trip to a musical instrument convention in Europe, Semie was inspired by a Spanish luthier who was constructing fine guitars, utilizing violin joints. Since Semie believed that all Gospel musicians should have the very best instruments, he decided in 1995 to build Gospel guitars in that joint style. As he perfected the method, he was able to build two perfect Gospel prototypes. One was all natural - no color added at all - and had the term "GOSPEL" on the headstock, with a cross, which was all positioned to read properly in the playing position. The other Gospel prototype was transparent blue body with a natural neck. These fine, hand-made instruments were made with violin joints and, while they somewhat resembled the "Celebrity" model, they were unique unto themselves. Semie gave the all natural "Gospel" to his partner Reverend Boatwright and took the other as his personal instrument, out on Gospel tour. The Reverend was attacked out in front of his church in Watts, the blonde guitar smashed, and the Reverend was killed. The only surviving Gospel guitar from those first two prototypes is Semie Moseley's "Blue Gospel Guitar", which bears the serial number: GA 009. [1] That "Blue Gospel Guitar", and the unfortunate death of his partner, drove Semie to try production of other Gospel instruments, several times, later in his career, but without much success.

The full "The Ventures" line consisted of the Mark I, Mark II, Mark V, Mark X (bass) and Mark XII (12 string). "The Ventures" line started in 1963 and ran through 1967; when the licensing agreement with The Ventures ended.

At the peak of production, in 1968, Mosrite was making around 600 guitars per month.[3]

Mosrite Ventures II (1965, Slab Body Type) Reissue
Mosrite Joe Maphis Double Neck (1968)

Bankruptcy and restart[edit]

Mosrite of California went bankrupt in late 1968 after they contracted with a competitor to market their guitars. After this, they tried to deal directly with stores, and they sold 280 guitars in 1969 before they came to the shop one day and found their doors pad-locked.[2] Two years after his bankruptcy, Semie was able to get back the Mosrite name, and in 1970 he started making guitars again in Pumpkin Center near Bakersfield. He moved his factory three times in the next 20 years, to Oklahoma City in the mid-1970s, to the township of Jonas Ridge, in Burke County, North Carolina, in 1981 (where a factory fire destroyed the operation), and to Booneville, Arkansas, in 1991.[2]

Though an acknowledged genius at guitar design and construction, Moseley lacked many basic skills necessary to be a good businessman, and thus the company fell on hard times repeatedly in the late 1960s and 1970s, but continued to produce Mosrite guitars until 1993 in North Carolina and Arkansas. Most of them were exported to Japan, where their popularity remained very strong. The quality of the instruments always remained very respectable. Semie Moseley died in 1992. His wife Loretta continued to produce Mosrites a year or so after his death, and since 2008 has been selling custom Mosrites via their website.

The company now has recently[when?] released the Semie Moseley Model ’63 and ’65, based on the Ventures models made in those two years. Both models are made to the exact specifications as the original models; they are 100 % hand-made and were created to commemorate Semie Moseley.

Semie's daughter, Dana Moseley, is also a luthier and continues to build Mosrite guitars.[5] She also helps kick off the monthly "Mosrite Jam" in Bakersfield.[6]

(Incomplete) List of Models[edit]

1950s[edit]

More various guitars though none in commercial production.

1960s[edit]

Pre-1963
  • Joe Maphis model — Same general body shape as the later Ventures model; This was to be Joe Maphis model before Semie Moseley and The Ventures settled on a contract and this body shape became the Ventures model. This is not the same as the later Joe Maphis model which is similar in body shape to the Combo model.
1963-1968
  • The Ventures Model — Also came as a bass and later on, A 12-string. Post ventures, 1968 and 1969 it was named the "Mark I".
    The first Ventures Models came with a set neck, bound body and a large Ventures and Mosrite logo, less than 250 of these were made before settling on the standard Ventures Model sometime in 1964, without body binding and the neck became bolt on. The Mosrite logo and Ventures model logo were slightly reduced.
  • Ventures Bass (AKA "Mark X")
  • Mark XII Twelve-String Guitar — Most of these have stoptails although some have tremolos.
1965
  • The Ventures II (Slab Body Type) Model — Only sold as a six-string guitar in the 1960s. Discontinued early and replaced with the second Ventures II design, Reportedly because Semie Moseley was disappointed in this design, Thinking it looked too cheap for the image he was working on for Mosrite.
1965-1966
  • The Ventures II (German Carve Body Type) Model — Replaced earlier Ventures II; Same body design as the Mark V model. Some of these have necks from the earlier Ventures II (Which are shorter than the later necks) and have longer pickguards to make up for the extra room on the body
1965-1968/1969
  • Joe Maphis models — Similar in body shape to the later Combo model
  • Mark I Six-String Guitar
  • Mark X Bass
  • Mark XII Twelve-String Guitar
These are similar in body shape to the later Combo model without F-holes and are painted in a natural finish.
1966-1968
  • The Ventures Mark V Model — Later just named "Mark V" after the Ventures contract ended in 1967/1968. Only sold as six-string guitar commercially although a prototype bass was built.
  • Celebrity I, II and III Hollow-Body Guitars — Also came as basses and 12-string models - Need input here
  • Combo Semi-Hollow Body Guitar — Also came as a bass and 12-string.
  • Balladere Acoustic 6-String Guitar.
  • Serenade Acoustic 6-String Guitar.

1970s[edit]

  • Mark I — Similar design of guitar as the Ventures models, Minus the Ventures logo.
  • Bluesbender Six-String Guitar.
  • 300 (Telecaster-Style Body Shape, One pickup) — Came as both six-string guitar and four-string bass.
  • 350 (Telecaster-Style Body Shape, Two pickups) — Came in both "Stereo" for two output jacks, And "Mono" For one output jack. Came as six-string guitar and four-string bass.
1976
Other Guitars
  • Acoustic Black Widow (Electric Guitar) — Some were built by Mosrite.
  • Sooner model — Although not under the Mosrite name, These are associated with Mosrite.

1980s[edit]

  • M88
  • V88
Both similar to the Ventures guitar design.

1990s[edit]

  • The Nokie Model — Nokie Edwards Model; Similar to the Ventures model and with smooth pickup covers.
  • The Ramones Model — Ramones Model; With a "Sharkfin" Pickguard; Few of these were built.

(Need more information)

Similar models and replicas[edit]

  • Univox made original Hi-Flier models (Phase I, Phase II, Phase III, Phase IV) similar to Mosrite Ventures models.

Notable users[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thompson, Art, "Mosrite 40th Anniversary", Guitar Player magazine, January 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Price, Robert, "The Man Behind the Mosrite" (archived 2008 copy), The Bakersfield Californian. Has biographical notes on Semie Moseley.
  3. ^ a b Roberts, James H. (2003). American basses: an illustrated history & player's guide. Hal Leonard. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-87930-721-9. 
  4. ^ a b c Hunter, Dave (2006). The Electric Guitar Sourcebook: How to Find the Sounds You Like. Hal Leonard. pp. 67–68. ISBN 978-0-87930-886-5. 
  5. ^ Dana Moseley page - Ed Roman Guitars
  6. ^ Munoz, Matt, "Mos-rite-teous! Lovers of Bakersfield guitar ready to jam", Bakotopia.com, Wednesday, Feb 17 2010
  7. ^ Jesse Gress (June 2, 2008). "10 Things You Gotta Do to Play Like Tommy Bolin". Guitar Player (magazine) (New York, NY: NewBay Media, LLC.). "When the Ventures came in, he graduated to a Mosrite." 
  8. ^ "Guitars: G). Miscellaneous Guitars". KurtsEquipment.com. 2005-12-12. Retrieved 2014-07-29. "
    "1). Sunburst Mosrite Gospel with white pickguard, which Kurt loved. It was used at the Motor Sports show (41)(seen 51). Purchased in San Francisco, possibly a few days prior to the show. ...",
    "13). Blue Mosrite Mark IV that was damaged in bathtub incident. Kurt gave this to Pat at SNL 1993 (seen 50)(41).""
     
    See also "F). Univoxes" for Univox Hi-Flier loosely based on Mosrite Ventures model.
  9. ^ album liner notes, Grammy Winning album WE CALLED HIM MR. GOSPEL MUSIC, various credits to the Mosrite guitars of Art Greenhaw
  10. ^ a b "Mosrite Guitars". Las Vegas, NV: Mosrite Guitars. Retrieved 2014-07-29. "Mosrite is an American guitar manufacturing company, Originally based in Bakersfield, California in 1952. ... Today it does all of it's American Manufacturing In Las Vegas, NV. Imports are strictly Japanese by Japan's best guitar factory "Tokai". Founded by Semie Moseley, Mosrite guitars were played by many rock and roll and country artists such as ..." 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]