Coordinates: 33°38′46″N 111°53′57″W / 33.6460322°N 111.899058°W / 33.6460322; -111.899058
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
FormerlyMosrite of California
IndustryMusical instruments
FoundedLos Angeles, California (1956)
FounderSemie Moseley and Andy Moseley
United States
Area served
Key people
Semie Moseley and Andy Moseley
ProductsElectric guitars
33°38′46″N 111°53′57″W / 33.6460322°N 111.899058°W / 33.6460322; -111.899058

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 (though Mosrite used taller frets and wider necks after the 1960s,) 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. Mosrite also made a small number of acoustic guitars; The Serenade model, and four Balladere models, including one 12 string.



Ventures model headstock
Mark V Guitar

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

Semie began building guitars in the Los Angeles area around 1952 or 1953, apprenticing at the Rickenbacker factory. There 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]

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 of country music. He also made several similar twin-neck guitars (with the performer's name inlaid into the neck) for Maphis' protegé, the child prodigy guitarist Larry Collins, who still owns his three Mosrite twin-necks. By 1956, with an investment from Ray Boatright, a local Los Angeles Foursquare Gospel minister, Semie and Andy started their company, Mosrite of California. In gratitude to Reverend Boatright, Moseley named the company by combining his and Boatright'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, told his co-workers that he was making his own product and was fired by Rickenbacker.[2]

Joe Maphis's double-neck by Mosrite

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]

Mosrite pickups after the 50s usually came in several ways through Mosrite's history, none with metal casing; 1: the large single coil similar to (but not as long as) a P90, 2: a cheaper version of the first pickup that showed on cheaper models (Celebrity III, Mark V,) 3: a cheaper pickup only found on the first iteration of the Ventures II and 4: a Mosrite Humbucker mostly found on some 1970s models.

The full "The Ventures" line consisted of "the Ventures model" (as several versions: a 6 String Guitar, 4 String Bass, and 12 String Guitar - the "Mark I," "Mark X," and "Mark XII" versions, respectively,) "the Ventures II model" (of several versions,) and "the Ventures Mark V model." "The Ventures" line started in 1963 and ran through 1967 or 1968 when the licensing agreement with The Ventures ended.

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

Bankruptcy and restart[edit]

Mosrite of California went bankrupt in late 1968 after they contracted with the Thomas Organ Company 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 in February 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 Leachville, Arkansas, in 1991.[2] Only one guitar was produced in Leachville and is now on display at the town's Melody Theater.

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]

List of models[edit]

Note that there are exceptions to this list of models where perhaps a 1960s model has white paint for the headstock logos or a 1970s 350 model has a basswood body and maple neck instead of a mahogany body and mahogany neck. Mosrite is a company where outliers aren't unheard of.

Mosrite also used other names occasionally; "Gospel" was often a name associated with guitars given away to churches although it was also used during Mosrite's bankruptcy period when they didn't have their Mosrite name (1969–1970,) Semie also used his last name "Moseley" for guitars built during the same period.


More various guitars though none in commercial production.


Ventures II (1965, "Slab Body" Type) Reissue
Joe Maphis Double Neck (1968)
  • 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 the body shape became the Ventures model. This is not the same as the later Joe Maphis model which is similar to the Combo model.
  • 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.
  • The Ventures II ("Slab Body" Type) Model — Designed by Semie Moseley's brother, Andy Moseley. Only built as a six-string guitar in 1965. Came in Red, Blue, White, and Sunburst. Production started in mid-1965 and ended several months later with small production numbers not exceeding 150 (possibly under 100.) This Slab Body Model was replaced with the second Ventures II design, reportedly because Semie Moseley was disappointed in this original design, thinking it looked too cheap for Mosrite. The "Slab Body" name is not official, it was coined by Mosrite enthusiasts to differentiate the two Ventures II guitars.

This Ventures "Slab Body" is the model that Johnny Ramone of the Ramones was mostly known to play.

  • The Ventures II (German Carve Body Type) Model — Replaced the earlier Ventures II; Same body design as the Mark V model. Only came as a six-string guitar. Some of these, mostly earlier models with a few exceptions, have longer pickguards than later models; the neck pickup on the long pickguard models is slightly farther from the bridge, as Mosrite was to using remaining Ventures II "Slab Body" necks, which are slightly shorter at the end (but are the same scale length.) This model was re-named the "Ventures Mark V" in 1966.

The "Ventures II German Carve" name is not official, it was coined by Mosrite enthusiasts to differentiate the two Ventures II guitars.

  • Joe Maphis Dual Neck model— Two-necked guitar based on the Ventures model. Has 6 string and 12 string necks. Variants may exist.
  • Joe Maphis models — These are similar in body shape to the later Combo model, but unlike the Combo model, these have no F-holes. They're normally painted in a natural finish. They came as:
  • Mark I Six-String Guitar
  • Mark X Bass
  • Mark XII Twelve-String Guitar
  • The Ventures Mark V Model — Later just named "Mark V" after the Ventures contract ended in 1967/1968. Came in Red, White, Blue, and Sunburst, and late in production, as Candy Apple Red. Only sold as a six-string guitar commercially, although a few Bass Prototypes exist (albeit with guitar scale lengths of 24.50".) A battered 1966 Ford Blue version of this model was used by the B-52s' Ricky Wilson with only four strings and a custom tuning for some of their distinctive sound and was featured on the inner sleeve of their debut 'yellow' album.
  • Celebrity I, Celebrity II and Celebrity III Hollow-Body Guitars — came as:
  • Mark I Six-String Guitar
  • Mark X Bass
  • Mark XII Twelve-String Guitar
  • Combo Semi-Hollow Body Guitar; came as:
  • Co Mark I Model 300 Six-String Guitar
  • Co Mark X Model 301 4-String Bass Guitar (30 1/4" Scale Length.)
  • Co Mark XII Model 302 Twelve-String Guitar

Acoustic guitars:

  • Balladere 6-String Guitar Models; came as:
  • Balladere I (Model 401) Six String Guitar. No binding on neck.
  • Balladere II (Model 402) Six String Guitar, 5 Inch Deep Body.
  • Balladere III (Model 403) Six String Guitar with Bolt-On Neck.
  • Balladere III-XII (Model 403-12) Twelve String Guitar.
  • Serenade 6-String Guitar.


Unlike 1960s models, the 1970s marked a departure from the skinny necks; Mosrite didn't always make thin necks in the 70s.

  • 300 (Telecaster-Style Body Shape, One pickup in the neck position for Guitars, 1 pickup usually in the Bridge position for Basses, no German Carve) — Came as both six-string guitar and four-string bass. Came with a Mosrite Humbucker Pickup. Mahogany Body and Mahogany Neck.
  • 350 (Telecaster-Style Body Shape, Two pickups, no German Carve) — Came in both "Stereo" for two output jacks and "Mono" for one output jack. Came as six-string guitar and four-string bass. Mostly came with Mosrite Humbucker Pickups though some may exist with Mosrite single coils. Natural examples are Mahogany Bodied and Mahogany Necked, colored examples are Basswood Bodied and Maple Necked.
  • 500 Blues Bender — Six-String Guitar similar in shape to a Gibson Les Paul but with typical Mosrite features; German Carve, Basswood body, Maple neck and Rosewood fretboard. Unlike 1960s Mosrite models, this model has a wider neck then 60s Mosrites and features Mosrite Humbucker pickups not found on stock 60s models.
  • Celebrity — Mosrite continued production of the Celebrity models into the 70s with Mosrite Humbucker pickups.
  • V-I — 70s design of guitar as the Ventures and "Mark I" models, minus the Ventures logo.
  • V-II or V II — Same body style as a Mark I or Ventures model but with Mosrite Humbuckers and more electronics.
  • B-I — Ventures bass minus the Ventures logo.
  • B-II — Ventures bass minus the Ventures logo, but with Humbuckers and more controls.

An estimate of 125 Brass Rail models are estimated to have been built with the Deluxe models being scarcer, an estimate of 12 being built.

1977 - 1978
  • S.M. (Semie Moseley) Model — (Unofficial Name.) Six-String Guitar similar in Les Paul-style shape, with the same outlines of the Blues Bender and Brass Rail models. These do not have a German Carve, and they have single coil pickups. 84 or fewer are estimated to have been built.

Other Associated 1970s Guitars
  • Acoustic Black Widow (Electric 6 String Guitar) — Some were built by Mosrite.
  • Sooner model (Electric 6 String Guitar) — Although not under the Mosrite name, these are associated with Mosrite. They share the same tailpiece as some Brass Rail models, and the bridge is non-adjustable for intonation.


This era mostly consisted of Ventures reissues and Ventures shaped models including but not limited to:

  • M88
  • V88
Both similar to the Ventures guitar design.
  • V63

1963 Ventures Model Reissue with a bound body and neck, output jack on the side and vibramute.


  • The Nokie Model — Nokie Edwards Model; Similar to the Ventures model and with smooth pickup covers.
  • The Ramones Model — Ramones Model; Similar to the 1960s Ventures model. Seen in the Ramones' "I Don't Want To Grow Up" Music Video. Has a "Sharkfin" Pickguard, stop tailpiece and one bridge pickup. Few of these were built.

Notable players[edit]

Johnny Ramone playing his primary guitar, a white 1965 Ventures II "Slab Body" model (his primary guitar from 1977 to 1996.)


  1. ^ - Johnny Ramone was mostly known to play Ventures II Slab Body models though he had other Mosrite guitars.
  2. ^ - Kurt Cobain had two MK V models, one with the "Gospel" name on the headstock. The "Gospel" branded one often has been called a "Mark IV," though no known official nomenclature supports this.
  3. ^ Jerry Cantrell performed with a Ventures model on the music video "What the Hell Have I"[7]
  4. ^ Davie Allan - American guitarist best known for his work on soundtracks to various teen and biker movies in the 1960s and contribution in the creation of the fuzz sound for electric guitar)
  5. ^ Toulouse Engelhardt - American Finger style Guitarist who records exclusively with Mosrite Guitars.
  6. ^ Glen Campbell - American country music singer, guitarist, television host, and occasional actor. Often played Mosrite models in the 1960s, from Celebrity models to Balladere models. Owned a 1973 V-I or V-II late in his career.
  7. ^ American bassist, multi-instrumentalist and manager for The Light Crust Doughboys, recording artist, producer and mixing engineer)[8]
  8. ^ Japanese music artist and composer
  9. ^ American instrumental rock and roll band from Toledo, Ohio, 1957-2005
  10. ^ Guitarist of the band apart. A big fan of Mosrite, who has Mark I, Mark IV and 4 other models.[9]
  11. ^ Japanese instrumental guitarist
  12. ^ One of the flashiest American country guitarists of the 1950s and 1960s)[4]
  13. ^ Used Mosirte when playing with A Silver Mt. Zion.
  14. ^ Japanese instrumental guitarist
  15. ^ American instrumental rock & surf rock band formed in 1958.
  16. ^ American rock & folk-rock band which started playing in Los Angeles clubs in 1965. On the reverse of their 1966 album Da Capo, an endorsement statement appears: "Love plays Mosrite guitars and uses Vox amplifiers".
  17. ^ Robert occasionally uses a black Joe Maphis Model 1 Mosrite guitar during live performances, such as "The Kiss"[10]
  18. ^ Known to have played Mosrite guitars in early recordings with unusual tunings, like "Rock Lobster".[11]
  19. ^ American singer-songwriter plays Mosrite guitars. He can be seen playing a Mosrite in the DnC video "Can't Promise You the World".[12]


  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. ^ Roman, Ed. "Mosrite Guitars - Dana Moseley of Moseley Family". Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  6. ^ Munoz, Matt, "Mos-rite-teous! Lovers of Bakersfield guitar ready to jam" Archived 2011-02-13 at the Wayback Machine,, Wednesday, Feb 17 2010
  7. ^ "Alice In Chains - What the Hell Have I". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  8. ^ Album liner notes, Grammy Award winning album We Called Him Mr. Gospel Music: The James Blackwood Tribute Album, various credits to the Mosrite guitars of Art Greenhaw
  9. ^ ""Memories to Go"リリース・インタビュー No.02 川崎亘".
  10. ^ "Equip Board". Austin, TX: Equip Board. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
  11. ^ "Mosrite Guitars". Las Vegas, NV: Mosrite Guitars. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2014-07-29. Mosrite is an American guitar manufacturing company, Originally based in Bakersfield, California in 1952. ... Today it does all of its 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 ...
  12. ^ DrivinAndCryinVEVO (8 October 2009). "Drivin' N' Cryin' - Can't Promise You The World". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 3 October 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]