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Mosrite of California
IndustryMusical instruments
FoundedLos Angeles, California (1956)
Bakersfield, California, United States (current headquarters)
FounderSemie Moseley and Andy Moseley
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California (1956-1959)
Oildale, California (1959-1968)
Pumpkin Center, Kern County, California (1971-?)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (mid-1970s-?)
Jonas Ridge, Burke County, North Carolina (1981-1993)
Leachville, Arkansas (1991-1993)
United States
Area served
Key people
Semie Moseley and Andy Moseley
ProductsElectric guitars

Coordinates: 33°38′46″N 111°53′57″W / 33.6460322°N 111.899058°W / 33.6460322; -111.899058

Mosrite Ventures model
Mosrite Mark V 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.



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]

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 the same as) a P90, 2: a cheaper version of the first pickup that showed on cheaper models (Celebrity III, Mark V,) 3: a cheaper strat-width 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 Mark I, Ventures II (of several versions,) 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 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 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 360 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.


  • 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 — Only built as a six-string guitar in 1965. Production started in Mid-1965 and ended several months later with small production numbers. The Slab Body 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. This 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, possibly to utilize older shorter Ventures II "Slab Body" necks. Re-named the "Ventures Mark V" in 1966.
  • Joe Maphis models — These are similar in body shape to the later Combo model without F-holes and are painted in a natural finish. Came as:
  • Mark I Six-String Guitar
  • Mark X Bass
  • Mark XII Twelve-String Guitar
  • Joe Maphis Dual Neck model— Two-necked guitar based on the Ventures model. Has 6 string and 12 string necks. Variants may exist.
  • The Ventures Mark V Model — Later just named "Mark V" after the Ventures contract ended in 1967/1968. Only sold as a six-string guitar commercially though bass prototypes were made. A battered Ink 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:
  • Mark I Six-String Guitar
  • Mark X Bass
  • Mark XII Twelve-String Guitar

Acoustic Guitars:

  • Balladere 6-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, no German Carve) — Came as both six-string guitar and four-string bass. Came with Mosrite Humbucker Pickups. 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. Mahogany Body and Mahogany Neck, mostly (with at least one exception.)
  • 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.
  • Mark I — Similar design of guitar as the Ventures models, minus the Ventures logo.
  • Mark X — Ventures bass minus the Ventures logo.
  • V2 or V II — Same body style as a Mark I or Ventures model but with Mosrite Humbuckers and more electronics.
  • S.M. (Semie Moseley) Model — Six-String Guitar similar in shape to the Blues Bender and Brass Rail models. 84 or fewer are estimated to have been built and these do not have a German Carve.

An estimate of 100 Brass Rail models are estimated to have been built with the Deluxe models being scarcer, an estimate of 12 being built.

Other 70s 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.


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 users[edit]

Johnny Ramone plays a white Ventures II slab body model, his primary stage guitar from 1977 - 1996.


  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. 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. ^ "Equip Board". Austin, TX: Equip Board. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
  10. ^ "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 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 ...
  11. ^ DrivinAndCryinVEVO (8 October 2009). "Drivin' N' Cryin' - Can't Promise You The World". YouTube. Retrieved 3 October 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]