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The Mosrite of California Guitar Company was founded in 1956 by Semie and Andy Moseley. They started building custom guitars one at a time in garages, sheds and any place they could fit their equipment. Early on Andy had gone off to Nashville to sell their guitars to studio musicians and even some Grand Ol’ Opry performers. In the early ’60s a session player named Gene Moles was showing off his Mosrite guitar to Nokie Edwards of The Ventures and Edwards feel in love with the guitar.
By 1962 the entire band was playing Mosrite guitars, kicking off the birth of “The Ventures Model” and an endorsement deal that put The Ventures brand right on the headstock. Mosrite soon became a household name. At least amongst musicians and by the middle of the decade the company employed over 100 workers and was building 700 to 1,000 guitars a month.
This particular guitar, owned by collector Richard Gonzmart of Tampa, features a pair of single coil pickups that resemble, but are not the same as P-90s, an incredibly engineered vibrato bar and roller bridge and a zero fret. The body has a “German carved” top, a technique Moseley learned from a German luthier named Roger Rossmeisl while he was an apprentice at the Rickenbacker guitar factory. The neck is thin and fast and the frets are very low. I plugged this guitar into a Fender Deluxe Reverb Amp and it sounded so “surf“ that I swear I could smell the beach while I was playing it.
I encourage anyone with an interest in vintage guitars to research the history of the Mosrite – their story, and their instruments, are quite unique.
From Soho Guitar in Tampa Florida, I’m Rob Meigel. Please visit us at www.sohoguitar.com. Special thanks to Richard Gonzmart for allowing me to use his guitar in this column.