Mosrite 350's

Those of you who follow my rants and blog will know how much I love Mosrites. I used to be a bit of a Mosrite nut years ago but once they started to increase in price I couldn't really afford (or justify) to buy them any more. They were one of the last US made brands to gain acceptance in the collector world before the GFC and once hardcore collectors (especially one US guy in particular) started to buy and sell to increase prices started, I was out. They took all the fun out of it for me. 

I won't go into all the details again as I've been over it before but once I started to get a few of them I realized I actually REALLY liked the 70's ones, which at the time were the least collectible of a not really collectible, quality brand. This meant they were even cheaper which suited me fine.

Everyone who was into Mosrites wanted the 60's ones, especially Ventures models, but after getting a few early 70's models I realized they were actually REALLY well made, mostly by Semie himself, and his new designs were actually quite amazing. I had a few Mark 1's (Ventures models) and Bluesbenders among others but had always wanted one of these weird Mono 300 or Mono/Stereo 350's I'd seen in old Mosrite catalogues (which I also collected) and while at first thinking they were quite ugly and maybe Semies only aesthetic mistake, I grew to love the shape as I got more images of them.

They were originally quite an anomaly in the Mosrite world with the majority made being a solid, slab mahogany body with a bolt on mahogany neck. Mosrite mainly used basswood for solid bodies and nearly always used rock maple for necks and later examples of the 350 can have both of these features, which was probably Semie trying to save on materials. I'm a big fan of both mahogany/mahogany and basswood/maple so both of these versions are great.


The Bluesbender had obviously been aimed at a Les Paul player while keeping the Mosrite feel and wonderful nuances that make them great. The 300/350 was shot squarely at the SG with mahogany combo, 2 humbuckers (although some did have single coils) and (mostly) hard tailpiece. 

One of the main variations from the SG was the option of the stereo wiring, which was probably Semies "upmarket" option for recording. Stereo guitars were not new in the early 70's and most guitars released with the option hadn't sold well and mono options on the same models generally sold in higher numbers. The 350 was an exception to this rule with the stereo model outselling the mono version. Exact numbers of any Mosrites are hard to determine (believe me, I have a serial number listing of thousands of guitars that took many years and even I don't know) but I would estimate that around 300 of both mono and stereo versions were made between Semie starting Mosrite back up in late 1970 (after bankruptcy and closure in '69) and mid/late '75.

They were originally available in natural or walnut, which was a dark brown colour but by about '72 were being sold in black, white, red and sunburst as well. Later versions were also offered with the Moseley style vibrato and all had the standard non roller type Mosrite bridge. 

The stereo version was wired to run in mono version if wanted or, with the flick of a slider switch, to run each pick up separately to two amps, or two channels of the same amp. It's also interesting to run the outputs to two different pedal set ups and each pick up has it's own volume and tone control for more options. Most 350 stereos had the Mosrite humbuckers which I love and although I've been through that before, suffice to say they have great output and clarity. All of these things make these very cool guitars for recording and playing live with heaps of tonal options with very little messing around.

Over the years I ended up with four of these beauties and they're one of my favorite models along with pretty much every other Mosrite :)


My least original one is a later (probably around '75) model with original body and hardware but a Ventures neck fitted. This may be "factory" as Semie often made guitars from parts especially at the end of runs like this one. The vibrato is the original Moseley unit with the pivot and arm missing. It seems unlikely that Semie would have fitted this unit with the hard tailpiece, which is an original Mosrite unit, screwed into the Moseley base plate. I have seen this on other Mosrites and it always fascinates me as ....... wouldn't you just take the base plate off before fitting the hard tail ?


This one has a Mosrite humbucker in the bridge and a single coil in the neck. I have seen this on quite a few other 300/350 models in both positions with some having the single coli in the bridge, like one of my others. The neck is VERY played and feels great. It's the typical 70's "I can't believe there's a truss rod in there" shallow Mosrite neck that I love so much. Slightly wider than the 60's ones but SO much shallower. All in all, it's a cracker of a player.


The next one is a more original early one in all mahogany. 


This one has the single coil in the bridge and humbucker in the neck. Along with the hard tail and all mahogany construction this one is quite different in sound and feel to the others. This one is also as mono version although the scratch plate is not original (I have since got one for it) and the lack of stereo mixing makes it slightly less versatile than the other versions.


This one is an early all mahogany stereo version with a Bigsby retrofitted at some stage. These early ones weren't offered with the Moseley vibrato so it was probably fitted with a Bigsby by someone wanting a vibrato fitted Mosrite at the time ?


The two humbuckers are wired with the stereo set up and it works a treat with two amps, The independent volume and tone controls mean you can mix some great tones to each amp and I'm a huge fan of stereo amps at any time.


This one has a shallow and thin (width) mahogany neck and feels more like a 60's Mosrite neck than the 70's ones and sounds and plays differently to my other ones probably due to the Bigsby adding string tension and mass. 



This last one is all original and probably the nicest player of the lot. It's got the great shallow neck that feels like butter to play and the double humbucker stereo set up and hard tailpiece, along with the solid mahogany slab body and neck gives it great sustain. It's in great condition and has the typical Mosrite "cracked up" finish due to the thick coats of "Semies own lacquer" he packed on to get that world class finish he was so proud of. I actually love the way these old Mosrites crack up.


So, being Mosrite obsessed I ended up with four of these but all four are different enough to justify (at least that what I tell myself) owning them all. They all feel and sound different with the mahogany ones actually weighing quite a lot with the heaviest one being almost as heavy as a Les Paul and the lightest being the basswood body one which also sounds brighter, probably due to the rock maple neck as well.

These were technically a failure for Semie because at the time all anyone wanted from him was a Ventures model and everything he tried fell short of peoples expectations. Personally I think a lot of these models were amazing, and way ahead of their time, especially models like the Brass Rail and Bluesbender deluxe. These are still "fairly" uncollectable and don't fetch too much money for the quality you get, but don't come up for sale that often.

The initial "ugliness" may turn some people off, and maybe pics don't do them justice, but I think they are great looking guitars in the flesh. Solid and high quality, they fell great and play like a Mosrite, especially early 70's ones, which definitely feel different to the 60's (and 80's) ones and probably feel more like a "normal" guitar, but with those stupidly shallow necks. The controls are simple yet very complex tone wise and it's always fun to try things like stereo mixing, especially if you love pedals and amps like I do. 



Sep 09 2014 Written By: Tim Brennan