1984 Mosrite VIII
This one was a present from a friend of mine in Sweden who I made guitars for back in the late 90's/early 2000's and is still one of my favourites because of that. Nicke from the Hellacopters was a very early user of my guitars who ended up with my first signature model guitar, The Royale model, which I will do a blog on some other time. We worked on other projects together too including this "Copter" guitar which was a mix of obvious influences.
Anyway, Nicke got back from tour one time and emailed and said there was a local shop in Sweden that a few NOS Mosrites on the walls. Word was that someone who had put money in to help Semie ended up not getting anything back from the deal and was paid in guitars. This was a fairly common thing with Semie as he wasn't the best businessman in the world. Nicke sent me a photo and there were a bunch of mid 80's Mosrites hanging there, all brand new. I picked the black VIII, brand new in hardcase with all the candy..
These were a short run Mosrite all hand made by Semie in the early 80's and were based on the classic Ventures shape but with more ....... "modern" styling to suit the times. The lack of scratchplate and great German carve set it off really nicely and showed yet again Semie's great eye for design.
The body is basswood, as most Mosrites were and all hand carved by Semie. There were only a hand full of these made and I've seen a few different colour schemes available but I haven't seen many black ones ? I think the black really sets off the carve beautifully ?
The neck is flamed rock maple and Semie obviously pulled out all the stops on these models. This one has a very highly flamed neck that is hard to capture with my crappy camera (and ability) but it's quite beautiful in some light.
The fretboard is multi laminated rosewood and maple that influenced my fretboards on some of my special models when I was making guitars. Scale is typical Mosrite at 24.5" and the neck is thin, but not early 60's Mosrite thin and is quite comfortable for an "80's" neck. Nowhere near as shallow as a contemporary Ibanez neck but thinner than most others of the time.
The dots are brass and add a nice touch to this hand made piece of art.
Pick ups are typically Mosrite single coils and this has three mini toggles for simple on/off operation, which is very versatile as you have options of any or all on at once. Add to that a simple master volume and an outputr jack and Semie was thinking right up my alley.
This is signed by Semie on the back of the headstock "Mosrite forever. Semie Moseley. 1984" and is a really nice touch for a guitar like this, especially for a Mosrite nut like me.
I'm a huge fan of Mosrites and I love the really low production, hand made stuff like this. Semie was an amazing luthier and made SO many guitars in his life it's crazy. This guitar still has pencil marks around the dot markers on the side of the neck that have been painted over in the final finishing. Some would see this as lazy, but I see it as beautiful. That "touched by a human" thing is something I strive for in all the stuff I make. In this mass produced world, I find this sort of thing comforting knowing that someone like Semie touched and shaped great pieces like this.
The hand made feel goes right through to the back plates which are made out of hand shaped flame maple as well.
I'm not a huge fan of highly figured timber guitars but this one seems ........ tasteful to me and the fact that Semie made it makes it more special. The fact that it was a present form a good friend who I also highly respected as a player/songwriter just adds to the appeal for me.
So, how does it play and sound ? Like a Mosrite. Some people don't get 'em. I LOVE them. I love the feel, the tone and look. This one has more options tone wise than a standard Ventures but still gets that tone if you want it. The single coils are big and fat while still keeping the "surf" sparkle and they dirty up nicely. This vibrato is still my all time favourite design and as long as you don't want to dive bomb, is still the most fluid, easy to use vibrato ever made. The roller bridge helps with tuning if you do go a little crazy on the arm.
All in all this is one of those "last to sell" guitars for everything it stands for for me, and it's a beautiful guitar to look at and play.