Back before "professional collectors" took all the fun out of being obsessed with things, I had a serious problem with acquiring Mosrites. These wonderful guitars were reasonably hard to get here (in Australia) pre EBay and really hard pre internet as we really didn't get many of them over here. I became aware and obsessed with them through the Ramones but loved the look, sound and eventually feel of them when I was actually able to get hold of some. I knew people who had them, like Brad Shepherd (Hoodoo Gurus) and Lenny Curley (Tumbleweed) but never found one to buy. I essentially started making guitars (and subsequently Tym guitars) because I wanted a Mosrite, or something close to it.
Apart from the Ventures model II like Johnny played the one I really wanted was an early Ventures model. Known as the "side jack" because of it's output jack location, these early Ventures models had a set neck and bound body, which really set the shape off nicely. I still think this is probably the most beautiful "aesthetically pleasing" guitar shape ever made.
As there were less than 200 of these made in '64, and many have been through the "not collectible enough to preserve" market, they're pretty hard to come by even now, and fetch prices way too high for me to afford. Early versions of these had hand made aluminium vibratos originally made for Guild by Semie Moseley and a simple Bigsby style bridge and mute system.
Contrary to popular interweb knowledge, the "official" Ventures model in this form was not made until Nov/Dec '63 and only 8 examples left the factory in '63. You see a lot of "'63 Sidejacks" for sale with serials running up to around 100 but these are actually made in the second half of '64. This flipped over shape was originally planned as the official Joe Maphis model and about 15 of these were made from very late '61/early '62. I do not believe, as again is commonly written, that they date back to as early as '59. Anyway, enough about Mosrite ....... for now.
As this was the model I really wanted to own and figured I never would, it was an early guitar building obsession for me. I'd made a few early versions of this model in an attempt to get closer to the real thing but at this stage had never actually seen or felt one of these early versions. I was working completely off pictures, first hand accounts by owners and ex-employees and from knowledge built up from other Mosrites I did know.
My earlier versions had worked well but as I learnt more the little things I'd got wrong bugged me so I'd make another one with the features to try and make it as close as possible. This one is serial number 0077 and is the one after the purple sparkle Wosrite I made for J Mascis back in May, 2003.
These Mosrites had a basswood body so I used Bunya pine, which is a local timber similar to basswood and is in fact, my personal favorite solid body guitar timber. I'd got some nice pieces off a good friend of mine Adam Cole, who worked for Maton at the time and set about recreating that beautiful, bound German carved body. By this stage I had tracings of real Mosrites and a tracing of an early '64 side jack so this one was more accurate than my previous version, which I had made from a tracing of a '66 Ventures. These body's flow so nicely and I LOVE the German carve, especially the way Semie did them after learning first hand from the master himself, Roger Rossmeisl at Rickenbacker. It's a time consuming process but I think the results are worth the effort.
The necks on these early Mosrites were VERY thin and fretboard radius's varied dramatically so I just made the radius what I liked, since it was for me. The neck is Queensland maple which is softer than the original rock maple necks Semie made but it's a timber I'm a big fan of, especially for necks. The fretboard is Jarrah, which most of my fretboards were. It's an Australian hardwood with no relation to rosewood but is slightly harder/denser and varies in colour from pink to very dark brown. It's also perfect for fretboards, as long as you let it dry properly.
Headstocks were big and slightly angled with a Fender style dip running off the fretboard. They were well supported with big volutes, which I'm a huge fan of. Extra mass on the headstock improves sustain and "tone" but only if the headstock is really well supported which always makes me smile when people add metal "mass plates" and blocks to standard headstocks in an attempt to improve these things, especially on Gibson style guitars that have VERY little headstock support (yeah, that's why they break off when you look at 'em) I love the look of big headstock and the feel of volutes so again, Mosrite got it right for me.
By this stage I was making my own aluminium vibratos based off an original Moseley unit and I was making non roller bridges from stainless steel but as these early ones had the Bigsby style bar bridge, and I'm a huge fan of these, I crafted one of these, and a mute system from aluminium. The mute is long since gone as my aggressive, hack playing style wasn't very sympathetic to it's fairly flimsy design. It was after all meant for surf guitarists.
I was also making actual Mosrite pick ups with the help of a friend based off Mosrite pick ups and these were identical in construction and size. They will drop straight into a real Mosrites and could be done in low output right up to silly early Mosrite values, which at this point, were my favorites. I've since come to realize that low output, wide frequency response pick ups is what I love but the Mosrite/P-90 style is still my favorite pick up design tone wise.
Being a copy of an early Ventures it had to be sunburst, which I'm not a huge fan of but I think this shape, and especially bound German carve bodies work really with. I also love these early Ventures in black. The scratchlate is one ply off white (with slot headed screws right throughout to show what a nerd I am) and I used Guild knobs with the logo scratched off, just like Semie did in the early days. The rest of the set up is all pretty straight forward.
I was going to put up pics of this guitar when I first made it but decided to use current pics instead to show how much I played this guitar and loved it. This became my main guitar for many years in my band and it fitted me like a glove. I don't think I've ever, before or since, felt so comfortable with a guitar for my playing and style. I didn't treat it very well (I never did with any of my guitars) and it suffered some nasty incidents but always fixed up and sounded great.
Since making it I have actually played 2 original early '64 side jacks and I was amazed how close I got in feel and sound. I will probably never own a "real" one, but knowing what I know now, I probably don't have to ? To spend that much money on one would be wrong for something I wouldn't even use that much. I've got guitars made by Semie. I've got Mosrites that are rare, and I'm not talking "Fender rare" but actually rare. I've got Mosrites I love because of where they came from and what they are, but I still played this one over all of them because for me it looked great, it sounded great and it made me feel just a little bit like Semie must have.