Here's another one of my obsessive Mosrite fantasies bought to life. I've written a lot on how the Mosrite Ventures model II is the holy grail of Mosrite colectors and is pretty much what started this whole thing and I've done a story on one of my "Johnny" models in a previous blog. I will do some stories on actual Mosrite and Wosrite versions in this series soon but this was the culmination of owning real versions and wanting to make something the same.
The Mosrite Ventures model II was a student "budget" model introduced by Mosrite in mid 1965 and only lasted a few months and a couple of runs. It wasn't particularly loved by Semie, the owner and genius of Mosrite and was quickly replaced by a model of the same name with better features similar to the more expensive Ventures model.
Having owned quite a few Japanese copies of Johnny's guitar it wasn't until I managed to own a real MkII that I realized those original Mosrite pick ups are integral to the tone of those early Ramones albums. Johnny's original blue MkII was all original when he bought it and recorded the first albums and used live (except the vibrato being changed to a hardtail) and these cheaper Mosrite single coils have a tone and sound all their own. Plug one into a Marshall and turn it up and there it is.
Because all the Japanese "copies" are based on Johnny's more famous modified white one that he acquired after his original blue one was stolen, they don't have the original thin Mosrite single coils or the original folded steel vibrato units of the original Mosrite model. If I was going to make a Wosrite Versatone model II, these parts were essential.
The originals, like most Mosrites are basswood bodies and maple necks with rosewood fretboards. These were all materials I used in my standard Wosrites and because I now owned an original Mosrite version, I could actually get the body shape, thickness and routs right for the first time. I'd made "Johnny's" traced off Japanese copies which as it turns out, aren't always exactly right with dimensions and contours. I also wanted to do the body routs exactly the same as the originals as all the copies were just routed for the hardware fitted.
These MkII's have a very unique feel and tone and I can honestly say that I've never heard another guitar sound exactly like them or played a guitar that feels like them, including all the copies I've ever owned by other manufacturers. I have owned quite a few copies including the "official" Ramones models (blog soon) and all of them are too heavy and the neck profiles are different and, they're all based on Johnny's version, not the original MkII.
So, the pick ups were hand made, like all my Wosrite pick ups to as close to original specs as possible. The originals had the segmented magnet used on the bottom of the typical Ventures pick up but in this case laid lengthwise and simply wrapped in wire. These "bobbins" were then epoxied into the covers. Cheap, quick, nasty and beautiful. These covers were hand formed to original size and specs just like my other pick ups.
The other important, and impossible to get part of the original MkII is the folded steel vibrato which is beautiful in it's simplicity. I made mine with the help of a friend from stainless steel and it's essentially two pieces of steel. One used as the base, which is screwed directly to the top of the guitar with no routs or cavities, with two tabs folded up to hold the "pivot" string tailpiece. The tailpiece is held in place against these two tabs simply by string tension with a spring (the same used on the Vibramute/Moseley unit) between the base and pivot held in place between the D and G string by the arm (attachment bolt), which is the same as the standard Mosrite unit. Beautiful.
There were actually two different versions of this original unit with the first "run" having a flat pivot with "sharp" edge like mine here. The second (and maybe third and final) run had a very similar looking pivot but with a rolled front edge the looks to be done for comfort and style.
The headstock on these were similar in shape, with the classic "M" cut in the end but much smaller than the substantial headstocks on most Mosrites. This may have been another attempt at saving money by using the minimum of timber ?
The originals had four screws holding the neck on with a thin rectangular plate screwed with four small screws over the top to cover the neck screws, as the early Ventures models did.
The knobs were the original "spun knobs" and the bridge was the typical Mosrite unit used on the bigger brother but these student models used a plastic switch tip instead of the (more expensive) machined metal tips used on all other Mosrites. This model also had a single ply scratch plate and was only available in white, blue, red and a few sunburst.
I've mentioned this before but I truly believe the Ramones would have sounded different if Johnny had walked into Manny's and bought another cheap guitar. The necks on these are THIN, even by Mosrite standards and the light bodies hang perfectly balanced which means there's no fighting the guitar AT ALL to play. They play like butter and feel small and ......... cheap by Mosrite standards, which is above average quality in a lot of other brands.