This is another vintage Mosrite owned by a friend that I recently worked on that got me inspired again to revisit my absolute love of these of these guitars and write blogs to add as references to my Mosrite section.
The Mosrite Ventures model II is of course famous for being the guitar Johnny Ramone played throughout his career with the Ramones although as mentioned elsewhere, his was a different, much rarer version of this "moderately priced" model guitar from this wonderful Californian guitar manufacturer. I won't bore you with too many details about his short lived version but if you're interested I have written extensive blogs on them in the past.
After the demise of the earlier "slab body" model II which was instigated by Andy Moseley, Semie's brother and VP at Mosrite at the time, to offer a cheaper alternative to the expensive Ventures model, Semie relented and helped on the new German carve replacement which was introduced in about October '65.
Like all things Mosrite there are short run features and anomalies throughout production runs that make things interesting and the Ventures model II is no exception. After the slab body was discontinued necks were mostly used up on the new German carve model while bodies were eventually used on the Melobar guitars made at Mosrite from '66 to '68, although NOS parts have turned up over the years and parts guitars have been made. Some of these slab bodies have date stamps up to about Oct '65.
The new model II shape was changed to a slightly more sleek, smaller body with a less intricate German carve than it's big sibling running around the top part of the body and the inside of the cutaway horns. The bodies are thinner than a Ventures and like most Mosrites are basswood, making them fairly light with their smaller size. The new bodies don't have the neck heel attachment sticking out of the body like the slab body but instead have the rounded heel like the Ventures, but without the neck heel tongue running under the neck pickup necessitating the need for the neck to be set in to the body further. Over the years these have been mistakenly called "short scale" Mosrites but they are in fact the same scale as the Ventures model.
Early versions have a slightly different scratchplate shape that runs all the way to the top of the neck pickup. This was to accommodate the different neck end the slab body necks had and after a couple of small changes the Model II fell in line with this example here.
This version has the lower scratchplate around the neck pickup, and the final version of the II/V neck which has a longer extension past the last fret, a straight end cut and a wider headstock. Once the details like this were finalized all the following versions of both the Model II and Mark V were built like this, however, not that many of this particular version were made before this model became the Mark V, which initially ran concurrently with the II.
This particular Model II has a neck date of Dec '65 (body Dec 9th and neck Dec 22nd) which is about when this particular version was actually introduced with the Mark V version starting in about Feb '66.
So if you look at a timeline of this particular model (II-V) with the German carve it was introduced around October with the model becoming finalized in Dec after using up parts from previous models and ran until about mid '66 when the Mark V features joined other Mosrites which by the end of '66 all had trussrod adjustment at the headstock end. The Model II designation was all but gone by about Feb '66 making this version here only made from Dec '65 to Feb '66. Not very long in the scheme of things.
The pickups in these non slab body versions were new to the Mosrite family but were used in many of the lower end models throughout the model range. They were in fact the same covers and surrounds as the normal Mosrite pickups, although with no holes for the adjustable pole pieces to protrude through the cover. Instead, these used the same design as the thinner slab body pickup with the segmented bar magnets standing vertically, separated by a thin piece of timber with thin clear plastic glued top and bottom to form the bobbin. The magnets and timber spacer were then wrapped in tape to insulate the surfaces and the coil wound directly around this primitive bobbin making these a blade style single coil pickup. Finally they're assembled with white foam bottoms epoxied together with a hand cut aluminium height adjustment bar.
The Ventures Model II and Mark V used most of the same hardware as the Ventures model with the Moseley style vibrato, although with a non roller style bridge and the standard Mosrite made string guide, , neck plate, switch tip, strap pins and knobs. Most were fitted with the cheaper plastic button Kluson tuners instead of metal deluxe version and the neck didn't have binding.
Despite the features used to make this a cheaper version of the expensive Ventures model (thinner body with simpler German carve, cheaper pickups, no neck binding, non roller bridge, cheaper Kluson tuners) they cost almost as much to manufacture with everything still being hand made and all hardware being custom made by or for Mosrite.
The early Mk V (model 101) appeared in the '66 catalogue (the slab body and German carve Model II were never shown in catalogues) priced at $299.95 (plus $48 for a hardcase) at a time when the Fender Mustang (similarly spec'd with 2 pickups and vibrato) cost $184.00 and is carefully listed as a "moderately priced instrument" with no mention of budget or student model. The Model II/Mark V, like the Mustang, was shown in the catalogue as not being available in custom/metallic finishes however the dealer specifications listed the Mark V as being available to order in Sunburst, Cherryburst, Metallic red, Metallic blue, Pearl white, Deep black and Transparent cherry red with metallic finish being an extra $30.
This particular Model II is all original and in pretty impressive condition overall. These are great Mosrites with most of the features of it's bigger, more expensive sibling while feeling much smaller and lighter. The pickups are .... different to the pole piece versions but are a great pickup in their own right and will get you closer to Johnny's tone than anything else commonly available. The necks are thin and fast, like most Mosrites and the build and finish quality is all you'd expect from this high end manufacturer. While these "moderately priced" Mosrites don't get the love and respect of their higher end models, they are very close being hand made in the same factory, by the same people, using mostly the same parts and, they look like a Mosrite.