Mosrite Japan Ventures model II
I seem to be on a real "slab body" kick lately. I've done quite a few stories about copies I've made in both original form and Johnny's version as well as stories on original ones I own and other copies like the official Johnny Ramone signature models and I've mentioned this one that I've had for quite some time a few times in these past stories.
This is a Mosrite Japan version of the "unofficial" Johnny Ramone Mosrite that was available for some time before the others came along. The Japanese companies had been making these since the early to mid nineties in this "Johnny" spec which copied the slab body Mk II Johnny used for more of the Ramones career. I've gone through the details and changes this guitar (and his rig) went through in past stories so I won't go into it again now but Johnnys second slab body was modified to keep on the road with different pick ups, bridge, tailpiece and tuners and while his guitar tone changed with these mods it was always unmistakably Johnny with his fierce downstroke bar chords into cranked Marshalls.
As I've said before, this guitar started my whole love affair and is one of the primary reasons Tym guitars even exists today so even though I'd made copies myself (the first guitar I ever made was a copy) when I started importing guitars from Japan for my shop in the very early 2000's this was one of the guitars I HAD TO get from the Japanese domestic market product that wasn't yet available outside Japan.
The first one I got in was nice and I did play it live a few times but I actually preferred my copies more. At this stage I didn't own a real one so I had nothing to compare it to and figured the one with "Mosrite" on the headstock was going to be closer than mine ? A few months later I had managed to get two more of these and while being similar, one was obviously from a different manufacturer. I already knew about the different Japanese companies all arguing over who had the rights to make "Mosrites" and knew that more than one was making these Johnny inspired Mk II's but the difference in the actual guitars was a real revelation.
The shapes and contours were slightly different and neck profiles and headstocks were completely different. Despite being nicknamed a "slab body" this guitar is actually contoured, jut not as much as normal Mosrites. They look like slabs from most pics but there is a definite front and rear contour on the top lower (elbow/stomach) bout. The early Japanese Mk II's didn't have this contour and were actually a slab almost like a Tele body.
One of the Mk II's I got in was very nice and played well. They were heavy and had slightly bigger necks than my original Mk V but I figured that was just how they were. The headstocks were bigger than my Mk V and pics I had studied (I was pretty nerdy about Mosrites) of the Mk II showed a very small, thin hardstock, which none of these Japanese copies had. They all tended to have bigger Ventures style, slightly angled headstocks and all (except the one given to Johnny as a back up) had either "Mosrite" (with no of California) and a The Ventures II model logo OR "Mosrite of California" with no Ventures logo. This has long been a thing in Japanese Mosrite circles with names and logos being on and off again as legal action and ownership issues persist.
The one I eventually kept and played a lot was one that I instantly thought felt ..... right. Although again being very heavy it had a nice neck and sounded good. It had the body contours and looked great. I still didn't own an original slab body yet and was making more and more refined versions of my Wosrite copies as I learned more about the originals through pictures and correspondence with old Mosrite employees.
I've had about 35-40 of these Japanese Mk II's through now and since owning originals it's clear that none of them are "exact" which is surprising considering some of their Ventures models are ridiculously close to real ones. It wasn't until the Fillmore Johnny Ramone signature models that I'd seen a Japanese Mk II with the right headstock (small, thin, flat) and correct body dimensions and contours but even these don't have the neck shape/profile/thickness right. Once these were on the market the standard Fillmore versions adopted this correct headstock and contours and was offered in more colours.
While this Mosrite Japan (KuroKumo) version isn't completely accurate (in hindsight) it was still the nicest one I'd played and while others have come and gone I feel somewhat attached to this one now as it was the first Japanese copy of my obsessive iconic guitar that I really bonded with. I changed the pick up to a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder and connected it to the volume pot and on to the output jack just like Johnny's and just played it .... a lot. Apart from these nerd mods and a good set up I've never touched the rest of the guitar and it's quality is quite excellent.
As I've said, it doesn't feel or sound like a "real" one but they were the only thing available to an obsessive Mosrite and Ramones nut back in the early 2000's and since not many people get to own (or play) an actual original Mosrite slab body, they're as close as they need to be to keep people like me happy. With copies like this you can plug into a Marshall, turn it up and try (and fail) to play like Johnny and for a split second you feel a little bit like a Ramone. What could be cooler than that ?