1973 Mosrite 350

 

Mosrite is one of the most intriguing also-rans of the 1960s and 1970s. The company’s guitars have become iconic among wildly different groups – mainly surf, country, and punk guitarists – yet Mosrite was never more than a partial commercial success.

The company was founded by Semie Moseley in 1956. Moseley had apprenticed at Rickenbacker, and he began building guitars under the Mosrite name with help from his brother Andy and financial backing from Ray Boatwright; the brand was a portmanteau of the Moseley and Boatwright names. Their initial creations were all custom builds, and the overall quality was inconsistent at best. The struggling company was given a major boost in 1963 from an endorsement deal with the Ventures, who received their own line of guitars. The Ventures deal ended in 1967, but by that point Mosrite guitars were visible enough to sustain their popularity. The company even purchased the Dobro brand and began making the first serious resonator guitars since the 1930s.

Unfortunately, Semie Moseley never proved to be as solid a businessman as he was a guitar designer. Mosrite declared bankruptcy in early 1969; incidentally, the sale of company assets allowed OMI to purchase the Dobro name. Mosrite re-started in 1970, but the company continued to face periodic hard times until its eventual closure in 1993, a year after Moseley’s death. The company’s last 15 years or so were devoted mainly to custom instruments, many of which found their way to Japan.

The 1970s saw Mosrite revamping their old models, including the hollow Celbrity series and successors to the Ventures line, as well as introducing a few new creations. The 300 and 350 series were unlike anything Mosrite had produced before, with bodies that resembled a Telecaster that had melted on a hot day. A catalog described the 300 series as a mono, single-pickup version of the stereo, two-pickup 350; in fact, very few single-pickup versions exist, and it appears that the 300 quickly evolved into a mono, two-pickup instrument. Most 300/350 instruments featured Mosrite’s new humbucking pickups, but the odd one does show up with single coils – probably parts leftover from the ‘60s. Mosrite was never one to stick closely to catalog specs, and many of these guitars feature finishes that were not officially offered. Whether these were custom orders or just whims by the factory workers is not clear.

This 350 bass is a good example, as this burgundy finish was not among those catalogued. The same finish can be found on other Mosrites from the period, so there is no question about its originality. The bass does meet most other catalog specs, though: two humbuckers, 30” scale, a mono/stereo switch, and volume and tone controls for each pickup. The only difference in hardware is that this bass was never fitted with a bridge cover, unlike the one in the catalog picture. It is in overall excellent condition.

 

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