Mosrite Guitar Serial Number Decoder
1960-63. The early Bakersfield solid body period. Semie's serial numbering system was 100 series for the double necks, 1000 series for the single neck models and 000 series for the basses. Serials are stamped in the back of the headstock like Gibson.
Mosrite Guitar Serial Number Decoder
Mosrites from very late 1963 have their serial number stamped in the fretboard between the 21st and 22nd fret. If your guitar does not have the serial # stamped there, it is likely to be either A: a replacement neck (some do have serials stamped here) B: a copy (some do have serials stamped here) C: Mosrite forgot to stamp it (it happened) or D: A refret where the board has been sanded/leveled.
Mosrite and Semie Moseley made so many one offs and custom orders it is almost impossible to list them accurately. This following section is an attempt to help people work out their Mosrites if they can not identify from the previous pages.When Semie started in the mid 50's he was working from "workshops" and sheds wherever he could find space. All through the Mosrite history there are stories of Semie using "whatever he could get hold of at the time" and because of this, some guitars are very hard to identify or confirm as original. Using the previous tables together with this section should hopefully help you get at least close.Knobs.Mosrite used many different types of knobs although the most common and recognizable are the "top hat" knobs with M in the top. I'll start with the late 50's models since this is when a certain consistency (although very scattered) came in.Joe Maphis model (Ventures shape) used clear plastic Guild knobs with the "G" scratched off. These knobs appear on most of the early Bakersfield guitars and some very early Ventures models.Some early Joe Maphis and early Ventures production models had black plastic Guild knobs with the "G" scratched off. They are black with silver tops with a serrated edge and numbers 1 - 9 with either volume or tone written on them. Next came the "spun" knobs. These were metal (chrome or nickel plated brass) with two machined grooves in the side for grip. They matched the grooves in the strap buttons and switch tips. These ran from very late '63 through to early '65. Earliest versions in early '64 had no dot marker. Later versions had a small "dot" drilled into the skirt.Then the famous M top hat knob. Numbered 1 - 5 with V or T and a big M embossed on the top. These replaced the spun knob as an instant product identification and were used from late '65 to late '66. They were chrome plated brass.In late '66 the previous M knob was changed to a knob that looks very similar but is significantly higher. These were marked 0-5 which meant they could be used in V or T position. These ran through the '70's and 80's until production ceased in the '90's.Some early '70's Mosrites have turned up with black plastic knobs the same as the early Mosrite Award amps used. This was probably due to financial problems and low stock levels. Some Brassrails and 300/350 models have also had "generic" plastic knobs available at electronics stores. The bottom line is, don't change them if you're not sure, they might be original.
Early Joe Maphis single necks have pot dates of 20-61 but these pots weren't used until later. The pots in Joe Maphis serial number 0002 (first owned by Gene Moles) are dated 17-63 and a large proportion of the pots in the first Ventures models are dated 31-63 and 47-63 and the most common 49-63 which ran well into the serial number 200's made in August '64.
In 1965 the vibrato unit was changed to the Moseley unit. Essentially the same unit, it now has Moseley written behind the tailpiece (where the strings anchor) instead of Vibramute. These were diecast alloy and chrome plated. In late '66 the Moseley vibrato got a patent number (3,237,502) added to the back near the Moseley. 2 springs (light and heavy) came with the guitar from new.
Celebrity bodies were laminated maple tops Some Celebrity Is have a spruce top), backs and sides made by Hofner (also made as a Hofner 4572 (also sold as a Carvin in the US), Ovation Tornado circa '67 to early 70's and Kapa model 506 circa late 60's) in Germany. Bodies were shipped in parts (top, sides and back) or complete in several different side depths and binding appointments. These parts were assembled and painted at Mosrite depending on what model/version was being made. All Celebrity guitars and basses had necks made by Mosrite with different binding and headstock shape options depending on the model. Bolt on necks were 2 screws for the mortise and tenon joint and 4 screws for the standard rectangular version. Early versions have a larger hand bound F hole with later smaller F hole versions having a 1 piece "plug in" binding. Gospel guitars used the same body as the Celebrity I. Early hollow bodies had a smaller orange label with "Style" and "Serial number" positions with typed in details. Later labels were slightly bigger with the same details and thicker black border. Labels were hand cut oval shape and glued into the top F hole or sound hole on acoustics.
Headstocks, like bodies, varied in shape and thickness slightly over the years but all "generally" had the 3 a side "narrow Ric" shape with an "M" cut into the end. Early "pre Bakersfield" headstocks were mainly 6 a side with 2 x sets of 3 a side tuners with a gap between the D and G strings. By '64 Mosrite headstocks were pretty consistent with either a flat (on cheaper models) or slightly angled back headstock tapering off in thickness with either an angled or flat "M" cut into the end with 3 a side tuners. Some special or custom guitars had unique shapes. Mosrite always screen printed their logos on and logos changed in size and design over the years. The original Ventures model had large logos with a very blocky typeface. In mid '64 this changed to similar size but much finer typeface and in late 64 (around serial #730) it changed again to smaller logos. The Ventures logo was made smaller in mid '65. Headstock logos throughout the 70's-90's changed in size and typeface many times. There are claims Mosrite used decals in certain years/circumstances but this is not true. Mosrite water-slide decals (like most brands) have been available online for some time but were never used by Mosrite.
Original production left handed guitars are RARE. There are at least 4 left handed Ventures models and an early Joe Maphis (hollow body) from the mid 60's made at the factory using right handed vibratos and a Ventures with a aluminium/timber hardtail..You can usually tell a "real" Mosrite by it's hardware and feel. They had necks like no other guitar. The hardware was mostly made in house, even on real custom work, so not many other manufacturers have Mosrite hardware on their guitars (Hallmark, Epcor etc), although some have turned up with parts from the auction in '69. There are several ex Mosrite employees who still have NOS parts and have built Mosrites for people since the end of the company. Gene Moles, who was a local player and repair man (Doctor of Guitars) who had worked at Mosrite made quite a few "Mosrites" out of parts from the late 60's well into the 80's. Most had his name or "gm Custom" on the headstock but a few had the original Mosrite logos intact with gm Custom on the back of the headstock. Bill Gruggett followed a similar path and made custom guitars with leftover Mosrite parts with (mostly) wooden pickup covers in both Mosrite and custom original designs with Mosrite logos or Gruggett names on the headstock including several Brassrails. Customs varied from Standard shapes with custom paint or hardware to wild and crazy shapes like no other guitar. Semie made many one-offs for friends and gospel players over the years and they are still turning up from time to time. Semie made many Ventures models during the 80's and early 90's that are essentially exact copies of the originals and some have corresponding serial numbers, which confuses things somewhat. Semie was also "famous" for completely re-doing a Mosrite sent back to him for the smallest of repairs. Some early Mosrites were retrofitted with the latest hardware and even refinished before being sent back to the owner, usually without their knowledge (until opening the hardcase) as Semie considered this "good customer service" to update and restore an old guitar to current specs. He also made guitars for Johnny Ramone and a bass for Dee Dee in '88 and a handful of official Ramones models as well as a bass for CJ Ramone in pearl white.
During the 80's (mainly) Semie would pay off debts to investors by paying them in finished or unfinished guitars and/or parts. Over the years these guitars and parts have come up for sale with a huge lot of parts coming out in Canada in the mid 2000's. These were mostly unfinished and even production damaged or seconds bodies and necks, some of which were unusable. There was also lots of unfinished hardware and some of these assortments have been built into "Mosrites" over the years and unscrupulous, or unknowing sellers have tried to pass them off as real. Most of the nearly finished necks and bodies had C93 stamped into them. If you find something that feels like a Mosrite and has Mosrite hardware, it could be a VERY rare piece indeed. Contact someone who knows and find out more.Mosrite copies.Many companies (including my own) have made Mosrite copies over the years. This is probably due to their appeal and relatively small production numbers. If you have read the previous pages and are still not sure here's a couple of points to help you maybe decide if your Mosrite is in fact a copy. Of course, this section could be a whole site on it's own but this might help, or just make things more confusing?
Over the next 40+ years Fillmore and Kurokumo will claim and counterclaim ownership of rights and names to manufacture Mosrites with both companies essentially making accurate some good quality Mosrite copies. After years of legal action by the Moseley family and these Japanese companies as to who owns the rights to make Mosrites, as far as many are concerned, you could not buy a "real" Mosrite after 1994. In 1998 Fillmore applied for the trademarks in the US which had recently lapsed. In 2009 Loretta Moseley tried to claim the rights back (against Fillmore and Ed Roman for illegally using/importing the Mosrite names in the US) but the case was dismissed in 2010. Moseley family members have been involved in trademark rights with some claiming to once again make "genuine USA Mosrites" which for the most part have been made in Japan Fillmore guitars with pickups made by a Moseley family member fitted in the US. Both Kurokumo (dark cloud/Mosrite Japan) and Fillmore have made some very good and faithful reproductions of a Mosrite. I've owned MANY and some of them are really (I mean really) nice. Fillmore still operates under the mosrite.co.jp site and claims to own many of the Mosrite names. There is a company in Kyoto, Japan called the Mosrite Custom Shop currently making "official Mosrites" with Semie Moseley on the headstock where the Ventures logo was but it's unclear who this is and what rights, if any, they have although they appear to work (have worked?) with Dana Moseley (Mosrite Dana-Mo pickups). They sell online (www.mosrite.jp and mosrite.net) or through the Mosrite Shop in Tokyo which opened in 2015. The Mosrite cafe (mosritecafe.com) is also run by the same people.