Hillman Guitar No. 14
Mosrite Electric Mark XII 12-String

In the middle of a trading binge in the '80s I worked out a swap with local guitarist Doug Strange.  I traded a Randall bass amp for a guitar which had fascinated me since my "Ventures days." Most by-ear guitar players who were trying to learn their craft in the early ‘60s were fans of this instrumental quartet. During my Brandon University years, starting in 1961, my noon hours were spent performing a live daily show on CKX-TV, my afternoons were spent at the Strand Theater catching the matinee and my evenings were devoted to jamming and rehearsing with one of the 3 or 4 bands I was playing with at that time . . . the grades were not great.

One of the bands I worked with was managed by the owner of the Brandon Roller Rink who used to bring in some of the top artists of the day. This was a good excuse to catch and rub shoulders with every act he brought in: Conway Twitty with Al Bruno on guitar,  Elvis’s Memphis buddies Johnny and Dorsey Burnette,  Chad Allan and the Reflections with Randy Bachman on guitar, the Fireballs . . . and the Ventures. One of my hobbies at that time was to collect behind-the-scenes anecdotes . . . and guitar picks from the performers . . . but the main reason for attending was to drool over the guitar licks displayed by the full-time professional lead guitar players.

Meeting these California guitar greats and actually seeing them in action was one of the highlights of these early years. When I saw the Ventures in the early '60s they played Fenders. They had mentioned that the reason their Fender instruments weren't all featured on their first album cover - Walk Don't Run - was that they were touring when the photo was taken and the photo actually featured model stand-ins. A few years later, during their boom years, as part of an endorsement deal, they played Mosrite guitars exclusively. The unique shape of the Mosrite supposedly came about when the designers traced the outline of a turned-over Stratocaster.

One of the previous owners of the the Mosrite I took possession of had strung the instrument with six strings . . . ordinarily not that unusual a procedure, but this model was actually a 12-string guitar. As with all Mosrites, the neck is incredibly thin and easy to play -- and the instrument has quite a distinctive sound. It has an alder body, featuring the "German carve" perfected by Mosrite founder Semie Moseley. The thin maple neck is topped with a 24.5" scale rosewood fretboard and Klusons tuners.

Read more: http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2011/Oct/1966_Mosrite_Mark_XII.aspx#ixzz29iotAtjT
It has an honoured place on my guitar wall.

Gleaned from the Web
Harmony-Central Website: Fan Reviews

* A 22 fret maple neck with bound rosewood fingerboard and the smallest frets known to modern man.
* They used small size frets and then milled them down super low for extremely fast action.
* The body is the familiar flipped over Strat design with German carved top.
* The body is, I believe a light alder or basswood.
* Tuners are Kluson 3 x 3 with the Fender style slot on top which is the best kind of tuner  IMHO.
* Pickups are Mosley single coils which look like shorter fatter P-90s but these babys are HOT!
* Front measures 10.75 ohms, rear 11.33. Here is where the unique clean yet gritty Ventures sound comes from.
* Ventures Mosrites have a great sound, period, the end. I don't care which one you plug into the sound is there.
* The middle switch position is especially fine. By fooling with the tone pot and picking position a full pallate of
 sounds is easy to find.
* The guitar leans towards the bright side but a nice Gibson-like woody neck
 tone is also possible.
* Mosrites were virtually hand made since they were always a small outfit.
* This axe is 33 years old with less than caring owners over the years and it's still kicking up
 * But these guitars require very little maintainance.
* The Ventures Mosrite Mark I is one of my very favorites along with the 59 Gretsch 6120,
 LP Junior and Custom and the reverse Firebird V.
* The Mosrites play like butter - Listen to any vintage Ventures recording, Nokie Edwards was bending, hammering, pulling off like crazy!
* The vibrato is one of the most sensitive I've ever played and nearly alway comes back in tune unless you really go wild with it. * A great looking, unusual, and top sounding and playing guitar.

* Adjustable pick-ups. Locking tuners. Kluson keys. Mosrite pick-ups. Skinny  neck
* It has a small buzz close to the amp or with volume loud.
* I like the bright sound and action  but I can make the sound mellow with the three way switch or the tone knob.
*  It is a well made, solid guitar. Feels like it was made to be played hard and long.
* The finish is almost too thick which has led to checking
* The strap buttons are screwed into the body very solid.
* It has a three way selector switch, 1 volume, 1 tone control and a mono imput jack.
* The body is the standard upside down "strat" shape but with no binding.
* The neck is short scale.
* It has original Kluson tuners with white buttons.
* It has  low frets and the neck plays like a dream for a short scale. It came with a hardshell case.
* This guitar sounds great! The pickups are very strong and punchy.
* There is no way to acurately describe the tone on these babies cause there's nothing else like them!
* The only problem is the shortscale neck makes it imposible to play the upper frets so I can only use it on bass string songs or as a rythym guitar.
* This guitar is built to last - it's solid as a rock.
* The finish on the neck hasn't even faded yet and the and the electronics hardly hum when standing close too the amp.
* I wouldn't feel safe gigging without a backup because the guitar guzzles strings like mad.
*  These guitars are fantastic for a number of styles. They handle surf, blues, British invasion, and country wonderfully.
* It's more of a rhythm guitar a than lead guitar (A lot like a Ric 325) but with an unmistakable sound.

* Fretboard is rosewood. This guitar more or less has no frets, making any movement on the neck absolutely smooth.
* You can tell that this guitar was built by people who care. The weight, look, and feel are incomparable.
 * I use this guitar for everything. Yes, it is a bit hard to do bending on the neck, because the damn frets are so close and short, but for the most part, that is not a problem.
* This guitar is absolutely necessary for any kind of surf
* The major selling point of this guitar is its sound, a kind of airy dry sound that is unique to "cheap" guitars of the sixties, the sound that all good guitarists love.
* Just plain raunchy under distortion (Fuzzrite, of course), and amazing when coupled with a nice reverb tank (Fender, once again-- no Venture would use anything else, right?).
* The tremolo arm is absolutely without peer-- not as extreme as a Fender, but with a real personal touch that cannot be duplicated by anything else but a Gretsch or vintage Gibson Bigsby; the tremolo is so easy and rich-sounding that if you have any need for it, it will make you think twice about buying anything else, ever.
This guitar sounds tons better, than a Jazzmaster and is so easy to play, it should be a sin. No guitar can
 compare to this one.
* The action is amazing, just playing once on a Mosrite is a religious experience. This guitar looks beautiful, slung around your waist or sitting in a corner, it is instantly recognizable.
* Somehow this guitar fits me like a glove, no matter how low I set the strap.
* The pickgaurd is white 3 ply that has aged to a lovely green like Fenders of that era.
* The action is lower than on any guitar I've ever played (and still be quite useable)
* The guitar came with an "alligator" case.
 * The bridge pickup is really bright. I love the way the tone control actually does something on this guitar.
* I own about 15 guitars, this sounds as good as any of them.
* This neck is as thin as any new Ibanez, pretty amazing for 1967.
* The finish is great, old Mosrite ads claim they use 12 coats of hand applied laquer, and I can believe it
 * Getting info on Mosrites, since Semi died, is pretty non-existent. The only help I got was from  some Japanese Ventures fan sites.
 * This guitar was love at first strum. Its kinda like owining a cheap Ferrari, its still a Ferrari.

* The Ventures model was built in the North Carolina Mosrite Factory.
* This guitar has a really full sound, making it a great rhythm instrument (ask Johnny Ramone!). But it was designed for a music group which was keyed on melodic solos (the Ventures) and does play well with a little practice
* It has huge tonal variety, even though it only has two knobs. The reason is that these knobs actually change the sound considerably with each turn, not like other guitars with 20 knobs that do next to nothing.
* Semie Moseley was known far and wide for his guitar painting.
* This is a great guitar- a keeper as they say. Its rather unusual in shape, mechanics and playability, but NOT debilitatingly so. The guitar has a charm. You don't have to fight it like a strat.
* The shape is completely ergonomic, and I'd like to see other companies use it in the future.
* 22 frets on a rosewood fingerboard. Very thin bound neck. Frets are very low and called "speed frets" similar to gibson "fretless wonders." This makes it virtually impossible to bend strings, hammer on and pull off, or vibrato, so you
 have to pick just about every note. This is what is bad about this guitar.
 * The sound of this guitar is best suited to clean 60's California surf and pop music, but sounds good for jazz as well. Due to the unique pickups and their placement, the guitar has a distinct sound which is warm, yet with a trebley twang to it. Not much sustain due to the low frets.
*  Definitely not a guitar for displaying awesome technique on. I do not enjoy playing this guitar from a technical standpoint because you physically can't play lots of things on it due to the low frets, and a refret with larger frets would kill its value.

The body shape that is most often known as the "Ventures-style" body was developed around 1961 or 1962 when Bob Crooks of Standel wanted Semie Moseley to build some Standel guitars for him.  He suggested to Semie that he take the shape of a Fender Stratocaster, flip it over and trace it. Semie supposedly did just that and the famous shape that we know was born.

Around 1961 or 1962, the "Mosrite Joe Maphis Model" single-neck and double-neck guitars made their debut.  Joe Maphis, the famous country picker, was promised his own signature model guitar, and these guitars were the "Joe Maphis Model" guitar. Above is a flyer that promotes this early model. Note the examples in this flyer have wood pickup covers.

Nokie Edwards, guitarist for  The Ventures, played a Joe Maphis-style model that belonged to Gene Moles, a buddy of his in Bakersfield. Nokie borrowed the guitar and the group liked the design and how it sounded. The group had been wanting to market a signature guitar and bass of their own, and they decided to ask Semie Moseley if this guitar could be the Ventures model guitar.

Semie Moseley jumped at the chance to have a hit rock and roll group endorsing his guitars. The group had capital to infuse the company with, and so for the time being Joe Maphis's  signature model was put on hold.  The "Joe Maphis model" guitar became "The Ventures" model guitar. The first few guitars shipped in late 1963. They were exactly the same as the Joe Maphis guitar, but the headstock now said "The Ventures."

Mosrite Forum

A day with Semie Moseley "Mosrite" on YouTube
Nokie Edwards playing Mosrite Forever in Japan in 1991
Dana Moseley and Mosrite Guitar

Click for larger image


PART I: Albums in the Hillman Collection

Go to our Hillman Song List Site to
View Many Ventures Videos on YouTube

To see the second part of our Ventures Cover Reference Gallery,
complete with links to all the audio files featured at the
incredible Go With Ventures site:
Ventures Cover Reference Gallery Part II

Covers Continued at:
Ventures Cover Reference Gallery Part II

Ventures at Wikipedia
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees 2008
Nokie Edwards Official USA Fan Club
Official Ventures Fan Club in Japan
Mosrite Guitars and the Ventures: Japanese Site
Mosrite Info at the Tym Guitars Site

45th ANNIVERSARY (7 Parts)
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Hillman Guitars
Mosrite 12-String
Meet the Ventures
On and Off Stage
Ventures Albums
Cover Gallery
Ventures On YouTube
Live Performances

Hillman Guitar Contents Page

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