So here's a blast from the past. Back in the dark ages when I made guitars because everything was hand made I made and offered lots of different options and designs. Most however were heavily Mosrite inspired including actual Mosrite copies.
When I started making guitars I'd never held a real Mosrite, I just knew I wanted one. They were never officially imported into Australia (except for a batch of about 8 new ones in the late 80's) and they were scarce. Bands like Tumbleweed flew the flag and Lenny incorporated Mosrites in their artwork.
Although my guitars weren't particularly expensive for a fully hand made guitar, I wanted to make a series of "cheaper" guitars influenced more by those great Japanese guitars that were heavily influenced by Mosrite. My love of these Guyatones, Teiscos and Tokais (among MANY more) is well known but when you're making everything by hand it is hard to offer a "cheaper' line and still make a quality guitar.
I knew I didn't want to use ply for the bodies, even though some of my favourite guitars use it and I have no problem with good quality laminate being used as a guitar body timber. It's just that a lot of these intermediate level Japanese guitars I loved were solid timber and the ones that influenced this Mosrong series were solid.
Based on a cross between a Tokai Hummingbird and a Guyatone LG-150, the Mosrong 500 was my first attempt at making an entry level hand made guitar. The shape of these two wonders was always mind blowing to me. Like a Manga drawing of a Ventures model with exaggerated horns and curves, I thought they were beautiful.
As most of my guitars were one or two piece Honduran mahogany up to this point I talked out timbers with the old guy who worked at the timber yard. He recommended Durian to me as it was cheap and "kind of like mahogany" but he warned me, it smelt REALLY bad when you work with it. I bought some of this, some Pine and some Meranti. All of these were well dried, available in big pieces and more importantly for this project, cheap.
This Mosrong, which is the prototype, is a two piece Durian body and yes, it did stink to work with. It's a fruit tree and apparently the fruit is a VERY acquired taste as the smell turns most people off. It was easy to work with and did have a mahogany feel to it, although more open grained and lighter.
At this stage I didn't own a Tokai Hummingbird but did own a couple of Guyatones but I really wanted to incorporate that Tokai so I remember photocopying a picture from Tony Bacon's Ultimate Guitar Book (our bible then) and blowing it up to full size using the scale length as an indicator.
With the shape done I glued the Durian and went to work on the neck. This one has a Queensland maple neck with a Jarrah fretboard. This is what I made all my necks of back then. Qld Maple is very mahogany to work with but paler in colour and is still my favourite neck building material ever, including all the traditional guitar building timbers. It's great to work with, looks great and is VERY stable and strong when dried properly. I eventually made over 100 necks using Qld Maple as well as Mahogany, Victorian Ash, Meranti, aluminium, acrylic, rock maple, walnut, Jarrah, and mixtures of some.
The Jarrah fretboards were more out of necessity than anything. Nice rosewood back in the late nineties was hard to source and very expensive in Australia. I had tested pieces of Indian and New Guinea rosewood but wasn't really happy with what I could get my hand on. Jarrah is a native Australian timber and is HARD. It's probably closer to ebony in density and feel and varies from pink to very dark brown. It's a great fretboard timber, and readily available in Australia in good sizes BUT, it needed to be dried and carefully cut and dried again as I discovered after using it for a while. I would buy big pieces and cut and plane them into 6mm strips, write a date on them and then put them away for 6-8 months. When I came back to them about 80% were usable and 20% had curled,warped, twisted or split. But the 80% that were still dead straight were dead straight for life. I still have some blanks here with 03/98 (through to about 2006) written on them. They're probably nice and settled now ....
In trying to keep the cost down these had a simple routed edge "German Carve", nothing like a real carve but more like the Japanese carve on these cheaper end Mosrite inspired guitars. It's a simple, yet effective carve that gives the impression of a German Carve without the labour intensive hand carving, which I was used to by this stage.
The Durian worked well and I made about four guitars with that initial batch but ended up using pine (my personal favourite solid body timber) later on. I made some hollow body Mosrongs too using pine and Masonite (Danelectro style) in a simplified Ventures shape.
Later Mosrong 500's had Meranti necks and Jarrah fretboards as Qld Maple was creeping up in price and I was trying to keep these at an "entry level" price for my friends who wanted "cool guitars" ....
At this stage I was still making my own trussrods, initially, I was threading mild steel rod and then stainless steel which led to me making my own dual acting rods which were very time intensive. Headstocks changed on all the Mosrongs as I thought I should just have fun with it. This one was based on the Aria 1702, which we were huge fans of but they varied from Mosrite inspired to "crazy Japanese" inspired depending on my mood at the time.
The hardware was all standard aftermarket hardware, which was still harder (and more expensive) to track down than it is today. I remember having access to these generic offset vibratos for the first time and thinking it was a revelation. The pickups were originally a Gotoh humbucker (great pickups by the way) in the bridge and a generic ceramic magnet Strat style single coil in the neck. Gotoh Tune-O-Matic bridge and Kluson style tuners.
These didn't have a zero fret like my Wosrites as I had some Jarrah that wasn't quite long enough (the fretboard on a Mosrite/Wosrite runs under the string guide) and I didn't want to waste good Jarrah. The scale length is standard Gibson 24.75" as I had made a bizarre and intricate fret slot cutting machine out of aluminium, acrylic and timber with a circular saw and a blade ground down to the right thickness for fret slots but at this stage only had it set up for Gibson scale, which my Wosrites used even though it was ever so slightly out for real Mosrite scale (24.5")
My good friend and long time Tym guitars supporter Nick bought and still owns this guitar 18 years later and he's played it a lot. I met Nick at a Zeke show where I was there to talk to see the band and talk to Sonny, the guitarist who famously graces the cover of Kicked In the Teeth (one of the greatest punk rock albums of all time) sporting a mid sixties sunburst Ventures model. Nick played in a very Zeke inspired band called the Hymies, who have a 7" on Tym records and used this guitar for many live shows. Coincidentally, Brad, the bass player of the band also has a Mosrong 500 bass (serial #43 from 8/2001) which (I think) he still owns.
This was the prototype Mosrong 500 and I stopped selling prototypes slightly later as i thought I should keep some for myself and have some to show people and use for reference. This one is serial #M0025 and was made 5/2000 and is the serial number directly before the second Wosrite for Nicke Royale (1st was serial #0017 Jan 2000 which he picked up for the Big Day Out).
I made a handful of Mosrongs in various shapes and sizes up to 2006 (serial #0096) with one going to the UK and three to the US. Most were 500's with different hardware with two being "Jr's" with a P-90 and wraparound tailpiece and two (I think) with a single bridge humbucker and T-O-M and stoptail.
These Mosrongs were $600 new (about the price of an Epiphone LP at the time) which was very cheap for a hand made guitar. My Wosrites and Vibratones started at about $1200, which was also very cheap for a fully hand made guitar with custom hand made pickups, vibrato and bridge.As this place took more and more time, I made less and less guitars although I did make some prototypes in 2017 for my 20th anniversary and made the Experi-Mental for Kim Salmon.
Nick has played and modified this guitar over the years and it was nice to see it again and "restore" it back to non original but how Nick wants it condition. It's weird seeing and playing with some of my early stuff (I have a Wosrite here for a service too) especially guitars since I don't really get time to make them any more. It's a fun thing to do. Who knows, maybe one day .....
*extra photos and invoice/hangtag and original tracing template supplied by Nick.