Semie Moseley

Semie Moseley (June 13, 1935 – August 7, 1992) was an American luthier and the founder of guitar manufacturer Mosrite.[1]

Semie Moseley
Semie Moseley Image On Vintage 1960s Mosrite Guarantee Guitar Bass Warranty Tag Cropped.jpg
Moseley in the 1960s
BornJune 13, 1935
DiedAugust 7, 1992 (aged 56)
Arkansas, U.S.


Moseley was born in Durant, Oklahoma, in 1935. His family migrated to California along a path similar to many Bakersfield Okies, first moving to Chandler, Arizona, in 1938, and two years later to Bakersfield, California. Moseley's mother worked in a dry cleaner’s shop, his father with the Southern Pacific Railroad.[2]

In Bakersfield, Moseley started playing guitar in an evangelical group at age 13.[3] Moseley and his brother Andy experimented with guitars since teen-age years, refinishing instruments and building new necks.[2]

Joe Maphis's Mosrite double-necked guitar

In 1954, Moseley built a triple-neck guitar in his garage (the longest neck was a standard guitar, the second-longest neck an octave higher, the shortest was an eight-string mandolin). He presented a double-neck to Joe Maphis, a Los Angeles-area TV performer. By 1956, with an investment from Reverend Ray Boatright, a local Los Angeles minister, the brothers started their company, Mosrite of California. Moseley, who built guitars for the Los Angeles-based Rickenbacker company, said to his co-workers that he was making his own product, and he was fired by Rickenbacker.[2]

When they began, their production was all custom, handmade guitars, built in garages, tin storage sheds, wherever the Moseleys could put equipment.[2]

In 1959, Andy Moseley moved to Nashville, Tennessee for a year to popularize the Mosrite name and sold a few to Grand Ole Opry entertainers, people, and to road musicians. Andy Moseley said: "And that’s how we kept the factory going at the time: custom guitars".[2]

The brothers also got into the recording business by establishing Mosrite Records.[3] They signed Barbara Mandrell, a teenage daughter of Irby Mandrell, a music-store owner who sold Mosrite guitars.[2] They also signed guitarist Ronny Sessions and others.[4]

At the peak of production in 1968, Moseley and his brother, with their crew of 107 employees, were making 1,000 Mosrite guitars per month, which included acoustics, standard electrics, double-necks, triple-necks, basses, dobros, and mandolins.[2]

Mosrite of California went bankrupt in late 1968 after they contracted with a competitor to market their guitars. After this, they tried to deal directly with stores, and they sold 280 guitars in 1969 before they came to the shop one day and found their doors padlocked.[2]

Two years after his bankruptcy, Moseley was able to get back the Mosrite name, and in 1970, he started making guitars again in Pumpkin Center near Bakersfield. He moved his factory three times in the next 20 years, to Oklahoma City in the mid-70s, to the township of Jonas Ridge in Burke County, North Carolina in 1981, and to Booneville, Arkansas in 1991.[2]

Six months after moving to Arkansas, Moseley became ill with bone cancer and died six weeks later, in August 1992.[2]

Moseley's daughter Dana is also a luthier and continues to build Mosrite guitars.[5] She also helps kick off the monthly Mosrite Jam in Bakersfield.[6]

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ website
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Price, Robert, ""The Man Behind the Mosrite"". Archived from the original on July 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-12., The Bakersfield Californian. Has biographical notes on Semie Moseley.
  3. ^ a b Thompson, Art, "Mosrite 40th Anniversary", Guitar Player magazine, January 2007.
  4. ^ "Ronnie Sessions", Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
  5. ^ Dana Moseley page - Ed Roman Guitars
  6. ^ Munoz, Matt, "Mos-rite-teous! Lovers of Bakersfield guitar ready to jam" Archived 2011-02-13 at the Wayback Machine,, Wednesday, Feb 17 2010

External linksEdit