The Mosrite name is a combination of the founding brothers last name, Moseley, and their friend/investor’s last name, Boatright. - “Mosrite”
Semie Moseley, the guitar building brother is the star of this show. His credentials include a stint at Rickenbacker learning under luthier Roger Rossmeisl (Rickenbacker and Fender) and apprenticing with Paul Bigsby.
Mosrite of California was created in 1956 but commercial success didn’t come until 1963. Unintentionally, they were a custom builder into the early 60s.
In 1963 fortunes changed by an endorsement from Joe Maphis followed by an exclusive deal and line of guitars with the band, The Ventures. It went as far to include “The Ventures” script on the headstock of a series of guitars known as “Ventures” models.
The romance ended in 1968 after the licensing agreement ended with The Ventures. That was on the heels of a defunct Mosrite branded amplifier and a failed marketing/distribution deal with Thomas Organ Company.
Mosrite filed for bankruptcy in 1969. Though there were many resuscitation attempts and more guitars were made by Semie, the company never fully recovered.
In the Mosrite heyday, soon after The Ventures guitars started to take off, Semie thought it was a good idea to make a hollowbody guitar, likely to compete with Gibson. He began tinkering with a prototype body in 1964 and delivered the Celebrity line-up in 1966 (a handful hit the street in 1965).
Initially the guitar was a 1-⅞” thinline body, and there were two versions, a “deluxe” and a more budget friendly model. Pretty quickly after their introduction Semie came out with a deeper body at 2 ¾” thick.
The official nomenclature has the deep body as the Celebrity I, the “deluxe” thinline as a Celebrity II, and the least expensive Celebrity III thinline.
The only differences I can find between the II and III are more layers of body binding on the II, a bound fretboard, and the Mosrite Vibramute tremolo being a standard feature (more or less).
After the bankruptcy Semie took a sabbatical from the guitar business for a couple of years. When he returned the Celebrities were one of the first guitars he started building and these were revived from 1972-1974.
Just to make things more interesting (and confusing) Mosrite put another hollow guitar into the mix in 1967, the Gospel. While it was the same depth as the Celebrity I, it has separate volume and tone controls for each pickup, and Semie’s Vibramute tremolo. (A few of the earliest examples of the Gospel only had a master volume and tone control.)
Celebrity III Specs: Maple body, Rosewood fretboard, Kluson Deluxe tuners, Zero fret, Super hot Mosrite single coils, 3-way switch, 16” diameter at the lower bout