Tell me about Mosrite guitar pickups

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Leonc, Apr 23, 2005.

  1. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    I've had this ancient Mosrite pickup for probably 28/29 years, but I've never had it in a guitar. It measures 10.57k :)eek) on my meter so I'm guessing it's okay, though the magnetic pull seems pretty weak.

    [​IMG]

    I can't say I remember what Mosrites sound like. I remember someone in the MC5 using them (pretty sure it was Fred, yes??) but...man can't really recall the sound.

    Can you point out any recordings or do you have any insights into these pickups? Are they microphonic, for example? Were they typically this hot (10.6k is hotter than anything I own)? Is there anything that they're sorta comparable to?

    Checking EBay...old Mosrites seem to fetch a pretty penny...
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
  2. eric102673

    eric102673 Member

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    I don't know much of anything bout Mosrites first hand, but with a pickup reading that hot, I bet it'd be pretty interesting in a Thorn Mos-Jr. ;)

    -e.
     
  3. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Now there's a guy who knows how my little brain works. :cool:
     
  4. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    If I recall correctly, both guitarists for the B-52's the departed Mr. Wilson, and Keith Strickland recorded with Mosrite guitars. Wilson had a thing going where he used only four strings or something. Somebody help me out here, but an any rate, right or wrong, I've always considered the 'five-two's to have great tone, and assumed it was Mosrite.

    Check the string spacing, it might be unique. The Mosrites I've played, oldys anyway, have toothpick necks.
     
  5. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey Mark! yeah, super skinny necks from what I remember and they had that 0 fret too.

    Yeah - Johnny Ramone...forgot that he used them. Friggin great rock n roll sound for sure.
     
  6. Fingers

    Fingers Member

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    At one point in '65 my whole band had Mosrites (I still have the bass player's old bass). The guitar pickups were very intense & electric-sounding, but the pickups were inconsistent in their power output -- some were twice as loud as others. The high-output ones were the first pickups I knew of to sound like they were overdriving the amp, which was of course a fabulous new development in my book.

    You can get a good feel for their tone from Ventures Live In Japan, if that's still available.
     
  7. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Back around 1981 I bought a Mosrite following up an old lead I had from working at a musical instrument store in A2/Ypsi.I was and still am a complete Fred Smith freak...never saw the MC5 though I had all their records including the great High Time as a kid in MD...but by the time I was discovering Sonic's Rendezvous Band in and around Ann Arbor,Sonic Smith had grown into a proverbial motherf*cker amd was regularly blowing my mind.Usually he played the Rick 450-12 strung as a 6 with the replacement humbuckers.In the latter period of SRB Fred would occasionally trot out a Mosrite,usually for the more experimental tunes sometimes with Patti on stage with the band.There was one tune,I think called New Techniques,where he did an incredible controlled feedback solo with the Mosrite creating tones that somehow evoked the movement of the oceans or perhaps galaxies crisscrossing the universe.Anyway,inspired by some of these displays I was wanting a Mosrite.

    I'm tempted to call the Mosrite the biggest piece of junk I've ever owned.A bit of huperbole perhaps...but horrible unsuited for the strings I favored at the time,Gibson 340L with a .019 wound third.Mosrites have very little fret and the neck just didn't work for me.The body shape was fine,the vibrato fun but the frets were useless.I've played junky Univox copies I thought were better, more playable guitars.The tone of the guitar was ok,kind of brash/in your face or well defined but not harsh.I don't think the pickups are super hot by today's standards and one reason they don't have a lot of string pull,compared to strat pickups,might be that the pole pieces aren't the magnets like with strats.By the way,while Johnny Ramone may have copped Sonic Smith's haircut,thick tone,and guitar brand I think his Mosrite was a cheaper model and had different pickups than the pictured type.

    I tried to google up a poster from one of the shows Sonic's Rendezvous BAND played with the Ramones but settled for this big image:

    [​IMG]

    www.sonicsrendezvous.com
    www.scottmorganmusic.com
    www.mc5.org
     
  8. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Supporting Member

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    Johnny Ramone's guitar had changed out pickups.

    I played a ventures model a few years back and was blown away by how good it sounded!
     
  9. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Ian - what was it you liked about it? How would you describe the musical context in which the pickups sounded good?
     
  10. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Supporting Member

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    It was a few years ago and I played it in the shop after a restoration. I recall it having a fender with a p-90 type sound to it. Lots of harmonic complexity like a good p-90 would but with a bit if twang to it.

    The neck was slim with flat frets if I remember right and played great like a guitar with milled flat frets. Very fast.
     
  11. Jim Wagner Pickups

    Jim Wagner Pickups Member

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    Hi Leon,
    I have rewound some of them in the past. The customers certainly seem to like them alot. If I remember right, they were held together on the insides mostly by wax or epoxy. And it they had a weak ceramic mag as well. Very simple construction.......:cool:
     
  12. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey Jimbo! Yeah, the back side of the thing looks really unprofessional, gooped and yucked up inside. I have a vague recollection that I got this pickup--think it was from a repair man in a store I used to teach in--I took him up on the offer becuase I think I had heard one of these recently (at the time) and was knocked out.

    I know I saw the MC5 a bunch of times back in the day and sort of recall Fred using a Mosrite. Hell, lived right around the corner from Robin Tyner for a few years when I was in college and saw "the 5" on many ocasions back in the late 60s early 70s...but for some reason, I think that when I heard these pups--and actually knew what they sounded like--it was in like the late 70s/early 80s...anyway, I've had it (and some ancient Burns 'wild dog' pickups) all this time. Really anxious to hear what it sounds like at this piont...
     
  13. King Cheetah

    King Cheetah Member

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    I own and play three Mosrite guitars; a 1967 sunburst 6 string (a very slightly post 'Ventures' model), a 1967 sunburst 12 string hollowbody, and a recent Japanese built (Filmore copy) in pale blue with white pickups.

    All three are very well built. The new one has the thinnest neck, and its pickups have dramatically less out put then the 1967 models, which actually sounds better to me. The original pickups are overwound for my taste - VERY thick sounding and rather dull unless using brand new strings. In general Mosrites have a rather thick yet mellow quality to their natural sound which definitely lends itself to a quality tone for surf, particularly with a nice reverb equipped Fender amp.

    Though they are often linked with the Johnny Ramone tone this is NOT a good guide. Johnny had swapped the pickups out for a Firebird humbucker in the neck position and a strat pickup for the bridge, in addition he once famously announced that once the sound was THAT distorted it didn't matter so much which guitar you are playing. The Ventures recordings give a better idea of what the guitar actually sounds like in a low gain application, otherwise check out Fred 'Sonic' Smith's live rhythm work on the MC5's 'Kick Out the Jams'.

    I play live regularly in a power trio and the Jap. Mosrite is my primary live guitar, through an Ampeg V2 amp and two Ampeg V series 4x12s both re-speakered with Celestion Greenbacks.

    I know that few will agree with me, but I believe that the Mosrite Ventures design is at least equal to Fender's Strat. I think the trem. system is much better, all pickup selections sound richer, the neck and mixed are particularly beautiful. Mine hold tune very well, and they are absolutely gorgeous to look at. Zero frets if properly realized work very well and give you a supremely low action. I play 12 - 52 strings on mine.

    Unfortunately since Mosrites are so rare, unfounded rumours about them are rife.

    I also own and play a Firebird V, a '72RI Telecaster Custom, and a 1971 Ampeg Dan Armstrong. I'm not saying this to brag, it's just to be understood that when I praise the Mosrites it isn't because I don't have anything else good to compare them too.

    My final words: I would NEVER sell any of them, I love 'em!
     
  14. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    If you do a search for Mosrite on ebay as I write this (last day of 2008) there is a guy claiming to be an ex-Moseley co worker selling his current versions of an older Mosrite pickup that is even hotter than the one in the original post.
     
  15. FritzCat

    FritzCat Member

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    I've got some of those pickups (Ed Elliott on ebay), I like them much better than the originals in my japanese Mosrite replica. They measured 12.25 and 12.5k (neck and bridge). They sound excellent for surf!
     

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