LONG VERSION: Semie Moseley was a much better Gospel musician than he was a businessman and, together with the Reverend Ray Boatright, they founded the Mosrite Guitar Company. Because he so loved Gospel music, Semie thought Gospel musicians should have the best instruments, regardless of their financial status, and so he continued to experiment and research the Luthier's Art, toward that goal. He was so impressed with a Spanish Luthier's design of building guitars with violin joints, instead of the customary form blocks that reinforce the joint of the top, back, and sides, that he decided to build Gospel instruments that way. Sometime in the late 60s, he began a group of 10 instruments, as Gospel prototype instruments. A few were less than a perfect fit so he cut them down and made them into conventional guitars.
Continuing his efforts, he became adept at the method by the time he reached the last two instruments, scrapping or converting to conventional form, all the rest. These last two guitars were finished, one all natural, no color whatsoever, and he gave that instrument to the Reverend Boatright. The other he completed for himself, finishing the neck all natural and the body in transparent blue. He took the "Blue Gospel Guitar" out on Gospel tours, making enough money performing to assist in keeping the Mosrite Guitar Company afloat, once again. This part of the story is a little vague but, Semie either sold or gave away the Blue Gospel guitar and it found its way into a St. Louis County music store, wherein I acquired it in the early 70s.
The only other Gospel prototype was, of course, the natural blonde instrument that was given to Ray Boatright. Sadly, the Reverend was attacked and killed, in front of his church, in Watts, and the blonde Gospel guitar was smashed. The only known Gospel prototype, which survives to this day, is Semie Moseley's Blue Gospel Guitar. This guitar is a thick-bodied acoustic/electric instrument, built to exacting tolerances utilizing violin joints and has none of the traditional form blocks that most hollow body guitars contain. This is not a production instrument. Research has shown that this was hand-built by Luthier Semie Moseley as his own personal instrument which he played while on Gospel Tour. It carries the Mosrite, oval-shaped, orange "Bakersfield" label and has a slightly scalloped headstock, instead of the jagged "M" found on the celebrity and others. It is also much more severely arched, front and back, almost forming a "bell-shape" on the back. This shape is in stark contrast to the shape and form of other Mosrite instruments.
The color is transparent blue, over highly defined woodgrain. The maple neck is all natural, having no color added to the finish. The headstock bears a special "seal" containing the sign of the cross and the words "Gospel Guitar" are positioned on the headstock so as to be easily read by the congregation as the guitar is held in the playing position. The body is a double cut-away, similar to the early Gibson ES-355, but the Gospel is much thicker in the body dimension. It has white knob and pick guards, nickel plated brass hardware, and the body is fully bound, including the "f" holes. The rosewood fingerboard is edgebound but the peghead remains plain maple. Serial Number: GA 009.
The entire story has been extensively researched and most of the details have been authenticated my Semie's brother, Andy, several other family members, and a number of former employees of the Mosrite Guitar Company. The exact value of the instrument is extremely difficult to determine, but appraisals and expert opinions dictate that it be insured for $100,000.00.