Semie Moseley (June 13, 1935 – August 7, 1992) was a luthier, and the founder of Mosrite
He 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 in Bakersfield, California. Semie’s mother worked in a dry cleaner’s shop, his father with the Southern Pacific Railroad. In Bakersfield, Moseley started playing guitar in an evangelical group at age 13.Semie and his brother Andy experimented with guitars since teen-age years, refinishing instruments and building new necks.
Joe Maphis's Mosrite double-necked guitar. In 1954 Semie 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, Semie and Andy started their company, Mosrite of California. Semie, who built guitars for the L.A.-based Rickenbacker company, said to his co-workers that he was making his own product, and he was fired by Rickenbacker.
When they began, their production was all custom, handmade guitars, built in garages, tin storage sheds, wherever the Moseleys could put equipment. In 1959, Andy 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 said: "And that’s how we kept the factory going at the time: custom guitars".
He and Andy also got into the recording business by establishing Mosrite Records. They signed Barbara Mandrell, a teenage daughter of Irby Mandrell, an Oceanside, California music-store owner who sold Mosrite guitars. They also signed guitarist Ronny Sessions and others. At the peak of production in 1968, Semie and his brother Andy, 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, even mandolins.
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 pad-locked.
Two years after his bankruptcy, Semie 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.
Six months after moving to Arkansas, Semie Moseley became ill with bone cancer and six weeks later, in August 1992, he died. Semie's daughter, Dana, is also a luthier and continues to build Mosrite guitars. She also helps kick off the monthly "Mosrite Jam" in Bakersfield.