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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Wilson Brothers Venture Guitars

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Has anyone ever played a Wilson Bros VM65 or VM75? They're supposed to be mosrite copies and from what I have read so far, the craftsmanship isn't bad, play pretty well, sound decent and won't wreck your wallet. Of course they're imports but so are a lot of guitars these days.....

Nuthin' goes down better on a hot day then a nice cold girl........St Paulies Girl that is.... get your mind outta the gutter!!

my buddy has a vm 65, its pretty cool but not worth the money. you should check out reverend guitars. www.reverendguitars.com the jetstream 390 is a surf machine so is the charger 290. i love em!

The VM65 and VM75 are both very good values for the money, but, the VM110 for about $100 more is definitely the Wilson Brothers guitar to go for. The P-90's are a Seymour Duncan-designed upgrade over the P-90's on the VM65/VM75. Also, the trem set-up is a modern Jazzmaster arrangment, but with a much better tuneamatic type bridge. Also, the neck feels better, and has a better nut than the VM65/75.

Whichever Wilson Bros. model, they are all about providing exceptional value for the price, and their quality rivals guitars I've paid $1,500+ for.

They're not identical in tone, but pretty darn close to the original Mosrites, and as an active pro surf-guitarist, I can attest that the crowds we play, go ape over the sound of the Mosrite for surf music.

I have one of each, both '04 models and interestingly, with consecutive serial numbers (1404, 1504...the last 2 numbers on the VM65/75 are the year of manufacture).

While I haven't recorded or gigged with either, I actually like the sound of the WB's a lot better than my real '65 Mosrite Ventures model, which has very microphonic and brittle sounding pickups, at least to my ear. The necks on my WB's are sort of Les Paul-ish, a bit on the wide side, very flat and not thick at all. I wish it had a narrower neck like the old Mosrites. The stock pickups on the VM65/75 seem to be single coil P-90 copies, and sound amazingly good to me...crystal clear, bright, and surfy. The Strat-like trem works fine. The volume and tone controls are very linear.

The Wilson Bros. guitars are very nicely built and finished, and both were set up better at delivery than most of the new Fenders I have bought. I think they are an excellent value for the money. I had a Dano Hodad for awhile, and the WB's are far superior guitars, IMO. But don't expect the playability/tonality/ability to stay in tune/ of a good Strat, Jazzmaster, or Jaguar at this price point. The WB's don't stay in tune as well as any of my Fenders, probably because of the cheap tuners (Kluson copies). The Dano was impossible to keep in tune which is why I sold it.

I think the VM110 is definitely worth the additional $100, just because of the Jazzmaster/Jaguar style tremolo. It also has (Seymour?) "Duncan Designed" pickups, whatever that means. If I didn't already have the two older WB's, I'd probably get a VM110 to bang around on. A Candy Apple Red 110 is a beautiful guitar!

Jack
aka WoodyJ
The Mariners (1964-present) http://themarinerssurf.wordpress.com/

The Surge! (2004, 2011-2012)
X-Rays (1997-2004)
HulaHounds (1996-2004)

To each his own, I say - BUT I saw and heard Don Wilson play a top of the line Wilson Bros axe at Asbury Lanes a few months back. The sound was TERRIBLE..pickups weak and Don seemed to be having trouble manuvering around the neck. His fingers tripped on themselves with the opening gliss to "Pipeline" - could not reach the high "B" .
I can't speak to other people's Mosrites but THERE IS NO COMPARISON in sound to a Wilson guitar versus an early-mid 60s Mosrite. The Mosrite has the edgier 'bite' to it . The Wilson axes play a bit better (in line with a 67 and later Mosrite neck, but so do the Fillmore, Aria re-issues (Can't and won't commet on Ed Roman's (So-to-speak) "Mosrites") .. If your Mosrite pups went microphonic, waxing/rewinding is in order. It's happened to me once or twice. Bottom line - IMHO- the wilson guitar is thin soup next to a 60s Mosrite.

Here's an interesting quote from a 1992 interview with Don Wilson that I ran across:

"(The Ventures in Space) album was the first one on which The Ventures played Semie Moseley's Mosrite guitars. The guitars' propensity for distortion gave The Ventures' sound a new edge. Don Wilson later complained to Guitar Player (magazine) that Mosrites 'were just a little too sensitive. You'd crank it up and get distortion'. Nevertheless, it was this oversensitivity that resulted in the fuzzed-out glory of The Ventures' version of The Marketts' 'Out of Limits'. The fans certainly didn't mind".

The Ventures pretty much stopped playing Mosrites after their endorsement deal fell through in '67-68. Probably for several reasons.

On the 2003 "Surfin to Baja" cruise with The Ventures and Los Straitjackets, Don Wilson played an old block inlay sunburst Jazzmaster through an Ampeg head with a 4-12" Mesa Boogie cabinet, I believe. Not exactly a surf amp. Bob Bogle played the high-dollar Aria/WB bass, and Bob Spaulding and a couple of other guys who sat in used the "custom" Aria/WB guitar, not the VM65/75, and Nokie played his HitchHiker guitar. I guess they (aside from Nokie) are playing the WB guitars now since Don's's brother is the marketing guy.

I saw The Ventures live in '66 and '85, and today's version ain't quite the same. But I hope I can still play as effectively when I am in my '70's!

Not to knock Mosrites, as I have a really sweet one that plays great and sounds like a Mosrite is supposed to, but there are lots of other guitars out there that sound equally good...or better. Comparing a $4000+ (today) Mosrite to a $400 WB is apples and oranges anyway.

As I said in another post, one man's holy grail is another man's POS. Cheers

Jack
aka WoodyJ
The Mariners (1964-present) http://themarinerssurf.wordpress.com/

The Surge! (2004, 2011-2012)
X-Rays (1997-2004)
HulaHounds (1996-2004)

As I mentioned in my above post, I'm a pro-level surf/instro guitarist with the band Longboard Ranch. In my 35+ years of playing Ventures-influenced music, I think I've learned a thing or two about how to get the optimum tone from my guitars and amps.

Mosrite fans are welcome to sing the Mosrite's praises - Heck, if you're lucky enough to get a "good" one, some of the original Ventures models are actually quite decent. Unfortunately my original '65 Ventures, purchased 1971 and dumped in 1984, was only memorable for its looks, but it failed to deliver compared with my '64 "L" series Jazzmaster purchased in 1972.

If Don Wilson was having trouble making his sound on a Wilson Bros. VCM guitar, either something was f-ed up in the wiring, like a bad pot or bad cap, or bad solder joint. If, on one of those VCM's he was having "fumbling" problems, making his notes, maybe his 72-year-old fingers aren't quite as dextrous as they used to be, (and believe me, it pains me to make this suggestion, but let's be real).

I own and play a VCM2003, and it is without a doubt one of the most superior electric guitars I've owned or played in over 35 years of playing top-end guitars.

Addendum to my earlier post:

I sold my near mint Pearl White '65 Mosrite Ventures guitar yesterday. Somebody made me an offer I couldn't refuse...as in 3.5 times what I paid for it five years ago.

It reminded me of the old adage about boat ownership: "The happiest two days of a man's life are the day he buys his boat, and the day he sells it".

I still have both my Wilson Bros. Ventures guitars, and they aren't for sale. Very Happy

Jack
aka WoodyJ
The Mariners (1964-present) http://themarinerssurf.wordpress.com/

The Surge! (2004, 2011-2012)
X-Rays (1997-2004)
HulaHounds (1996-2004)

WoodyJ & Wetreverb..
I find it curious that Don Wilson didn't like the original Mosrite but now has a guitar (that his family imports) that looks like a (pale copy of a) Mosrite. The '72 Jazzmaster purchase suggests hands and fingers that may be a bit too large for a mid 60s Mosrite neck. That I can understand.
As for selling a near mint pearl white 60s Mosrite.. thats' all well and good.. but I trust you relaize that you probably will never get another one like it - even at the 3.5 times what you paid. I'm reluctant to part with any of mine.. I know another isn't to be had . and if it is, it's a high $$ item.
Realize ---
Most of the mid 60s Mosrites are GONE!! I still to this day get pounced on by Japanese dealers at Vintage shows if I bring one in to test with an amp I might like. A 60s Mosrite commands respect (and $$$$$$$) in Japan. Another reason for their scarcity here in the US - the Ventures UNLOADED a warehouse full of them (that Semie left them when Mosrite closed shop in '69) on their Japanese tours - just gave them away. Another thing about 60s Mosrites - VERY HARD TO FAKE.. Copy-wise. Can the same be said of 50s-60s Fender guitars?
The boat selling analogy holds in many cases - unless it's a classic.. like a Chris Craft wood bottom from the middle of last century. Sure you can sell it.. but, again, realize you probably won't get another unless you go for the high $$$. - my 3 cents..

Different strokes for different folks, I guess. My Mosrite was a very attractive, well made, easy to play guitar that sounded "good" at best, at least to my ears. Not to say that the WB guitars sound significantly better...they are also "good", but in a different, less strident, surfier way. They look similar, but the tonality is completely different.

Most of us older surf guys - and I'm one of the oldest on here, as I started playing this stuff in 1964 - prefer Fender Jazzmasters or Jaguars strung with flatwounds for the true, old-timey surf sound.

The Ventures were not a "surf band"! Sure, they did some surf tunes, but so did the Go-Go's, The Pixies, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bobby Fuller and several others. I am a huge Ventures fan. I still have 21 of their pre-1969 albums that I bought new. Nokie was the inspiration to me and a lot of other guys to learn to play guitar.

Mosrites were/are coveted and cool because The Ventures played them for about 4 years of their 45+ year career, and the Japanese are very enamored of The Ventures because they toured in Japan so much, and still do. The Ventures were at their creative and performing peak in '64-'66, smack dab in the middle of their Mosrite days. Perhaps that's why it is no accident that the WB guitars look so much like Mosrites.

When I was in high school, there were two things I wanted more than anything else: A Mosrite Ventures guitar, and a '65 Pontiac GTO. Well, in the late 1990's I finally managed to get both, but the reality of either of them didn't quite measure up to the fantasy.

Please don't get the impression that I am knocking Mosrites, because I'm not. They are fine guitars. However, if you took a survey of the first-wavers who bought Mosrites "back in the day", I believe you will find that most of them switched to Fenders because it was a lot easier to get that elusive true surf sound out of a Fender. I enjoyed my Mosrite while I had it, but someone obviously wanted it more than I did. It went to a good home, and at least for now, it is still in the good ol' USA.

Nothing wrong with being a Mosrite Guy! I'm a Fender Guy. If we all liked the same things, it would be a boring world. Very Happy

Jack
aka WoodyJ
The Mariners (1964-present) http://themarinerssurf.wordpress.com/

The Surge! (2004, 2011-2012)
X-Rays (1997-2004)
HulaHounds (1996-2004)

i almost don't even want to reply to this thread, but I will. Mosrites are so overrated. It is their mystic that makes people attracted to them. If you want to play surf and want to spend big money for a guitar, go by yourself a vintage Jag. They are worth every penny if you want to play "surf music".

WaimeaBay
i almost don't even want to reply to this thread, but I will. Mosrites are so overrated. It is their mystic that makes people attracted to them. If you want to play surf and want to spend big money for a guitar, go by yourself a vintage Jag. They are worth every penny if you want to play "surf music".

image

just look at that smile on Semie's mug...

you know you want it!

Wink
-dp

WaimeaBay & WoodyJ,
Every so often I pick up a Jag or Jazzmaster at a Vintage show.. the last one was a black Jag with matching headstock.. it had a reverse bow in the neck and the seller wanted $3700.00 for it. Not from me, thanks..
I've also tried Stratocasters every so often - that middle pickup just gets in my way. The only Fender I can respect is the Telecaster - simple construction, electronics arrangement - easy to adjust and fix (like a Mosrite). But not a surf instrument (Nokie might disagree)
I do guitar work for my son's band.. I cringe when a Strat comes up for simple neck adjustment.. the whole blasted instrument has to come apart!
"In the day", I wanted a '69 Charger and a Ventures Model Mosrite.. I got them..(and some more) and I didn't look back.. they lived up to my expectations. AND I STILL HAVE THEM. They may go in the ground with me. Smile

Hey I don't wanna hate on them, I just think they are a supply and demand type item, that is over inflated. They are rare guitars, so they will cost big bucks, but the big bucks does not mean they are the best guitar around, especially for surf.

If I had millions in the bank I'd pick one up for sure, just because my love of the Ventures. However, I had a friend who spent over 5,000 for a minted out Moss. He did not even know whether to play it or leave it in the case. It sounded really nice clean, but it was not what you expect from a guitar of that price. He just wanted it because it was what the ventures used. He also loved the Ramones. It was like... well if both my heroes used it, then it has to be great. Long Story short, the guitar sits in its case under his bed, he will never sell it, and he rarely plays it.

WaimeaBay
... I had a friend who spent over 5,000 for a minted out Moss. He did not even know whether to play it or leave it in the case. ...

Waimea:

I hear you!...that's the problem with those ding-dang expensive guitars...you spend so much energy worring about how much $$$ they cost, or how irreplaceable they are, that you really can't use them comfortably. All of my guitars and basses eventually end up with an assortment of "beauty marks": dings and nicks from normal use...but, fortunately, I can only afford "affordable" instruments.

It's sort of like those people with the ultra-$$$ cars that they never drive out of the garage...

Wink
-dp

WaimeaBay
Hey I don't wanna hate on them, I just think they are a supply and demand type item, that is over inflated. They are rare guitars, so they will cost big bucks, but the big bucks does not mean they are the best guitar around, especially for surf.

Sure, they have their quirks like low frets, narrow string spacing, etc. As for the price, cheaper (somewhat) copies are available. Bands like The Volcanos, The Hypnotic IV, and The Nebulas have an awesome Mosrite tone that prove Mosrites can surf.

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We all know my feelings on the Mosrite....
(sorry for the re-posting of the pic, but that look pretty much sums it up

image

I case anyone's interested I have a pearl white Mosrite RI for sale in the classifieds

Over many years of playing Instrumental/Surf guitar, I've come to the realization that many players get fixated on certain guitars because of intangible emotional issues. This seems to have been the case with Mosrites, especially the 1960's originals.

Since I've owned and played dozens of original Mosrites, Wilson Bros, and other more direct Mosrite copies/reissues, and based on that experience, I can state, at least for me, as a player, the very best Mosrites I've played, in terms of playability and pleasing, USEABLE tone, were ALL copies or reissues, with the best being Fillmore and Excellent copy Mosrites.

The Wilson Bros. Guitars stand comparison against ANY original Mosrite I've EVER played.

Wetreverb.. I've probably been wanking on these things as long as you have. And I've had my hands on over 3 dozen mid-sixties Mosrites over the years since they came out in the 60s.
Be that as it may .."players get fixated on certain guitars because of intangible emotional issues" - HARDLY!
There hasn't been a guitar that sounds like a 60s Mosrite - before or since.. The Japanese copies and Korean copies (that would be the WB stuff) are what they are..COPIES. Maybe they stand on their own or not.. It's just not "the sound". (Check out the 'Ventures in Space' and 'Onstage' 65.. it's unmistakeably NON Fender) The original sound is the "orange juice".. everything since is just trying to imitate the orange juice taste. And sometimes it comes out like Tang.
I look at Fenders and the copies like Chevy's and trucks - drive nice..good utility. But my view (based on playing experience) of a Mosrite - with the speed frets - i.e no 'speed bumps' for us horizontal players (with small hands & fingers) is a Vintage sports car.. that is hardly what one might call an 'intangible emotional issue" - it's quite a tangible concept to me.
oh yeah.. an added bonus.. I never have to even consider playing some boring blues number trying to get 9 million semi-tones on one fret like these ridiculously tall fretted Fenders and such. .. Ventures model Mosrite - the orginal "No blues played on this axe" guitar! Smile (Use the 'Bluesbender' for that)

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