No, this is not a history of Joe Maphis, Don Rich, Buck Owens, Roy Nichols, Merle Haggard, and the other pickers who created the Bakersfield Sound. Rather, it’s the tale of the luthiers centered around the San Joaquin Valley city – builders who crafted some of the funkiest, most idiosyncratic – and, yes coolest – American guitars.
As a VG contributor, author Willie G. Moseley doesn’t need introduction, but many of the guitars here will – and that, too, is cool news. There are the known-but-little-documented, such as Semie Moseley’s Mosrite brand and the threads to its obscure history. Then there’s Joe Hall’s output – Sterling, Encor, Epcor, and ultimately, the Hallmark brands – as well as Bob Shade’s spinoff Gospel line. And there’s Bill Gruggett’s eponymous guitars, plus three – count ’em! – different Standel makers, Acoustic, Mosrite-Dobro, GM Custom, Osborne, and last but hardly least, Walt Smith’s far-out Mel-O-Bar.
The author includes hundreds of historical pictures, catalogs, studio shots of rarities, and basses, too! If you’re a fan of the weird, wonderful world of vintage American guitars, this book fills yet another niche – and does it with style worthy of such funky instruments.
This article originally appeared in VG’s March 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.