Here's my Brass Rail

sumlin
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Here's my Brass Rail

Postby sumlin » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:38 am

Hi all

Long time lurker, recent forum member and now Mosrite owner as of this morning. Thought I would share some photos of my Brass Rail with you. I got this from a guy in Arkansas, I think he's been trying to sell it for a while at various prices and he agreed a sale with me, pulled out, we renegotiated and I ended up getting it. Total price including shipping and customs duty in the UK was under half what the last one sold for on EBay and I bought it to play and play lots so all is well.
I spoke to Adam Expat about this when it first popped up. He pointed out some weird aspects to it and I've photographed them in detail as they're pretty intriguing. Anyway, here goes...(the pics should link to Flickr if you want to see them bigger)

Image
Case by Sumlin, on Flickr

Image
Mosrite Brass Rail by Sumlin, on Flickr

You can see the first anomaly in these pics - the pickguard/guards. I've seen them with one huge tortoiseshell guard, I've seen them with controls mounted to the body, I've seen them with brass guards but never this arrangement or this wiring arrangement. You can see from the pic that the lower guard fits round the bridge nicely but doesn't quite snuggle up to the upper guard right so there's a little gap.

Image
Mosrite Brass Rail by Sumlin, on Flickr

It's routed back and front as well

Image
Back Route by Sumlin, on Flickr

The back route looks original, if only because it's reasonably neat and it was done before the guitar was finished. I noticed that the circular cover plate only fits it's screw holes in one position too which is pretty funny...

Image
Routing by Sumlin, on Flickr

The front route has something of the Stevie Wonder Routing Company about it. It was done after the guitar was finished as you can see and it is wild! I took the plate off to date the pots but the pots have so much oxidisation-type powdery funk on them that I can't date them. Next plan is to have it all cleaned up so I should be able to date them then. Something tells me they're not going to be from 1976...

Image
Rear Of Pickguard by Sumlin, on Flickr

The top scratchplate has "43" underneath it in Sharpie and some of the paint finish has stuck to it and so I'm inclined to think it's original to the guitar (which is number 43). I wonder if it started life with just the one pickguard and some kind of crazy wiring system that eventually made it's owner go a bit The Shining and attack it with a router and convert it to a more simple set up? The weird thing is the pickguards look like they're from identical material: thickness, colour etc. Could it have been a factory modification for someone? Or was it made and routed for custom wiring, never finished and then finished years down the line with a more simple wiring option? You tell me...

Under the pickguard we've got this:

Image
Construction by Sumlin, on Flickr

Which looks consistent to me with other Brass Rails though it's weird the little central block has been sprayed too. I haven't taken the pickups out yet to check construction but it looks like a set neck from the outside (or some sort of combo of set and screwed). There is a hefty ding out of the playing side of the neck join:

Image
Neck Join by Sumlin, on Flickr

It's been touched up with a Sharpie. It doesn't look like a stress crack or damage to the join but more like something has happened with a tool maybe. It doesn't extend past the side either and the rest of the neck joint looks and feels solid.

Image
43 by Sumlin, on Flickr

Number 43. It has a lot of 'peeling' of whatever it is that covers the top of the brass rail but the neck itself is in lovely shape. I don't think it's been played for a while as the frets have some tarnishing so that's the first job for me. What surprised me is the girth of the neck - it's a beast! Even with old strings and dirty frets it plays sweetly though.

Image
The New Mosrite by Sumlin, on Flickr

Headstock - on the pics the seller sent me it looked like it had a plastic nut installed but nope, it's a brass one.

Image
Pickups by Sumlin, on Flickr

Pickups and bridge - bridge is pretty high and leaning forward a bit but it plays great.

So there we go...

Any thoughts/revelations welcome. Unless they're "I had this guitar stolen!" of course....

Chris
Brass Rail #43
Acoustic Black Widow #BC1092
MkV #B735
Univox Hi Fliers, Tele Deluxes, Harmony Bobkats

kgruggett
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Re: Here's my Brass Rail

Postby kgruggett » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:19 am

Wow, cool find. I wish my dad was around to help you on this one, but I believe Adam will be your expert here.
Kathy

elisha wiesner
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Re: Here's my Brass Rail

Postby elisha wiesner » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:34 am

Chris,

Absolutely beautiful guitar!

A couple quick thoughts after looking at the photos. My guess is that everything was done at the factory. Possibly the top routing and second smaller pickguard were done slightly later to add additional electronics that were then forgone for the simple setup it has now. I say this because the pickguard material seems correct for a Brass Rail but the smaller guard seems to have different size screws than the bigger guard. Like possibly the guitar was sold with fancy electronics and the owner brought it back and asked for just volume, tone and a switch and a new small guard was made out of the same material. A typical "Partsrite" or guitar put together later by Gene Moles or Bill Gruggett or whomever would have some after market parts, like a different bridge, knobs, switch tip or pickups or something and this seems to be all Mosrite parts. My guess is the pots will date to c.1976.

Anyhow, total score! I was playing a Gruggett brass rail (#48) last night and was loving it.

sumlin
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Re: Here's my Brass Rail

Postby sumlin » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:15 am

That's my thoughts Elisha - the pickguards are identical material in terms of thickness and colour/pattern but like you said the screws are different. The screws on the lower front guard are the same as the ones on the back plate too.

The other thing I just noticed is the zero fret has a thin plastic veneer over it and it's brass underneath. I guess it was raised at some point to get a bit more down force on the first fret.

It's tempting to get a brass lower guard made for it with some more switching options in line with other Brass Rails but I am guessing machining brass isn't going to be cheap. Will keep you posted with anything else I find out when taking it apart to set it up.

And Kathy - I wish your Dad was around too, pleasure to meet you...
Brass Rail #43
Acoustic Black Widow #BC1092
MkV #B735
Univox Hi Fliers, Tele Deluxes, Harmony Bobkats

kgruggett
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Re: Here's my Brass Rail

Postby kgruggett » Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:28 am

Welcome to the forum---Elisha, keep on playing that brass rail!
Kathy

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101Volts
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Re: Here's my Brass Rail

Postby 101Volts » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:19 am

I wonder if the guitar was originally going to be a Brass Rail Deluxe model.

That shim between the zero fret and strings may be to prevent wear on the zero fret.

Austin
1966 Ventures II (German Carved, B670.)
1970s "Not a Blues Bender" Bodies: 2.
1976 Brass Rail Deluxe #10.
2013 Fender Pawn Shop Bass VI.

sumlin
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Re: Here's my Brass Rail

Postby sumlin » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:48 am

What are the differences between a Deluxe and a regular Brass Rail?
Brass Rail #43
Acoustic Black Widow #BC1092
MkV #B735
Univox Hi Fliers, Tele Deluxes, Harmony Bobkats

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BRRanger
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Re: Here's my Brass Rail

Postby BRRanger » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:41 am

Sounds very confusing Sumlin...perhaps you should just send the Brass Rail to me to try to figure out! Lol!

sumlin
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Re: Here's my Brass Rail

Postby sumlin » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:03 pm

It's in the mail - just let me know when you figure it out!
Brass Rail #43
Acoustic Black Widow #BC1092
MkV #B735
Univox Hi Fliers, Tele Deluxes, Harmony Bobkats

sumlin
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Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:38 am
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Re: Here's my Brass Rail

Postby sumlin » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:11 pm

Couple of observations as well from the first week of ownership:

darn that neck is big. It's daunting. But once I kind of forget about it it's so fast to play it's weird. I guess it's the frets but it's very easy to play even with the girth. I'm used to my Univoxes and they have the tiniest necks but the Brass Rail plays as swiftly.

The unplugged sustain is really peculiar. I have owned several Travis Bean and Kramer guitars over the years and there are similarities but a Travis Bean feels like a precision tool and it feels like it wants to have staccato riffs played on it. Could just be me associating the Bean with bands like the Jesus Lizard but all the Beans I owned really made me play quite sharply, bashing a chord and cutting it off and marvelling at the bell-like clarity and impact of it. The Brass Rail is strange in that it has that bell like tone and playing chords with open strings in them gives this lovely piano-like sustain but my hands seem to gravitate towards playing really plucked-out harp kind of stuff on it. Neil Young songs sound incredible on it.

Just waffling so excuse me...
Brass Rail #43
Acoustic Black Widow #BC1092
MkV #B735
Univox Hi Fliers, Tele Deluxes, Harmony Bobkats


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