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NMM 10862.  Guitar by S. L. Mossman Guitars, Winfield, Kansas, 1977.
Golden Era model (15-3/4″).  Serial number 4662.  Ex coll.: Mark O'Connor.
Tony and Bonnie Vinatieri Family Trust, 2005.

NMM 10862.  Guitar by S. L. Mossman Guitars, Winfield, Kansas, 1977

In the mid-1960s, the folk music boom resulted in an increased demand for acoustic instruments. Stuart Mossman, who had begun making guitars in 1965, expanded his business in order to capitalize on the market demand that he saw for acoustic guitars made to high standards of craftsmanship from excellent materials, while remaining very competitive in price. A flatpicker himself, Mossman concentrated on instruments useful to that style of playing, including high-end dreadnoughts. After a fire in 1975, Mossman had to reassemble a collection of fine tonewoods, but the company’s stock of Brazilian rosewood could not be replaced, resulting in a switch to East Indian rosewood.


NMM 10862, a top-of-the-line Golden Era model, features sumptuous abalone inlay on the body as well as the classic "tree-of-life" inlay on the fretboard. Every worker who helped build the instrument has initialed the label, in the Mossman tradition. The instrument was won in 1977 by Mark O’Connor, the celebrated fiddler and flatpicker, as the National Flatpicking Champion. O’Connor has been well-known in recent years for his own compositions and cross-genre collaborations with other famous artists, such as Yo-Yo Ma and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.

Mark O'Connor holds the Mossman guitar

Mark O'Connor with Mossman guitar


Inscriptions:  Printed on paper label inside abstract foliate border, the serial number written in black ballpoint pen:  S. L. Mossman / Winfield, Kansas / Golden Era / No. 4662 / [twenty sets of initials in black ballpoint pen along outside edge]

Branded on back graft inside oval:  S. L. MOSSMAN / FINE GUITARS

Gold stenciled logo on back of head:  S. L. Mossman

Mossman name on guitar peghead

Inlaid in abalone on head:  M

Engraved on each tuner head:  M

Branded on end block:  77 4662

In raised lettering on each machine head shaft cover:  GROVER

Label Inside Guitar

Maker's label inside Mossman guitar

Click on image above to see larger image


Front, Back, and Side Views

Front of guitar Bass side of guitar Treble side of guitar Back of guitar

Body:  Soundboard:  two-piece spruce: fine grain broadening toward the flanks. Back:  two-piece book-matched East Indian rosewood. Ribs:  two-piece East Indian rosewood. Head:  mahogany veneered with rosewood on front face. Neck:  mahogany.


Front and Back Views of the Guitar Body

Front of guitar body Back of guitar body

Inlay:  Binding:  white celluloid; top trim comprised of abalone surrounded on each side by three-ply, thin black-light-black hardwood purfling strips; back trim comprised of three-ply purfling strips of black-white-black celluloid. Head:  bound in white celluloid; floral abalone inlay with M logo. Rosette:  wide band of abalone surrounded on each side by thin strips of four-ply light and dark hardwood purfling, in turn surrounded on each side with the same material, with natural wood in between. Back stripe:  back stripe comprised black and light chevron pattern with light, red, green, and brown hardwood pieces along center, surrounded on each side with one strip of light hardwood purfling. End graft:  rosewood end graft strip (slightly wider toward top than bottom) surrounded by three-ply, thin light-black-light hardwood purfling on each side.


Fretboard

Fretboard, Soundhole, and Pick Guard

Soundhole

Pick Guard

Trim:  Heel cap:  rosewood. Fingerboard:  ebony; 20 nickel-silver frets; abalone tree-of-life inlay; bound in white celluloid; single black celluloid side dots behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 15th, and 17th frets; double black celluloid side dots behind 12th fret. Nut:  ivory. Bridge:  ebony with curved lower edge; angled, light brown celluloid saddle; white plastic bridge pins with abalone eyes. Tuners:  six gold-plated steel worm-gear machine tuners by Grover with convex head surfaces and enclosed worm gear mechanisms. Pick guard:  imitation tortoise-shell celluloid. Varnish:  clear; matte finish on neck.


Front and Back of Peghead

Front of guitar peghead Back of guitar peghead


Neck Heel, Bridge, and Lower End


Neck Heel
Bridge

Lower end of guitar

Interior:  Linings:  kerfed mahogany. Neck block:  mahogany; chamfered corners; end veneered in rosewood. End block:  mahogany; chamfered corners. Top bracing:  spruce X-brace; transverse and finger braces with steeply tapered ends; rosewood bridge plate. Back braces:  six spruce back braces. Back graft:  spruce.


Lit.:  Robert Shaw, Hand Made Hand Played: The Art & Craft of Contemporary Guitars (New York: Lark Books, 2008), pp. 9 and 148.


Measurements

Total guitar length: 1040 mm (40-3/4″)
Back length:  506 mm (20-3/32″)
Upper bout width:  295 mm (11-1/2″)
Waist width:  268 mm (10-27/32″)
Lower bout width:  406 mm (15-3/4″)
Rib height (including edging) at heel:  96 mm (3-30/32″)
Rib height, at waist:  108 mm (4-13/32″)
Rib height, at end block:  118 mm (4-15/16″)
Head length:  166 mm (6-5/16″)
Head width, top:  83 mm (2-27/32″)
Head width, bottom:  62 mm (2-5/16″)
Neck length (nut to ribs):  364 mm (14-1/8″)
Neck width, nut:  43 mm (1-5/8″)
Neck width, heel:  56 mm (2-1/8″)
Soundhole diameter:  102 mm (4″)
Vibrating string length (nut to bridge edge):  high E:  650 mm (25-5/16″); low E:  653 mm (25-11/32″)

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