Damon shared this story a couple of years ago.
The first time I saw "Bobby" it was in pieces, and even though the electronics were not in it, my friend had it strung up. I fell in love with the thing. Great action with that zero fret, and a super fast neck. Eventually, it ended up in my possession.
It sat for more than a decade. The main holdup was that the guitar was missing one of its pickups. I didn't want to put any old pickup in, it would have ruined the look. Eventually, I went to a local vintage guitar store and was given the name of the foremost Mosrite collector in the US, who lived just a few miles away. He dated it to 1963 and pointed out some of the unique and puzzling features.
Fast forward - after years of research (also enter the internet which helped out tremendously!) and trying to find parts and/or someone who I felt was qualified to do the work. I found another Bob, Bob Shade of Hallmark Guitars. [[Bob was responsible for the restoration of Bobby]]
I joined a Mosrite group to share pictures of this very unique piece of American guitar history. Not long after sharing, a gentleman responded by saying his friend had this guitar stolen from him 50 years ago. It was stolen from the Church where he and Semie Moseley were playing a revival.
The guitar was made for Robert McNinch. The guitar was a gift from Bob's father. He bought it directly from Semie for a discounted price as it was going to be dedicated to praise and worship music. The guitar was built in 1962, not in '63 as I had thought (more on this later) as a burst.
Not long after, Bob joined brothers Semie and Andy Moseley, and (soon to become master builder) Bill Gruggett, as one of the first 4 employees of Mosrite Guitars. While working in the shop, he enlisted the help of Bill Gruggett and completely redid #003. Of the first 3, this was the only one with the binding around the body. Bob used a drill bit to cut out "Bobby" on the pickguard, put tape on the back, then filled it with glitter and filled it with poly. He did the same to the missing original mistake plate but in the shape of a cross. At the time of the rebuild, they also replaced the pots. This is why I assumed it was built in '63.
Bob told me that the great Joe Maphis peeled off $1000 in hundred dollar bills for the guitar so he could give it to Rose Lee, who had fallen in love with it. Even though Joe was a bit intimidating to the teenager, Bob still stuck to his guns and kept telling him "Thank you Mr. Maphis, but it's not for sale at any price."
When it was stolen, it completely ruined Bob and he lost his enthusiasm and eventually decided to make his mark, in the service of our country, as a Marine.
I just boxed it up. There's a big knot in my stomach, but my heart is warm with the thought of Bob seeing his guitar for the first time in 50 years. And he doesn't have to try to fix anything. She plays beautifully.