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Wide Neck Mossman

Hi Steve. I've really enjoyed reading though some of you Q&A's on your website and wanted to see if you might be able to answer one for me.

I own a 1975 Mossman Flinthills that I picked up used at a guitar shop about 15 years ago. As soon as I bought it I had Bob Westbrook perform the "agony of de feet" repair, neck reset, and he also made a new bridge as the one on it had a very wide brass saddle.

I was wondering about the brass saddle and the extremely wide neck (1 7/8") with a very slight radius to the fingerboard (maybe 20 degree). Were these common things on Mossman's? Would this have been some sort of custom order?

I love the guitar! Don't ever see myself selling it or trading it. Heck, I even got to play the Grand Ole Opry with it back a few years ago.

Thanks again for the great information on your website.
Best, John


A wide neck from 1975 would have been a custom order. The
wide brass saddle was not done at the Mossman factory. Early in the guitar boom, before the Yamaha guitars, cheap steel string guitars were nasty. Goya classical guitars were cheap and did a better job of delivering the "Martin Experience" than did the cheap American steel strings. So, lots of people destined for a life in folk music, got used to 1 7/8" necks, before they could afford their Martin (or Mossman). Many earlier steel strings had wide necks, and you could make a case that the person that ordered your guitar from us was a D-28-S fan.

By 1975 we had pretty much figured out neck making, but in 1972 some people had started complaining about how narrow the Mossman necks were. We discovered that our plywood neck making jigs had worn and that while our necks started out at 1 11/16" they had grown much thinner. But, before that revelation, Stuart (Mossman) thought that those customers were demanding classical width necks. We did our best to comply. Our output in those early days was five to ten guitars per month, so we may have made four or five wide necks under that delusion. Your guitar would not have been one of those.

Electric guitar makers have noted that if the bridge is a massive block of metal, the string vibrations bounce off and head back up the string, increasing sustain, over the pickup. Kasha, in the 1950's showed that you could improve the sound of any guitar by putting a C clamp on the peg head. Again, the string vibrations, unable to move the mass of the C clamp, would go back down the string to the bridge, where their energy could be used by the top as sound. The brass saddle was a misunderstanding of these two concepts. You want vibrations to flow through the saddle to drive the bridge and top. The brass nut followed the Kasha principal and actually did block vibrations from flapping off the peg head. I think that they mostly went out of style because they were very hard on my tools.

The last Mossman that I worked on was #1299 (I remained vice
president of the board of directors until final demise). The fire was in March of 1975. You can tell if your guitar was made before or after the fire by measuring the soundhole. 3 3/4" before the fire, 4" after.

Steve Mason