Johnny Ramone's 1965 Mosrite Ventures II electric guitar has sold for $937,500 at auction.
Taken from the collection of Daniel Rey, a punk veteran who produced three late-career Ramones albums, the guitar was put up for sale by RR Auction. It was used by Johnny Ramone (whose real name was John Cummings) on every Ramones album, and for approximately 1,985 live shows, and was later displayed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
According to Ramones historian and friend of the band Chris Lamy, Cummings purchased the guitar in October 1977 by necessity, after his original Ventures II was stolen out of the back of the Ramones' van after the band's show at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago on October 22 of that year.
By the time Cummings purchased this replacement '65 Ventures II model, the guitar had already seen some modifications. Its basswood body had been refinished to white, while its original vibrato tailpiece had been removed by its previous owner and replaced with a stop tailpiece. The guitar's neck plate was also removed by its original owner.
Following its purchase, the Ramones' guitar tech, "Little Matt" Lolya, made a further modification before delivering the guitar to Cummings, replacing the original Kluson plastic button tuning machines with Grovers. The guitar's original pickups were also eventually swapped out – with a Dimarzio FS1 installed in the bridge in late 1979, and a Seymour Duncan SM mini-humbucker fitted to the neck in 1983.
The guitar's black Gibson-style 'top hat’ bell reflector volume knob was replaced by a more Tele-style domed knob at some point, but the bell reflector tone knob remains. The neck, meanwhile, was also refretted with heavier fret wire at some point, but otherwise remains the same.
The overall wear and tear of the guitar – given both its extremely heavy usage and Cummings' ferociously aggressive playing style – is significant, but the guitar remains playable.
The Mosrite was sold with a heavy duty Strat-style case signed on the top by Johnny Ramone. The back of the guitar itself is also signed, bearing the inscription “Johnny Ramone, my main guitar, 1977-1996.”
It was accompanied by a detailed letter of authenticity from Lamy.
For more info on the guitar, head on over to rrauction.com.
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.