As promised I have visited Moollon and It was a great experience and very interesting. I'm not a review writer so I'll stick to the facts. I am also not getting anything out of this.
The Moollon workshop is tucked away in the suburbs of Seoul and would have been hard to find without the kind assistance of Andi Roselund who fronts the company to the Western Market. He collected me and drove me to the workshop. Super nice guy.
First thing to say it that it is absolutely clear that the story that YJ makes all of these instruments himself is 100% true. There are other guys working on pedals and other projects buy YJ makes that guitars from scratch, metalwork, wood, wiring pups, everything. This is love.
YJ was gracious and generous with his time and let me try out pretty much the whole range of basses but for me the stand out instrument was the new PV. I would say that I already have a JV which is frankly a tone monster.
So I tried the 55 P type on flats, the hollow body 50's type ( you may have seen Michael League playing one), the B524 which is a modern passive twin hum bucker type but with a Les Paul type circuit with a PUP selector switch.
So baseline........ Firstly I am no authority, I'm just an average player, not an expert nor can I claim to have any great skills to test these instruments to their limits. Having said that I am lucky enough to have a collection of Pre CBS basses that Include a 1960 Stackpot, an early 1962 slab board Jazz, and 1965 p. I'm not saying that to show off I am saying this because the Moollon niche is all about presenting sounds from that era in a usable and available form. I don't have early 50's instruments but I've played some. I have and have worn in a Moollon Jazz for over a year so I know it very well.
Things to know about Moollon. Firstly the classics are finished are all Nitro. They chip and start showing wear quickly within months just like the originals. There are no plasticote under-coats so chips and finger wear appear quite quickly. Having said this its 20 thin coats of nitro and that's sweet if you ask me. I didn't ask about the sparkle finishes - sorry about that. maybe someone who knows better can fill in. He will distress for you so you get a vintage look. personally I'm letting my fingers do that for me.
The one issue that I have with my JV is the lack of a notch for truss rod adjustment. YJ will put this in for but he makes a small charge for it. Its not period so he doesn't do it. If that seems fussy its just how he does things. His clear love for the original pre CBS sounds goes to analysing original metalwork and making all of his own hardware to that original spec - he can do that because he is a qualified metallurgist. If you live in a dry hot climate I'd get that done.
1955 P type. The one I tried had a V tech profile ( not too fat) and flat pup. It looked and felt and what is more sounded like the real thing. It was a 2 colour sunburst with white plate. This one of YJ's own and it was worn in and sweet. The sound was just right, neither too aggressive nor at all flabby. Its hard to offer any criticism, it was as good a representation of the real thing as I have found. As with all of the Moollon's i have tried eve with the tone right off there was definition. I get that with my 65P, its fat and warm but has just enough cut. This 55 type had that classic middle tone and played so well. Turn up the tone and you got all of that cut, with a pick even better.
The hollow body type 50's shape, again was sweet but a variation on the theme to me its a cross over instrument and was a bit of both worlds, old and new. I don't really feel qualified to say much more that to say its playability and tones were sweet and the looks are all there. Just listen to Michael leave playing one, don't worry about my thoughts.
The B524 is the double hum bucker type again passive but not a classic fender type. I thought of it as a passive Fodera type bass. I didn't get enough time with it to really get a proper feel for the instrument tbh. The tone control set up was a bit unusual in that it was based on a Les Paul type configuration with a pup selector switch. I was interested as it has separate tone and volume controls for each PUP so you can switch between a pup with tone rolled off or the other on and then have both. Its a bit like a stackpot circuit. It wasn't for me as I was looking for something to complement my JV. Having said that it was a very versatile instrument and felt great in the hands. I suspect in the hands of a better player some of the dynamic range of the instrument would come out. Goran Delac has a vid of his 524 on youtube.
The outstanding instrument for me was the new PV. YJ has taken one of his soap-bar type 5 string pup's and put it into a P configuration. What he has managed with the J V type he has now done with the P type. This feels like proper P and the thick tones go all the way down to the bottom. This works. I had a moment getting over the idea of no staggered PUP but once I did it just sounded which and deep and like nothing else. I had a reel vintage vibe with bite when you dig and definition with the tone rolled off. Having said that the slap tone was also nice and this bass can be solo'd - its got bags of high end detail. The outstanding thing is that this has the kind of thickness of tone I get from my stockpot on flats. Not found it anywhere else on anything else - and here it was. That is the highest compliment I can offer and not one made lightly.
Playability was great the neck was much more comfortable than I thought (bit of a J man here) and the body is a standard p size no increase in the size so the weight is kept low. Please don't ask me what all of the weights were because I didn't take scales with me.
Will he make a PJ?- no. Fender didn't pre CBS and he sees no reason to do so. I also think it would be a lot of R&D risk without any likely additional return.
Will he put a P neck on a J body - yes if you ask
Will be put a J neck on a P body - yes if you ask
Both Andi Roslund and YJ were super nice and cool to deal with. They gave their time freely and were really helpful. Knowing what I paid previously for a Moollon I don't really think that they make a lot of money; this is about the love of doing what they do. YJ could easily charge more, perhaps market better, put a few dealerships out there with instruments people could test drive; the thing is he's doing ok, he's easy to deal with and he's the real deal. He doesn't have to with player like Tim Lefevre, Scott Devine and Rufus Philpot as clients. I like YJ and he makes some really nice instruments with authentic sounds. For the money I think they are hard to beat so long as you know what you are buying, that is pre-cbs tones, built in a pre-CBS way, in a modern instrument.
For reference: I'm the fat guy in the middle YJ to the Left and Andi Roselund to the right. YJ is on his own holding the new and deeply awesome PV which I want......a lot.