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Joe Zon has always had a reputation for building top-quality guitars. But the quality and design ingenuity typical in his instruments doesn’t come cheap. And a lot of folks admire Zon basses from a distance—typically in the “just can’t swing it” camp.
Most of Zon’s instruments are less traditional, but recently, the company released a series of Chinese-built, J-bass-inspired instruments under the Mosaic Mojo name that gives players a crack at a Zon bass for under a grand. Here, we take a P/J-pickup-configured Mosaic Mojo for a spin.
Got My Mojo Working
The ice-blue finish on the Mojo’s alder body and headstock is a thing of beauty. I almost always favor a natural finish over paint, but the blue hue on this instrument just looked so right. It’s also available in black, white, and red, and there’s an available upgrade to an ash body ($200) that offers the choice between a natural-gloss or sunburst finish.
Mosaic Mojos go through a meticulous inspection and setup when they arrive at Zon’s shop in California, including Plek’ing and handpolishing the frets. Even after logging some serious miles in transit, the action and feel was spot-on. Fretwork was excellent too, and there wasn’t a hint of a sharp edge.
The 24-fret, 3-piece, bolt-on maple neck is topped with a rosewood fretboard and dressed with classic clay dots for position markers. Up past the 1 9/16" graphite nut, the 2-on-a-side, Gotoh-style tuners feel solid and, with their unique, offset placement, look cool on the tilt-back headstock (no string tree needed here).
Though the headstock deviates from J-bass-style convention, the curvaceous body looks and feels as familiar as can be, with its chrome control plate, a Fender-style machined-brass bridge, and a set of three knurled-chrome knobs wired for master volume/blend/tone.
The pair of Aguilar passive pickups includes a hum-cancelling 4P/J-HC in the bridge and a 4P-60 P-bass-style pup in the neck position. (The Mosaic Mojo is available in P/J active, J/J active, or a J/J passive configuration as well, so there is something for everyone.)
At just 8 pounds, the 34"-scale Mosaic Mojo is pretty svelte, which enhances the overall sense of comfort when you play it. The satin-finished neck feels wicked-fast, buttery smooth, and effortless.
Say Hey P and J
To get acquainted with the Zon, I fired up a Gallien-Krueger 800RB head pushing a TC Electronic RS410 cab, plugged in, and set the amp’s EQ dials flat. I turned the Mojo’s volume and tone knobs all the way up and set the blend dial to favor only the neck pickup.
Aguilar designed the Mosaic Mojo’s alnico 5 P-bass-style pickup after closely studying the pickups from a pair of early ’60s Precisions. Little surprise then that I was greeted with a recognizable, mellow and clear P-bass sound full of vintage-y warmth, big bottom end, and round high-mids. Whether plectrum picking through rock riffs, or fingerpicking blues lines or country shuffles, the Mosaic Mojo delivered much of the same warm, woody tone that has makes the P-bass such a chameleonic instrument.
Dialing down the blend knob close to halfway (favoring the split-coil) for a 60/40 split between the pickups coaxed definition, and crisp attack from the output, while still maintaining bottom end and volume. By rolling the tone knob down to about 75 percent, I got in a tone space where finger pulling melodic-jazz chords or digging in hard with a pick for fast and furious metal was equally natural.
Like many, I rarely rely on a bridge pickup alone. Still, I rolled the blender all the way back to disengage the neck pup and check it out by itself. Predictably, the tone thinned out and I perceived a volume drop compared to the soloed neck pickup. Hum was not an issue at all, however, and the resulting burpy tones are great for funky textures.
For the most part, however, I favored the neck pickup, blending in just a touch of spice from the bridge, and diming the tone control. The resulting fat, full, defined and punchy goodness is something the Mosaic Mojo PJ delivers with ease.
Zon’s new take on the tried-and-true J-bass is ready to go to work right out of the case. Yes, $899 is not chump change, and borders on pricey compared to other imported J basses or J-style basses out there. But the Zon’s neck is one of the nicest I’ve handled in recent memory. And when you also consider the quality components, attention to build detail, and available tones, the Mosaic Mojo is a solid value that can return your investment in reliable, versatile, sweet sounding performance.