Moondot Music aims to craft quality guitars and basses with an environmentally friendly slant. Darren Mooney and Holly Lennon are the faces behind the Ireland-based business: the pair resides in Annyalla near Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan.
Lennon and Mooney are both from Castleblayney originally. “We like to refer to it as the Nashville of Ireland,” explains Mooney. “Mainly because it is home to the late great ‘Big Tom’ and because of the number of hard working and successful musicians and bands from the area. It is quite amazing considering we are in the middle of rural Ireland with only a population of a few thousand.”
Mooney took an interest in music at a young age and picked up the guitar as a teen, eventually forming a cover band with some school friends. Today, his instrument of choice is the bass. “The power and clarity from a hand-built bass excels, and when you use a good signal chain the sound presence can’t be beat. This is what first inspired us both to keep building and making other accessories.”
For a time, the pair left rural life and lived in Galway City. However, it was difficult to live and make music there on a tight budget – and they couldn’t help but notice how quickly instruments and equipment became outworn.
“We have always shopped local and chose ethical and were finding it more and more difficult to buy ethically-produced equipment for making music,” shares Mooney. “We began sourcing good quality materials and building basses and guitars, making our own guitar and mic leads, and hand-winding pickups. We very quickly realized things can be built to last, sound great, and be a pleasure to use.”
In 2017, they established Moondot Music “as an alternative to the throwaway society.”
“Moondot began with a small budget, gradually building its reputation,” notes Mooney. Our customer base started relatively small and is growing quite quickly. We love our endorsing artists, and they send a lot of business our way. Ireland is a small place, and it is great to be able to work with musicians all around the country.”
“Many customers find us through our website if they seek an Irish made custom guitar, and they can read about our ethos and the steps we take to provide ethically produced musical equipment. We love all of our customers, and we are always delighted by the wonderful, talented people who seek us out.”
Mooney focuses on product design and the fine details of guitar building, while Lennon designs and makes the pickups (components that capture the vibration of the instrument’s strings).
“All of the promotional materials, packaging and website are designed in-house to cut costs and reduce environmental impact. We put thought and consideration into finding suppliers and manufacturers with good ethical standards.” For example, Moondot reduces plastic use by relying on paper packaging, wooden accessories, and other unique materials.
“We are providing an alternative to mass production, reducing air miles, always considering ethics and the environment,” he continues. “The primary purpose in mass production is profit, rather than music and art creation. Designed from scratch and built from the ground up, we never cut cost at the expense of quality. Our pricing is affordable. Each instrument is unique and handmade using hand tools.”
Many of those tools were passed down from Mooney’s grandparents, then restored. “It is nice quiet work. With care and attention, you can listen to music (and to the piece you are working on) and produce wood shavings and small off cuts of tonewoods instead of copious amounts of hazardous wood dusts.”
In addition, the company avoids using animal products in its guitars. While some animal products – ivory, for instance – have been phased out from guitars, some remain. Hide glue, abalone shell inlays and shellac finish are a few examples. Moondot provides vegan options, while also staying away from plastics.
Coming up on five years in the business, Mooney and Lennon are thrilled with how far they have come. “We have many of our products being enjoyed by musicians around Ireland and the world. It is still early days for Moondot Music and our aim is to bring sustainable, ethically produced and also great sounding, reliable gear to the musicians of the world.”
They are also working on making Moondot even more environmentally friendly.
“We have lots of plans for the future, we are quite flexible, and we will have to see what opportunities present themselves.”