Though you might know me best as PG’s Acoustic Editor, columnist and reviewer, I have a secret. I’m infatuated with Tele-style electrics—and with good reason. PG columnist Pat Smith said it best: “The Telecaster is the king of guitars.”
They’re versatile as guitars can be, going from smooth and sweet to razor sharp and nasty within seconds. You can make them purr and caress your ears with honey, or you can make them quack, cluck, bark, and beat you up. They are wonderfully easy for an acoustic player to adjust to as well, especially with slightly heavier strings (I like a minimum of .010s, and .011s are even better). So when Luna Guitars sent their Henna Paisley T with the Vicki Genfan acoustic I reviewed in the May issue
, I was more than happy to snag it.
On the surface, Luna’s Henna Paisley T in black is a very cool looking guitar. It features Luna’s distinctive “henna tattoo” pickguard, a laser etching process on cedar wood, on a mahogany body painted a very warm black. The look is hard to resist—something in me wants this guitar just because of the look. The maple neck is a wonderful complement, outfitted with Luna’s signature moon-phase position markers that are just cool. Telecasters and T-style guitars are not typically the prettiest, sexiest looking guitars around, but the Luna manages both pretty and sexy while giving the player a true T-style experience.
The guitar is equipped with the American Series chromed six-saddle bridge, which is wonderful because you can get downright obsessive-compulsive about action and intonation. All the hardware is chrome, including the Grover tuners, and seems very solid. I like the smooth roll of the volume and tone knobs.
The action right out of the box was quite good, and I didn’t encounter dead frets or any setup blunders whatsoever—a nice surprise at this price point. The neck is extremely comfortable and playable, with a very traditional Telecaster feel. At 7.2 pounds, it is right in the middle of the target weight range for this style of guitar.
The only reservation I have with this particular guitar is that the input jack doesn’t feel solid and the cable came loose once or twice. That’s not tough to fix, and although it was slightly annoying, the connection didn’t cut out or make any noise while it was plugged in.
The neck pickup has a compelling, rich dark-chocolate tone. It’s a single-coil Tele-style reverse wound pickup, while the bridge pickup is a Tele-style single-coil with ceramic magnets, and it’s bright and spanky sounding. The two together in the middle position sound great—really warm and yet lively, too.
The pickups are hot—in fact, they’re a lot hotter than my standard MIM Fender Telecaster. But they’re also a bit noisier. That’s nice when you’re making this guitar growl, which it does admirably. I plugged into a Tube Screamer and got some terrifically musical grit by turning the Drive up to 7 and the Tone down to 3; in the middle pickup position the Henna T got gratifyingly dark with no mud.
The neck pickup’s melted chocolate tone is really quite lovely all by itself. I backed the Luna’s tone down to around 8.5 and brought the volume down about the same amount and was treated to a very full and fat jazzy tone that was, if anything, almost too bassy. For a solo player, it’d be outstandingly full, but with a bass player and drummer it might get a little lost.
The bridge pickup on its own is pure Tele snark, from chicken-pickin’ to car horns. If you turn the volume down a little there’s some sugar, and if you crank it there’s plenty of bite. Stomping again on the Tube Screamer made my back teeth hurt, but in a good way. It’ll go from sweet and sassy country to obnoxious rock ’n’ roll madness with the roll of a knob, which is exactly why the Telecaster, and the legion of T-style guitars it has inspired, is the king of guitars.
The middle position rules on the Henna T, especially if your playing leans into blues territory. I have focused my electric playing on the backbone rhythm side of things, and in this position it’s dark and creamy with a little bite, sort of like the aural equivalent of Bailey’s Irish Cream. In a foundation role in an ensemble it offers fullness while letting the riffs that make it rock shine through.
The Final Mojo
Because Luna is a woman-owned guitar shop, a lot of people seem to think these are guitars for girls. To them I will state emphatically that Luna makes an entirely gig-worthy instrument that is made in a responsible shop with a strong commitment to fair wages and environmentally sound practices. The price is extremely right, too.
you want a sexier looking Tele experience and love it when they growl.
your ego needs the Fender logo.