April 15, 2010
Luna''s Vicki Genfan model is an incredible value at $500
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|Download Example 1
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|All clips recorded acoustic first, then through L.R. Baggs Core 1 Acoustic Reference Monitor|
How Much? Are You Forgetting a Zero?
Our guess—based on who knows how many guitars we’ve played, owned, reviewed, or otherwise fondled over a collective 200 or so years of playing—was that this guitar would be priced somewhere between $1500 and $1800. But when I emailed the friendly folks at Luna for the official street price, the response was “$499.” At first I thought it was a typo, but they assured me it was not. Then I asked if they were all smokin’ crack. This guitar sounds and plays like an instrument several times its price, and it also comes with a sweet B-Band pickup with a built in DI. According to Yvonne DeVillers, the company’s creative director and designer, “One of Luna’s missions is to make guitars accessible to the average player. Most of the rest of our line MAP at $399 or less.” She continued, “I can say that not only have we held steady in an unsteady economy, but we have grown our business. Folks just don’t have crazy money to spend on music, and we need it now more than ever.” Well, all I can say to that is, “Amen.”
The Story on Genfan’s Guitar
Luna commissioned North Carolina luthier Gray Burchette to make Genfan’s personal guitar—a real goddess of a jumbo that carries the Luna headstock and signature moon-phase fret markers. The Luna VG signature model is inspired by that guitar, but it’s not a duplicate or a junior version. Genfan’s personal guitar is not a cutaway (she uses that bout for percussion), and the VG model is an OM instead of a jumbo. Further, her guitar features a solid spruce top and back and sides made from that aphrodisiac of the rosewood family, cocobolo. The VG model has a rosewood fretboard, moon-phase fret markers, a solid spruce top, and rosewood-laminate back and sides (it also smells faintly of unsexy glue). The laser-etched “henna tattoo” motif designed by artist Alex Morgan in the UK is the same on both guitars. (Many other Luna guitars—including the Henna Paisley T Black, which we’ve reviewed online at premierguitar.com—also feature laser etching.) The front of the guitar features a glossy finish, while the back and sides are satin finished. I like the feel of the satin finish a lot, and the gloss really makes the laser etching pop. It’s a really sweet-looking guitar, and everywhere I took it people fell in love with the looks.
Playing the VG
The neck on the Luna VG guitar is made of mahogany and is very comfortable and playable. It’s nice and round, and measures 1-5/8" at the nut. The scale is 25.5", making it pretty stable if you use a lot of tunings, which Genfan certainly does—she uses over 30 currently. I went from standard to DADGAD to CGDGBD one after another with no problem. The tuners are standard Grovers, so they should hold up pretty well under the added stress of multiple wacky altered tunings. We found that the high-E string needed a little setup because of some mild splatting (my word, but you know exactly what I mean) above the sixth fret. Also, when I changed the strings, I grabbed a set of .011s instead of .012s, and the G-string, at .022, sat down in the nut way too far and was not playable. I pulled a .024 out of a set of .012s and it played fine, but... good to know.
The VG’s B-Band pickup and preamp are impressive indeed. First of all, the batteries live in a little box in the side of the lower bout, making battery changes incredibly easy. Second, it has two outs: a 1/4" and an XLR, which is just outstanding. And they’re right next to the battery compartment, not endpin-style! Do you know how many crappy DI boxes there are in the world that this guitar renders unnecessary? Third, it sounds great. I took it to a gig in a medium-sized room with a traditional PA system, and the sound was rich, full, and very warm. I had no feedback problems at all, and the guitar was comfortably loud. I lost count of how many people came up to rave about how great it sounded. The preamp has a pretty darn responsive tuner that mutes the pickup when active, in addition to simple, intuitive controls: Volume, Bass, Middle and Treble, with Phase and Tuner buttons. I left everything flat, and I don’t think the sound tech did any EQing at all. Isn’t that the goal for a true stage-ready axe?
We got our review guitar before Genfan got hers, and I was anxious to hear what she thought once she got her hands on one. Here’s what she had to say to me via email: “I love its playability, and the top sounds really alive and resonant. I have to tell you that I ran it through about six of my favorite tunings and it did a great job of holding the tunings (even with light strings)! Intonation up the neck was intact as well. I’m thrilled!”
The Final Mojo
Gig-friendly guitars and budget-friendly guitars: The two concepts seem incompatible, but Luna makes it happen with the Vicki Genfan model. With a light body that’s small and comfortable to hold, great electronics that are beyond stage ready, a comfortable neck, and great playability, the Luna Vicki Genfan model has given us a true no-brainer on a moon-silver platter. It has also given new meaning to the old chestnut, “Take two, they’re small.”
you like inexpensive, pretty guitars that play and sound outstanding—and have stageready electronics.
you’re a brand snob.
Street $499 - Luna Guitars - lunaguitars.com