As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 20 – Summer 2022
Luna Guitars, founded in 2005, has a brand that’s defined in part by its bold aesthetic. The designs of its acoustic guitars, acoustic and electric basses, ukuleles, mandolins, banjos, cajons, and kalimbas are often inspired by nature and folkloric creatures, featuring henna patterns or symbols such as dragons or phoenixes. That, combined with their low price points, make Luna’s instruments stand out on the market as both unique and affordable.
The Luna Vineyard Koa Bevel Folk was released in December of 2021 along with a handful of other both sonically and visually appealing models. I had the pleasure of trying one out, and found it to be an excellent acoustic-electric, with a notably broad tonal palette for such a small-bodied instrument.
The Vineyard Koa is based on a folk platform, with a 15-inch lower bout. The top is solid spruce with a koa overlay; the laminated back and sides are also koa; the neck is Eastern mahogany and the fretboard is rosewood. As a modernized touch, there’s a black bevel on the top of the lower bout, making the already compact guitar that much more comfortable to hold and play.
Knowing the guitar is built with koa already makes for an added attraction, but when you actually see it in person, its appearance is striking. The koa veneer on the top plate is gorgeous and creates an effect that makes it feel as though it was taken straight out of a forest. That effect is only enhanced by the model’s stunning pearloid vine inlays, which were inspired by Italian vineyards, and wrap around the rosette and weave up the fretboard. The earthy visual theme creates a classy, modern take on the traditional steel string.
When you first pick up the guitar, it’s immediately apparent that the small model’s tone is not compromised by its size — it’s surprisingly big, warm, and resonant. The overtones ring out, and there’s hotspots all along the fretboard that sustain from the echo chamber-like body. Small guitars like this one are known for their high-end response, but the tonal range on the Luna Vineyard Koa Bevel Folk is impressive: It’s rich in both the high end and the mids, and isn’t lacking in the low end, either. It responds well to fingerpicking, but also to a pick — it’s remarkably well-rounded, being both bright and bold.
Some of my favorite fingerpicking pieces are Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” and a guitar arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Chaconne in D minor from Partita No. 2. When playing them, there’s notable string separation and each pitch stands out independently of articulation. As a testament to the guitar’s well-roundedness, the lower tones are warmly enunciated, and the higher tones ring out without getting lost. In particular, the Bach piece highlights some of the guitar’s hotspots, which can be found more and more as you move towards the 12th fret on any string. If you take a pick to the guitar, you get similar results in terms of vibrance, but a powerful low end is also revealed. I tried out some bluegrass licks and some folk-rock compositions of my own and found that the Vineyard Koa has a lot to offer when it comes to versatility.
The guitar arrived without the need for a setup; there was no buzzing, and the action was low to medium. Its 25.5-inch scale length, in addition to the bevel, made the fretboard comfortable and familiar to navigate. The neck has a slim, C-shaped profile — which I prefer — and although it has a gloss finish, it’s smooth to the touch and doesn’t hinder fretting-hand movement as you’re sliding up and down the neck.
Thanks to the guitar’s Fishman preamp, it sounds just as good when plugged in. It comes with the standard volume, bass, and treble knobs as well as a phase button, but it also comes with an onboard tuner, an especially handy feature to have. I found the best setting to be with the bass and treble knobs right in the middle, but I also enjoyed amping the treble side up a bit to get even more out of the fingerpicking pieces.
It’s always essential to connect to the look and feel of a guitar when searching for the right one for you. The Vineyard Koa’s appearance is tasteful and elegant, but it offers a beautiful sound as well, managing to be both bold and bright. Those things, paired with its smooth playability and affordable price, make it an ideal choice for any guitarist.
For more information and specifications, visit lunaguitars.com.