Luna Guitars debuted in 2005, offering a line of affordable guitars designed with the comfort of female players in mind. The instruments had a bold and instantly recognizable aesthetic, sporting henna designs and motifs inspired by mythical symbols such as dragons and phoenixes. (Many Luna guitar models are distinguished by the application of these patterns via laser etching.)
Based out of Tampa, Florida, Luna now offers a full line of well-made instruments—acoustic guitars, acoustic and electric basses, ukuleles, mandolins, banjos, and even cajons and kalimbas—all with very stylish designs that belie their relatively low prices. I had the pleasure of trying out the new Vineyard Koa Bevel Folk and found it to be an excellent acoustic-electric with an impressive tonal palette.
A Koa Beauty
The Vineyard Koa is based on Luna’s Folk body, which splits the difference between a grand auditorium and a parlor. It has a spruce top with a koa overlay; laminated back and sides, also koa; and an Eastern mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard. Its compact body is enhanced by a bevel on the top portion of the lower bout, which increases comfort while playing.
The grain pattern of the koa veneer on the top plate is gorgeous, giving an effect that makes it feel as though the guitar was taken straight out of a forest, and the stunning inlays add to the Vineyard’s striking optics. Pearloid vines wrap symmetrically around the soundhole and weave elegantly up the fretboard—a design that was inspired by Italian vineyards, according to Luna. This ornamentation gives the instrument an earthy and idyllic visual theme. Together, the koa and inlays create a classy, modern take on a traditional steel-string.
A Warm Presence
As soon as I began playing the Vineyard Koa, I could feel the guitar’s power; its sound is surprisingly big and resonant. The body vibrates in response to your playing, and tones emerge from the soundhole as if they are echoing throughout a cavern. It’s warm and vibrant and elicits plentiful overtones.
The Vineyard Koa has excellent tonal range, being especially rich in the high end and mids. It responds well to fingerpicking but, despite being a small-bodied guitar, is not lacking in low end, which is great when strumming chords or playing with a pick. It’s more than just well-rounded—it’s bright and bold, with a lot of presence, but somehow in a gentle way.
On one of my go-to fingerpicking pieces, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” (specifically Nick Drake’s version of this great Bob Dylan tune), the Vineyard Koa responded nicely, with distinct tones and balance across all ranges. I also tried out an arrangement of J.S. Bach’s “Chaconne in D minor” from Partita No. 2 and found that not only does the guitar resonate beautifully in dropped-D tuning but the 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.
When using a pick on acoustic guitar I like to play more aggressively than some might think necessary; the Vineyard was up to the task when digging into some bluegrass riffs, trying out a folk-rock solo on one of my own songs, and playing the classic riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills and Far Away.”
Comfortable Setup and Effortless Electronics
The Vineyard Koa came set up with comfortably low action, making it perfect for playing barre chords as well as melodies higher up the neck. With a 25.5-inch scale length, executing broad and compact chord shapes was comfortable and familiar.
The neck has a slim, C-shaped profile that makes it easy to grip and smooth for moving up and down. Its gloss finish against your palm doesn’t hinder that movement, but simply adds to the guitar’s overall aesthetic. The only drawback is that, when moving up the fretboard, the frets feel a tiny bit bumpy, making it so that it takes a little extra pressure to slide from shape to shape.
After trying out such a vibrant instrument, I was very pleased to discover that, thanks to its Fishman electronics, it sounds just as good when plugged in. The fidelity is impressive, and along with the standard volume, bass, and treble knobs, as well as a phase button, it also comes with a handy onboard tuner. I found the best setting to be having both the bass and treble in the middle, but modifying those settings still yielded positive results.
All in All
Luna’s Vineyard Koa Bevel Folk covers a wide range of applications, managing to be both bold and bright with glowing overtones. Combine that versatility with its distinct look and feel, smooth playability, and beautiful aesthetic and you’ve got a great-sounding, affordable instrument that will appeal to player of all stripes.
BODY Folk size; spruce top with koa veneer; laminated koa back and sides; rosewood bridge; single-ply rosewood binding; natural gloss finish
NECK 25.5″-scale Eastern mahogany neck with dual-action truss rod; 20 frets; rosewood fretboard with 16″ radius; pearloid vine inlays; 1-11/16″ bone nut; chrome tuners; natural gloss finish
OTHER D’Addario EXP16 coated strings (.012–053); Fishman Presys II electronics; optional soft or tooled leather hardshell case ($159) or lightweight case ($119)
MADE IN China
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PRICE $699 street
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.