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View Full Version : Luna Tattoo - Concert Size. A n00b's review.



PoiDog
06-22-2011, 11:28 AM
Okay, before I dive into this I feel honor bound to offer full disclosure. I am a complete n00b. Not just to this site, but to ukuleles in particular, and music in general. I can't read sheet music, couldn't tell you what a 7th chord is, and have trouble telling the difference between a treble and bass clef.

That being said, I do have an (admittedly novice) opinion about my Luna Tattoo, and thought I could share it. If nothing else, maybe other beginners might be able to get something of value from this. Oh, and I apologize in advance if I misuse terms.

Ukulele:
Luna Tattoo, Concert size. $95 Comes with Aquila Nylgut strings and padded gig bag.

http://i56.tinypic.com/29gdiy9.jpg

Stats and Specs:
Concert size (24" long); mahogany laminate body; mahogany neck & headstock; rosewood fretboard; rosewood bridge; synthetic nut & saddle; MOP inlay fretboard markers on 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, and 12th frets; open geared tuners with platic knobs; laser-etched polynesian-inspired "wave" tattoo on top, with sunburst etching around soundhole; aquila strings (high G).

The Look:
Personally, I really like the look of this ukulele. The laminate is a high-contrast, deeply colored reddish mahogany grain, and the satin finish really does catch the light. It would be a really nice looking instrument just at that, but the laser-etched tattoo design really grabs the eye and gives this a completely unique vibe. Of course, it's a love it or hate it thing, because some people think any adornement is too much.

http://i51.tinypic.com/rlvwjm.jpg

The dark rosewood fretboard and bridge provide a nice contrast to the ruddy body and neck, while the MOP fret markers really stand out against all the browns.

The only real complaint is the headstock and the Luna name/logo. I guess they really want to brand themselves, because their name is so big, taking up pretty much the entire length of the headstock. I would have preferred a bit more subtlety, or maybe just their logo.

http://i53.tinypic.com/m7gj2o.jpg

Rating: 7/10

Craftsmanship:
For a sub-$100 ukulele, this seems exceptionally well made. Especially when compared to other Big Name entry level ukes I checked out at a couple of local music shops (I don't want to name names here because I don't want to slag any makers). It feels really solidly put together, and an inspection of the seams showed no gaps, misalignments, glue spots, blemishes, or any other evidence of low-end materials or assembly. The fretboard is seamlessly attached to the neck, and none of the frets was sicking out, sharp, or in any way obtrusive. The neck is straight and centered, and the bridge, saddle, and nut are in good alignment.

Looking closer, there are a couple of indications that this is not a hand-made instrument, such as the tuners not being completely straight and inline along the back of the headstock. Also, the top, back, and sides are entirely glued together - there is no binding at all. In fact, after bringing my sniffer to the soundhole I detected the faint, but unmistakable, scent of glue.

The laminate covering on the body is very nicely done. The grain aligns almost perfectly, and there are no nicks, dents, or other dings at all.

Rating: 9/10 (for an entry-level model)

Playability:
Luna's ukuleles come with Aquila strings, which is a nice touch. It took a few days for the strings to settle, but once they did they were great. The action is not too high and not too low, though as a n00b my fretting fingers needed more breaking in than the strings. The neck is a bit narrow (at least for me), making some chords (cough-D-cough) a bit of a task, but what the neck lacks in width it makes up for in smoothness and comfort. And it is comfortable. It nestles very easily and just feels good. It's very lightweight (being a laminate that isn't too susprising), and in fact may be just a skosh too light for my liking. However, the balance on the ukulele is quite nice, so that coupled with the lightness makes it easy to hold for long periods of time.

The sound is very bright and resonant. There is no buzzing with the frets (other than because of user error), and the strings play very clear. Sustain isn't all that great, however, and neither is the volume. This is not a loud ukulele. Particularly as you move up the fretboard. By the time you hit the 7th fret, there's a noticable a difference in sound level. Along with that, the C string seems to be the dominant resonance for the soundhole, and if the body is not held properly, or if the string is out of tune, it will produce a dull, kind of thuddy sound - especially when fretted at the first or second fret. But holding the ukulele so the butt is held by the elbow-forearm mitigates that significantly.

Rating: 7/10

Last bits:
Overall, I've been really very pleased with my uke. So much so, I named it Laka (who is the Hawai'ian goddess of music and dance). Laka has been an incredible instrument to introduce me to the ukulele, and the ease and comfort in playing her is a joy. And, at a cost of less than $100, it almost seems like I got away with swapping pricetags with a much cheaper model. It's really nice to strum/pick Laka and have the sound come out like it's supposed to, and not worry about things like mis-measured frets, improperly situated nut or saddle, or tuners that constantly slip. It's just a really solid, playable, cool looking uke.

Overall Rating: 8/10

808boy
06-22-2011, 12:15 PM
Aloha Poidog,
Nice review and congrats on the uke..............................BO............... ...........

bdukes
06-22-2011, 02:29 PM
Nice review.

And bad headstock logos are a pet peeve of mine. Either bad decals or weirdly out of scale sizing and placement on the headstock drive me nuts.

Enjoy the uke and forum.

blulegend
06-22-2011, 06:38 PM
So I just picked up this too after checking out the Oscar Schmidt offerings in this general price range and one from Costco, the Kohala, made by Lanikai.

I actually like the weight of this one compared to the much heavier OS ones. The lightweight makes it seem like careful thought was put into the design as the lighter and thinner wood allows for fuller and bigger sound. I changed the strings to Martin M600 and it sounds a lot louder now. Although the tone has changed a bit and I'm not sure which sound I like better yet.

I agree that the neck is totally smooth and the fret ends are finished off really nicely.

Regarding the logo, I at least wish it was inlaid or covered with a coat of the satin finish.

The saddle is also made of a more dense material than I expected. I adjusted and compensated it and it has a real high pitch when tapped on glass and doesn't give the sound of a soft plastic.

I think the sound hole is quite small for this size uke. It is a touch smaller than my Kala KA-S sound hole and about 1/4" smaller than the Oscar Schmidt OU5 and OU3 as well as the Kohala/Lanikai holes.

The body is a bit bigger than many concerts too (wider at the butt).

Overall, I like it. A lot.