Luna Vicki Genfan Signature Model Review

AG 219 March 2011

Posted by Adam Perlmutter

Guitar design has traditionally been a male domain, but recently, companies like Daisy Rock and Luna Guitars, both founded by women, have been creating instruments with women’s guitar needs in mind. Luna, which debuted in 2004, is the vision of Yvonne de Villiers, a stained-glass artist and the company’s creative director and designer. For many years, de Villiers watched her mother, Hilda Williers, a petite electric bassist, struggle with her standard-size instruments. This inspired de Villiers to design a line of acoustic and electric guitars and basses that account for the varying physical sizes of musicians. Luna’s acoustic guitars are available in a variety of sizes, from parlor to downsized jumbo, encompassing both straightforwardly traditional and intricately modern designs, and many of them feature artistic flourishes that are an extension of de Villiers’s work with stained glass. We checked out one such instrument, the Vicki Genfan Signature model—a lovely cutaway orchestra model with built-in electronics that include a three-band EQ and digital tuner.

Stylish and Sturdy Mini-Jumbo

Not long ago, Luna commissioned North Carolina luthier Gray Burchette to make a personal guitar for virtuoso guitarist, singer, and composer Vicki Genfan. This noncutaway one-of-a-kind instrument served as the inspiration for Luna’s new Vicki Genfan Signature model—a smaller version of Genfan’s personal guitar with a solid spruce top, laminated rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, and rosewood fingerboard and bridge.

As you would expect from the creative minds of de Villiers and Genfan, the VG model features some very cool design touches. The neck and body binding, heel cap, and back strip are all made from maple instead of plastic—elegant ornamentation ordinarily found on much more expensive instruments. Around the perimeter of the soundboard is a mosaic trim made of rosewood and two different colors of maple. Position markers on the fingerboard show eight different phases of the moon, and the top includes a pair of laser-etched, henna tattoo–inspired floral motifs designed by UK artist Alex Morgan based on Genfan’s vision and feedback.

Overall, the craftsmanship on the VG is very good. The fretwork is tidy; the binding perfectly flush; and the finish (satin back, sides, and neck and gloss top) is devoid of blemishes. As for the sanding, however, the edge of the fingerboard that conforms to the shape of the soundhole is slightly rough, as is the bracing. But these do little to detract from an otherwise well-made instrument.

Comfortable and Responsive

The VG’s mahogany neck has a very agreeable, nicely rounded profile, neither too thin nor too thick. The 111/16-inch nut width will be comfortable for players with small hands, but not too cramped for those with larger mitts. Out of the box, the action felt comfortable, and the guitar is largely free of the stiffness that can afflict new instruments. Frenetic strumming and delicate fingerpicking work equally well on the VG. The guitar behaves favorably when driven—it has more volume than one would expect from such an inexpensive instrument with laminated back and sides—and it is similarly responsive to being picked at a whisper.

On basic cowboy strumming, a fingerpicked arrangement of a Maurice Ravel piece, and country-blues patterns, the VG sounds rich, resonant, and balanced. Genfan is known for drawing from an extensive list of alternate tunings, so it was fitting to audition her signature guitar in open G, dropped D, and dropped C. Thanks to the Grover tuners, I was able to get into these tunings with minimal effort. All three sounded excellent, and in the latter, the low C was especially robust.

The VG’s B-Band onboard electronic system, which combines an undersaddle pickup and T35 three-band EQ/preamp/tuner, is a handy addition to a great acoustic guitar. The T35’s controls—bass, middle, treble, and volume—are intuitive, as is the onboard electronic tuner, which is, incidentally, quite sensitive, and the phase button can help minimize feedback. The battery compartment and two outputs (1/4-inch and XLR) on the side of the VG’s lower bout make it easy to plug in to either an amplifier or PA. When I checked out the guitar with a Fender acoustic amp, it sounded thick and rich and was remarkably resistant to feedback.

Signature Style for a Song

Available for just $499 and eminently playable, the Luna Vicki Genfan Signature Model is an ideal instrument for a beginning guitarist. And with its attractive sound and resonance, it would suit a touring musician who wants a relatively inexpensive yet stylish guitar to take on the road.

SPECS:

Orchestra-size body with Venetian cutaway. Solid spruce top. Laminated rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Rosewood fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale length. 111/16-inch nut width. 25/32-inch string spacing at saddle. Satin polyurethane finish (back, sides, and neck); gloss top. Gold Grover 18:1 tuners. D’Addario EXP11 strings (.012–.053). B-Band undersaddle pickup and T35 preamp/tuner. Made in China.

PRICE: $725 list/$499 street.

MAKER: Luna Guitars: (800) 793-5273; lunaguitars.com.

Excerpted from Acoustic Guitar March 2011

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