November 15, 2010 by Tim
On this review you are getting such a great deal!! 2 for the price of 1!!! that is like 100% more review for the same price, what a deal right?
You ask how this could be done? Well I will be reviewing the Luna Honu and the Luna Tattoo ukuleles…..wait for it……….AT THE SAME TIME!!! WOOOHOOOO. can you stand it?!!!
All kidding aside, I will be doing the review of both in this one review. When it comes down to it they are pretty much the same, but in their own way they are different. So for the scores I will be Putting an H in front of the Honu and a T in front of the Tattoo, and at the end you will find them separated into 2 separate boxes. Clear as mud? Good.
Part of my charter for this site is to try and find good ukuleles under $300, and I try to focus on the really inexpensive ones when possible. A lot of the time the companies will not send the lower end ukes. I understand that they want to put their best foot forward, but I have found that if a company can’t make a “good” soprano then it is unlikely they will have a very good line up from there. The Honu and Tattoo ukes from Luna are on the lower price spectrum coming in under $70, but the question is; What do you get for your $70?
Honestly I would love to find a sub-$100 uke that sounded like a $500 uke, but really in the end you get what you pay for, sometimes.
Keep reading (or scroll to the bottom) to find out.
Soprano : 12 Fret
Tuners: Open Geared
Plastic nut & saddle
Top: Laminated Mahogany (laser etched)
Sides: Laminated Mahogany
Back: Laminated Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany with a Rosewood fretboard
Case: gig bag
First look: (H:5 T:5) Let’s face it, most ukes look the same. These will catch most people’s eye. Luna is known for making nice looking instruments that are aimed at the female market. Part of that is going beyond the normal look and doing more inlays and laser etching. Both of these have some really nice Polynesian designs that have been laser etched on. I really think they are cool and fun. I do have a small concern. I know that people with tattoos like these get a little perturbed when they see a gangly white guy with tattoos like these. So it begs the question; would anyone get mad about these? I would think not, but you never know. As far as what I can find, these seem pretty standard designs that are not considered sacred.
Fit and Finish: (H:4 T:3) Keep in mind these are $70 ukes, I would not expect techniques that are used on much more expensive ukes like slit kerfing, but I do expect them to be built nice and finished well. My issue on both is that I see glue on the fretboard and sanding marks by the frets. Also all the edges on the body are very sharp and there are nicks and dents all over. The Tattoo has an added issue, they etched the full design in and it goes under the bridge. It may not be a big thing but I feel that it could be a problem in the future since the bridge is not completely glued down. To end this section on a positive note, it has inlayed triangles for the fret marks which is a nice touch.
Sound Type: The Honu is Bright, The Tattoo is more mellow
Intonation: (H:4 T:3) I know they are inexpensive ukes and that usually equals poor intonation, but it does not have to. I have an Oscar Schmidt OU-2 that came with perfect intonation. Even my Rogue was pretty good and it was $20. Both Luna have the same issue, it is just that one is worse than the other. The nut is way too high. I know this is done so there will not be any buzzing issues when they make it here. The high nut makes it so that when you play anything on the first fret it will be sharp if you try to go all the way down to the fretboard, and let’s face it most people who would buy one of these would be first time players who will do that exact thing and be very frustrated that it sounds wrong. One thing I would say is that if a small music shop owner gets these they could really make them shout with a little working of the nuts. (Actually they should shave the nuts) – For some of my friends who just read that last part, yes work and shave the nuts.
Volume: (H:5 T:4) For laminate these are really nice and loud once you give them time to settle. I have had them for about 6 weeks and they did open up a lot in the last week. I would have to say the Honu is louder than the Tattoo.
Sustain: (H:4 T:4) Not long, but ok.
String Height: (Medium) What you would expect. playing the first fret is a little high, but overall it is pretty standard.
Neck Radius Depth: (1/2″) Standard neck, feels like a normal C Neck.
Frets: (H:4 T:4) They did an ok job. You can still feel the frets on the side, but your fingers will not get caught on them. I would round off the nut a little on the edge to make it less sharp.
Tuning: (H:5 T:3) Notice the different scores? The Honu was perfect. it stayed in tune, easy to get to the notes without going over. The Tattoo on the other hand was weird. Never wanted to stay in tune and the C string would always go over and refuse to go back down. With a little love it could be fixed (New strings, some filing of the string slot at the nut) These kind of things can be attributed to the tech who set it up or just bad strings, but as of this review it was not the same from one uke to the other.
Comfort: (H:4 T:4) I only ding them on one of my biggest pet peeves, not rounding off the edges on the body. I get a nice line in my arm when I play from holding it against my body. It is light and balanced, even with the geared tuners.
Sound Hole Smell: Like Elmer’s glue
For $70 these are great ukuleles. The bottom line is that they are mass produced in China to compete with the likes of the OU-2 and the hundreds of other sub-$100 ukes on the market right now. I think they did a really good job, I would just play them before buying one, since they can vary so much. I had to play a bunch when I bought other inexpensive ukes to find the “best” one. You could also buy them from shops that you trust. All I can say is that if you buy one online be prepared to spend another $20 to have it setup, you could get lucky and get one that is good..
In the end I give them my seal of approval for people who want a really inexpensive ukulele (I did not use the word cheap) to tool around with, once you adjust it, or a first uke if you are not sure, this is a great uke.
Stay tuned for a special Giveaway of these ukes!
All Rating on a scale of 1-5
Click here for an explanation of reviews
Luna Honu Soprano Luna Tattoo Pineapple
|First Look||5||First Look||5|
|Fit and Finish||4||Fit and Finish||3|
|Sound Type||Bright||Sound Type||mellow|
|String Height||Medium||String Height||Medium|
|Neck Radius Depth||1/2″||Neck Radius Depth||1/2″|
|Sound Hole Smell||Elmer’ glue||Sound Hole Smell||Elmer’ glue|
Places to Buy
Luna is distributed by Dean guitars. If you know a shop that sells Dean then you can get Luna there also