Luna Athena

Sunday, August 1, 2010| by Will Chen

In my humble opinion, there’s little sexier in the world of guitars than f-holes. Something about semi hollow guitars just really turns me on. Lately, I’ve been searching for a smaller bodied semi hollow than the typical imported Gibson 335 tributes which have been flooding the market which brought me to the Luna Athena.

The Luna Athena is an extremely stylish take on the small bodied single cut semi hollow. Art deco inspired touches from the offset horizontal inlays, brushed satin hardware, and harp tailpiece abound and the guitar is quite a stunner. Attention to detail is high, the aforementioned inlay work is extremely clean and so is the triple binding around the maple body and f-holes, I couldn’t spot a single flaw.

Luna has opted for the V profile for the 24 ¾” scale set maple neck which transitions oh so smoothly from the soft V at the lower end of the neck to a comfy if slightly slimmer C. I’ve never played a neck like this before and was a bit skeptical that I would like it but ended up surprised at how quickly I adjusted to the feel. Fretwork along the rosewood fretboard was very good with a smooth and silky feel up and down the neck without a hint of any rough ends. And the Grover tuners ensured smooth action when tuning up and keep the guitar beautifully in tune. Electronically, the Luna is fitted with a pair of mini-humbuckers wired to a master volume and tone controls. One thing potential modders should consider is due to the use of mini-humbuckers with brushed satin covers, alternative pickup choices are few and far between (though I’ve heard Scotch-Brite can take the sheen off polished chrome – Thanks Terry!).

I would be more than comfortable in a rock setting chunking out power chords using the bridge pickup but could easily sit in with a big band comping chords using the neck pickup…and I’d be doing it in style.

I was so impressed with the look and feel of the axe that I decided to audition it in a trial by fire situation the day it arrived. In other words, the first time playing it electrically would be at a rehearsal paired with a Tech 21 Trademark 60. The bridge pickup in this axe is on the money digging in yields a nice balance of bark and bite while laying back she’s nice and chimey living up to the somewhere-between-single coils-and- humbuckers reputation of mini-humbucking pickups. I wasn’t quite as impressed with the neck pickup which isn’t as complementary as I’d like and just didn’t seem to have enough presence to cut though in this setting. With that in mind each pickup does cover it’s respective tonal ground well and I had to reevaluate my expectations due to this unique approach. For example, I could coax a wide variety extremely convincing tones from rockabilly to roots rock using the bridge but then the neck would sound slightly dull and unrefined. Conversely, I could easily dial in Jim Hall traditional warmth or a more snappy response almost hitting a Strat neck type of tone using the neck pickup only but then switching to the bridge resulted in a thin and overly hot signal.

After quite a bit of experimentation in a more controlled environment, lowering the bridge pup and adjusting the height and pole pieces of the neck pickups helped even things out a bit and the tone was much improved but still not quite where I’d like it to be. Even with the minor mismatching issue, I was very impressed with the amount of tonal ground covered by the Luna Athena. Honestly, the wide tonal differences of the pickups might actually work towards this versatility as covering everything from rock to traditional full-hollowbody jazz is quite a feat and those who don’t want or need a guitar dedicated to every genre’s tonal nuances could be quite happy with the Athena’s range.

The Luna Athena is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing which covers the slopes of the semi-hollow tonal bell curve better than most at the expense of nailing typical semi hollow tonal expectations. I would be more than comfortable in a rock setting chunking out power chords using the bridge pickup but could easily sit in with a big band comping chords using the neck pickup…and I’d be doing it in style.

Price: $399
Pros: Excellent playability, rocking bridge tones, jazzy neck tones
Cons: Tonal difference between pickups is rather large.

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Filed Under: Luna, Reviews