Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Luna Guitars Tattoo Long Scale Electric Bass Review


It is always cool to dip my toes into the entry-level instrument pool and see what the current temperature is, so today we are going to look at the Luna Guitars Tattoo Long Scale electric bass.

Luna Guitars has a cool background story, as this Latina-founded company has done a fantastic job of building instruments that appeal to a wide variety of players, with about a 50/50 mix of female to male buyers. They sell instruments in a variety of sizes to fit people of all statures, which is a market niche that few manufacturers have been able to use to their advantage.

The Tattoo Long Scale Bass has a 34-inch scale, which does not exactly make it long-scale in my book, but it is certainly longer than the 30-inch scale of the Tattoo Short Scale Bass. This instrument has a unique look, with a laser-etched tattoo art on the body. This design comes courtesy of by Alex Morgan, who has written six books on ethnic ornamentation, so she certainly is an expert.

The body is made of 5 or 6 pieces of solid mahogany, which has some sort of satin finish that allows the pores in the wood and the etching to really stand out. The design is mostly traditional P-bass, with differences including: no pickguard, a control cavity routed into the back, and a rather extreme cutaway on the lower horn for access to the frets that bassists rarely use. So, there is no neck plate, and ferrules are used to keep the four neck bolts from digging into the body.

The maple neck has 20 frets and a rosewood fretboard with inlays that represent the different phases of the moon (Luna…). The nut is 1 5/8-inches wide, and my measurements came back with a 14-inch radius, so it is pretty flat. With its C profile, the feel is similar to a P-bass with a B neck, and with the satin finish on the back it is a really smooth player. Hardware includes black sealed tuners that match up with the high-mass bridge and the black-chrome knobs.

The passive electronics package is nothing unusual, with a traditional split-coil precision pickup that is wired through volume and tone knobs. The tone is good, though I was not able to go with my usual P-bass dimed-out knob settings. The sound was a bit nasally with the tone turned all the way up, and I found a happy place about 1/3 of the way up which made for a good rock or blues tone. There was some 60-cycle hum that would not be noticeable in a gig situation, but I would certainly try to do something about it if I actually owned this instrument. Maybe the ground is not so great?

Luna had this Tattoo built in China, and the craftsmanship is very good. There are no flaws on the body and the satin finish is pretty hard to get wrong. The frets are level and the fret ends are not rough, and there was a surprisingly good set-up with no buzz. This was a good dealer, so maybe they set it up before they turned it loose on the public.

So it plays well and sounds ok, which does not exactly make it stand out in the crop of entry level basses from Squier, Dean, Yamaha, and Ibanez. Basses in this price range are surprisingly good, so it all comes down to what Luna offers that the others do not, and that is the solid mahogany construction and the laser-etched graphics. The look is polarizing – either you like it or you don’t, but I am in the “like it” category, so if I were in the market I would serious consider this bass.

If you like the look of the Luna Long Scale Tattoo Bass, $199 is not a lot of cash (though you will have to find a case somewhere), and it does come with a limited lifetime warranty for the original owner. Check one out if you get a chance!



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