9/22/2012

c.1960 Luna (Japanese) Pineapple Ukulele




Old Luna ukuleles are devilishly hard to find in America because there just weren't that many imported. Luna (not the current "Luna" brand that makes cheapy, funky guitars) is a well-respected Japanese brand that produced mostly in the 1950s through 1960s, and this one dates from somewhere in there.

This particular pineapple model is very bare bones -- it only has an inlaid rosette and a few micro-dots in the fretboard -- but it's lightly built, features solid mahogany (with a natural, golden-toned finish) throughout its construction, and feels and sounds great. My work included cleating a (sort-of, not all the way through) top crack, regluing the bridge, fret level/dress, new tuner buttons, and a setup.


The look of this uke, with frets laid directly into the top of the neck (no fretboard) and the pineapple outline, is entirely reminiscent of old Kamaka ukes from the 1920s and 30s. The bridge style, with its ebony saddle, as well as the headstock shape and scale (13 3/4"), are built more like a Martin, though. 

With the super-light bracing and thin top, the tone is wide-open and carrying, with that sweet, mellow quality pineapple-shaped ukes tend to have. This makes it great for strumming as well as fingerpicking.


Cute Luna "shield" decal. The tuners are original, though I swapped out some grungy off-white buttons with some nice, new black ones that feel a bit more sure. The hole at the top of the headstock was drilled by someone to make a wall-hanger strap, but it could definitely be a good place to hang a typical (playing) strap from.




There's a very tiny chipped top edge on the lower bout (you can juuuust see it in the bottom right corner of this pic), but there's nothing wrong or very noticeable. Someone just bumped it on the edge there.





Nice-looking mahogany all over this fella.





Here's the label in the soundhole.

So, overall? These Luna ukes are tremendous bang for the buck and are pretty fun considering that they're a post-war Japanese brand aping both Martins and Kamakas at the same time. Sort of the best of both worlds (tone + folksy looks) in a no-frills design.

3 comments:

Thomas Regnier said...

I was going looking at a normal soprano by them from the same era, same style generally, for $50. I liked the looks, but passed it up because I couldn't find nay info on it at the time. If only I'd known!

Antebellum Instruments said...

Thomas: Yeah, $50 is an incredibly good find. They generally need work because the glues are starting to get loose by now, but once they're fixed up they're super cool ukes.

Kim Wylie said...

I got one not pinapple though still in box never been played original strings 100% perfect condition. 1950 luna soprano uku. Wot u think its worth.