GW's gear editor has played, and owned, them all – acoustic guitars, electrics, hybrids – in over 25 years at the magazine.
Follow the proliferation of smart-tech musical instruments and you’ll most likely find Lava Music at the forefront of this molten integration.
Last year’s release of the innovative Lava Me 3 – the company’s first smart guitar – with its eye-catching finishes, futuristic design and integrated touchscreen display with proprietary HILAVA operating system, proved that smart devices could seamlessly co-exist within a carbon-fiber instrument in a beneficial way.
The only hiccup was that its price made it a challenging peak for those curious enough to explore its app-driven tools (which are primed for practicing and creating instant musical content) and on-the-go, player-friendly size.
But now it seems Lava is determined to have its revolutionary instrument in the hands of seasoned players and tech-savvy consumers alike with the release of their eco-friendly Blue Lava guitar that includes the same HILAVA interface as its predecessor at a far more prudent price.
Blue Lava eschews wood for a recyclable HPL (high-pressure laminate) in its “green” construction and employs Lava’s 4-Mass internal design structure to enhance vibrations throughout the body and neck, ensuring a much better bass response and a robust acoustic tone in a lightweight, composite material guitar that’s built to endure extreme temperature changes.
The app-based touchscreen display above the soundhole port allows you to access the HILAVA system’s many built-in actuator-enhanced effects (no external amp required), play along and record with a multitude of musical grooves and measure your performance and progress with interactive practice apps.
The system also features an onboard tuner, metronome, multi-track looper and recorder and so much more – making it a game-changing, all-in-one guitar.
Blue Lava comes in a compact 36–inch size with a lower-bout USB-C port (for charging and updatable connectivity) and is available in Sail White, Midnight Black, Coral/Lavender, Aqua/Mint Green and Ice/Ocean Blue anti-scratch matte finishes.
First, you’ll need to pair the guitar via Bluetooth with the free companion Lava+ mobile app and establish an account to unlock all its potential; but once you do, you’re able to share your music, review stats and check out musical posts of artists you can connect with from the extended Lava community. Its 3.5–inch display is activated via the power button in the sound port adjacent to the internal volume wheel.
Navigating is as simple as a smartphone in swiping screens to find apps for Tuner, Tempo (metronome), Recorder, Effects, Practice, Loops (grooves), as well as folders you can store music and pictures, find updates and access general settings. The Tuner has an easy-to-read display and is super-accurate, and you can hear and feel a click when you’re in tune.
The Practice app uses sound-detection technology in each of its five practice modes – chord transition, strumming, scale training, ear training and single-note training – so it can provide a detailed report in post, documenting your progress and playing accuracy.
Scale training is fun for its scores of standard or byzantine scales to practice from in different positions on the neck, and it tracks how many right and wrong notes you strike. There are numerous effects with colorful names that very much reflect their filtered voice, creating sounds anywhere from spatially effervescent to deeply oscillating, and you can group any of them as a trio in Templates to access quickly and deep dive into modifying and editing their parameters.
Also, Blue Lava is still an acoustic electric guitar that you can rock out with live, so it has a ¼–inch input jack and specific line-out effects algorithms for that capability. The showstopper is the looping function where you can dig on countless grooves from all genres and styles and alter time signatures, BPMs and bars within the loops.
Once you find a groove, you can preview or use it and have up to four tracks to record on top of the original loop. Once you’re done, you can save as a draft and/or share it on the Lava social platform.
Finally, Blue Lava plays comfortably as a shorter-scale guitar with relatively low action, but more importantly, I find it an invaluable companion that doubles as your sketch pad, practice partner or idea machine where you don’t need to pull out your phone – it’s all baked-in – and yet, portable enough to take anywhere when inspiration calls.
Best of all, it’s an evolutionary musical instrument that will continually be updated with even more features, tools and sounds.
- PRICE: $649 / £719
- TYPE: Smart acoustic electric guitar
- MADE IN: China
- BODY: Recyclable HPL with 4-Mass internal bracing
- NECK: Recyclable HPL
- FINGERBOARD: Recyclable HPL
- NUT: 1.72”
- SCALE: 23.5"
- FRETS: 18
- HARDWARE: Lava matte aluminum, 18:1 ratio
- ELECTRONICS: HILava system with L3 smart preamp and FreeBoost 2.0 effects actuator, 2G memory, 16G storage
- CONTROLS: Volume wheel and on/off/sleep/wake button inside sound port, 3 ½” multitouch screen on top side with status, menu, and app icons
- ONBOARD APPS: Tuner, metronome, recorder, loops (grooves, not a looper), practice program, effects
- EFFECTS: 50+ presets consisting of reverb, delay, reverse delay, chorus, tremolo, phaser, flanger, ring mod, octave, stutter, wah, slow gear, pitch shift, shaper filter, distortion, and impulse response for line out
- LAVA+ APP: Syncs with HILava system via LavaCloud to keep track of effects templates, favorite grooves, practice summary, music, pictures, and devices plus top and trending recordings by other Lava players
- CONNECTIVITY: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ¼” output jack, USB-C jack for charging, contact charging available via AirFlow Wireless Charger [sold separately, $119 street]
- POWER: 5,000 mAh lithium-ion battery
- CONTACT: Lava Music (opens in new tab)