Lava Me2 Travel Sized Acoustic Guitar. A unibody, carbon fiber, acoustic electric travel guitar with built-in reverb, delay and chorus.
Update: The guitar is now available for sale in the US! Here is a link to buy it on Amazon
I was recently contacted by a new guitar company called Lava. They are a Hong Kong-based company that is looking to introduce its travel guitars into the US. After a brief email exchange, they agreed to send me one of their second-generation guitars in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The guitar arrived very quickly. Upon unboxing I found a hybrid case containing a matte black Lava Me2 guitar and a micro USB cable. The guitar comes with Elixir strings, which I like using, so that is a plus.
The guitar is super lightweight. I didn’t know what the cable was for, but I figured out where to plug it in. I saw a little charge indicator light come on, then waited. It turns out that what I was charging was a built-in acoustic effects control. It is probably the coolest unique feature I have found on an acoustic guitar, maybe ever! I will discuss this more in-depth later in the review.
Another first impression: it does take some time to get used to the carbon fiber neck. Like most guitarists, I am used to my hand sliding across the wood, and that does have a significantly different feel. The neck – and the feel of the strings against it especially – is very different from what I am accustomed to. It will unquestionably take a lot of time to get used to.
Lava also includes three guitar picks of varying weights. They call these ‘perfect picks’ but I didn’t notice a substantial difference compared to my other picks (generally tortex). But, one of them was a large triangular, medium-light pick and I liked that. Overall, they made for a nice addition.
Lava also includes a carrying case which I really like.
It’s nicer than your average gig-bag as it provides some protection. I still would not advise flying with the included case. It’s a soft-shell case and it does have an adjustable backpack style strap system, but the issue with plane travel has less to do with the case and more to do with how much flying sucks. You are totally at the mercy of the airline and if they want to make you check your guitar, you’re kinda stuck either waiting for another flight or risking it. And while the case feels somewhat protective, I would still worry about it getting tossed around or other baggage falling on it because it’s not a flight-case. That said, I think the case is perfectly fine for pretty much every other situation.
The guitar sounds exceptional! I was extremely impressed by both the fullness of the sound and the volume at which it played. I have been a longtime advocate of parlor acoustic guitars and a longtime hater of guitars like the Martin Backpacker. I just feel like mini guitars like the Martin never produce appealing sound. But, this guitar somehow achieves more of a full/dreadnought sound. My one complaint here is that while the sound is extremely full, with twinkling highs and booming lows, there is a lack of depth. I attribute this to the unnatural materials used, but I could be wrong about that.
One of the main features of this guitar is its built-in effects. These do not require you to plug into an amp to enjoy and are a really innovative addition. If you are playing at low-to-moderate volumes, the effects are clear and noticeable. You don’t get a ton of control with the three nobs, but you get enough to play around and have a little fun. These features are not likely to be a huge game-changer beyond just having something cool to show off or integrate into a few songs. Beyond that, they lack the versatility to really manipulate the effects on a broad scale.
The effects you get are delay and chorus, but you can dial down the delay to act as more of a reverb. The reverb is a bit of a mixed bag; I noticed a little bit of a chirpy noise that accompanies harder strokes against the strings. It sounds like there is an echo that is rushing to get out.
In order to provide an idea of how the guitar sounds, I recorded some samples using the Lava Me2, my Fender acoustic parlor guitar and my Takamine G series acoustic, which is full-sized with a cutaway. Please bear in mind, I’m not the best guitar player, this is just an attempt to try giving some audio examples to potential customers.
Lava Me2, clean, strumming open chords
Full Size Acoustic, strumming open chords
Parlor guitar, strumming open chords
Full Sized Acoustic, single notes
Parlor guitar, single notes
Lava Me2, clean, single notes
Parlor Guitar, strumming, bar chords
Lava Me2, clean, strumming, bar chords
Lava Me2, chorus strumming, bar chords
Lava Me2, chorus, single notes
Lava Me2, delay, single notes
Lava Me2, delay, strumming
Lava Me2, chorus strumming, open chords
I think this is a great travel sized guitar. I vastly prefer it to pretty much any other travel sized option I have tried. I still really like my parlor guitar, so this would not be a replacement, but it offers a far fuller sound that is more comparable to a full sized acoustic than what the parlor guitar is able to achieve. If you are in the market for a travel sized acoustic and you want a sound that is more akin to a full size, I do not think a better option exists.