NAMM 2023 Gallery
Dig into the details of a pile of new gear from Martin, Revv, Walrus, Dunable, Jam, and more!
Martin's D-18 StreetLegend
Jam Pedals' Harmonius Monk
One of the most buzzed about pedals is Eventide’s H90, which could be seen as a pair of H9s, but that would be selling it short. It packs a mind-boggling amount of features, sounds, and options while keeping a fairly intuitive interface. In our demo we caught some of the new polyphonic algorithms which were really amazing.
Dunable's DE Series Asteriod
The Asteroid is one of Dunable's latest additions to their import line. The V-style vibes of the Asteroid include a Floyd Rose trem, hotter blade-based humbuckers, and more. Plan is to have them available soon for around $1200.
Walrus Audio's Fundamental Series
Walrus' Colt Westbook wanted to give players that are just starting out in their guitar journey affordable options that not only can handle the wear and tear but sound good. The Fundamental Series is a group of nine stomps that have ultra-hip sliders and a toggle that lets you pick between three different modes. I'd say the standouts were the delay, phaser, and fuzz but since they start at only $99 it would be easy enough to pick up a few.
Revv's Dynamis D25
REVV’s Dynamis D25 cranks up the company’s popular D20 amp by another 5 watts, but with footswitchable gain boost (a button the front does the same) and reverb powering up a Celestion V-30-equipped combo. It weighs about 30 pounds and uses Two notes ’ reactive load and impulse response XLR-out, and takes REVV into the low-gain game, with gain and volume controls, and 3-band EQ. The new variation on Shawn Tubbs’ Tile Overdrive/Boost doubles up on the original Tilt, with boost and drive sides, plus EQ and a 3-position tight switch, and top-mounted outputs. The pedal streets for $269. Also, instead of 12 dB boost, the new tilt has a 20 dB bump.
Godin's Session T
Two-Rock's Vintage Deluxe
The Vintage Deluxe has the DNA of a classic American-style amp, but with a wealth of modern appointments and features. Coming in two different styles (35-watt 6L6 and 40-watt 6V6), this amp is bold with a flair for punch clean tones and rich overdive sounds thanks to the Tone Stack switch that allows you to move to a single-control setup. It also has pure tube reverb, bias tremolo, and a very intersting texture switch that works the midrange.
Santa Cruz Guitars' Catfish Special Pro
When Richard Hoover tells you that a guitar is made out of wood that is impossible to find your ears perk up. The Catfish Special Pro is a parlor guitar that is created from reclaimed wood that dates back hundreds of years. Designed for acoustic blues fingerstyle player Catfish Keith, this guitar barks and is surprisingly loud for its size. Be warned, it comes in at $11,500.
Yamaha FG9 M
Like peanut butter and choclate, phase and reverb work surisingly well with each other. The STS-88 is a shoegazer's dream. The phaser can get bubbly and warm or quick and off-putting (in a good way). With a single knob reverb control you can blend in just the right amount of space with ease. They are available now for $209.
Ovation's Adamas Models
Fishman's AFX Series
Fishman brought its new four-mini-pedal AFX series to NAMM, and showcased their ability to add EQ and preamp, looping, reverb, and boost capabilities to your acoustic guitar’s organic signal. The pedals work in parallel with your signal, rather than altering it, and can be blended alongside in highly controllable degrees. The Pocket Blender allows you to toggle between onboard pickup and mic settings, for example, and can be used as a boost by setting either the A or B section louder and hitting the footswitch for your big solo. It streets for $89.85. The Broken Record looper allows you to loop and overdub, and offers WAV file transfers via USB. The AcoustiVerb toggles between hall, plate, and spring reverb settings, with simple decay, tone, and level controls. And the ProEQMini has a 5-band EQ path. The latter three street for $119.95.
Pro Co's Lil' Rat
Since 1979, Pro Co has been producing more RATS than a New York City fast food joint—but to much better result. The RAT is a classic hard-clipping pedal that’s been on thousands of hit records and helped define the guitar sounds of the ’80s through today. Now, Pro Co has taken the Rat2 iteration and distilled it to a 2"-wide box. Same top-mounted jacks, same distortion/filer/volume control set, and a 9V input. Street price: $89.99.
Magneto Guitars' Starlux
LR Baggs' HiFi High Fidelity Acoustic Bridge Plate Pickups
Acoustic amplification can be a tricky dragon to tame, but L.R. Baggs’ new HiFi pickup is a non-invasive setup that offers a studio-quality preamp with accessible volume and tone controls. It comes with pre-wired bridge plate transducers, an endpin preamp, and over 700 hours of battery life.
Kernom's Moho Magmatic Fuzz Station
One of the most inventive discoveries at the show was Kern’s Moho Magmatic Fuzz Station. Fuzz has a range of flavors and textures and in our demo it was quite impressive how the Moho went from smooth Muff-style leads to spitty, almost glitchy rhythmic pulses. A lot of ground is covered by the mood and electricity controls which work together really well to cover nearly any era of fuzz. Plan is to have them out by July and they will come in at 349 Euros.
Vola Guitars' OZ ZT
Rodrigo y Gabriela’s Brave New World
On their new album, In Between Thoughts… A New World, the acoustic duo goes half-electric, plumbs programmed beats, adds slide guitar, and explores nondualism—following a creative path that opened due to the Covid shutdown.
Grammy Award-winning guitar virtuosi Rodrigo y Gabriela started recording what would become their latest album, In Between Thoughts… A New World, in February 2021. At the time, crafting a new album wasn’t the catalyst for making new music. They really just wanted to write, jam, and record without an agenda while locked down during the pandemic.
“It was just something to kill time,” admits Gabriela Quintero, one half of the Mexican guitar duo. “Just to be in the moment and not to think too much about it, even though here in Zihuatanejo it was more like the tropical version of the apocalypse [laughs].”
The other half of the duo, Rodrigo Sánchez, concurs that the pandemic presented a unique set of circumstances that allowed them to be creative without the added pressure of making a record, going on tour, or meeting a deadline. “Musically speaking, it was a very unusual process for us,” he says. “We weren’t really thinking about recording a new Rod and Gab record, and we didn’t really know what was going to happen. It was a really detailed process we never had done before, because we never had this amount of time to record an album.”
Rodrigo y Gabriela - True Nature (Official Audio)"True Nature" is off Rodrigo y Gabriela's first album in 4 years. The album 'In Between Thoughts...A New World’ is available now on limited edition vinyl, CD...
Guided by spiritual practices like Buddhism and nondualism, Rodrigo y Gabriela’s presence-of-mind approach to the guitar has led them on a fantastic, fulfilling journey from their humble heavy metal beginnings in Mexico City, to busking on the streets of Ireland, to performing in front of tens of thousands of people on the world’s biggest stages, opening for Muse and others.
Formed in 1998 out of the ashes of their heavy metal band, Tierra Ácida, Rodrigo y Gabriela left their hometown of Mexico City to pursue their musical ambitions in Dublin, Ireland, where they first began busking with their acoustic guitars on tourist-heavy Grafton Street, mixing elements of flamenco, rock, and heavy metal. In 2002, they released re-Foc, showcasing their virtuosity on guitar and their unique fusion of musical styles—even incorporating elements of the Irish folk music they had immersed themselves in while living abroad. In 2006, the duo released Rodrigo y Gabriela, a mix of original compositions and covers of classic songs by early influences Led Zeppelin and Metallica. The album was a commercial success, reaching the top of the Irish album charts and earning them a nomination for the Mercury Prize, awarded for the best album released in the United Kingdom by a British or Irish act. In 2008, they released 11:11, which featured 11 original compositions—each dedicated to a different musician who had influenced their music. In January 2020, Mettavolution, their fifth album, won Best Contemporary Instrumental Album at the Grammy Awards, cementing Rodrigo y Gabriela’s status as one of the most innovative and exciting guitar duos in the world.
“Gab has seven piezos inside her guitar, and everything is very tight. And I have five piezos.”—Rodrigo Sánchez
Gabriela Quintero’s Gear
Lead guitar provides the flash, but Gabriela Quintero’s right hand is what keeps the party jumping, with a driving, uncommon approach drawn more from traditional Irish music than flamenco.
Photo by Jim Bennett
- Yamaha NCX5 Signature Model
- Boss FV-500L Volume Pedal
- Boss OC-3 Super Octave
- Boss TU-3S Chromatic Tuner
- Dunlop Cry Baby Standard Wah
- Dunlop DVP4 Volume (X) Mini Pedal
- Lehle P-Split III Box
- D’Addario Pro-Arté EJ45 Normal Tension
Self-produced by Rodrigo y Gabriela at their studio in the resort city of Ixtapa, Mexico, In Between Thoughts… A New World reasserts their seemingly innate ability for cultivating a musical repertoire that captures the zeitgeist. And while it may have begun without intention, that doesn’t mean In Between Thoughts lacks direction. Like its predecessors, there’s a familiar and explosive display of virtuosic guitar craft, including all of the hallmarks one would expect from Rodrigo y Gabriela. The powerful, percussive playing of Quintero and the deft melodicism of Sánchez remain the duo’s calling cards. But new, unexpected sonic elements abound as well, including the reverb-drenched slide guitar on “Egoland,” the energetic percussion on “Descending to Nowhere,” the kinetic electronic beats on “The Ride of the Mind,” the passionately chanted vocals of “Broken Rage,” and the dreamy mystique of the robotic vocal effects embedded within “Finding Myself Leads Me to You.”
In fall 2020, while recovering from Covid, Sánchez stumbled upon an online video on nondualism—the notion that there is a “single, infinite, and indivisible reality, whose nature is pure consciousness, from which all objects and selves derive their apparently independent existence,” as defined by author/teacher Rupert Spira. “Advaita Vedanta, or nonduality, is often called the direct path—accepting what is,” explains Sánchez. “We’re not saying that everything in this structure of the body/mind we live in is right. It is just what is, and we cannot really argue with that.”
“The beauty about music is that it’s always expanding.”—Gabriela Quintero
During the early stages of the pandemic, Rodrigo y Gabriela did what many other artists did: They turned to social media, posting short anecdotal performances from their studio. But when they finally got bored of that, they started to write music based on the concept of nondualism without really thinking it would become their new album. “It was just a project,” emphasizes Sánchez. “We were just here in the studio doing things that we would never dofor Rod and Gab. I started to work with electronics, I left my acoustic guitar [at home] and just took my electric guitars [into the studio]. We started writing the music at the same time as we were writing a story based on this philosophy that we were so much attracted to. If we had known that it was going to become the Rod and Gab album, we probably would’ve limited ourselves in terms of not using electronics, or not using too much electric guitar. But we didn’t really think that way. That’s how the album came about.”
Their new album began as a pandemic songwriting and recording project, and took shape almost by accident as they accumulated tracks and tunes.
As for Quintero, she took a slightly more pragmatic approach to the endeavor, particularly regarding nondualism. “I think me and Rod, we share a lot of things that we like, and we feel attracted to, but we process differently,” she explains. “That’s where the nondualism becomes dual [laughs]. I discovered these teachings through a book called The Power of Now [byEckhart Tolle]. To me, that book was incredibly insightful and practical, and such a ‘no rules’ type of thing. I tried to meditate but there was too much discipline with some of the spiritual teachings. I remember when Rod was into Buddhism, and he was meditating a lot of hours a day and learning some mantras that were very strict. And for me, it was too much of a discipline. When I discovered The Power of Now, it was like, ‘Oh great, you don’t have to basically do anything [laughs].’ And then, when the pandemic came in and Rod discovered these videos about nondualism, the way he presented them to me sounded super confusing and too much like nihilism. So, we were constantly having friendly debates here in the studio. And I was going, ‘This is too crazy.’ It felt to me that it was denying this existence. But then we discovered these are the same teachings as The Power of Now, but in different words, in a different way. Then we stopped the debates.”
Quintero, very late into their writing and recording process, asked Sánchez if they were, in fact, writing their next record. “And then she asked, ‘When are we going to record it?’” says Sánchez. “We’d been recording [what we were writing] from day one with quality, and so I went back to the studio that afternoon and I checked all the recordings and all the levels, and we had produced the album already. We had the record.”
“We love flamenco. My best friend in that scene, Vicente Amigo, is one of the best. But no, we never play flamenco.”—Rodrigo Sánchez
As for how they record, Sánchez says it happens all sorts of ways—sometimes tracking together, sometimes individually. Sánchez says the acoustic guitars get picked up by German-made Schoeps MK 4 mics, recommended to him by his close friend, Spanish guitar maestro Vicente Amigo. They also adopted some of what he calls his “old-school metal techniques” for recording. “Knowing that we were going to have orchestra and electronics and all that, I used room mics for Gabs—and instead of just copying her track, I have her record two guitars exactly the same,” he explains, noting he did not use the copy/paste shortcut many musicians use nowadays. “She would do one guitar rhythm and then she would double that to make it sound bigger. Overdubbing the same rhythms and the same parts actually give her much more presence on top of the electronics. And she’s so good at it.”
Due in large part to Quintero’s right-hand technique, which Sánchez recorded so well on In Between Thoughts, “heavy metal flamenco” is a label often applied to the duo. “Ah, the ‘F’ word,” laughs Sánchez. “We love flamenco. My best friend in that scene, Vicente Amigo, is one of the best. But no, we never play flamenco. I understand some people are confused because of Gab’s rasgueado[gesture to invoke her right-hand technique], but actually she’s not doing the flamenco technique at all. She learned most of these techniques from an Irish bodhrán player, Robbie Harris.”
Rodrigo Sánchez’s Gear
Rodrigo Sánchez wears his musical roots on his chest,
in a t-shirt proclaiming his fan status for the Bay Area metal band Testament.
Photo by Dan Locke/Frank White Photo Agency
- Yamaha NTX5 Signature Model
- Fender Jaguar
- Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II XL+
- Marshall JCM900 4100 Hi Gain Dual Reverb
- Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
- Boss FV-500L Volume Pedal
- Boss OC-3 Super Octave
- Ibanez WH10 V3 Wah Pedal
- Lehle P-Split III DI Box
- MXR M133 Micro Amp
- MXR M234 Analog Chorus
- One Control Minimal Series AB Box
- TC Electronic Ditto X2 Looper
- Truetone 1 Spot Pro CS7 Power Supply
- TWA WR-03 Wah Rocker
Strings & Picks
- D’Addario EXL115 (.011–.049
- D’Addario Pro-Arté EJ46 Hard Tension
- Jim Dunlop Jazz III Black Stiffo
The bodhrán is a frame drum used in traditional Irish music that Quintero learned about when they moved to Ireland. “At the time, I was trying to imagine how flamenco players played their rhythms,” she explains. “I couldn’t figure it out, because back then there was not YouTube—there was nothing. Nowadays, you can go and say, ‘How to play rasgueado flamenco, how to play rhumba,’ and you’ll find something, but not back then. And I always got it wrong. And then I discovered the bodhrán.”
In the old days, the bodhrán was played with hands, not with a stick, as is often seen presently, and she says the Irish kept telling her she actually exhibited the movements of a bodhrán player, but on guitar. “They encouraged me to do certain rhythms. So, just watching them, it was easy to emulate a lot of the movements—it just came organically. The beauty about music is that it’s always expanding.”
“If I came back to a solo bit or something, there was not that beat—people were not jumping anymore, and it was like, ‘Ah, we’re losing the audience,’ so I tried to become more the drummer of the band.”—Gabriela Quintero
After weaning his guitar craft on West Coast thrash metal bands Testament, Megadeth, and Slayer, and New Yorkers Anthrax, Sánchez’s nylon-string style was originally grounded in a lot of the palm-muting he carried over from that style of electric playing. “First of all, I had to translate my palm muting [from electric to nylon string],” he explains. “Then, I used a little bit more of Al Di Meola’s technique, but he was playing steel-strings, right? So, I was like, ‘Okay, how can I translate this into nylon?’ And then I started to listen to Strunz & Farah, and they are incredible. I listened to the way they played, especially Jorge Strunz, who is so clean and so fast. And I started to learn some of his licks here and there, so I was in that zone already.”
They want a whole lotta folk! Rodrigo y Gabriela get down on the Newport Folk Festival’s Harbor Stage in 2014.
Photo by Tim Bugbee/Tinnitus Photography
It’s worth noting that the nylon-string guitars Rodrigo y Gabriela play live are the result of years of practical research and application in collaboration with Yamaha and are not models or designs your average nylon-string player would use, nor are they commercially available. “It’s not like any nylon-string guitar can just go and play in the middle of a festival of 40,000 people,” explains Sánchez. Originally, they were using guitars made by Irish luthier Frank Tate, which they still use at home and in the studio. But the guitars they now use live were specially designed over a 14-year period by Yamaha’s Japan-based Custom Shop for arena-concert environments. “These guitars have a very special system for us to sound the way they sound live,” he says. “Gab has seven piezos inside her guitar, and everything is very tight. And I have five piezos, which is really important for those kinds of shows.”
Within the duo, both players are very melodic and very rhythmical, but Quintero did gravitate to doing more of the beats, simply out of necessity, once they started playing bigger shows. “At the beginning when we used to play together, we swapped all the time—solos, arpeggios, and all of this,” she explains. “Eventually, when we started playing rock festivals, because I was the one who played the chords and the beat, if I came back to a solo bit or something, there was not that beat—people were not jumping anymore, and it was like, ‘Ah, we’re losing the audience,’ so I tried to become more the drummer of the band.”
Jumping from a metal band in Mexico City to an acoustic guitar duo busking the streets of Ireland seems quite serendipitous and grounded in the kind of ideology they eventually discovered via nondualism. Circling back to Quintero’s The Power of Now-influenced, pragmatic approach, she jokes that the decision was really quite simple. “Eventually, we were so internationally non-famous and miserable, we decided we’re going to quit the band,” she chuckles. “But we’re not going to quit music. We wanted to travel the world. So, our new goal was to travel and play guitar.”
While this live performance doesn’t capture the duo’s current blend of acoustic and electric sounds, it does afford a close-up look at their playing technique. In particular, check out Gabriela’s right-hand approach, which is based on the traditional Irish instrument called the bodhrán.
These are instruments based on the custom specifications of some of the world’s most influential musicians, but they appeal to a wide variety of players, far beyond those who are fans of these artists’ respective bands. Many people find their perfect guitar in our Signature Series based on the qualities of the guitar itself.
ESP Guitars (NAMM Booth 208A/B) had heads turning at their booth with the introduction of 12 new Signature Series guitars. In addition to three new Kirk Hammett (Metallica) LTD KH-V models and a new Olympic White finish for the James Hetfield (Metallica) Vulture guitar, the company chose the NAMM Show to debut new guitar models for Bill Kelliher (Mastodon), Gary Holt (Exodus), Javier Reyes (Animals As Leaders), Lars Frederiksen (Rancid), Nergal (Behemoth), and Stephen Carpenter (Deftones).
“The Signature Series has long been a hallmark of the ESP brand,” says Tony Rauser, ESP Director of Artist Relations. “These are instruments based on the custom specifications of some of the world’s most influential musicians, but they appeal to a wide variety of players, far beyond those who are fans of these artists’ respective bands. Many people find their perfect guitar in our Signature Series based on the qualities of the guitar itself.”
Two new models have been announced for Bill Kelliher, the respected guitarist for award-winning American metal band Mastodon. The LTD Bill Kelliher BK-600 is now available in a distinctive Vintage Silver Sunburst finish. This single-cutaway guitar features traditional full body thickness and no waist cut, with set-thru construction at 24.75” scale. A major update on the BK-600 is its set of Bill’s signature Mojotone Hellbender humbucker pickups. Both the bridge and neck pickups may be split with push-pull controls on the volume and tone knobs. Other professional features on the LTD BK-600 include LTD locking tuners and a TonePros locking bridge and tailpiece. Bill’s LTD Signature Series Sparrowhawk is also being offered in an outstanding copper-tinged Vintage Silver Sunburst finish. Built with set-thru construction at 24.75” scale, it also includes a set of Bill’s signature Mojotone Hellbender humbucker pickups.
Last year, ESP Signature Artist Gary Holt hinted about a new “very pointy” Signature Series guitar that was in development. That guitar is the LTD Gary Holt GH-SV. Built at 24.75” scale, the GH-SV offers neck-thru-body construction, with a Black finish that’s accentuated by multi-ply red binding, red pickup covers, and a special red scripted LTD logo. Its Macassar ebony neck is highlighted by pearloid split block inlays and 22 extra-jumbo stainless steel frets. Components on the GH-SV include a double-locking Floyd Rose 1000 tremolo system, Grover tuners, and a set of direct-mount active pickups including the EMG 89R (neck), with reversed coils to keep the single coil side closer to the neck to capture the sweet spot and a push-pull control to split the pickup, and an aggressive EMG 81 in the bridge position.
The LTD Signature Series JRV-8 is the new signature model for Javier Reyes from the acclaimed instrumental progressive metal trio Animals as Leaders. An 8-string guitar with a 27” baritone scale, it offers bolt-on construction with an alder body, and a five-piece maple/walnut neck with a thin flat contour. Its maple fingerboard includes double-bar abalone inlays and 22 extra-jumbo frets. It’s also one of the few production guitars to include an 8-string double-locking Floyd Rose tremolo. The JRV-8’s sound is powered by a H/S/S pickup configuration featuring a Fishman Fluence 8 String Javier Reyes Classic Open Core bridge pickup, delivering three voices that are selectable with a mini-toggle switch. The middle and neck pickups are Fishman Fluence Single Width 8.
A new Signature Series guitar is being debuted for Lars Frederiksen, the influential guitarist of the legendary punk rock band Rancid. A lighter, more streamlined version of the ESP Viper, the LTD Volsung-200 is built with set-neck construction at 24.75” scale. Components on the Volsung-200 include LTD tuners, an LTD tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece, and a set of acclaimed, punchy ESP Designed LH-150 passive pickups in the bridge and neck positions that feature custom black chrome covers and exposed pole pieces. Unlike most Viper models, the Volsung-200 offers three control knobs, with individual volume controls for each pickup plus tone control and pickup selector.
Two new Signature Series guitars have been announced for Nergal, the frontman of respected Polish metal band Behemoth. The LTD HEX-6 offers a symmetrical V-shaped body, built with neck-thru-body construction at 25.5” scale. Other features include 24 extra-jumbo frets, a TonePros locking TOM bridge with string-thru-body, LTD locking tuners, and a set of direct-mount Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker active pickups. The LTD HEX-200 is a more affordable version of this guitar, with bolt-on construction and a set of ESP Designed LH-301N (neck) and LH-301B (bridge) passive pickups.
A popular finish has returned for the LTD SCT-607 Baritone model of longtime ESP artist and influential guitarist Stephen Carpenter (Deftones). Available once again in Black, the LTD SCT-607 Baritone has 7- strings and a 27” baritone scale. Built with neck-thru-body construction, it features Stephen’s own signature Fishman Fluence pickups as well as a TonePros locking TOM bridge with string-thru-body design.
For more information, please visit espguitars.com.
Loaded with an industry-leading 21 drivers per side and boasting a frequency range of 5Hz-40kHz, UE PREMIER are UE Pro’s most powerful, nuanced and versatile in-ear monitors to date.
Whether performing live on stage, recording in the studio, or listening to music with professional sound quality, UE PREMIER sets a new gold standard for exceptional sound quality.
“Building upon the success of the groundbreaking UE LIVE, we wanted to push ourselves to the limit of what was previously thought possible,” said Philippe Depallens, VP & General Manager, Ultimate Ears Pro. “Our team of experts embarked on a mission to take our technology further than ever before. UE PREMIER represents the pinnacle of UE Pro innovation, with immersive studio-quality sound that brings even the most intricate details into focus.”
Each of UE PREMIER’s 21 drivers was chosen in the pursuit of audio excellence. Working in tandem with a five-way passive crossover, each driver was carefully selected and individually tuned to efficiently and accurately reproduce different frequency bands across the audio spectrum.
To extend the frequency range down to 5hZ and ensure a low-end listeners can feel without compromising on size, UE PREMIER starts with two dual sub-low drivers in parallel with four dual mid-low drivers. A quad-mid driver provides unmatched nuance, clarity and adaptability no matter the instrument, genre or listening environment. UE Pro’s proprietary True Tone driver and Knowles’ proprietary Quad Super Tweeter extends the frequency range up to 40,000 kHz, delivering the richness and warmth from upper-register harmonics.
UE PREMIER is available now at pro.ultimateears.com in the USA and internationally through Ultimate Ears Pro’s dealer distribution network for $2,999. Orders will ship on May 15, 2023.
For more information, please visit custom.ultimateears.com.
Searching for a do-it-all songwriting tool, the keyboard wizard found a perfect companion in Lava Music’s state-of-the-art acoustic with onboard effects, looping, recording, and connectivity.
The creative chase is always a challenge, and especially for songwriters and composers, for whom the time it takes to set up a loop or a recorder can be an opportunity for ideas to fade. Jordan Rudess, the keyboardist for prog-metal heroes Dream Theater, has found an elegant solution in Lava Music’s LAVA ME 3 acoustic guitar, a carbon-fiber instrument that does a lot more than picking and strumming.
Rudess had been exploring acoustic guitar as a different compositional palette, and while he loved the instrument’s urgency and intimacy, he found himself wanting more sonic options and more ways to quickly and easily share the ideas he was conjuring. His friend, the Brazilian guitar virtuoso Mateus Asato, suggested that Rudess should try the LAVA ME 3, and Rudess was immediately hooked.
At the April 2023 NAMM show in Anaheim, California, Rudess explained how the LAVA ME 3 opened his eyes to the opportunities of combining advanced technology with classic acoustic guitar design—and, more important, opened a new door to exploring and developing his original ideas.
The LAVE ME 3 comes in six eye-catching finishes that complement its futuristic design.
“The LAVA ME 3 is incredible,” Rudess says. “It’s got app-based effects—chorus, reverb, flanger, and octavers—and then you start scrolling through its upper-bout touch screen and realize ‘Wow, I can message somebody with this, or I can choose these drum loops? I can upload my files to the cloud?’ It’s pretty crazy! The more time I spend with it, the more I’m going ‘this thing is awesome!’”
In addition to its futuristic appearance—with a carbon fiber body and neck, a rounded back, a sleek headstock, and an above-the-strings soundport—and app-controllable effects, the LAVA ME 3 can also create loops and record, and has a built-in tuner. That adds up to a highly self-contained and evolutionary playing experience.
“I love the idea of having all that built into the guitar,” Rudess explains. “I don’t necessarily want to have to plug my 6-string into all that stuff. I had been thinking, ‘Why can’t those electronics be in the guitar?’ And then I found out about LAVA guitars.”
The LAVA ME 3 is really an all-in-one axe for guitarists from beginner to world-class. Premier Guitar’s John Bohlinger recently provided a close-up on the instrument in a PG Plays demo video.
Lava ME 3 Demo | PG Plays
“It’s a carbon fiber guitar, but it’s way more than that” says Bohlinger. “It’s a learning tool, a practicing tool, a writing tool, and a recorder. It comes with multi effects, it comes with loops, a tuner, and a metronome. And it comes with a mobile app where you can connect with this whole LAVA community of guitar players.”
Powered by LAVA’s proprietary HILAVA system, LAVA ME 3 makes it easy to practice, jam, and solo anywhere. Guitarists can play in a range of styles and with a wide range of sounds without having to plug into an amp, via the instrument’s built-in speaker. And since it’s constructed with carbon fiber, the guitar is more stable and durable than a typical acoustic, no matter the weather or humidity, which is a major bonus for touring pros like Rudess.
“One of the really nice things about this,” he says, “is that, because of the way that it’s built, this thing stays in tune incredibly well. I can go days without having to tune this guitar. It’s really amazing.”
At $799 street, the LAVA ME 3 is also in the price range of most guitarists. For more information on LAVA ME 3, check out Lava Music’s website.