Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess Chases Inspiration with the LAVA ME 3 Guitar

Jordan Rudess plays a LAVA ME 3 at the Lava Music booth during NAMM 2023 in Anaheim.

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.

We’re unpacking Reid’s playing—from his early days in the NYC jazz underground through his work with Living Colour and into supergroup superstardom—and his longstanding gear-acquisition-syndrome.

Read MoreShow less

Amazon Prime Day is here (July 16-17). Whether you're a veteran player or just picking up your first guitar, these are some bargains you don't want to miss. Check out more deals here! https://amzn.to/3LskPRV

Read MoreShow less

Gibson’s Theodore model

PRS Guitars and Ted McCarty family drop “Theodore” trademark objection, and Gibson agrees to drop opposition to PRS’s “594” and “Silver Sky Nebula” trademarks and trademark applications.

PRS Guitars yesterday announced that it has withdrawn its objection to Gibson’s registration of the “Theodore” trademark. In a press release, PRS stated it continues to hold dear and protect its long-standing agreement with Ted McCarty and the McCarty family regarding the exclusive rights to the “McCarty” trademark and to McCarty’s name and persona, first developed directly with Ted himself more than 25 years ago. After a series of private negotiations, Gibson has also agreed to drop its opposition to PRS’s “594” and “Silver Sky Nebula” trademarks and trademark applications.

Read MoreShow less

A technicolor swirl of distortion, drive, boost, and ferocious fuzz.

Summons a wealth of engaging, and often unique, boost, drive, distortion, and fuzz tones that deviate from common templates. Interactive controls.

Finding just-right tones, while rewarding, might demand patience from less assured and experienced drive-pedal users. Tone control could be more nuanced.

$199

Danelectro Nichols 1966
danelectro.com

4.5
4
4
4.5

The Danelectro Nichols 1966, in spite of its simplicity, feels and sounds like a stompbox people will use in about a million different ways. Its creator, Steve Ridinger, who built the first version as an industrious Angeleno teen in 1966, modestly calls the China-made Nichols 1966 a cross between a fuzz and a distortion. And, at many settings, it is most certainly that.

Read MoreShow less