Gear Review: Lava Me 2 Carbon Fiber Acoustic Guitar

While carbon fiber guitars are unlikely to supplant wooden guitars anytime soon, the Lava Me 2 seems less eccentric than it would have even a few years ago.

After decades around the periphery, manufactured materials like carbon fiber and HPL (high-pressure laminate) are finding a place alongside wood in the guitar-making mainstream—and opening opportunities to new manufacturers like Lava Music. Founded by Musicians Institute grad Louis Luk, Lava calls itself a music technology company focused on alternative materials and artful design. Introduced in 2017, Lava’s Me model was among the first one-piece injection molded carbon fiber guitars. The new Lava Me 2 ($799 street) now sits in the middle of its product line to offer a new and improved take on the original. While carbon fiber guitars are unlikely to supplant their wooden counterparts anytime soon, the Me 2, with its solid build and good sound, seems less eccentric than it would have even a few years ago.

Lava Me 2 acoustic guitar (red)

Carbon Fiber Optics

Carbon fiber may seem new, but it’s actually been seen in guitar construction since the mid-1960s, when aerospace industry leader Charles Kaman first used it to create the round backs (combined with wood tops and necks) that made Ovation Guitars big sellers starting in the 1970s. Kaman’s company would also pioneer fully synthetic guitars with the Adamas line. Today, in addition to Lava and a rebooted Ovation, companies like RainSong, McPherson, and KLOS, use the material for guitars.

Most of the carbon instruments I’ve seen are dark and industrial. Not this particular Lava. The limited-edition red model I tested makes a powerful visual statement. (The guitar is also available in a range of other colors.) Because it looks like a fashion industry design exercise, it might be tempting to dismiss the instrument as a prop better suited to a music video than to sensitive musical performance.

But looks can be deceiving. Yes, the Me 2 grabs you visually before you hear it. You can’t miss its matching body and neck, racing oval soundhole, integrated tailpiece, brushed aluminum controls, and unadorned HPL fingerboard and saddle. Even with the confectionary finish, the review model turned out to be way more than mere eye candy.

Molded Construction

The Me 2’s molded carbon fiber construction is meant to reduce gluing, which in theory creates a stronger and tighter marriage between the top, back, neck, fingerboard, bridge, and strings. If the goal was a stable playing surface and strong tone production, Lava succeeded. The Me 2 delivers a deeper and fuller timbre than I expected, especially from a body that’s only 12.7 inches wide and 4.63 inches deep. It sounds very alive.

Carbon’s advantage is resistance to the environmental conditions that make wooden guitars unstable and sometimes inconsistent. The Me 2 features Lava’s Fly+ neck, which according to Lava, was “designed by tracking the different forces of shifting positions while players are playing.” It feels narrower, deeper and rounder at the lower frets, slightly wider and flatter as you move up. But if you’re concerned that such a shape shift might feel weird, I found just the opposite. I have long fingers, and while that’s generally an advantage, certain fingerboard positions can feel crowded on smaller necks. The Lava, however, felt very comfortable in all regions. I was able to make a solid connection to the strings without exerting much effort. That, in turn, kept my hands relaxed and prevented me from gripping the neck too hard.


The neck is reinforced with a stiff carbon-fiber rod to make it three times stiffer than previous models. That, combined with PLEK fret machining, gives the 18-fret fingerboard comfortably low action that’s consistent across the pitch range. I was able play aggressively without producing fret buzz. More important, there were no dead spots, and the heel-less neck joint made it easy to reach the highest frets.

As with tonewoods, carbon fiber comes in different formulations. Lava calls its version AirSonic, which combines strong carbon-fiber layers and a lightweight honeycomb structure. The Me 2’s 1.4mm-thick Super AirSonic top, the lightest that Lava has produced to date, offers the same stiffness as standard carbon fiber but weighs 30 percent less.

Lava Me 2 acoustic guitar (red) closeup

Material Difference

While comparisons to other carbon instruments may mean something to techies, most acoustic players are likely to compare the Lava to wooden instruments. In that regard, several things stood out right away. First, the Me 2 has a stronger lower midrange than I’d expect to find in a comparably sized wood instrument. It sounds warm and full. While it produces a bit less top-end sparkle than my Martin 00-18 (which isn’t a super bright guitar), the top end sounds clear—like a good tenor singer hitting a high note.

Second—and maybe more important—is a noticeable difference in the way the tone develops. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the stiff neck and body, but the Me 2 has a fast attack and a linear decay with strong sustain. Those qualities were apparent across a wide dynamic range and playing styles.

Likewise, the guitar’s midrange-rich character shows across its dynamic range. It’s not that you can’t shape the tone with your attack; but where some guitars might have a small window for a particular timbre, the Me 2’s tone has a wide band. You don’t give up clarity when you play quietly, and things don’t get too shrill when you hit the strings hard. This is especially nice if you play single-note lead lines. You don’t have to overpower the guitar to get the notes to pop.

The tonal consistency also applies as you move from low to high pitch. Bass notes are tight and strong, the highs clear and full. The Me 2 shows none of the crossover effect that makes some guitars sound disconnected from treble to bass. My only complaint is a slight bump of resonance between the lowest B and notes.

Advanced Electronics

One of the Me 2’s coolest features is the L2 preamp and pickup system, developed in conjunction with L.R. Baggs. In addition to sending signal to an amplifier, the L2 lets the Me 2 act as its own amp by using the guitar’s back as a speaker. Controls include overall volume, reverb, and effect (which can toggle between chorus and delay with a small switch hidden in the soundhole). There’s also a small microphone with a rotary level dial in the soundhole. This allows you to mix in some ambient sounds with the pickup system. Like some of Lava’s other nomenclature, I found its name (percussion) confusing. Think of it more like the soundhole mic you find on hybrid microphone-piezo pickup systems.


The effects, especially the reverb, sounded great from my playing position. The chorus was subtle but nice. The delay knob increases delay time as you rotate clockwise. I wish the Me 2 had the tap-tempo feature available on the Lava Me Pro. Still, the effect sounded good. I especially liked the way the unplugged guitar seemed to project echoes a few feet in front of me. It created a sense of dimensional space you can’t get with a conventional delay and amp speaker.

The pickup system also worked very well going into an amp and directly into a recording rig. While there’s no EQ, the pickup has a good balance and avoids the nasal upper mids that plague some acoustic guitar pickups. The onboard mic also helped make the plugged-in output sound more natural by adding add a shimmer of acoustic “air” to the sound.    

 While the effects can sound excessive at extreme settings, I found that a moderate amount of onboard amplification and some tasteful reverb really made the Me 2 bloom. But I was even more impressed by the sound when I turned the effects off.

Carbon Copy

If I had to pick one word to describe the Lava Me 2, it would be “surprising.” I was expecting a fun little beach guitar—and Lava does tout portability and the ability to withstand the elements as selling points. And as you’d expect from a brightly colored instrument, the Lava is marketed as a stage guitar. But I ended up bonding with the Me 2 for other reasons. Its fast attack and broad-banded tone encouraged me to sit in my studio and reflect on some of the techniques and voicings I usually take for granted. The Me 2 made me think.


BODY One-piece carbon fiber; HPL bridge

NECK Reinforced carbon fiber with compound profile; HPL fretboard; 1.68″ nut width; 23.5″ scale length

OTHER L.R. Baggs L2 pickup system with onboard and outboard amplification; reverb and chorus or delay effects; onboard microphone; Ideal Bag 2 lightweight case


PRICE $799 street


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Emile Menasché
Emile Menasché

Guitarist, composer, writer.

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