Guangzhou-based Lava Music (拿火音乐) released the world’s first unibody carbon fiber guitar Lava Me in 2017 and reinvented it as a smart guitar in 2021. Now the company is the world’s largest carbon fiber guitar manufacturer and holds more than 40 patents on material, acoustic structure and design fields.
Its founder and CEO Louis Luk (陆子天), born in 1991, had the opportunity to explore the guitar market when he was studying at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, as he explained in the podcast ‘China from all angles’ produced by the Chinese media RADII. He then found that guitar heritage brands were not innovative, as they were taking advantage of a monopoly situation for decades. “When I got back to Guangzhou, I also found that the machining and skills in China were catching up very quickly”, he said.
He founded Lava Music in 2013 with the vision of bringing disruption to this traditional market. “Our first guitar was not a success. We used multiple layers of very thin sheets of wood fiber and CNC machines to cut the guitar form. It took about 72 hours to create just one guitar. The machine costed millions of RMB. It was heavy, it sounded bad and it was just financially impossible to build”, Louis Luk recalled.
Continuous work on materials
It wasn’t until he met through Weibo a material science student that the breakthrough came. “The Airsonic changed everything to us, said Louis Luk. The material student joined and he also brought his professor to the board. We coinvented with also the supplier. It is the first material supplier in Asia and the second largest in the world. We showed them what we wanted to create and the possibilities and they finally decided to put their top engineers to help us on this project. There are about 100 engineers involved.”
They collectively developed Airsonic, a carbon fibre composite material capable of adapting to temperature of -20℃ to 60℃ , and humidity of 10% -90%, and the technology of one-piece injection moulded. “It’s very hard to achieve, because nobody has ever done it that way”, Louis Luk insisted, adding that for the Lava Me 3 guitar, they used Airsonic 2, very different from the first generation of the material. “It is stiffer, stronger, more stable, easier to produce. We are constantly working on either the material itself or the new products around the material”, he explained.
According to him, the world will rediscover the term Made in China in the next 3-4 years. “In fact, people are already discovering it as a term meaning good quality with affordable price. Later people will also see the soul of Made in China which to me is a sense of ‘smart and fast’, supported by the efficiency and skills of the Chinese supply chain ecosystem, he said. We are trying to put our own efforts to contribute to this collective future.”
This article has been commissioned and published by JEC Group.