Alternative Notion
Guitar Player|February 2022
"AVA puts an elegant spin on carbon-fiber luthiery with its One First Edition electric guitars."
By Dave Hunter

From Mario Maccaferri’s injection-molded plastic guitars of the 1950s to Dan Armstrong’s late-’60s Lucite guitars and basses, and Gibson’s 1980 Sonex line, the use of alternative materials in cutting-edge luthiery is nothing new. While none of those adventures stayed the course, however, AVA’s high-end guitars made from advanced carbon fiber aim to turn the page on the industry’s use of endangered materials.

It might be antithetical to say carbon fiber has long been the material of the future, but that seemingly contradictory status abides in the guitar world. While the stuff has been accepted for use in everything from racing bikes to wind-turbine blades to aerospace applications, it has yet to replace traditional woods in the hearts and minds of guitarists, despite the previous and ongoing efforts of adventurous makers such as McPherson, Kevin Michael, Klos, Rainsong, Gus and a few others. Founded in 2011 in Porto, Portugal, with the express purpose of building elegant, forward-looking instruments, AVA Guitars determined that carbon-fiber construction was the way to go, and the results indicate they’re onto something.

The two examples of AVA’s One First Edition models featured here come to GP fresh from their appearance on the Boutique Guitar Showcase Tour 2021. Carrying First Edition plates numbered 21 and 22 of 100, they beautifully exhibit the company’s efforts to render this 21st-century material into clean, elegant, subtly eclectic guitars. How do they do it?

“AVA guitars are the result of more than a decade of research, design, development, and testing with engineers and guitar players to achieve and iterate the correct behavior of carbon fiber,” AVA CEO Júlio Martins explains. “Composite materials have a very closeresemblance to wood. Both are composed of fibers — cellulose versus carbon fiber — adequately placed into a matrix, in this case a resin. So a very similar approach regarding the orientations of the fibers may be used to mimic the behavior of wood.

“We don’t have any issues with wood,” he adds. “We just want to show that it can be done differently, with soul and sound. And now we can say that carbon-fiber composite is an adequate alternative, regardless of the good historical use of wood, and a great material for musical instruments.”

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