Seymour Duncan: Lava Box



Seymour Duncan Lava Box
List: $130

Fuzz boxes old hands would often associate the fuzz drive with the likes of the Fuzz Face (Arbiter) & Big Muff (EHX); other brand names trying to out-do these signature boxes are often relegated as passionate experiments which are successful but could have been better. In today’s perspective, a ‘better’ device is subject to the player’s tonal philosophy which is largely personal; A’s gems could be B’s junk all in the name of private embrace.

Seymour Duncan’s barrage of the pedal domain saw the introduction of the Tweak Fuzz which was markedly coordinated by the very talented Blues Saraceno. In light of this success, Duncan’s productivity sees the admittance of another fuzz pedal in the family- enter the Lava Box.

Build/ features
The Lava Box (LB) borrowed heavily from its elder sibling in terms of its general appearances, no attempts were made to digress from the original yellow hue (ok, the LB is more amber than yellow), it still features a trio of control knobs (Vol/ Rumble/ Gain), a true-bypass footswitch & requires a complete base plate removal for battery access- it’s oh, so predictable. The positive inheritance here is definitely the rigid build & ribbed rubber base for maximum anti-slip application. It is its sheer basic individuality which makes this pedal idiot-proof; so much of your time with it goes into tonal manipulation as opposed to operational attempts.

Rating: 90%

The primary disapproval with the Tweak Fuzz was its 6-position ‘Tweak’ knob which offers a fixed tonal offering, in lieu of a more objective TONE knob. The RUMBLE knob here is exactly that so your tonal options are limited to the inflexible 6 choices; you either accept what is on offer or supplement your fuzz output with an EQ pedal to trim the frequencies to taste.

From Position 1 onwards, the LB offers more bass in the mix, the last of which has excessive bottom end which might prove too much for certain humbuckers. In this light, single coils (P-90 included) would enjoy more definition in terms of the drive voicing. The GAIN knob here does well to add drive intensity only & remains transparent to EQ; ditto the VOLUME control. Same goes for the amps (more accurately, the speaker size) which the LB serves; in its upper RUMBLE options, the bass isn’t thumping enough if you are utilizing a practice grade amp. The LB is also a domineering device; one couldn’t quite clean up dirt via the guitar’s volume control with its employment.

Tweak Fuzz vs Lava Box
The primary difference here would be the latter’s volume levels & drive intensity. Testing both pedals in an A/B context, the LB proves to be the louder & more intense at duplicate levels but if you wish for a more traditional sounding fuzz, the former is a better bet. The LB was conceived to contain more distortion voicing with liberal amounts of fuzz. As such, it sounds richer in the middle frequency & has more bite when it comes to solos, especially in the neck pickup position. If you are the traditionalist who swears by the wooly, fuzz honk, you’d be thankful that the Tweak Fuzz is still in production.

Tone test equipment:
• Guitars: Music Man SUB1/ Gibson LP Std/ Ibanez RGR321/ Fender ST72/ ESP Eclipse II/ Edwards E-LP 85SD/P
• Amps: Ibanez ValBee/ Marshall MG15MSII/ Sound Drive SG-612R/

Rating: 89%

Last say
If you aren’t too keen with traditional fuzz boxes which impede single notes definition & are excessively mushy at high drive settings (heck, the fuzz is all about being very mushy & buzzy in the first place…). It fills the gap for players who still insist on a fuzz-type drive but in need of more midrange crisp. As we continue to question the wisdom of having a fix-voiced tone options in Duncan’s sophomore fuzz effort; the practicality of having such a gadget is simply the acceptance of what the manufacturer has to offer. With its limited tweakability, the Lava Box wouldn’t win over too many fuzz fans but we simply couldn’t deny it being excellent in its offering.

Overall rating: 90%

• Easy to use
• Not a battery drainer
• More midrange in lower RUMBLE settings

• Fixed EQ settings
• Battery access

Worthy competitors:
• EHX: Big Muff/ Little Big Muff
• BOSS: Fuzz FZ-5
• Carl Martin: The Fuzz
• Artec: Classic Fuzztown

PS: Thanks- Janet & all @ Davis for enduring my peculiarities during the try-out 8)