Curious about Carvin basses
I did a search on my query regarding Carvin basses, but couldīnt find any info, so here I go:
Living in a country across the pond (Europe), Carvin basses have always remained a mystery to me, there used to be a distributor in my country ages ago, but not any more. Anyhow, like many other my age, I picked up the bass in the late eighties/early nineties, and I always thought Carvin basses in the hands of with James Lomenzo (then in White Lion) looked really cool. Time passed and Carvin continued to be this mystery brand, visible only in Bass Player ads. A few years ago, I stumbled across Carvinīs website, and I was hooked, I kept "building" basses in the Custom shop builder on the website. Not living in North America however, this never became reality.
Iīve since managed to find a few dealers in Europe who keep a small stock of Carvin basses, and needless to say Iīm tempted to order one. But...Iīve yet to actually play a Carvin bass!! My question is: In Europe Carvinīs business model of cutting out the middle man is naturally lost, meaning an Icon 5-string costs approx. 1700-2000 USD, which is approx. as much as A Peavey Cirrus USA model, MM SR5, Ibanez Prestige, Warwick Proline etc. Can anyone here on TB give a subjective opinion on the performance, build quality, etc. on Carvin basses in relation to these prices?
I currently own 2 Carvins and 2 German Warwicks (since you mentioned Wicks), so here's a few subjective quick comments:
My '98 Carvin LB75W is still the most comfortable bass I own. It performs like a champ, and after 14 years in my hands hasn't let me down. Also, the workmanship on Carvins, at least the 5 I've played for several hours or more, is great. I've played a few Peavey Cirrus basses, and would prefer my Carvins. I can't comment on the Ibby prestige models, although I'd assume you would need to love the pickup placement (and soapbars) on those to love the basses. Carvin to me has more traditional pickup placement that can then offer other tonality by getting a humbucker option, etc.
The workmanship on the Carvins I own equals that of my German Thumb BO and Corvette $$. These are all 5-string basses, with the exception being one 6-string Carvin fretless. Good luck in your research, and PM me if you think I could be of more use to you.
I have and have had multiple Carvin 5 string basses, from the entry level B50 up to the B25P.
I have kept them and sold off Laklands, a US Fender and a Sadowsky Metro.
Every single one has been astounding. Working on my next one now...
But part of the magic for me is that I can custom build a new one for less than a used higher-end bass. With prices the way they are over there, that little piece is off the table.
I received my first Carvin in April - a 5 string Icon. I absolutely love it!! Sounds great, plays amazing, and looks great as well :)
oh - check out the Carvin forums at CarvinBBS.com
Carvins have some of the nicest necks you'll find on any instrument.
- the Dell computer-like direct business model.
- they build-to-order and keep very few basses in stock.
- there's a wait from purchase-to-play of usually a couple months.
But what you get:
- virtually boutique-level quality for more or less chump change. Even down to a shielded electronics cavity and metal threaded inserts for the cavity cover screws on the back.
- build-to-order options that allow almost a fully custom instrument. Options like unlined fretless for no cost, lots of pickup options, different woods, finishes and so on.
- they really do sound amazing. My Bunnies sound almost exactly like Bunny Brunel when I set the controls right with no buzzing, humming, wierdness, etc. But I can also get a good P-bass traditional sound out of it with the pan knob. etc....
And so on.
Like I said, the only reason they haven't taken over the world lol is because of the direct business model and having to custom order. But the bang to buck ratio is the highest in the entire business.
This is my Carvin XB75. Simply put it looks good, feels good and sounds good. In most cases next year I will have another of this model made but as a fretless. This one cost $1256.00. I've tried basses that cost twice as much and this one just fits.
My amp of choice is Carvin also. Just a perfect fit.
After buying my first Carvin last year, I sold off all my other basses and now own 4 Carvins. SB4000, Icon 4, AC4 FL, and B25S. All amazing basses, great values, excellent tone and quality.
I purchased all of mine used, so even a better value, and all were in 9+/10 condition.
the guy i played with in college that had a carvin, i loved it, but it was kind of way too nice and clean sounding for the hardcore band we were in, it was great for his church band though he played in
Funny that you couldn't find anything on Carvin via a search. IME, Carvin threads on TalkBass are as ubiquitous as the breeze... :hmm:
I own eight (8) Carvin bass guitars altogether (see my profile for models & types). As you can infer, I love 'em.
I would characterize Carvins as modern & relatively hi-fi in design & tone. The quality of materials & build has always been very good, but in recent years the quality of the electronics (i.e. pickups & preamps) has also improved quite a bit.
I still prefer to swap out the stock electronics for premium aftermarket components (i.e. Delano, SGD, Nordstrand, Audere, etc.). Doing so allows my $1,600-$1,800US instruments to perform & sound as if they cost at least twice as much.
A bass player buddy and I got together to do a show and tell.
This guy owns a 6 string Fodera, and he's a grad of the North Texas State program, so he's knowledgeable, yeah.
He was impressed with the build quality of my SB5K...
That's the only Carvin I've owned but it's become my main player. And I've got some really nice boutique basses sitting in my closet, yeah...
My .02: check out the Carvin threads here for details that might influence your purchase, but based on my experience with the SB5K you won't go wrong buying a Carvin.
The SB4000/5000 series are great basses and a good value for the money when purchased direct. Have any friends in the USA who could order your bass and ship it to you?
I have a Carvin B5 that is the most comfortable to play of any bass I've ever owned. The electronics do leae a bit to be desired though and I'm in the process of figuring out what pup and electronics I'm going to swap in there.
The playability and the feel is there, but the bass just sounds slightly sterile to my ear.
The neck profile feels like it was made just for my hand and t bass is well balanced and (I think) very beautiful with a classic sunburst finish and black hardware.
Not bad for the $450 I paid for it.
I'm on my 2nd Carvin bass, an LB20. Great build quality at a reasonable price. The pickups aren't bad but could be better. However, you can always replace the pickups. And if you can find a good one used, you can get an even better deal because unlike Fenders they don't have good resale value.
I can also attest to the quality of Carvin, I ordered my LB76 based on Carvin's reputation alone. I needed an amazing B string, which Carvin delivered. Although my bass is 34" scale so the B does get overtones as you get higher up the register into the second octave, which is quite good for a 34" scale. Who plays a B string up that high anyways?
The biggest flaw of Carvin's are their electronics, I got mine with the Brian Bromberg radiused humbuckers with the piezo bridge. The Piezo bridge is nothing short of amazing, not a bad peep to say about it, but the pickups will more than adequate, are nothing stellar. My Carvin has a solid passive and active tone but it doesn't stand out in a crowd. My bandmates never complain about my Carvin but if I bring my Dingwall, Stingray, or either Fender they are always floored by the tone just pouring out of my amp. My Carvin is the number one so they hear it most. I have also heard that their current electronics are their best ever.
The construction is world class, the electronic work is very clean and professional. Their pots are also super high grade, they blend amazingly smooth. The fretwork is awesome.
Although with all the pros said, I honestly don't know if I would get a Carvin in Europe. I doubt Carvin's keep their value any better across the pond than they do here. If you get a new Carvin expect to eat your hat if you sell it. I also do not know if Carvin offers 10 day no hassle returns since you are using a dealer, another big factor in my decision to order a bass sight unseen. You will also be limited on your options, due to Carvin using non-RohC compliant parts, meaning they cannot send black hardware to Europe, possibly more things that is just all I can confirm. Something to do with the powder coating or something like that. There might be better options in Europe, I am not as informed with the scene over there.
I honestly had a hard time finding bad reviews about Carvin when I did my research, they are pretty well regarded and quite consistent with their bass/guitars. The only negative things I heard were that the older Carvins had weak truss rods/necks, I ordered mine as a 5 piece neck just to be safe.
Love my Carvin B40 kit. Took a leap of faith based solely on reviews from places like this site and the Carvin site. Love my walnut creation.
If you're the type that buys what you like and keeps it, they are tough to beat. Real nice basses and a great value.
If you're the type that likes play for a while and then trade, run away. You will not get as much as you would other brands.
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