Carvin B800 Head. Need Opinions

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by shawshank72, Mar 17, 2014.


  1. shawshank72

    shawshank72 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
    Was hoping some tbers could give me some info about their experience(s) with this bass head please?
  2. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

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    I do not have a B800. I have a B1500 though, and I love the tone I get out of the amp.

    Do you have specific questions, or are you just looking to see what sticks to the wall?
  3. Quackhead

    Quackhead

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Location:
    Elk Grove, CA
    It's a great little amp. Although it's not small and light by today's micro standards, it is still very portable and sturdy. The tone is similar to the B1500 but there's not as much heft to the tone if that makes any sense.

    I'd say grab it if you can get a good price (<$300).
  4. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Had one, sold it to a TB'er simply because I had too much gear, and I had sold all my 4 ohm cabs .. B800 was 2 ohm capable, so that was my main reason for buying it, along with Carvin had a very nice sale on them when they were discontinued ... I would have liked the head to be rack mountable, but only the B500 and B1500 were in that configuration at the time ... the design of the head (I felt) left the knobs a bit too exposed, but the 'angled' faceplate was nice if only using one cab that was low to the ground ... some felt that it was lacking in the power department, but I had no issue there at all, although I usually used it at 2 ohms with two 4 ohm cabs ... dont remember for sure, but it was 500 watts at 4 ohms, and less of course at 8 ohms ... if I remember correctly, I pretty much ran it flat, with knobs straight up, and only needed to adjust slightly, as I am very much plug and play, and always liked the tone ... I was very surprised when Carvin discontinued them so quickly ... the B500 I could see, the B800 made more sense to keep around to me, but maybe offer it in a rack mount option ??

    ... bottom line, solid amp that was 2 ohm capable for around $200 used ... certainly worth a 2nd look if someone is out there 'trying' things ... JMHO's
  5. shawshank72

    shawshank72 Supporting Member

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    Mar 22, 2009
    Location:
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    Read in a few places that it seemed underpowered/bad power rating.
    Also what kind of sound does it reproduce.
    Can it growl?
    Is it sterile?
    Does it have oomph?
    Etc.
  6. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

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    My experience with the B1500 is that it is not underpowered at all. The drive, adds some harmonic content, and will warm up the tone a lot. The B1500 thumps hard, and I would expect the B800 to do so as well for its power rating.

    300w @ 8 Ohms
    500w @ 4 Ohms
    800w @ 2 Ohms
  7. Skip_NJ

    Skip_NJ Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I have a B800 I use with a 4ohm 212 cab and an 8 ohm 112 cab. When I hook both cabs up the amp is seeing a 2.something ohm load and all the speakers are getting the same amount of power. It is not underpowered by any means, it can get loud with the right cabs. I don't know what you mean by growl, it won't do a noticeable overdrive like a tube amp, but it does have a smooth thick tone with the drive turned up. If you cut the drive down and mess with the EQ you can get a "sterile" sound. Its kind of like a fender bassman solid state amp, but it has more flexible controls of the mids and doesn't run out of power. It's a sturdy amp and is pretty lightweight. It's not going to fit in a gig bag pocket, but carrying it around isn't hard. Most of the time I'm using one cab and the head, and I play mostly grungey rock kind of stuff. I've never been disappointed with the power of this head. I owned a peavey firebass 700, a fender bassman 300, and have gigged on plenty of house GK 700 and 1001rbs, and various Ampeg heads from the 350 Svt to the real SVT, and I like my B800 better than any of those. Mine has never shut down or crackled or had any part of it break down or wear out.

    Edit: I just looked at my PMs and I bought it from a TBer for $300 shipped in November 2009, it's still going strong. That was when I was pretty broke, but even now that I'm older and have more disposable income, I would still buy another Carvin B series head. Certainly at that price you can't beat it.
  8. shawshank72

    shawshank72 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Location:
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    Its for sale at $165. They have had it on kijiji for a couple months.
    Now im very tempted to make the drive out.
  9. Quackhead

    Quackhead

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    At $165 you can't go wrong, as long as it's in good working condition.
  10. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    A TBer and I did a show and tell and he brought a Carvin BX500 (I think.) It was a great sounding head, very modern sounding, clean and flat. Kind of like Markbass or Hartke. I didn't dial it much but it had a great natural tone without needing to touch knobs, something I like out of an amplifier.

    With that in mind, I will add that as a former Carvin customer I have cancelled all my subscriptions to their newsletters because I will probably never order another Carvin product. You used to just pay the shipping price listed on their site and UPS brought the package; UPS changed their agreement so now they tack on the usual import fees, so expect about $100 in fees for a $400 box. I wouldn't order another product unless I ship it to an American address and get it myself.

    EDIT: Used @ $165 and we are actually having this conversation? Go get it, you can get your money back pretty quickly if you do not like it.
  11. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass Gnarsty bass tones Supporting Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    I agree. I had one for awhile and thought it had decent headroom for its power rating.

    The Drive control will NOT get you into overdrive/distortion territory... as I recall it didn't with my Sadowskys, which are active and fairly hot. As CL400Peavey said, Drive will add some warmth and harmonic content, which is subtle but nice.

    I liked the EQ a lot, thoughtfully done. I traded it in because I wanted to stick with rack rigs rather than a bass head.
  12. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Relax... Nothing Is Under Control. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    I had one for awhile and as I recall

    Read in a few places that it seemed underpowered/bad power rating. Correct.
    Also what kind of sound does it reproduce.
    Can it growl? Nope
    Is it sterile? Clean... definitely
    Does it have oomph? Not really.

    I have played thru but not owned a b1500 and at low volumes (like really low) they sound similar, but the b1500 eats it for breakfast for tone and power.

    You might have some luck if you add an external pedal like a VT Bass to change up the tone. I definitely felt it was underpowered. My gk mb500 rated the same wattage at 4 ohms was WAY louder.
  13. shawshank72

    shawshank72 Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    So want some GK gear.
    But the used market where i am is nonexistent.
    And paying for ship and import fees is just plain ridiculous.
  14. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    Have you tried posting wanted ads on kijiji? It is not like GK is rare stuff. I have never done it for instruments but I am into Sega Saturn; I got a bunch of busted Saturns and stuff that was not listed on kijiji and probably wouldn't have been. I got $600+ worth of stuff from one guy for $200 just because he was no longer using it. If GK is what you are after give it a shot.

    I know your in Ontario, if you are close enough to Toronto or Ottawa check their kijiji out. I would think they would have to have some GK gear on those kijijis.
  15. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

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    Get the B800. Turn the drive up. Way, way, way up. Like 3-4 o'clock up. It is a gain knob in the sense that it increases volume, but it isnt going to get you distortion.
  16. larryelwood

    larryelwood Supporting Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    At that price you can't go wrong. IMHO, the B1500/B800 are the best sounding, most solidly built amps Carvin has ever produced. The EQ points are nearly perfect. I have owned 3 Carvin B1500s over the last 4 years... Why would I need 3? Well I just had to prove to myself over and over that it sounds as good is it does.. I sold the first one and got a series of GK amps: RB700 then both of the 500 watt micro amps (ss, and tube). They just seemed to lack the warmth and tonal "sincerity" of the Carvin.. so I sold those and got another one... Continuing my quest and still not believing in the Carvin and looking for something lighter weight that sounded as good or better.. I sold that one and tried out a Mark Bass LMII, shortly followed by a Mesa Boogie Walkabout.. The MarkBass just sounded a little thin and cold, and the Boogie I could tweak to sounding pretty good, but still, live it couldn't hold a candle to the heft and warmth of that damn boat anchor of a carvin B1500.. So, I sold those and bought my 3rd B1500. I've done dozens and dozens of gigs from funk, to soul to rock with it and paired with an Aguilar 212 cab - Tonal heaven. Nothing against all of the fore- mentioned amps, there are plenty of threads on TB that sing their praises.. But for sincere tonal heft and warm almost tubelike sound, it's the Carvin B1500/B800.
  17. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Relax... Nothing Is Under Control. Supporting Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Agree that the b1500 is a great amp... likely Carvin's best ever.

    But the b800 is not in the same league as the B1500.
  18. jeff7bass

    jeff7bass

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Did you try the B800 with the same cab(s) as the B1500? Of course measuring over 1100 watts @ 4 ohms is going to beat an amp that's 500 watts at 4 ohms, but I never heard anybody ever claim that the B800 seem "underpowered" or "sterile".

    Since the OP has a chance to grab it at 165 bucks, it isn't really a fair comparison. Now the comparison to the GK MB500 is the one I have a problem with. Into a single 8 ohm cab I've seen the MB500 clip out and shut down twice, with two different players. Wasn't at loud levels either and certainly not near the levels I've heard the B800 acheive. That's why I asked about the cabs. They make all the difference in "usable" volume terms.
  19. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Relax... Nothing Is Under Control. Supporting Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    I am going to resist getting into the 'this bass amp company makes better products than that company' argument. I am just relating my own experiences. Play what you like.

    OP best thing to do is try it for yourself. If its really $165 its worth it.
  20. jeff7bass

    jeff7bass

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Well MY experience is the GK700RB and the Carvin B800 were comparable in volume while the MB500 had less usable volume than both. I know the MB500 has been upgraded since so maybe it's moot.

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