1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Best Carvin Basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by fufu, Nov 13, 2002.

  1. fufu


    Aug 18, 2002
    I'm looking at new basses right now.. And I'm thinking about getting a Carvin... Just because they're pretty cheap.. Can you explain to me the pros and cons of these? Or just ones you like and why.. I'm not going to put any specifications on this, like best slapping or fretless... Just so I could get more opinions on this.. And.. Sorry if this thread has been put here before.. Thanks..

  2. Bass-only

    Bass-only Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2001
    I've had several Carvin basses. The craftsmanship is impressive (for the price). The preamp is okay, but is the weakest part of the package.

    I was able to get a decent "slap" tone out the the two I had, though!

    I haven't played one of the newer versions, with the Piezo saddles in the bridge.

    They seem to be getting better re-sale value lately, which is sometimes a concern.

    They do make some beautiful basses!
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I'm a sucker for these Carvin threads because I had a "love/hate" relationship with their basses and amps.

    The basses, in terms of construction, cosmetics, and woods, are absolutely superb. The big "knock" is the sound of their pups and preamp. If you are going to play jazz, that's fine. Their J99 pickup is very pure, transparent, poweful, and has a true, classic single-coil "Jazz pickup" sound.

    I haven't owned their old stacked humbucker pickup but people who own those seem to be pleased too.

    Just don't be fooled by their MM-style humbucker....it's an absolute "dog." I'll bet dollars to donuts you'll kick yourself if you get one, especially since they require you to pay for the body bevel option if you get one.........(why, I don't know....maybe it has something to do with the word "fool"). :D

    I liked my pimped-out LB75. But for just about $100 more, I got a Lakland Skyline 55-02 that is much easier to slap n' pop and blows the LB75 away, tone-wise.
  4. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    I own a few Carvins.

    Pros: excellent construction quality, good choice of tone woods, good quality parts, superb customer service and support.

    Cons: The pickups are mediocre at best, I've had some minor fit and finish issues, jacks are cheap and tend to need frequent applications of contact cleaner, LB series body doesn't fit me as well as I'd like.

    The consensus around here seems to be that the Carvin preamp sucks. I disagree. The current preamp won't hold a candle to, say, a Wal's electronics, but it's not a bad preamp. It's certainly quiet, it doesn't seem to have any tone coloration of its own, and battery life is several hundred hours. And if you don't like it, just pull up on the volume knob to bypass it.

    Older Carvin preamps used a funky circuit that was noisy and couldn't be bypassed. I have one of these and I don't care for it either.

    Overall, I'd say that Carvin basses are a great value. If you're really looking for a bargain, buy one used, and spend the money you save on some better pickups!
  5. I have owned three Carvins and still own one.

    Carvin LB75-I still own this, and it has the wider asymmetrical neck option along with Koa body wings, the older 2-band preamp, H50s (I'm assuming), Sperzel tuners, and Wilkinson bridge. It's a decent sounding bass, but certainly not the best I've heard. I'm sure some nice replacement pickups and perhaps a new preamp would help because the construction is great, and I love the lighter shade of the Koa. The B-string is good for the scale length, but, to be honest, I haven't played a lot of 5-strings.

    Carvin LB70-This was also an older model with the Sperzel tuners and Wilkinson bridge, but I believe the body was Poplar, and it had the Translucent Green finish. This bass sounded good, but the main reasons I sold it were because I had bought a Reverend Rumblefish and the finish on the back of the neck was pretty worn off. All in all, it had a good sound that cut well through the mix.

    Carvin B5-I ordered this one myself, but I couldn't get used to the narrower string spacing, so I traded it for the LB75 above. This bass had a Swamp Ash body, Cherry Sunburst finish, Birdseye Maple fingerboard, J99/HB2 pickup configuration, 3-band preamp, etc. It looked great, and the new owner seems very happy with it (he's even thinking about ordering another with the same options as a backup).
  6. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    I have 2 Carvins:

    LB75F - all koa. I string this with tapewounds. THe B is a bit weak, but this is a great bass with a nice deep thump. It's got the HB50 or whatever their called (older jazz style pickups) and the Wilkinson bridge with Sperzel tuners. I've got no complaints about this bass at all.

    LB76F - quilted maple top. I haven't yet settled on which strings I like best on this one. Further, there are some finish issues with this bass, but I like the Carvin 6 string neck - it's a lttle tight, but I like that in a 6 string. Once again, I have the HB50 pus, but on this bass I have the newer bridge (through body) and tuners.

    On both basses, I can get a wide range of tones as the bass and treble controls are really spaced "wide", i.e., the bass is set perhaps too low and the treble too high. Note that they also have a midrange control. I tend to run mine fairly flat. Overall, I think the Carvin basses are a great deal.
  7. wardak


    Dec 3, 2001
    Honolulu HI
    I've been looking at them and almost want to buy one. You can't seem to get *all* of the features I'd want in one bass from them though.

    With their XB 35.25" scale ones, you can't get 24 frets and the J pickups on it. Stay with the 34" scale and you can have all of that. Very strange--and the funniest part is that when they are asked about getting these things together, they're very defensive about it.

    I really can't afford to buy a bass and wish it had some extra feature--I can only have one. Still looking...


    Nov 10, 2002
    Las Vegas
    I own 2 Carvin Basses. I started playing bass in 1968 on a Fender Jazz and after about a year switched to a Gibson EB-3. Loved the Eb-3 and played it for years but eventually took a break from music. When I came back, I wanted a full scale, started looking around and saw a review of a Carvin in Bass Player. I went to the Hollywood store and fell in love with a koa sided LB-70. You can always argue the sound you like, but for me no neck feels better than a Carvin.

    This year I picked up a spruce topped AC40F (hollow bodied fretless). I've never heard an electric that sounded as close to an upright as this one.

    I dont think that for the price you can come close to the value you get with these basses.

    Just my experience.
  9. I lived in San Diego 2 yrs ago, too close to Carvin. I had a 4 and 6 string which I have since sold. I agree that the p/u's are not that good (But have not tried their MM style P/U yet). Before I left I played the Bolt on 4 B-4 and have to admit that I liked it better than their neck-thrus, it seemed to have more snap to it, with a more Fender like feel, and the price was right. I didn't get 1 cuz my inventory was too high at the time, but have considered it since.
  10. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I don't know who had the fluke HB MM-style humbucker, Rick or me; but mine was fine.

    I found it to be pretty MM sounding actually. I had no complaints with it at all. Maybe mine came from a different batch/recipe, cuz it were quite tasty.

    I've read Rick's comments on the p'up before, so I expected I would hate it, but I couldn't get the one I had to sound bad.
  11. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    In response to chucko...

    On Bill Lawrence's site I only see J-45's available for 4 & 5 strings. Did you ask for a 6 string version or what?
  12. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I have owned two Carvins. Both were fretted LB75s. I would agree with the general statements here about overall quality of construction, cosmetics, etc.

    I personally have issues with the design. I could never get the basses to hold a setup. One was a solid neck. It was so frustrating that I got rid of it for a 5-piece neck. It was more stable, but still fickle.

    When they were setup, I will say that they played wonderfully.

    Sound wise they are pretty boring IMO.

    As for the XB, the reason you can't get 24 frets is that they are using the EXACT same bass for both the XB and LB series. With the longer scale, fewer frets fit on the board. All they did to lengthen the scale was move the bridge back.

    I don't know why they don't offer the J PUs. It could be that the PU's position in relationship to the relocated bridge sounds like poo or perhaps there is a change in the fundamental/overtone relationship with the extended scale that freaks them out. I don't know. I am just guessing.

    I would also add that you should buy one used if you buy one. Their "list" is a joke and, as mentioned, for what you pay for a new one, there are other options that may be a better value.

    Resale numbers would support that they don't hold their value very well compared to other instruments in the same price point. If you buy one new and decide to turn it after a year or two, you'll be lucky to get half of what you paid.

  13. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    No, it's just the standard J-45L (bridge length for both positions on Carvins). It turns out to cover 6 string Carvins just fine.
  14. wardak


    Dec 3, 2001
    Honolulu HI
    Thanks for the comments Chas. It looks like they literally use all the same parts just placed differently. With all the (easily-programmable?) CNC equipment that is advertised in their process, I'm surprised that it's any sort of big deal to have an extra inch of fretboard on that model. I don't think I'd need them to change the cutaway, I'm sure I could reach the last frets without too much trouble as is.

    I'd be more than willing to swap in some premium electronics (hence my desire for the J-style pickups--I could route a little if needed, but not make existing holes smaller...) I wonder if that's all that would be needed to take the tone from Carvin ho-hum to my ideal bass. I think some folks have mentioned dead spots on Carvins, the vision of having an ideal (hot-rodded) Carvin bass is crumbling.

    I'm favoring the Warmoth, but am thinking that I want a neck-through. Not too sure about a Gecko on the fretboard--I understand it's sort of a trademark for them, but to me it looks like a personalized sort of thing. It would be great if I were for some reason known as "The Gecko" but I'm not. I think it would actually be cooler on the headstock, kind of like a watermark. Not too sure at the moment...still looking...
  15. ram936


    May 29, 2002
    Massillon, Ohio
    I haven't played a Carvin myself, but the other night I was at a benefit show featuring a couple of great old local groups that reunited for the gig. Kevin Weigand was in one group playing what looked like a Bunny Brunell 4 string and blew me away with his sound. The next band's bassist also had Carvins (maybe an LB70 and a Bunny Brunell?) & also got great tones. If an accomplished touring musician like Weigand can do what he did with the Carvin, it's got to be a decent bass.
  16. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    My LB75 was a nice bass, but having played nicer basses since then, I know now that its sound was pretty puny. I had the two stacked humbuckers. I ordered it in the days prior to the MM pickup option.

    I briefly had a LB75P. Wonderful looking but the sound was assaulting to my ears. I kept searching for a pleasing tone but was unsuccessful.

    What's appealing about them is the option set you get for the money (ebony board, neck through, electronics, etc.), and the ability to pick and choose features. It's one way to build your own bass with some degree of realiability, yet at a working man's cost.

    Despite the downsides, I'd still own one, but only via the used market.
  17. dooberheim


    May 17, 2002
    I'm with the "great value" camp. My LB76P sounds good for rock and blues, and while the pickups don't have the "bite" of EMG's (for example) I certainly don't think they sound boring. I think a real MM pickup (and bass) is better if you want an MM sound, but the Carvin is more versatile with the J/HB option.

    The neck (2 piece maple) has been rock stable through a 25 deg F temperature and humidity change. Fretwork is perfect and action is set lower than 3/32" (24th fret) on all strings with nary a buzz or dead spot. I haven't had to tune it in a month. I imagine, since wood is a variable material, some necks are more stable than others.

    If I find another gigging band I may look into replacing the pickups again. I never saw a drop in replacement for the 6 string HB but there are lots of J replacements that will drop right in.

    One more humble opinion...

  18. Carvin makes a pretty axe for the money. I own a BB75, but I only use it as a backup. I replaced the Carvin electronics with Bartolini. It has a much punchier/smoother sound now. My main bass is a Warrior Signature 5. I haven't played a better axe yet. I've owned Pedulla and Elrick, and (IMO) neither on comes close to the craftsmanship of Warrior.

    Something else to consider about Carvin. If you don't live in California, and you need some warranty work, say good-bye to your axe for about a month. The neck on mine got an "S" warp. I live in MA, so it was a while before I saw the bass again.

    Good luck.
  19. I'm beyond the "great bass for the price"... my LB75FP is killer; and would be at twice the price. Woods, workmanship, fit & finish are all excellent. The preamp is the newstyle that comes with the piezos and it sounds excellent... a really wide variety of tones. It also has a great fretless mwah, and yet can sound quite lively and bright when needed. It is strung with TE Jazz Flats (these are GREAT for this application).

    As far as stability... no sweat. I live in the great northwoods and only have to tweak the neck twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall. It rarely needs more than a minor tweak for tuning.

    All-in-all I couldn't be happier. This bass sounds, looks and plays like many basses costing hundreds more.
    villis likes this.
  20. Jeff Haley

    Jeff Haley

    May 17, 2001
    Atlanta, Ga.
    I have owned 4 Carvin's and they all had good fit and finish but they are lacking in tone. I would recommend buying one used. I ve sold 4 of these and never got more than $ 550 for one. Based on the resale value of theses basses,I would not spend more than $450- $500 for a Carvin,
    although they are a very good bass for the money.
    They will have much better quality than most basses in this price range. If you plan to spend more than $1000 I would recommend something else.

Share This Page