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Can Carvin pickups be replaced?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by william campbel, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. william campbel

    william campbel

    Apr 18, 2010
    I have been reading up on Carvin basses and everyone seems to agree on the quality, but there is quite a bit of disagreement to the sound. I am new to basses and wanted to know, why can't someone replace the pickups with something more to their liking?
  2. markkoelsch


    Sep 6, 2008

    You can replace them.

    The jazz pickup are just that...jazz pickups. Specifically, like many others, they went to using two bridge length pickups. The issue, especially with the 6 string basses, is that the strings are fairly close to the pickup edge, so you need the correct replacement pickup. I think it was Bartolini who makes the 69J1 long/long LN/L, which is a direct replacement.

    Carvin also uses the Musicman type dual coil, and there are many manufacturers who make those.

    They also have the soapbar pickups for the Icons (and other basses). They appear to be pretty close to the same dimensions as the Seymour Duncan Phase 1 soapbars,

    You can also upgrade the electronics/preamp. I am looking into this myself. I think I might do this before the pickups. Maybe a nice Aguilar preamp.

    Hope that helps some
  3. bass4worship

    bass4worship Ready For Freddy, let rock Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Sebring, Florida
    I do it all the time, just keep the old one if you sell, most what the original back in.
  4. baron665


    Apr 9, 2010
    I don't see why not. Some guy on youtube swapped out ones on his guitar.
  5. Hi.

    If You're talking about the 80's vintage Carvins with the "guitar humbucker" style hex pole-piece ones, your options may be somewhat more limited.

    The more common ones: MM, P, J, etc. should be easy direct swaps.


  6. I agree. You should replace the preamp first.

    I have a Carvin LB75, made in 96 (original owner). It's just been sitting around because I liked the sound of my main bass, the Lakland 55-01 (w/ Audere 4-band preamp) much better.

    The Bartolini preamp that originally came with the Lakland was just sitting on the sidelines so I installed it into the Carvin. Boy....what a difference!! The tone is noticeably better!! I play for my church and after service, people came up to me asking if I have a new bass and telling me how much they like the tone. I'm net even thinking about changing the pickups.
  7. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    i am getting an ICON 6 this week.

    looking at keeping the pre (mostly for the piezo) and swapping the PUPS with Aguilar DCB D4's.

  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I just put some Nordstrands in someone's Carvin Bunny Brunel Cajun Bass. If you're going to replace the pickups, make sure you measure the original pickups very carefully. I had to have the cases of the Nordstrands sanded down to get them in the slots. The ultimate result was worth it.
  9. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    thanks Munji!

    after looking a bit deeper, seems the Aguilar DCB D2's will be a drop-in with the Icon 6.

    bar mag, so spacing isn't a concern.
  10. jaco944

    jaco944 Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2005
    I would try them first. I just got a Vanquish and the preamp and pickups are amazing.
  11. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer

    i will definitely do that.

    i'll be slapping some new dunlop bright nickels first thing.

    then give it a few days or so.

  12. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I bought a Bunny 5 and was intending to swap pups do to all the complaints....then I listened and it totally changed my mind, sounded fantastic.
    frederic b. hodshon likes this.
  13. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town.

    Oct 1, 2001
    I had a '00 Carvin LB75F with the less-well-regarded previous generation pups and pre. I played it as my main baby for several years and never felt the need to swap anything. So, give it a while to settle in before you swap anything. However as has been said, it's not hard to find pups that will fit the cavities if you want to. Carvin lists the dimensions of it's pups and so does bestbassgear so it's an easy proposition.

    I would disagree that a new owner would prefer the stock carvin pickups, but it isn't a bad idea to swap back to stock if you sell, only because you aren't likely to get much (if any) of a bump in price for upgraded pups and you certainly won't get alot of $ parting stock carvin pups ands such. However if you're considering resale value in what instrument to buy, be aware that a new Carvin takes a HUGE hit when resold.

    As an example, I just resold that Carvin and took a 45% hit off of what I paid for it in 2000. To be fair, it had a good deal of wear and the bridge on the current model is slightly upgraded (Hipshot B type vs A type), but compared to the 2015 retail price I took a 55% hit.

    The upside is that Carvin's are a great deal used and even new, I can't think of any other way to get even close to the combination of build quality and customizability for anywhere near the Carvin price.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
    frederic b. hodshon likes this.
  14. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    i bought this one new/used - the seller took delivery september, 2015.

    decent price for a nice walnut/alder 6 string.

    not an investment - composition tool. i play guitar too, but i prefer to write on bass and
    having a 6 will help immensely.

    i have aguilar pups in a couple of other basses - phew, hard to beat.

    fralins too.

    but i will definitely giver her a spin with the stock pups.

    my guitar tech is an aguilar dealer, and the D2's aren't THAT much $$$.
  15. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    All pickups are replaceable if you try hard enough. Nothing special about Carvin's, really. And even more likely to be standard form factors these days, wasn't always true in the old days.
  16. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    just got my Keisler/Carvin Icon 6 string (2015 model).


    this ain't the old Carvin i remember from the '80's.

    workmanship, fit, finish, wood choice... top notch.

    and the pickups/preamp... pretty darned SMOKIN' !!!

    the neck/action is to die for.

    i'll save the cash on the pickup upgrade and spend it on a Icon 4 fretless.

    no wonder i don't see many Icons on the used market.

    i'm glad the seller took such lousy pics of the bass for the ad.


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