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Carvin B4 or Fender delux active jazz

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Albino_Ryno, Feb 14, 2001.

  1. Albino_Ryno

    Albino_Ryno Guest

    Sep 17, 2000
    Knoxville TN
    I'm looking into buying a new bass somewhere in the $500 range. The two basses I'm serious looking at right now are the Carvin B4 and the Fender deluxe active jazz bass. I really like the sound of a jazz bass but the Carvin seems to offer more sound options because I would probably get the humbucking pickup option with the coil splitter,also I feel more comfortable getting a carvin rather than a mim fender. I was really wondering if anyone who plays a carvin similar to that model could tell me if I would be able to get a sound similar to that of a jazz bass. Since there's no real way to play a carvin before ordering any opinions would be helpful.
  2. jcadmus


    Apr 2, 2000
    Go with the Carvin. IMO, they are the best factory basses you can buy.
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    You say you like the sound of the Jazz, so, normally, that pretty much says it all to me. But you also say you would "feel more comfortable getting a Carvin." So, I'm a little confused.

    Personally, I think you get a much better value with the Carvin. For instance, the Carvin alder body vs. the Fender poplar body. (I haven't even seen poplar mentioned in product lists of tone wood vendors but I have seen it mentioned in relation to cheap coffee tables).

    If the potential cost of returning it to Carvin is no big deal to you, I'd go for it if I was in your shoes. I've never seen one post on the web where anyone said they returned their Carvin because they didn't like the sound or for any other reason. And I've read about every one I can find. What I find hard to believe is that some people like the strings that come on it and buy more. I got them off a.s.a.p.

    I have seen a lot or raves about, as they refer to it, "THE Carvin neck." I have to agree, I love it even more than my pre-CBS Precis.

    My LB75 has the humbucker w/rounded body sides option you mention. I use the J99 when playing alone or on a soft song. But for slap and finger pops, the HB option is a good thing. Plus in a high volume situation, it helps you cut through. Also, that's when having the coil splitter is a small plus.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    "I was really wondering if anyone who plays a carvin similar to that model could tell me if I would be able to get a sound similar to that of a jazz bass. Since there's no real way to play a carvin before ordering any opinions would be helpful".

    To me, it boils down to this question. My answer: no. I've yet to play a Carvin that reminded me of a Jazz. Even a Carvin with two J pickups does not sound like a Jazz.

    The value proposition is valid, if you don't truly want a "Jazz" sound, otherwise it's moot. The type of wood is waaaay down the list for me. Sound and playability are at the top. These two dictate whether I think a bass is worth the asking price, along with resale value ... honeymoons can be very short and then you could be stuck.

    I guess this would kind of be a first for Rickbass :) ;The only reason I didn't send my LB75 back immediately was that it sounded good acoustically (blah, plugged in) and I thought I could fix that with a complete electronics swap. In hindsight I should have just sent it back. Then again if I hadn't tried it I might still think Bartolini can work miracles;)

    They're not bad basses but they certainly haven't pushed any buttons for me. I've probably played literally hundreds of them, in search of one that did.

    The Jazz is a simpler bass, maybe even more crude but that plays into why they sound like they do. Carvins OTOH are refined and if that's what you want, cool.

    I'd buy a MIM Jazz long before another Carvin. I'd buy an MTD Kingston before I bought that.
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Brad- Sound and playability have more weight than wood to me, also. However, wood = sound, (along with other factors). But in terms of discussing value, sound is so subjective and there ain't no debate about wood. Alder is currently the "coin of the realm" and poplar is, er, toilet seats? Your second point I quoted is related to this. See, I think the LB sounds skanky and lifeless unplugged although the upper horn resonates into my chest. Plugged in, it suddenly takes on a "life" to my ears.

    Take my comments in light of the fact that I mentioned you in "Which TalkBasser Do You Like Reading The Most?" (or whatever it was named), in my "Bass Knowledge" picks. I don't like reading others' input just because they agree with me.
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Rickbass, if I put too many smilies in a post, paul sends someone to my house to smack me around;)
    Maybe that's why I do it:)

    I totally respect your opinion and hope I didn't come off otherwise. What I wrote was only my opinion (BTW I'd pick Ash or Maple over Alder:D). It truly wasn't a jab at anyone else's opinions, which I consider as valid as mine. We both agree that wood, along with other factors, = sound. In addition it's the finished product that really counts. I've heard some Rumblefish that sound excellent and I have no idea what they're made of ... whatever it is there isn't a lot there;)

    What I was saying was, since you said you hadn't heard of someone sending one back, I was relating the fact that I came close to doing that and did eventually sell the bass, admittingly for one that was far more expensive than the Carvin (on paper).

    I've been to Carvin stores, seen a ton used, bought one...I check out each new feature as it becomes available (Claro Walnut, BB bodies and necks, bridge humbuckers, mid controls, different J pickups, etc.) because for me the only thing missing in the Carvin equation is a sound I truly like. Fit, finish, playability are all top notch, I guess I'm looking for something a little more aggressive out of them sound-wise.

    Also, thanks for listing me in that thread, Rickbass. I'm honored.
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Me too. That's why I recently received bids from about 6 luthiers for a truly custom bass I'm hoping to have totally spec'd out soon.

    However, when it comes time to put on the nice clothes and get people on the dance floor, my "pretty" sounding LB75 practically signs the checks.

    ALWAYS enjoy knowing what you have to say, smilies be damned.
  8. Albino_Ryno

    Albino_Ryno Guest

    Sep 17, 2000
    Knoxville TN
    My predicament is that I like the sound of a jazz bass and I want active electronics. After looking at the specs on the carvin I realized I would be getting better woods, better electronics and just better workmanship than on the MIM Fender. I've never played a Carvin or even heard a Carvin played by someone else so that alone makes it hard for me to determine whether or not I would like the sound. The one thing I'm worried about is I've heard alot of complaints about MiM electronics plus as someone said earlier the humbucker on the carvin will puch through the mix when things get louder, I'v never played a jazz live so I'm not sure if it will.
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I think you've got the quality issue figured out, Albino. The Carvin is simply in a different league. Rosewood fingerboard (Fender) vs. ebony (Carvin)? Pleeeaasssse.
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I used to own both a MIA Fender Jazz Deluxe 5 and a Carvin B5.

    Of the two, the Carvin was superior in most ways:

    1. It just played better. Yes, I had a pro setup done on the Fender but it just never felt quite right.

    2. The Carvin allows both passive and active operation, the Fender does not. The passive mode gets closer to the "vintage" J sound . Carvin's pop up battery holder is more convenient, too.

    3. Carvin uses ebony boards which I prefer greatly over rosewood or pau ferro (all Fender 5s use pau ferro).

    4. Not an issue on a 4 string, but I preferred the headstock balance of Carvin (3 +2) vs. Fender (5 in line)

    5. The Carvin is MUCH cheaper than the MIA Jazz Deluxe.

    If you're looking at the MIM Jazz Deluxe, there is NO contest. I never owned one but used one on a gig once and disliked it even more than the MIA Deluxe.

    Although I like Fenders fine (I have two Ps and a J) I don't care for the Jazz Deluxe at all, I would go for the Carvin especially if you think the MM style pickup option would be of use. As you noted, the humbucker's fatter tone helps punch through. This is one reason I've always preferred P basses over Js.

    Good luck.
  11. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    I have 2 Jazzes(only play one of them now) and an LB75. Each has it's ups and downs, but the Carvin has more ups when it comes to construction and playability. I like the sound of my favorite Jazz, due mostly to the active pre-amp I installed though.

    I have never played the bolt neck Carvins, but I would bet they are of quality construction. My LB75 plays nice and looks great. I'll say this for Carvin, love em or hate em, they do nice work on fit and finish - period.

    If something is ever wrong when you first get a Carvin, you have 10 days from the time you receive it to call them and have them make it right. Their active electronics could use some more balls in my opinion, but it's better than not having any at all. I honestly don't have any major gripes about their basses or bass amps, but I think their wattage ratings are a little...lofty at times.

    Here's how they measure up for me:

    Playability - Carvin

    Appearance - Tied, I love the overall look of them both(LB75: Blueburst w/ MOP blocks on ebony fingerboard, Jazz: White p/g on black body, maple neck with black blocks and binding w/ BAII bridge, both are maple neck and alder body)

    Construction - Carvin all the way(the Fender is no slouch, just not as detailed)

    Adjustability - Carvin again, the neck joint
    truss screw on the Jazz REALLY gets me mad!

    Sound/Tone - Tied, I like them both depending on application

    Detailing/Finish - Both are nice, but the Carvin exhibits a more refined presentation

    Value - Tied...The Carvin was plug and play after a few adjustments, no additional money was invested. I got the Jazz at a real nice price, but it did not win my affection until I installed the pre-amp, which was NOT cheap.

    Coolness factor - Fender all the way!(sorry, I was feeling bad talking about my Bessie while she ain't here). :(

    Overall Recommendation - Sorry, it really depends on the application, preference, etc. I can *tell* you to get one or the other, but it's just not meaningful. It's something you will ultimately have to decide on your own.

    My one recommendation would be to not ignore some other brands in this price range. They're not ALL worth a look, but some ARE. Best of luck to you in your decision. :)
  12. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Man, you can get a used MIA Jazz Deluxe for 5 bills! Check EBay on any day. I would take the AmJazzDlx over any Carvin made, any day. Carvin's never quite sound good to me, thin or something, not sure exactly what. The AmDlxJ on the other hand, is a terrific bass.
  13. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    My MIM Duluxe Active Jazz has stacked humbuckers in them. One of the added goodies Fender puts in them. I havent played a Carvin bass, due to availibity reasons, but from what Ive read, Carvin has a terrible resale value if you should want to sell it, The Fender will have a better resale value. I would think the Carvins are a bit better constructed than the mim Fenders (see my post called factory defect) another thing i dont like about Carvin is that if you are not satisfied and want to return it for a refund or servicing you have to pay shipping costs again.
    I myself seeing you said you like the jazz tones, would go for the jazz bass.
  14. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Do you NEED a Fender?
    Otherwise, I'd say stay off it!
    It's like Mercedes, lots of name, nothing real special. Just my humble opinion.

    And now I shall go into witness protection , or get my head chopped :D
  15. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    I agree with what Sub said too. Fender is a LOT of name. Don't get me wrong, I cherish mine and I am irresistably drawn to them. I like them, but I also have seen them sell for prices that are just simply obscene. I think it's sad when a bass ceases to be a bass, and becomes nothing more than an overpriced conversation piece.

    I can setup any Carvin to play as well, and more likely, better than any Fender anyway. I think the Fender sounds better for some stuff, but I like the Carvin for smoother stuff, for the lighter touch.

    Carvins have a low resale value, that's true. They don't have the huge history behind them that Fender has. Fender is a legendary status symbol, not because it's the best bass out there, but because it's enjoyed a fanatical following for so long. They can be made to sound good too, but let's be honest, for the money, there's plenty of competition. Fender has just become one of those 'rights of passage' for bassists where you will own one at some time or another.

    Besides, since Carvins sell cheaper used, that makes them a better value IMO. If someone is selling one and you can live with their taste in finishes, I would snatch it up. You can probably get away reasonably cheap and it will play well. The construction on them is first rate, so they last a long time.

    I own one of the infamous 3 bolt jazzes from the 70's, and let me tell you, the neck still makes me mad. That particular 3 bolt design had to be the worst thing ever used to secure a neck to the body. To this day, I've yet to hear any Carvin owners with issues regarding neck stability. The neck through models are rock solid too.
  16. Albino_Ryno

    Albino_Ryno Guest

    Sep 17, 2000
    Knoxville TN
    Maybe it would help if I described my playing preferences. I usually play classic rock and funk and I love to slap that's what first drew me to the jazz bass. I also want a bass that could handle some red hot chili pepper action which makes me want the humbucker in the carvin. I want a good funk bass that is still able to handle some good ol' rock and roll and maybe some heavier stuff.
  17. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    No flame intended, but if you mean "huge" as in "long," the Carvin company was established in 1946 and Leo started Fender during WWII, so the length of history is practically the same.

    I think Fender's being a "legendary status symbol" is due to the fact that Leo invented the electric bass AND a quality instrument, not because it, "enjoyed a fanatical following." The latter is the effect and the former is the cause. You're right on target about the "legendary" but I can't agree with the "status symbol" unless you're talking pre-CBS or one of their elite lines like the Roscoe Becks, at least in the US. The name lost its original luster with the arrival of boutique basses like Alembic, with CBS's creation of Fender Japan, and the move to MIM/the creation of their budget lines.

    The big reason Carvin's have relatively less value on the resale market is because they have no/little brand equity. Since there are no Carvin dealers, (outside of their few CA company stores), little Jimmy can't go into the store after school and see the same brand of bass that he saw Zeus Bodypierce using on the music video. There is no authorized dealer network to back them up, just the factory. However, this serves your excellent point about being a better value. The combination of not having the tremendous costs associated with those networks plus the excellent construction of the instruments, (i.e., they don't have much/any repair bench time), makes them a sweet deal.
  18. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    No offense taken :)

    I can see where you are coming from with that. Brand equity is a good way of putting it, that's a good summation of my standpoint on Fenders(re: where I said "a LOT of name" to start off).

    Carvin is not ubiquitous, Fender is, hence the overwhleming demand for Fenders in their various forms. Carvin is a small island among a sea of major manufacturer's with widespread distribution. I still think it's a status symbol in a sense though, that's what I was going for in my 'right of passage' statement. I mean honestly, how many bassists haven't owned a Fender? It's pervasive, like a huge fan club. I think some people who buy a Fender as their first bass haven't the slightest idea who Leo was, they just want to be in the club. I'm not saying that's bad or wrong, it's just one of those things.

    I certainly revere Leo's tremendous contribution to the bass world, believe me I do. Still, I did not buy my Fenders with that in mind. I buy them because I like them for some applications, and my first bass was a used Fender, so there's that soft spot.

    If it were as simple as Leo's involvement making for legendary status, then why doesn't G&L enjoy the same inelastic demand in the numbers that Fenders do? I realize distribution is probably the biggest reason, but notice I said demand, not supply. Increased demand would yield the supply which would in turn yiled the distribution if that were the case.

    They just simply aren't sought after like the Fenders. Probably like you said, it's because the Fender was the first, the start of it all. Still, if G&L's were demanded as such, the market would adjust, and they would flood the local stores like the Fenders. That has yet to happen, but who knows, maybe someday it will...

    People just seem to rally around them with such great enthusiasm, it's really an extraordinary phenomenon. Even though I like my Carvin, count me along with the crowd on this one, I will always be a Fender fan too. I can even say with the utmost confidence that the ones I own, I will never sell. I don't invest in a bass for it's appreciation, I invest in it because I like it.

    And finally, thanks Leo :)
  19. To Bassman1185, I am so tempted to get that bass
    kit in the Carvin catalog, but, I just bought a
    Jack Casady, so I have to be cool for a while.
    I'm a "less is more" kind of guy, and I have a
    feeling that bolt on neck kit would sound pretty
    good, because nobody really expects much from it.
    How bad could it sound? I know some of you guys
    have five instruments or more, but, why is it that we're so attached to the "cheapest" one?
    Go Figure.

    Mike J.

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