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Carvin bass...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ToolRulez, Aug 29, 2002.

  1. Hi, I'm looking for a new bass and someone said that I should take a look at the carvin site, so I did and I like them (especially the price). But... I don't know wether they're good, and will they fit my style (everything from rock to metal)? Does anyone have experience with these basses?

    Here's a brief description of the bass I'm considering.

    It's based on the XB75 (but with a few options).
    - neck-through, scale 35,1/4
    - mahogany body and neck
    - 1 humbucker (MM-style), 1 J-style
    - active electronics
  2. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    I have 2 Carvin basses. The fit and finish is better than you'd expect for the money and the control cavity is immaculate. The sound is quite good but not on par with the real expensive basses. I do not have their MM style pickup, or their frets, so I cannot comment on these options. The intonation has been very good but on both of my basses, I developed some high spots in the fingerboard near the body. In both cases, light sanding was sufficient (and necessary as I keep my action pretty low). Carvin necks tend to be thin (front to back) but they are very playable and reasonably fast - I prefer the unfinished or oil finish on the neck especially.
  3. SCH


    May 3, 2002
    San Antonio, Texas
    My first bass was a Cravin (LB-70). IMO Carvin makes good (not great) basses. The fit and finish is excellent, and their tung oiled necks are quite nice. I don't like the way the frets are seated; there's a lot of fret noise on mine; especially with round-wound strings. I also think that Carvin's pickups/electronics are thin sounding.

    My objections aside, for the money, Carvin's are good solid basses. As with most things, you get what you pay for. If you're looking for a great bass, keep saving your money. If you're looking for a solid bass at a good price, go Carvin.
  4. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    My sentiments exactly. If tone is your priority, don't bother. If build quality and reliability is, Carvin's a good pick, especially at the price level they're at.
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    FWIW - I had an absolutely gorgeous, pimped-out, Carvin that had to be returned for a problem within the wood, (very rare because they use top-notch woods).

    As Oyster says, I was never crazy about the tone, just the cosmetics. Carvin gave me a full refund and I used that money to get a Lakland Skyline 55-02.

    The Skyline can't hold a candle to the pimped-out Carvin when it comes to beauty and finer construction points, like brass threaded control cavity screw sleeves, a "shredder" style neck, gorgeous woods, and full copper shielding.

    But when it come to tone, the 55-02 kicks the Carvin off the stage. As for cost, the plain-jane 55-02 was about $50 more.

    So as Oyster infers - go with the Carvin if you mainly want something to look at that's built extremely well.
  6. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I had a Carvin 5 in the mid 90s - an LB75 I think. It was the same as the ones they sell today except it did not have a mid control, only bass and treble.

    Rickbass is right about the finer details on construction and finish. It's almost downright impressive, when you consider the price.

    The tone, however, just was not what I was looking for. I think it was due to a combination of the pick ups, electronics, and neck-through construction. Although the bass had good lows and high end, there was something missing. See if you can try one out first. Maybe there's someone in your town that has one and will let you check it out.
  7. I have a Reverend Rumblefish and Carvin B5, and I say take a look at a Reverend 5ver instead ( www.reverenddirect.com ). I'd like to have a Brad Houser.:)
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    I read that line and thought of the following:

    "we like both kinds here. Country and Western."

    As for Carvins, they are nice, but I think you'd find equally impressive basses for the same money.
  9. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    These guys nailed it. You'd come out better going with the Skyline 55-02.
  10. Well, just to lend something of a contrary view (not entirely), I personally like Carvin basses. Been playing them for years. Do I think they're the ultimate? Nope. But I think for certain tastes they're at least as good as the Lakland Skylines (I respect Lakland but have never fallen in love with them), if not better. Besides, you can always pop different PUs in the Carvin. Chucko58, who sometimes posts here, was gonna try some Bill Lawrence J45s in his Carvin bass. I'd be interested in hearing about how that comes out. Or Barts; I know of some people who've tried those as subs in a Carvin and liked them.

    And ToolRulez, if I were you, I don't think I'd go for an all-mahogany neck If I were getting the Carvin (or any other bass, for that matter). I'm not confident that mahogany is consistently strong enough for a 5-string bass neck. I say this with some degree of personal experience: I had an all mahogany 6 that I strung with a light-medium set of strings and whose neck just would not stay in place. I know there are probably folks whose mahogany necks are fine, but I just personally wouldn't take the chance. I'd opt for maple or 5-piece maple-mahogany. Just my $0.02.
  11. Blux


    Feb 5, 2002
    Philadelphia, Pa.
    maybe try a used one for all the positive reasons given and then go for the sound by replacing the pups - a used can be found for $500 - then you have a very very good bass
  12. Re the replacement PU thing, I remembered a review I saw on the Bill Lawrence BBS. FWIW:

    From: www.musicplayer.com/ubb/u...5;t=002398

    "Author Topic: Bill Lawrence got's GAME!

    Platinum Member
    Member # 14130

    posted 07-08-2002 11:34 PM
    Huzzah! I got my Bill Lawrence J-45 this afternoon, and I must say: BRAVO! Talk about a strong first impression! This puppy went right into my Carvin LB75 fretless after checking to make sure the neck-position Carvin H50N it would replace was adjusted at the best height and balanced on the meters with the DiMarzio Ultra Jazz 5 I have at the bridge. That would be my reference for output.

    Well. The Lawrence J-45 adjusted to the same height as the H50N it replaced had more output (and non-compressed dynamics too). If I raise the [high-output] Ultra Jazz 5 closer to the strings the J-45 will probably have no trouble keeping up. So I'm going to be using new pre-gain settings on my rig... this p'up simply has more output than the Carvin H50N, Bartolini 59J (and probably 59K), and most likely quite a bit more than Lane Poors.

    And unlike the last-gen designs of noiseless stacks like the Carvin and Seymour Duncans, it has an incredible dynamic range. Like innovators Lane Poor and Chris Kinman (who does not yet have a bass design on the market but has proven his technology on guitars), Bill Lawrence's design is a stack - but the difference in design also makes sure the bottom coil's magnetic field does not intrude at the string sensing height. This translates into better dynamics - much more like classic single coil response.

    As an example, when I slap I usually use the neck and bridge blended 50/50 because when the pickup heights are adjusted right this naturally phases out some of the mids, in keeping with "slap tone". For fretless with the H50N and the Ultra 5 I actually had a pretty good tone when slapping, but the slap-to-pop volume balance required a little more pounding on the low-string slaps to sound even. Now I've got a much fuller low end string response without the effort (or EQ or compression help). And since both the Lawrence and the DiMarzio have such dynamic range, working together it can get truly EXPLOSIVE! And it positively wallows in TONE.

    So how does it sound? Well, I've ran the gauntlet, applying all the customary tests I've come up with, and then just played the hell out of it. The Lawrence sounds better at the neck than my favored DiMarzio Ultra Jazz 5 did - and that's saying something. I think it is partly because the Ultra Jazz doesn't have the pole-pieces spaced right for a 17 mm (at the bridge) string spacing. It just didn't line up right. But the J-45 has nine evenly-spaced pole pieces, and I think it would work on any string spacing in either position. So the Lawrence really beats the Ultra Jazz 5 there... Actually the Lawrence J-45 sounds so good I'm probably going to unsolder both pickups and put it in the bridge position so I can compare it to the DiMarzio I've been hearing there for some time now. The DiMarzio flat out kills there - so you know I like the Lawrence!

    ...Describing tone is a little like talking about Baskin Robins flavors. It's better to just try them all ; } But since you haven't done that, I'll just try to compare.

    When EQed flat and run passive (I do all my testing in passive, and at least 50% of my playing) the J-45 has a more extended low end than the Carvin H50N. The B string was already full and loud before. But now the tone includes more fundamental. In fact, all the strings seem to have more fundamental. The mids and top are still there, but the upper mids and treble when overdrive or distortion engaged and the strings are literally spanked within an inch of their life is less snarly... sweeter in spite of the sensitivity it has to touch.

    Because of the string spacing issue I covered earlier it isn't realistic to put it up against the DiMarzio at the neck. But I can remember my experience with the Bartolini 59J (which I decided not to buy for reasons I will list). I felt the Bart had less output than the Carvin H50N; since I wanted to really overdrive a tube at times that was one demerit right there. The other thing I thought was lacking on the Bart was all the treble detail the H50N had. The Bart just seemed less lively in the sparkle range. And in comparison to this Lawrence, it would seem less even in frequency response, or at least the tone of the Bart seemed less complex. Think "Lane Poor with more output" for the J-45, perhaps...

    So, in a nutshell (after dumping a wagon load of nuts and bolts into your cranial cap), the J-45 has a harmonically detailed tone with good dynamic variety - without ever veering too far from a disposition suited to a BASS. I'm sure I'll be learning more as I work the height adjustments, check it out through a variety of settings, try it with the onboard active, and run it through all my effects patches on the BP8 and the Peavey TransTubeFEX -

    - But let me say right now: chances are I will only think this pickup is incredible for twice the price when all is tried and trued. Highly recommmended for anyone who wants TRUE GRUNT at the neck that gives you some P with your oh, J ; }

    <-- greenboy ---<<<< this post was written over a period of hours as various hoops were set up and jumped through, as watched though the best opera glasses money can't buy ; }

    PS: the noise-free performance of the J-45 is also quieter than the Ultra Jazz 5 - maybe even as quiet as the H50N. I attribute this to the side-by-side coils on the DiMarzio, covering 2-strings and 3 strings respectively - and thus not wound exactly to the same specs, thus leaving a little differential in the hum cancelling.

    [ 07-09-2002, 12:04 AM: Message edited by: greenboy ]
    Posts: 1226 | From: yes, of course | Registered: Jan 2001 | IP: Logged


    Platinum Member
    Member # 14130

    posted 07-09-2002 09:28 AM
    I figured people interested in replacement pickups would be swarming all over this one, beings it has cred for any 5-string string-spacing and works with 4-strings too, and it's only $57 shipped from Bill and Becky L (great peeps!)...

    In the relative sanity of a new day, I still put this up there with the DiMarzio Ultra Jazz for a noiseless single coil replacement at the bridge, and do like it better at the neck. Having a rig that somewhat veers toward sound reinforcement ideals, you can really hear all the subtleties but it does take time to ingest and digest all the findings.

    One item is, I'm used to having a fully-covered pickup - one without exposed pole pieces - at the neck. When I raised the pickup closer to the strings after signing off last night I noticed that when I really laid into a string or thumped some big slaps on the less-tensioned strings, that I could hear an annoying click I've seen others wonder about with their pickups. It was the string contacting the pole piece. I don't want to lower the pickup because I like the tone and output at this distance, so it looks like clear nail polish or something will have to be used to coat them. Or I could ease up on the excessive left hand technique... <looksbothways>... Nawww! ; }

    More later, gotta fire the puppie up and enjoy the tone!


    <-- greenboy ---<<<< never bite the foot that feeds you
  13. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    I have an lb76 w/ the J pickups. I think it sounds great. No, it's not the best sounding bass ever but it's hard to beat for the price and for the context of a rock or metal band you're not going to beat it. I've even done some solo recordings where I've been quit pleased with the hi-fi tone I've been able to get out of the carvin.
  14. I've got a 5-string fretless with piezo's that sounds good enough that the recording studio above my local music store has recorded with it. Seems that while they can borrow most any bass from the store, my Carvin was able to produce the sounds they were looking for.

    I'm aware that Cavin doesn't have the best rep for tone at TB, but the new pre that goes with the piezo's brings out a whole new pallate of tones.

    I compared my Carvin to a wide variety of basses from a tonal aspect, and with one exception (Pedula) the Carvin came out on top. That list included your common MIM & MIA basses, those neck heavy (but cool looking) digit basses, and those wierd single pickup basses made by someone famous.

    Order it, if it sounds good to you... keep it, if you don't like it send it back. What do you have to loose?
  15. Carvin makes a great bass and there is nothing wrong with the tone. It might not be what you are looking for but it's not as cheap sounding as people make it out to be. They do seem to produce a lot of fret noise if you are not careful with your technique however. My LB75 has the two H50N jazz style pickups and has a very usable sound. It's not the best sounding bass in the world but I'm not the best sounding bass player either.

    You have to be careful on this list when people start commenting about the tone of various bass manufacturers. A lot of guys around here own $2500 - $5000 basses. Obviously Carvin isn't going to compete on that level.

    Be sure to look at the Lakland Skyline series basses as well. From what I hear they are really nice.

    Good Luck!!!
  16. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    (With all due respect to Richard) - "Greenboy" may have known what he was talking about in that overly pretentious post. But, from my experience - forget anything this "greenboy" poser says.

    I've embarassed him more than once over the incredibly bad misinformation he posted on TB and he hasn't shown up here since.

    He desperately wants to appear to be an expert even though at times he appears to think a "truss rod" has something to do with preventing hernia enlargement.
  17. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Count Funkula makes a good point. We should keep things in perspective; some of us are comparing the $700 Carvin 5 to high end basses that run $2000 to $3,000+.

    Although the Carvin tone was not for me, I gotta say it's a great bass for $700. The workmanship and finish on the LB75 that I used to own was first rate.
  18. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    I'd like to add another couple of comments. First, my LB75F is all koa, including the neck. I string it with the tapewounds. I get a very URB like sound easily from this set-up and the neck has been stable over the 4 or 5 years I've had this bass. BTW, I also have a Pedulla MVP and the craftsmanship including electronics, is of the same caliber on my Carvins as it is on my Pedulla. I do believe the Pedulla is a bit better on fit and finish, but the Carvin wiring is definitely first rate. Despite having such a nice Pedulla, I still like the sound of my Carvins. I have the slightly older H50 style pickups in mine - I perfer them to the newer ones. The treble control in particular on the Carvin is voiced a bit too high IMHO. I.e., when you turn up the treble, it seems to effect the tone at too high of a range, and this cannot quite be compensated for with the midrange control. I believe you can change a resistor or something to modify this, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to do this. I mention this because this treble control may be what gives fretted Carvins some of their "clackiness" that I've heard complaints about. I do not know if this is also true for the MM style Carvin pu though. Another down side to Carvin is resale value - it's certainly not going to appreciate over time despite the craftmanship. But you really do get to design your own bass which is a tremendous plus and like others have said, you can change p.u.s if you want to at a later date. But you will definitely be able to get a usable, eq'able sound out of the Carvin even if you don't like their factory strings (other than their tapewounds, I don't care for their strings). I also get good punch out of my Carvins, and they sit well in the mix. I'm not totally satisfied with the B string output, but it is not that bad either and this may be in part due to my amp and string choice too.
  19. SCH


    May 3, 2002
    San Antonio, Texas
    As has been mentioned, tone is subjective. I'm not fond of my Carvin's tone, but others might dig it.

    If you're thinking seriously about buying a Carvin I would strongly recommend getting a used one. Carvin's aren't famous for holding their value. There's lots of used ones out there, and they can be had cheap. Get a used one, and with the money you saved you can upgrade the pups if you don't like them.
  20. Interesting--I haven't encountered the man before and have no feelings about his bass cred one way or the other. So you'd know more than I on this one. LOL on the truss rod!;)

    I do, however, have some direct experience with Bill Lawrence PUs, though only on guitars. They are IMO superb and superbly priced. That doesn't necessarily translate to bass PUs, of course, but I do think there's a basic quality and knowledge there that would make the J45s at least worth considering. Of course, this refers to the "real" Bill Lawrences available direct from their shop (www.billlawrence.com), not to the ones sold by Stew-Mac, which are different and have been disavowed by the Lawrences, and from which the Lawrences AFAIK don't see a penny.

    Another cool thing about dealing with the Lawrences, which admittedly has no direct relation to tone, is that you can call up and talk to the people who are actually making your PUs--either Bill or Becky. Good people, and personal service.

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