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Carvin IC5 electronics

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Worldeeeter, Apr 22, 2010.


  1. Worldeeeter

    Worldeeeter Banned

    Mar 29, 2010
    Asheville, NC
    I purchased a Carvin Icon 5-string last November. I love the look and feel of the bass. The sound can either be very good or very bad. The low-end tends to be muddy, and the high-end can be extremely tinny, if I'm not very careful with the levels on the bass.
    I've read some posts about Carvin-owners switching out the pickups and electronics, and the general tone seems to be that the Carvin electronics aren't that great.
    I have a set of J99A/AS single coils, and the soap-bar humbuckers that currently reside in the bass. Neither set of pickups make me jump for joy. I'm looking for a "heavy, yet tight" sound, with big low end, yet somewhat clear tone.
    What are your experiences with Carvin pickups and preamps? I am open to switching out both, if it will improve the sound of the bass significantly.
    I also have an ADA MB-1 preamp, which I haven't added to my effects loop yet. I'm going to try to clean up the Carvin sound using the Parametric EQ and compressor, but I have no idea how successful I will be.
     
  2. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    Oregon
    In my opinion, the Carvin Icon soapbars are just fine when you run them by themselves. They have a lot of low end without a pre-amp in the way. They are not the most clear or transparent sounding pickups, but the tone is still good.

    You should try running them in a fully passive configuration first. A parametric EQ or compressor can only do so much, but if your tone isn't good to start with, no amount of tweaking is going to make it right.
     
  3. Funkinthetrunk

    Funkinthetrunk Registered User Supporting Member

    I own 3 Carvin basses, all have Aggie preamps installed in favor of the orig. For me, the orig preamps just don't cut it. After the Aggie, they are monsters now.
     
  4. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Trying to compensate for deficiencies in the onboard electronics by using outboard signal processing is like patching a really old pair of jeans: Yeah, it could help make 'em somewhat more functional - but it's no substitute for replacing 'em with something much better, and brand new... :meh:

    In general, pickups and onboard preamps are Carvin's weak link (the materials and workmanship of the slab itself are excellent). Whenever I buy a Carvin, I always factor in a few hundred dollars extra for pickup and preamp upgrades. They'll make a really good instrument into an outstanding instrument... :cool:

    MM
     
  5. cassanova

    cassanova

    Sep 4, 2000
    Florida
    I bought an LB75 last year and though the construction and finish was pure quality, the tone left little to be desired. It sounded sterile and trebly to me so, after trying a couple of different brands of strings and it still not sounding like what I thought it should, I sold it.

    If I ever order from them again, I'm going to order the bass without pickups and electronics because there's definitely aren't up to snuff with others on the market.
     
  6. Worldeeeter

    Worldeeeter Banned

    Mar 29, 2010
    Asheville, NC
    OK, what I've heard thus far supports my suspicions.
    Now, what's the good word on 4.25" x 1.25" x 0.75" pickups? I'm a fan of EMGs, but I'm open to something different.
    Plus, the on-board preamp needs to go. I've heard great things about Aguilar and Glock preamps.
    As you may know, the IC5 is a mess of knobs; I'd like to avoid having a bunch of dummy knobs or holes/inlays in the body of my guitar. Any input on how the pots will line up with another brand of preamp?

    Also, is the piezo bridge pickup a factor? I'd like to leave it, and replace the neck and bridge soapbars only. I can always mix the piezo out using the pots.
     
  7. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Carvin won't sell to you in that way. I know. I've already inquired... :meh:

    MM
     
  8. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I've already scoped this out. Two pickup makes I'm considering are SGD Lutherie and Nordstrand (probably the former for me).

    As for preamps, you have many choices. I'm considering Audere for my purposes.

    I don't get the "mess of knobs" remark. There are only four - unless you have an IC5P - with the piezo element in the bridge. And that's only five. Most major makes of onboard preamp can be configured to fit either four or five external knobs. I suggest you lurk and learn... :meh:

    If you leave the piezo, you'll probably have to leave the stock preamp too. Consider which preamps you might want to install, and inquire of them directly...

    MM
     
  9. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    Personally, I thought Carvin hit a home run in 2006 with their new electronics package. I've never thought once about switching out the electronics in my Icon 5. But that is a subjective thing. :)
     
  10. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    You can leave the piezo, but you'll need a buffer preamp, which is already part of the Carvin setup. If you can't salvage the existing buffer preamp from the Carvin electronics then you'll have to get a replacement in addition to whatever EQ you get (Aggie or Glock or whatever). You can get a Bartolini buffer, or a RMC. Carvin uses the Graph Tech piezos, you could probably use Graph Tech's buffer circuit. A buffer will match the impedance of the piezos with that of the mags, so it's necessary when you use a piezo bridge with mag pickups.
     
  11. cassanova

    cassanova

    Sep 4, 2000
    Florida
    Do you happen to know if they'll put in a different manufacturers pickups and electronics? I'm thinking they won't.
     
  12. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    Here
    I had a couple of Carvin over the years and love them.

    I recently purchased a couple of their J99A to put them on another bass , they are absolutly sublime. That's the pickups they put on their much acclaimed SB series.

    Do you prefer the Passive sound , with the preamp bypassed ?
     
  13. Worldeeeter

    Worldeeeter Banned

    Mar 29, 2010
    Asheville, NC
    I'm all about the active sound. I usually have more control over the clarity and sharpness of my tone with active electronics.
     
  14. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    Here
    If you like the tone of the J99A in passive mode , then youd know the preamp is your problem.
    But if you don't like them either passive or with the preamp activated , then I think it's just a question of tone quest , and not necessarily that Carvin electronics is all junk.
    A question of taste , really.
     
  15. Worldeeeter

    Worldeeeter Banned

    Mar 29, 2010
    Asheville, NC
    I found the perfect solution to this quandary...

    I traded the bass for a Spector NS5CRFM. Yay EMG and Aggie OBP-1!!!

    It really IS a question of taste. Carvin is NOT my taste.
     

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