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Carvin necks

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by knucklehead G, Oct 6, 2010.

  1. A coworker is wanting me to put together a bass for them, something "custom" and "not Fender." I'm pretty comfortable handling the body, as my collection of tools has expanded quickly since the contest build, but I told them I'd only do it if I could use a pre-made neck. I'm just not comfortable carving a neck for a professional instrument if its going to someone besides me. I can put up with my own mistakes, but.. well.

    I originally thought Warmoth straight away as I've had good experiences with them before, but I noticed Carvin necks are a bit cheaper and have five year warranties on them, plus I can get a five-piece maple / walnut which would be super sexy on what I'm going to be be making here.

    I did do a search, and I came up with twenty-two pages of people suggesting the necks without much background information..

    Who has used them? I've never had my hands on Carvin anything, are the four-string 20-fret ones more like a P or J? I'm assuming they're lighter weight than Warmoth, which isn't hard.

    From talking it over with the potential buyer here we'd basically be looking at a passive single MM bass, maple / rosewood neck and a mahogany body finished in ReRanch nitro, and I priced out all the materials plus a bit for myself at about the SBMM / MIM Fender price point.

    Basically if you were paying for supplies for a mostly-custom build in the <$1000 range, would a Carvin neck work for you?
  2. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    In the 1000 dollar range for a custom bass I think that the Carvin neck or a Warmoth neck is perfectly suitable. Carvin has been producing quality instruments for a long time and I am sure that they produce a neck that is high enough quality for a build like yours. I could not personally imagine making a bass with a handmade neck for 1000$ and turning much of a profit.
  3. scojack


    Apr 1, 2009
    Not to Diss pre-made necks...... but why stop short?
    Go the full hog and make one....its not as difficult as you'd imagine.
    Good luck
  4. ^this. It really isnt that hard.
  5. I used one on a guitar build I did about 9 years ago. I purchased their bolt on, strat style neck with a blank headstock. The neck is super straight and the fret job is perfect. The maple they used is the hardest damn wood I've ever worked with. Just reshaping the neck heel to fit the body I made was a chore.

    At the time, you could get a pre-made neck any way you wanted it from Carvin, as long as you wanted 22 frets, 2pc maple w/ ebony fretboard and MOP dots. Obviously the options have changed if you can now get a 5 piece neck.

    If your time is worth more to you than the right to say "I carved that neck" and Carvin has what you want then I would just get the Carvin. I assume this is the case since you are asking about it and already considering Warmoth.

    The one I bought was $120 (they have probably gone up). I really don't think I could have gotten the dbl truss rod, graphite rods wood and fret wire much cheaper than that. And, like I said, from a playability standpoint it is a perfect neck.
  6. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Inactive

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Carvin necks require additional shaping to prevent them from feeling like Carvin necks.

    Listen to Ian. It's not that hard.
  7. I gotta warn you though, they take forever to get to you. I've been waiting over a month now for my neck through blank from Carvin. Hope its worth the wait.
  8. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    On the one hand, I agree with Mike and Ian, making a neck isn't that hard - I made a slab-style Fender-ish neck in my build competition thread, so if you're interested in the "how to..." of it, it's all there, except for fretting (it's fretless).

    On the other hand, Carvin necks have gotten rave reviews for years. Lots of people like the shape, and their fretwork is immaculate (at least, on the Carvin axes I've played, both guitar and bass).

    I, myself, have been considering trying a Carvin "neck through" git neck on my "über LP jr." build I'm planning, because I like the scale length, it would save me time, and frankly, I'm curious to see how it would go... ;)
  9. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I agree that carving a neck really isn't that hard. If the OP was building himself a bass I would say go for it and do it yourself. In this case, at about a grand for the whole bass, I think the Carvin neck would save a pile of time and work put into building, shaping and fretting a neck. If the OP is trying to make a profit I think a pre made neck would be most appropriate. If the OP isn't worried about making a profit then I might feel differently. It also might not be the best idea to send your very first neck out the door on a bass you are getting paid for up front

    My experience with carvin necks is that they are extremely thin. I like a thin neck on a bass but the carvins I have played were thinner than I could be comfortable with. I don't have any experience with the neck blanks. Perhaps the bolt on necks are more "fenderish".
  10. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Inactive

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Q: One part of a $1,000 budget is $350 and you are stating that it's better if he is attempting any profit?

    A: No. ~$35 of wood goes into a neck like this.

    Q: It will take over a month to receive and you are stating that it will save time?

    A: No. Even a novice can have a neck carved in a week.
  11. Ben B

    Ben B

    Jul 13, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I own a couple Carvin basses and I've played many of them both neck through and bolt on. I live only a few miles from the factory, and have been to their showroom many times.:D

    The necks are nothing like a P. They are similar to a J, but I think a little thinner. As others have written, high quality, great fret work.

  12. Well the neck I'm looking at would set me back about $200 on the budget. And while I intend to start carving necks - I've been practicing on every bit of wood I can get a hold of - they're not to a level I'd be comfortable selling right now. Its not so much about saving time as making sure that if someone is paying me for this and I am making a small profit (also largely doing this cheap for experience and fun, no cash to start my own build right now) that I'd like to be able to let them know their neck has a five year warranty on it though an established company.

    The bolt-on necks fit a Fender neck pocket, but that doesn't say anything for the feel at the nut. Thin is exactly what we're looking for this time. If it was for me, I'd want half a ball bat down there, but I have huge banana hands.
  13. THand


    Jun 9, 2008
    I bought this Carvin neck-thru about 1993ish and finally built a p bass out of it. I think they have changed the profiles since then..



    So go for it!
  14. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    350$ for a bolt on neck? If that is the case then obviously you cant turn a profit. If it takes a month to receive you can't make a profit but because one poster had that issue doesn't make it a standard operating procedure at carvin.

    Mikey, I agree that building your own neck is generally the best option . In this particular case, being that the build is for a customer, and with limited building experience, the OP may be smart to cut down on potential liability issues. The first neck I ever made worked great for about 3 months until the trussrod broke through the back of the neck. Needless to say that won't happen again but I would have been mortified if that bass had fallen apart in the hands of a customer. I also have a feeling that if word spreads that your necks are falling apart or warping you won't be selling many more basses.

    Just because a novice can carve a neck in a week doesn't mean that they can carve a neck that is suitable to put on a bass for a customer. Doing a good fret job alone is quite an undertaking for a beginner. If the OP has a lot of time on his hands and wants to do the work then yes, go for it, but be prepared to try more than once to make a neck that is comparable to a quality pre-made neck.

    I would suggest to the OP that if he wants to continue building basses then he should certainly be learning how to carve his own necks.
  15. I'm planning on doing my own necks eventually, but this request showed up a little sooner than I was expecting.
  16. Jason_A


    May 26, 2009
    Marion, IA
    Having owned a bunch of Carvin instruments over the years, I can vouch for their quality. I have a feeling that their bolt-on neck profiles have changed recently (they revamped the Bolt line and added the new SB models). If you wanted a "standard" neck... Carvin headstock shape, maple neck, ebony board with dot inlays... you'd probably get it pretty quick as I'd guess they always have a few of those on the shelf. If you are doing any kind of "customization" to that (5-piece, different inlays, different fb, etc) I'd expect the wait time to be at least a month, as I doubt they keep that sort of thing in stock, so keep that in mind.
  17. So I'm looking at probably a month lead time according to several people.. I'll have to talk to the buyer and see if that would work.

    I'm going for a paddle headstock with a few different options, so I guess that's something I'll have to consider.
  18. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    Had a Carvin for several years - good bass but the neck relief kept moving. I'd set it flat and in a month I had to have it reset. I didn't know how to set my own action at the time so this really set me back some cash. Nowadays I could easily cope with this but at the time it was a real hassle for me.

    No other bass I've ever owned had a neck where the relief changed so quickly.

    Also recently spoke to another previous Carvin owner and he had the same experience with his.
  19. Gigarob


    Jun 3, 2010
    6/103 Hunter St Hornsby Sydney
    I've read all replies in this threat and I have to say I'm split.
    I couldn't possible have send my first neck to a customer even though it's still working great in my factory. I also couldn't really feel like I'd built a bass if I hadn't built the neck.

    I guess the deciding factor is more of a marketing/business decision rather than an experience one; Customers are hard to get and you need to look after this guy, especially if he's a gigging musician. This bass is gonna be seen onstage and the look is as important as the playability. If this bass fell apart or the neck warped or some other disaster happened, it would be the last bass anyone ever bought off you.
    So I guess what i'm saying is; tell the customer to wait, get the Carvin neck and make sure the product is PERFECT before he sees it.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes...
  20. James Judson

    James Judson

    Jul 16, 2009
    My Carvin neck is thin and very playable. It also stays in tune. Did I say it stays in tune. Yes it stays in tune. What I'm trying to say is it stays in tune. Tune it once and you don't have to touch a tuner til you change strings.
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