Carvin playability question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by NoisemakerD-Lux, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. NoisemakerD-Lux


    Oct 12, 2004
    I'm copying this from TK65's thread about his new Carvin Elite, since no one seems to want to answer me there. :bawl:

    To TK65 (and other Carvin addicts),

    I have seemed to become strangely attracted to the Claro Walnut 6-string (with the abalone blocks) and am thinking about adding it to my collection. It's beautiful and cheap, so why not. I really like the specs on those basses.

    I do wish that they made a 7-string version, though. Have they ever made one for anybody?

    Anyway, the question. What's the playability like on the new Carvins? I haven't played one in years and the one I still have is from late 1989.

    How low can the strings go? Is the bridge made in a way that the saddles do not bottom out before you get the strings down to the level of the fretboard? How low, realistically, can the action go?

    I need, at the minimium, 1mm on the C and 1.25mm on the B. Preferably a little lower, but those are the absolute minimums.

    That Rapid Neck feature... what's that about? Is that only for guitars or is it for basses too?

    Also, what's the gold hardware like on the Carvins. How quickly does it tarnish?

    What maintenance is required for the Tung Oil that Carvin uses on their necks?

    Thank you for reading and please answer. :D
  2. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    Playability was the best part of my carvins (both sold)

    Super fast necks with the possibility for incredibly low action.

    The gold on both of mine didn't have any problems for the 2 years I had them both.

  3. Playability is really the prime selling point of Carvin instruments in my opinion.

    They play and feel great to the touch, only in terms of sound is it when it becomes incredibly subjective.

    Many people tend to bad mouth the Carvin electronics... and hey, I happen to believe they're not too great myself (mids control acts as almost another volume, the treble being a little too thin and so on) but Carvin gear in terms of build quality alone is worth the asking price of admission. Who knows, you might just dig the Carvin tone. If not, there're always replacement pickups, outboard pre's, and so on.

    Who knows, if I had my Hartke Attack Pedal when I had my BB70P, it might've been kept.

    Also, to answer your other question, the action can go really quite low, but I found that after every string change, the neck and bridge needed some form of adjustment.
  4. Rapid play is just the narrow slimness of the neck no?

    The hardware like most of carvin's build quality is fine, it isn't going to tarnish but that really depends on how well you take care of it.

    Never seen a seven string, and don't think they'll start unless you can give it a lot of publicity..*shrug*

    For the bridge question i'd try contacting carvin, i'm not going to adjust it now to find out but they'd know best and it's like a 2 minute wait.
  5. Blues Cat

    Blues Cat Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    Katy, Tx
    I'm going to say that you are going to have trouble getting your action that low on the fretted Carvins. I would love to get my action down that low as well but the fret buzz is distracting. Maybe 2.5/32" if your touch is really light. Your B string will have to be @ 3/32" on the LB 34". My Bstring is a .135 Prosteel which is pretty stiff. You might have a better chance w/the XB 35.25" model.
    My fretless has a straighter neck & the action feels good.
  6. I'm going to disagree with Blues Cat. I've played 2 recently built *past 2 years* Carvins and they had extremely low actions. The necks were extremely fast and well built. My only qualm, and waht really prevented me from picking up a Claro Walnut 4 were the electronics. They just didn't do it for me.
  7. NoisemakerD-Lux


    Oct 12, 2004
    Thanks, everyone. The reason why I'm asking here instead of contacting Carvin is that they have a notoriously bad Customer Support. I'd rather ask actual people who play these. ;)

    The action thing. I did read on the Carvin forum some time ago (a year or so... when I was just cruising the web) that the saddles did bottom out on someone's bass and that he wasn't happy with the action. I don't know if it was the bass or the person or what... but it is a concern of mine.

    The electronics... well, playability and comfort level are the most important things for me. That's how I really judge a bass. If I'd decide that I didn't like the sound, I could always get something else put in.

    Bunny does get some good sound coming out of his, though. Besides, sound can be manipulated through a lot of different ways. Amp, effects, settings, etc.. But it is something to keep in mind.

    Blues Cat,

    I really do not mind the string grind or the buzz, as long as the notes don't start choking off. I actually do like that dirty grind in a bassist's tone. All I care about is that the strings can be set that low and that it has a pretty low tension.

    Have you thought about getting the action worked on by a professional repairman? Maybe someone could work some magic into the bass. I think it may be well worth doing and something for me to consider (if I decide I like the bass, but wish the action was better).

    Well, the 10-day trial period sounds cool. I'll give it more thought, but I suppose I can always throw it back at them. :D
  8. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    Even if the bridge saddles bottom out before the strings are low enough for you, you should be able to file the groove in the saddle a little deeper to get to where you want. Unless the bridge height and or neck angle is WAY off, that is.
  9. Blues Cat

    Blues Cat Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    Katy, Tx
    After posting the other day I tried to see how low I could get the action. Right now G string is @ 1/32nd - 2.5/32nds on the B. Not bad. I straightened the neck out even more around .012 relief (unfortunately @ the end of the TR again). Sounds Cool & makes you want to play over the bridge pickup.
    I'm going to try to drop the action even lower. I'll take it to rehearsal
    ( I've been playing fretless for the last 6 mos) & see how it does in the heat of live pocket. There's another bass player who plays on Sunday that has a Fender jazz5 w/action @ about 7/32nds & see how he likes it as well. I can also step back & see how the low action sounds thru the PA.
    NoisemakerD-Lux, I think you're right about the bass needing a pro fret leveling. I hate to let anybody else work on my bass though.

    To answer your question specifically in re to saddles bottoming out before string does: My G string is @ 1/32nd & the gap between the bottom of the saddle & bridge is 1.5/32nds. So you can get the string on the other side of the fret ; )

    All measurements taken w/a Stew Mac String Action Gauge.
  10. Blues Cat

    Blues Cat Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    Katy, Tx
    I think w/the piezos filing is out of the question.
  11. NoisemakerD-Lux


    Oct 12, 2004
    That is very encouraging. Thank you very much. I appreciate it!

    And I understand the thing about other people touching your baby. That's why if you decide to have it worked on, take/ship it to someone who is well respected. ;)

    Thanks, again.
  12. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I had a Claro Walnut fretless 6. It was really nice. I didn't like the electronics. It was much better when I put in the Bartolini stuff. I think they play great and are a great value, especially used.
  13. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I'm holding my finished B4 fretless in my hands as we speak. Playability is great, EXCEPT: the nut isn't filed enough, so the strings are too high off the fingerboard at the end of the neck. Once I groove the nut a bit and take a little more relief outta the neck to make it almost flat, it should play like a dream....

    Sounds like one already, passive with DiMarzio Model J's, Elixir strings and ash body.

    PS, dunno about getting the action that low - 1mm???? yikes

    Tung oil maintenence is basically rubbing lemon oil on it twice a year, and taking a bit more care about the elements/heat/cold/water etc. Other than that it's great.
  14. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    +1 to what quallabone said.

    They play damn fine, fit and finish are top notch.
  15. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I'm a stickler for low action, and the playability is great on my homebuilt-from-a-kit Carvin. The neck has been really stable too. I built this thing back in May and it hasn't needed a truss rod adjustment yet. Also, I like the Hipshot bridge. I like it much better than the old Wilkinsons they used to use back in the 90's; the saddles on those things all had wandering minds of their own it seemed.

    I also used to have an LB76 bass. That one played great as well, but the neck wasn't quite as stable (and it had that confounded Wilkinson bridge.)
  16. Hope some of these responses eased your questions, hell i'd let u plan mine if u lived near me. But Carvin has notoriously good Customer Support, call them and find out for yourself.
  17. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I guess everybody is entitled to their opinion, so here is mine:

    I have ordered 3 basses from Carvin in the past: a 6-string, a 4-string LB70 and an AC50, and I could not get anywhere near low action in any of them.

    I setup my basses at 2/32" at the B or E string and at 1/32" at the G. I have gotten lower action and better fretwork in cheap korean basses over and over.

    In Carvins, the saddles do go down enough to achieve low action, but the fretwork is imperfect; buzzing was always a problem. And I play with a very light touch, so I'm within reasonable specs. They may be made in super precise CNC machines, but some human, who is not a player (or a good, trained worker), is installing those frets without enough care.

    Finally, the neck on the 6-string Carvin is reserved for those with long fingers. Ergonomics is not really a recipe in the Carvin's neck profile. One of the worst, if I may say.

    This is MY experience and MY opinion. And don't get me started about the sound. . . pure crap. :mad:

    Their marketing plot is all about "buy a custom-made, neck-through bass with nice maple tops at a reasonable price." OK, good point and fair enough, but, can they make them play OK and sound OK?

    Go play a good StingRay, a G&L, a Peavey, an Ibanez, or even a good Fender, and tell me that Carvins are still good! :confused:
  18. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    "Go play a good StingRay, a G&L, a Peavey, an Ibanez, or even a good Fender, and tell me that Carvins are still good!"

    I've owned Music Mans, Fenders Spectors, Ricks, you name it. Carvins are damn fine instuments for the money. My LB 75 is my main player for the past two years, and I'm very happy with it. Sound is a subjective thing. I personally like it. The necks and fretboards play like buttah.
    You'll never know what is right for you by soliciting advice in a message board. Every one has opinions, good and bad. The only opinions that count for anything are the opinions you form from your own personal experience. Go try a Carvin. Like most (not all) basses, you can pick them up at a pretty good discount off list used (although the price trend for used Carvins seems to be headed up). If you don't like it, you can sell it for what you paid. If you buy it new, you can still return it in 10 days for the full refund, no questions asked. You have nothing to lose.

    Use your own ears and hands, and make up your own mind.
  19. Blues Cat

    Blues Cat Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    Katy, Tx
    It could be a fret thang, but in my opinion I think it's a neck issue.
    Before I straightened out the neck, the relief measured from the 21st fret was .015, not bad. The relief @ the 24th fret however was .020. So the ramping in the fret board on the 3 middle strings on the last 3 frets is the problem IMO that keeps the action from being really low. It appears to be the fretboard itself & not high frets. It makes me wonder if all the fretted models are like this.
    My fretless is not like this.
    Those who like med low to med high action need not worry about playability.
    CS: when they call you by your first name everything's going good, when they start calling you Mr. (your last name) your CS experience will be coming to a halt.
  20. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    Both necks on my Carvin B4 were unstable, and I could not get the bass to play without buzz unless I made the action unplayably high (for my tastes). The tuners are crap, the bass went badly out of tune every 10 minutes. The electronics lacked edge. Just lots of trebly sound (the bass was passive only).

    I dis-recommend Carvin. Their customer support is iffy too. Also, they have a really crappy attitude, their executives basically think that if you don't like their electronics, there's something wrong with you. They refuse to offer Bartolini or Duncan options because the company has a really bad pride issue.

    You'd be better off with a Brice, honestly.