Carvin SB5001 vs FBass VF5

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by stonecoldbass, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. stonecoldbass


    Jan 11, 2010
    Hello people!
    I'm hoping some of you on here can help me with some questions I have about the above basses.
    I currently play a Lakland DJ5 with J retro and have been very happy with it for many years. Until I borrowed an FBass VF5 from a friend here in Vancouver. I was blown away by how comfortable it was to play: the fretwork, compound fingerboard radius and narrow nut width really appealed to my hands. As for tones, it totally hits the spot with me. Deep, crisp and even.
    But, for some reason I've always been intrigued with the Carvin SB5000 basses, I used to own a Warwick Dolphin and liked the offset body for balance and looks. From what I can tell measurement wise the SB has similar nut width and string spacing to the F bass, but I can't find out if the fingerboard has a compound radius. I also don't know how much impact that specific element has on playability.
    With there being a stunning example of each bass currently for sale here on talkbass I feel now is the time to take the plunge and pick one...But that's the thing I can't! I have no experience of the Carvin, the youtube vids sound great but so do videos of my current bass, the Lakland DJ5. And with one costing more than double the other, it's hard to decide which one will do the job best.
    If anyone can give me any advice on the similarities and differences on these 2 basses I'd greatly appreciate it!
  2. the carvin is a fantastic bass at its price point. the f bass is a fantastic bass at any price point imo. whether its worth spending double is something only you can decide. fwiw, i prefer the tone of the vf5 quite a bit more.
    phillipkregg likes this.
  3. stonecoldbass


    Jan 11, 2010
    Hey Narud, thanks for your comments. I'm just doing some extensive research and I think I'm at about 65% Fbass and 35% Sb5000. I'm a professional gigging musician playing across the continents and I think the F Bass will have that added level of craftsmanship, quality, tone and depth to keep me happy for years to come
    But I might be wrong haha!
  4. metalstorm

    metalstorm Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2005
    Calgary, Canada
    Never played the SB but I love my VF and doubt I will ever get rid of it. Been on a ton of gigs.
  5. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I've played a few F basses and never really liked them. I do have a Carvin SB4K that is great.
  6. tink9975


    Aug 10, 2006
    MoCo, MD
    the SB is not a compound radius, it's a straight 14" radius
  7. SB4000 here also. I've had it for over a year now. I love it. I find the range in tone (I have the active version) great. Can fit into any application. I gig once a weekend on average.
  8. plong123

    plong123 All Your Bass Are Belong To Us Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
    I wish I could give you a side-by side comparison, but I've never played an FBass VF5. What I can tell you, however, is that immediately after playing an SB5000 for the first time, I started saving up for one. It had all the tone and playability I had been looking for for ages. It had the best neck I've ever played on a 5. And I loved that it could be completely customized and built here in the USA. It finally arrived last month. Here's my post from the SB4000/5000 appreciation thread:

    Please feel free to ask any specific questions about Carvin SB series basses in that thread. There's alot of very knowledgeable people there to help. Good luck with your choice.
  9. jim777

    jim777 Tarantula Lobbyist

    Aug 7, 2006
    South Jersey
    I'm a big fan of Carvin and their SB line, but if I had played a VF and fallen for that instrument that would be my choice I think. When I find something I love I grab it.

    On the other hand, if you get an SB used and don't like it you can likely flip it quickly and get your money back and try the VF then. The Carvins have lots of fans and the used prices are pretty stable for ones without gaudy quilt tops (which add initial cost that doesn't always come back on resale) and such.
  10. stonecoldbass


    Jan 11, 2010
    Great advice guys, thanks!
  11. MaddAnthony_59

    MaddAnthony_59 Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2006
    Columbus, IN
    I Channel Surf During Commercials. (Drives my Wife CRAZY!!!)
    Kinda like asking to compare a Corvette to a Ferrari. How much do you want to spend to do the Speed Limit?
  12. Warning. Biased post. Reader beware.

    I've Owned a Sb5000 and I'm on my third F which happens to be a VF5.

    In my opinion, there is no comparison. Literally, other than J style pickups. While to SB is great for the money..... The VF5 is a true piece of art that is hand crafted by true masters. On top of that... It nails that fender tone with much nicer options, fret work, woods, etc. SURE the SB sounds like a jazz bass because it has J pickups in proper locations....but it will never have that true fender growl too it. Especially in passive mode.

    Break down: (ALL MY OPINION)


    *SB5000s* are goofy looking. For most of us the shape had to grow on us. And the ONLY reason it slightly grew on me was because of the reviews it's gotten. But at the end of the an ugly jazz bass revamp to me. The body is so large and the headstock is so tiny. It looks silly while sitting on stage, while wearing it, and when opening the case.

    *VF5s* have extremely clean contours that make sense and that work. It's a modernized classic shape that George has defined over many decades of feedback and hard work. I feel like the VF5 styling is very Unique in the "super jazz" World. But at the same time, It holds a very jazz bass look and feel. Very classic, yet modern. There's just something about it that I can't put my finger on but it looks like a true Jazz bass done right and brought up to date.. Even though both are newer models on the market, George has made many subtle changes in the VF5. He is always making his basses better for us players!

    Winner. F Bass


    *SB5000* sounds like any run of the mill jazz copy. The pickups are ok and the preamp is decent. It just doesn't have a true natural growl to it. It sounded weak to me in passive mode. But I can pick up a ash rosewood Mexican Jazz bass and it has exactly what it's supposed to have.... Passive fender growl. Active mode is ok. Nothing to do a back flip over. I mean really. It's just ok. No sound man or engineer has ran up and told me how awesome it sounds. But they have done that with my F Basses and my Sadowskys. Several times. And they will continue to I believe.

    *VF5* George's basses nail the 70's and 60's tones respectively and with more to spare. I find it very hard ( as well as hundreds of others if not thousands) to get a bad sound out of an F Bass. The preamp is the best on the market. Hands down. The most transparent when run flat. The most musical. The smartest design. Etc. Boost only makes SO much more sense on every level. When the pre is flat it sounds EXACTLY the same as passive mode. It responds the same. All the tiny nuances in the bass are still alive and well. Just typing this makes me shake my head in disbelief at how amazing these basses are for the money. They should be around 6k 7k IMHO. But back to tone...... IT'S FLAT OUT AMAZING. SONIC BLISS. YOUR BAND WILL LOVE YOU!!

    Winner. VF5 hands down because it sounds like a fender, plus more. Isn't that why we buy super jazzes? Why not buy what meets the measuring stick but also blows the measuring stick out of water too ;)


    *SB500s* have outstanding necks. They play great and carvin hit a home run with this baby!

    George's necks are second to no one. There some of the best shapes you can carve by hand. True masters over there.

    Winner VF5

    I could go on and on but I'm typing this on an iPhone so I'm cutting this review way short. If you like you can call me sometime And I can verbalize why F Basses are just so awesome!!!!

    Lastly Customer service. The most important feature.

    My experience trying to order a custom SB was very hit or miss. Keith is great but some of those guys are jerks. Even Keith would rush me off the phone or give me short answers via email. Many owners of SBs have had to pray that the bass they ordered was built to spec correctly. Plenty of horror stories over there. Plenty.

    When I call F Bass, Mr. F has personally answered the phone numerous times. And has spent a great deal talking with me. And get this. It was on a used bass! Not even a custom order. Now that his wonderful son Marcel is in the house you will always have a GREAT contact to speak with regarding any questions, photo request, anything you can think of. They respond same business day 99% of the time. The are super nice people that care about the customer. Even when buying used. They have always given me the best experiences. Not just in bass land but in general. They have WORLD CLASS SERVICE. And their website is also the best in the business.

    Give me a call sometime if you have any specific questions. PMe for contact info!

    Enjoy which ever one you pick! ImageUploadedByTalkBass1374160194.039288.jpg ImageUploadedByTalkBass1374160256.370497.jpg

    LOOK ! They make you happier too!!!!
  13. stonecoldbass


    Jan 11, 2010
    WOW! Great info Phillip! That's pretty much what I'm feeling at the moment, that they are both great basses, but the VF5 really is just a cut above, and I believe that's what I need and deserve right now in my career to move forward. I figure the Sb5000 would be fairly similar to my Lakland DJ5 which is great, but not as killer as the VF5. I think I am gonna try and hunt down a VF5 on here, my only questions are this: maple or rosewood board, 60's or 70's pup spacing...???
  14. metalstorm

    metalstorm Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2005
    Calgary, Canada
    I honestly don't think you can go wrong. Mine happens to be ash/maple with 60's spacing. Sounds great to me!
  15. Call me 405 three97 zero769
  16. Yours is SO nice!!!!!
  17. I just reread this. I've owned many Laklands including the DJ5. The DJ is nicer than the carvin. Superior fret wort and nicer woods IMHO. So the VF is on a whole different planet!

    Gimme a call soon!
  18. ImageUploadedByTalkBass1374165678.028700.jpg ImageUploadedByTalkBass1374165684.484248.jpg

    I have a feeling this is the one you want.
    DUDE!!!! It's so sick. Just get it bro. Treat yourself. You won't regret buying an FBASS.

    I almost traded my BN5 for this but I basically flipped a coin and went with a satin finish one instead. Plus my wife likes the satin finish. But I'm telling. I would buy that thing in a heartbeat.


    I just saw that you and Kev are in Canada. Man it's a match made in heaven ! Get the F bass. Trust me! Ok I'm done. I just love FBASS SO MUCH!
  19. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    As much as I like Carvin basses, expecting an SB5001 to compete with an FBass is high praise indeed for the Carvin...and may simply be unrealistic. :meh:

    To the best of my knowledge, none of the Carvin bass guitars offers a compound radiused fretboard/fingerboard - a fact that you may have discovered already, simply by having digested the product information on the SB5001 available at the Carvin website. If you did not see any specific reference to a compound radius, you may safely assume that Carvin does not offer it.

    Although I own a Carvin SB5000 (not the SB5001) and like it, I have no direct experience with FBass, other than having once tried one out.

    Suggestion: Try to take the longer-term view. Don't make a decision between two makes & models, based purely on which particular instruments happen to be for sale on a particular website at a given moment in time. Once you conducted thorough due diligence - however thorough, or not, that might be for you - then go shopping for the make & model of your choice.

    Isn't that a more sensible, rational approach? :eyebrow:

  20. This is a great method. But sometimes you gotta act quick and get a killer used deal. There just happens to be both available and he has the disposable income right now!!!! NBD IS ALWAYS FUN!!!!!