Carvin vs. Lakland Question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cgworkman, Jul 14, 2004.

  1. cgworkman


    May 14, 2004
    All right - I have a Lakland 55-02 and i love it. I'm looking to get a four string version. However, someone told me to check out the Carvin equal - same pickup config (1 jazz/1 MM).




    Any comments on how Carvin basses compare to other major brands? It would be cheaper to get a Carvin than another Lakland - but I'm assuming that's because there's no middle man.

    Any comments would be appreciated.

  2. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    Carvins are good, solid basses. You'll get a lot of varying opinions on this...the electronics are not highly regarded (especially the older versions) but I've always liked mine. I know nothing about the electronics in Laklands.

    I have two Carvins. One is a P-series fretless, which has a piezo pickup under the bridge, one J and one MM, with a preamp. I can get good fretless tone out of this, and if I mix in a bunch of the piezo I get a nice woody sound out of it.

    My other Carvin is a mid-90s LB75A Anniversary series. This had the older electronics in it, which were adequate. When they started acting up (bad pot/bad jack), rather than fixing it I wound up springing for a set of Barts and an Aguilar OBP-3. It's INCREDIBLE now.

    The fit/finish is really excellent.

    The only real complaint I've got is that the Carvin shape is boring and dated. I like the Bunny Brunel shape, but you can't get it with rounded body sides, and in person it looks chunky (my fretless is a Bunny Brunel). Aesthetically, the Fender shape is considered a classic, but the Carvin shape never will be.

    I have no experience with Lakland, but they get good marks around here.
  3. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    Having played Carvins and Laklands, we are definetly comparings apples to oranges. Though the pick up configuration may be the same, they are two totally different animals. The materials and craftsmenship that go into Laklands are completly different than that of Carvin. I dont believe you will find a similar sound, if thats what you are looking for. Dont get me wrong, I like a few of Carvins basses, but Lakland is in a whole different league.
  4. kazuhank


    Nov 12, 2002
    Portland, OR
    If you like the Barts on your 55-02, I would recommend the buying the Lakland 44-02. That way you would have the same p/u and preamp configuration and the tone you like. I have played both and the Bart. pre on the 44-02 is very versatile.

    Also, the Laklands seem to have a good resale as they are perpetually backordered, so used Laklands get snatched up pretty quick. Speaking of, that may be a good way to even out the price difference.
  5. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Don't mess with success. If you know and love Lakland, then stick with them.

    I've owned a couple of Laklands and have played a few Carvins. Both are good basses. I don't think either choice would let you down.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Bottomline - I'd get the Lakland in a heartbeat........especially considering that we're not talking mega-dollar differences.

    If you want the details;

    Had a Carvin alder/quilted maple LB 75 with the MM/Jazz configuration & ebony board and still have a Lakland ash 55-02 w/maple board and the Bart electronics.

    My Skyline would eat my LB 75 for a light snack in terms of having the "money" sound and response. The Bart MM just blows Carvin's lame attempt at an MM off the bass, IMO. (I have another bass with an Bassline Alnico MM....same story).

    The main thing that bugged me with the Carvin, and something bugs many first-time Carvin owners, is that they produce an INCREDIBLY IRRITATING "CLACK" as the strings slap against the frets. It doesn't happen to everyone, (or maybe they just can't hear it), but it's been a perrenial source of bitching at the Carvin discussion board.

    If I was a straight up jazz player, I'd rather have the LB's J pickup which produces this very smooth, sort of "wet" or "glassy" sound.

    Playability, always such a subjective thing, I could play faster on my LB because the bridge/nut forced the strings to be closer and I just loved the top-quality ebony board.

    But there's something about the profile of the Lakland that causes much less fretting hand fatigue for me. The wider string spacing sure makes slap n' pop so much easier and the Lakland will sustain long after that Carvin's notes would decay..

    I always consider service, too. With Lakland, Dan Lakin has always handled my emails personally and quickly. At Carvin, the answers I've gotten were as numerous as the employees to whom I've spoken.
  7. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Get the Lakland.
    I've owned a Carvin LB-75.
    Spacing to narrow, poor pickups, not alot of tone.
    The Lakland is better all around for a little more money.
  8. danshee

    danshee Banned

    May 28, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    I've never had the clacking problem with my Carvin 6. It's been a great bass for me. The guy above said it though, you're not really comparing apples to apples. There is a mega-price difference between the two that should be considered. I've had good experiences with Carvin, but I'd take a Lakland over one anyday if I had the money to choose between the two. You need to consider the costs dude.
  9. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    I know zilch about Laklands. I've played two of them, five-strings, when I was shopping for my first fiver. One I really liked and the other I didn't like at all. I have no idea what model was what.

    Carvins I know. I have five Carvin basses and one Carvin guitar. My next two or three basses will most likely be Carvins. Their construction fit and finish is exceptional, as is the quality of woods they use. The Carvin necks have always been what kept me coming back. They just feel "right" to me. They like to call themselves a "custom shop." But it's not really a true custom shop. These are production instruments. But they have a huge list of options you can select from, making it somewhat "custom."
    You're exactly right about the savings being due to skipping the middle man.
    The one criticism (I can't spell) I see here most often is the sound/electronics. The sound of a bass is very subjective. I personally love the sounds I get out of my Carvins. I have several different pickup combinations and different woods, and they all sound different. But each to his own, especially on that score. Some people like them with aftermarket pickups and/or electronics in them.
    Yeah, they sometimes have trouble with ill-informed people answering questions on the phone, as mentioned above getting different answers from different people. If you want the straight sh!t, go on their BBS and ask Doc a question (or me :cool: ) or pick up the phone and ask for Sean in sales or Marco in customer service. These are the people the other folks go to with customer questions they can't answer.
    You can try the Carvin for ten days at home, at practice, at the gig. If you don't like it, all it will cost you is shipping. You probably couldn't rent a bass for ten days for that amount.
  10. cgworkman


    May 14, 2004
    The price difference isn't the factor here - Like you said there's not a great difference. A freind of mine who is a Carvin nut is trying to point me in the Carvin way. But not being able to play a Carvin prior to purchase is a pain in the a**. So unless I can find a Carvin to test drive I'll probably end up with another Lakland.

    Thanks for all the good replies,
  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Yeah, I don't think most people are seduced by the fact it costs at least $20 to return it if you don't like it. By dealing mail order, I'm sure they get their fill of people who ordered on an impulse and wanted to change their minds about the options and kids who were disappointed that, for some reason (cough) , their bass doesn't make them sound like Jason Newstead through their $99 Gorilla amplifier.

    Carvin's great about standing behind their products, though. I had my LB 75 for about a year and it developed a nasty buzz on the G string that just became worse as time went on.
    Carvin tried to fix it twice and paid the shipping both ways each time. Turned out, it was a bad piece of alder, according to their Service Dept.
    Finally, after it was a year old, I wrote a letter to the Carvin Board of Directors about the problem and they refunded the full $1300 I paid for it.

    Very honorable folks, IMO.
  12. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I got that "clack" sound on my LB76. It was originally fretted, but it still occasionally got a clackish sound even after it was defretted. I think it may have something to do with the way the Carvin pickups are engineered, because the clackish tendencies of the instrument disappeared after I installed Bartolini pickups in it. Or I could be completely wrong! :)
  13. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Wow, of all the guitar/bass makers out there Carvin must have the most paradoxical critisims about their products ever. People seem to either love them or hate them.

    I've had a five string frettless Carvin in the mid 90s that was pretty damn good. I also once had a humbucker equipt tele model that still remins the best guitar I've ever had. I pity not having them around anymore. I currently play G&Ls but have thought of looking into Carvin's 5 string bolt-on models with the MM pick up in the bridge.

    But for the guy who started this thread, I think the Lakland Skyline is the way to go. Its not likely to be on par with yr domestic 5 string, but it should mostly feel at home (especially if you pick up the model with the domestic Bart pickups!). I've never heard a bad thing about any of the Skyline series but can't say the same about Carvins. Frankly, I think this is a no-brainer.

  14. cgworkman


    May 14, 2004
    Well never having had any experience with Carvin basses or their many other products - I figured it would simpler to get an opinion from people who had experienced their products. :)
  15. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    This is the reason I have medium action, rather than medium-low action....I was wondering if it had something to do with the shape of the fretboard.
  16. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    To answer your question...I think you should stick with what you like, as someone already said, and get the skyline.

    For me, I really like the Peavey Cirrus basses and when I look at basses I always ask myself how it compares to a Cirrus....well!!! maybe I should just play Cirrus basses and stop all the damn comparisons! I caught myself the other day, dreaming about having a custom bass built and how I would tell the luthier that I'm basically looking for a Cirrus type sound with a little Warwick thrown in...but why don't I just buy another Cirrus and play it safe? I'm rambling but I hope you get my point.
  17. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    Several others here have had the same issue resolved by dropping in different pickups. I think the Carvins pick up alot of high frequencies off the strings. i have a pair of Barts waiting to go in right now. hopefully i will get the same results.

    perhaps we should have a sticky. "Carvin electronics are their weakest link. Replace them and you have an excellent instrument." All the threads about Carvins turn out to be pickup bashing on them anyways. :)
  18. cgworkman


    May 14, 2004
    Anybody curious about why Carvin doesn't do something about this :confused: ??
  19. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    My understanding is that there have been changes to their electronics over the years. but nothing substantial enough to put them up there with the likes of Bartolini, Seymour Duncan, and Bill Lawrence (Who, i hear, makes great direct replacements, but i have never had the opportunity to test out)
  20. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    If you haven't already, take their little video tour at their website.

    They remain proud of their pups and I suspect that offering an option with Barts/Basslines would eat into their profit margins. After all, they have invested a lot of money in their ability to make their own pups instead of farming out the work.

    Then there's the heritage - Lowell, the company founder, made the company name in pickups.