Carvin vs. Warmoth, please help me decide

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jacob M, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    I'm a guitarist, I want a bass, and I don't want to start out on a crappy beginners bass. I'm pretty much totally confident in my ability to build a Warmoth bass and assemble it. Using Seymour Duncan pickups, CTS pots, a Gotoh bridge and Gotoh tuners, it would be around $500 to do so. But there's Carvin, and for like $150 more i could get a neck through bass, all pre-assembled, so no hassle.

    Some positives about Warmoth:
    - Getting a bass with exactly the woods I want (Black Korina body, Maple neck, Ebony fretboard)
    - Getting a bass with a universal route under a pickguard, so I can try lots of different pickup combinations
    - The satisfaction of assembling my own bass
    - Saving about $150

    Some negaitves about Warmoth:
    - Getting an unfinished body (so as to preserve costs), it will look cool, but will get beat up easier
    - Bolt-on neck leading to less upper-fret acess

    Positives about Carvin:
    - Neck through design
    - Hipshot bridge
    - Painted/finished professionally

    Negatives about Carvin:
    - Not the exact woods I want (would be brighter than I intended)
    - Costs $150 more
    - No ability to use different shaped pickups, less diversity

    So bassically, if you have any experience with Warmoth or Carvin (preferably with both), please, sound off, I just want tons of people shouting opinions so I can try to weigh the options considering the experiences/opinions of people who have Carvin or Warmoth basses.

    Thanks for any help,
  2. HiFi


    Apr 20, 2002
    Anaheim, CA
    You could still put at least an oil finish (depending on wood) if you go the Warmoth route.
  3. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i've played carvins i like, and carvins i hated - but you can always send it back
    fyi, neck thru isnt always better - you get more fundamental that way which can be cool, but the bolt ons oftentimes have a tighter tone and tend to be more versitaile IMHO
  4. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    Yeah, I could put the oil finish on it, but that won't protect from getting physically beaten up or anything.

    Hell, what exactly would it protect from, the Warmoth guys were less clear about the specifics of their products in the emails I sent them than politicians are about health care.
  5. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    What do you mean "you get more fundamental", I've never heard "fundamental" been used to describe anything that I could associate with neck-through designs...
  6. HiFi


    Apr 20, 2002
    Anaheim, CA
    I say go with the Warmoth if you really feel competent. I've assembled two Warmoth basses and both came out pretty good. Oddly enough, they ended up not being for me even though they played and sounded great. :eyebrow:
  7. Warmoth can also finish the body for you if that's important.

    Keep in mind that if you decide to trade up for a higher end bass in a few years, the Carvin will probably hold its value better.
    comatosedragon likes this.
  8. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    the "fundamental" is the actual note being played as opposed to the upper harmonics
    in an article mike tobias wrote for bass player some years back he explained that the human brain will fill in the "missing" fundamental note (such as a low b on a five string) from the upper harmonics which, as he explained, tend to be more present than the actual low b on a neck thru design. As he put it, the result is a "tighter" sound. After reading that, i have noted that bolt ons tend to be a bit "brighter" and "tighter" than their neck thru cousins.
    Not that neck thru is bad at all, it's just not "superior"
  9. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    Carvin also has bolt on neck kits with a decent variety of pickup selections.

    My take on neckthrough versus bolt on. Neck through has more sustain, bolt on more punch. JMHO
  10. Assumer


    Mar 26, 2003
    Try the bolt basses. I have put together warmoths and they have been nice, and I currently have a B5, also nice. The kits are pretty inexpensive. I think you can order different woods with the body and neck.
  11. There's probably a reason...for BOTH! Ha.
  12. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I've never been able to configure a Warmoth for less than $750 finished, with parts and everything. First of all, as you know a non-finished body will take a beating, and they will not warranty an unfinished neck. For that I'd take the Carvin for the warranty.
  13. Jacob,
    I've owned them both. - Not really crazy about Carvin, and its difficult to put a finger on exactly why they don't have seem to have that special 'magic'. They're sound instruments, don't get me wrong...I just have yet to pick one up and say, 'wow...this is the s**t!'. The only reasons I would pick Carvin over a bolt on would be that you HAVE to have the smooth neck heel (feel), and you NEED 24 frets. For the record, I prefer the tone of a bolt on vs. the warmth of the neck thru.
    As for Warmoth. If you want this to be done right, you're gonna spend as much...maybe even a little more than you would by ording a finished bass from Carvin. Trust me, it just adds up; generally, between $600 and $900 start to finish. I've built 4 instruments using their parts exclusively. 1 of which I still own and will definately keep, and WELL worth every penny. The reason I don't have the others is because I did a lot of experimentation; woods, finishes, p/u configs., etc. - and they just did not end up feeling...'familiar', like an old friend. (And you get hammered when trading in.)
    I highly advise you to keep it simple if you've got a specific tone in mind...meaning: stick with bodies of ash, alder, poplar, maybe maple if you want a heavier instrument. And do yourself a favor, have them finish it for you. They do fine work. Keep it simple w/ p/u configuation as well...J, P or P/J (there'll be so many options left open for you regarding p/u choice/brand.)
    As for the neck, stay with maple w/ maple or rosewood boards, maybe ebony if you want to divert from the traditional. Their necks tend to be a bit chunky and they have super thick fingerboards, but they don't warp. I have yet to hear of any modern Warmoth necks warping. Also remember that their standard neck is a 21 fret hangover type. I don't like the hangover...go with the 20 fret version...just MHO.
    Hope this helps.
  14. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    I realize unfinished bodies will take tremendous beatings, and unfinished necks are really prone to warping, which is why that I was going to get a neck with a clear satin finish, which Warmoth will warantee.

    Besides being beat up easily, is there any real disadvantage to having an unfinished body?
  15. I might be nuts...but I actually think that a Nitro finish (or any hard finish) brightens the tone of the instrument (i.e. mounting a bridge on a properly applied hard finish vs. raw or oiled wood).
  16. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I've played both, and I'm putting together a warmoth 59' Pbass. I found that warmoth uses better woods than Carvin, and warmoth doesn't spray a ton on clear like Carvin does. So I say go with Warmoth. :D
  17. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    I don't really need 24 frets, I doubt I would regularly go much higher than around 18, but that smoothe heel would be nice...

    About the Warmoth costs, I added it all up, and with Gotoh hardware and Seymour Duncan pickups, it would be a bit more than a Carvin bolt-on, but then again, with Carvin, I don't get the exact woods or pickups I want.

    If I just wanted an alder body with a maple/maple neck, I'd probabally get a Mexican Fender. I'm getting a Black Korina body with a maple/ebony neck and universal pickup routing so I can go nuts with different pickguards and pickups.
  18. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Both are good options, but I tell you that a better option is to simply by a good used bass. There are so many excellent used basses out there that will cost the same as those options. The advantage of a used bass is that you can get your money back out if your tastes change. Buying new means that you will take a loss if later decide that it doesn't suit your needs.

  19. Well, yes...its true, the mexican Fenders utilize similar combinations of wood, BUT. (And a big BUT) does Sadowsky, and I don't think you're going to find many MIM Fender vs. Sadowsky comparisons with viable aguments for the Fender. I feel similarly about the quality of Warmoth's ability to treat their wood.
  20. I posted a topic like this on Carvin's board a while back (same thread name too!). Predictably, the response was to go with Carvin. I wound up ordering a 5 string kit. It turned out nice but I still prefer my Warmoth. It's not really fair to compare the two since the kit cost much less $$$ to put together and the woods and electronics are different. I have yet to try a Carvin factory built LB-70 or Bunny Brunel model but they would be in the same price range as my Warmoth.

    The Carvin will likely be lighter in weight than a Warmoth, if that's a consideration. Also, as mentioned above, you can return the Carvin if you don't like it.

    Do a search on Carvin's discussion boards for Carvin vs Warmoth. Basskahuna had some helpful comments.

    Good luck!