Carvin Wood Upgrades on LB75 Worth It?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rickreyn, Aug 30, 2001.

  1. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I was looking into reacquiring a LB75 with piezos and wondered if the extra bucks for the upgraded wood options were worth it. They have a bunch of tone woods to choose from, but at no small cost. Some of your thoughts?
  2. I find Carvin's upgrades are usually reasonably priced. If your planning on keeping the bass for a long time, it's probably a good deal. If there's a possibility that you may sell the bass in the next few years, your probably only going to lose money. Carvin basses don't have a good resale value and I have found that adding upgrades only makes that resale value worse.
  3. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I assume you mean that you can go overboard with the upgrades and devalue the guitar. For example, inlays on the fretboard. One man's treasure is another man's trash!
  4. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I have a Carvin g*****r with a quilted maple gloss top. The wood quality is excellent; if this is AAA, I'd like to see what AAAA looks like. Cosmetically, I don't really think you can go wrong with ordering an exotic top from Carvin, and if there are irregularities, you can always send it back for a refund.

    Bassin' has a point about resale. If you pimp out the guitar too much, you'll have trouble looking for a buyer.
  5. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Actually, the cost is quite reasonable when you consider (1) what many other makers charge for that kind of stuff and (2) that there is still, I think, a deal whereby you get 50% off these and other options.

    As for whether they're worth it, you'll have to be the judge. It's all about tone and looks. If you dig the looks and prefer the tone with the optional woods, then it's worth it.

    Re resale--don't worry too much about that. I mean, it's an issue, but not always as much of one as you'd think. Carvins cost less than some of their competitors to start with, so even if the depreciation is greater on a percentage basis, it isn't *invariably* greater on an absolute basis, which is what counts most.

    For example:

    (A) $1000 bass w/ 50% depreciation; sell for $500.

    (B) $1500 bass w/ only 35% depreciation; sell for $985.

    Who "lost" more money? No, not guy A. He lost $500. It's guy B--he lost $515 even though his resale value percentage was higher.
  6. ThunderStik

    ThunderStik Guest

    Jun 25, 2001
    Claremore OK.
    I never worry about resale, mainly because I only buy basses that are gouing to be with me when i die. I do alot of playing and research before I buy so there are no questions so if you love the carvin then deck it to the hilt and be happy its yours.;)
  7. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    I bought a oiled-koa Carvin 6-string fretless about 14 years ago. Koa didn't actually cost extra back then. I have modified the hell out of that bass, and it still sounds and looks great. I converted it from a 6 to wide-necked 5, then a narrow-necked 5, and it is now a 4. I put in an enormous DiMarzio humbucker in the neck position. Through all the changes and gigs it has been through, that koa still looks beautiful. I would say it is worth it.
  8. I got Koa sides on mine and I love it. Carvin basses are of such quality that the extra you pay for the nice woods is really not that much. You will still get a bass that exceeds the quality of much of the competition at a lower price.
  9. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    This particular bass is a very interesting collection of woods. 5-piece maple/walnut neck, ash body with figured walnut top. Couple that with the ebony fretboard with no inlays, matching walnut headstock and gold hardware, and I think you can imagine a pretty stunning look. The bass has the wide string spacing, string through body and J-HB-piezo PU's. I hope it sounds as good as it looks in the photos. It should arrive next week. The present owner just couldn't get use to the feel!
  10. The big thing I've noticed about Carvin basses is that so many people order "works of art" that, if they're not happy with them, no one else wants them.

    1. If you're even remotely thinking of selling it, watch your options! For example, Carvin's website is selling a LB75 with a walnut body AND ruby red stain! Who would do such a thing! Use good taste, guys!
    2. Also, go with the tried-and-true pickup combinations. I hear a lot of mixed reviews on the MM humbucker pickup, that it pales in comparison to a true Music Man. There is not one GENERAL consensis that the pickups sound good or bad - that's a red flag for me.
    3. Keep in mind that the different woods are going to produce different tones, not just LOOK different. What kind of sound are you after?

    Thanks for letting me ramble, guys.
  11. I agree. I have seen some horrible looking basses for sale on Carvins web page. They should have some sort of ugly rating and refuse to build a bass that doesn't meet the requirements.
  12. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    A lot of the Carvins look like Ken Smith wannabes with the 5-piece necks. Some look like someone's coffee table. Wood grain is nice but it can be taken too far.
  13. My LB75 has the 5 piece neck and walnut body. I think the grain on the walnut is nice as it is. For me, the claro is just too busy .

    But more than the wood, I look at the finish. I prefer oil to laquer.
  14. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I loved to look at the bubinga, and I liked the natural feel. My preference is the natural wood, but the particular bass I am getting really looks nice. The figured walnut top hides the different coloration of the neck so you see the five pieces only on the back. It really reminds me of the Warwick look, but with a polished finish. At least I can see the grain. On my black MM, I can only admire a few swirls in the maple neck.
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  15. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    John hits on what should be your first consideration in selecting the woods. Some Carvin owners bought with their eyes instead of their ears, (or at least a little knowledge of specie-specific tone characteristics). For instance, alder was hardly my first choice for a body wood in terms of cosmetics, but I got it anyway because I knew I would like its tone characteristics based on past experience.

    The woods Carvin offers are very high quality, both in terms of how the wood was processed and in terms of figure quality. As Richard says, their prices are quite good as long as the 50% off options offer is applicable. Just look at upgrade/option costs for other makes to appreciate what a good deal Carvin's 50% off offer is.

    Don't be duped by all the "A's". There is no industry standard for figure grading. Each maker has individual standards for figure intensity, contrast, and consistency across the wood. Even then, you may like less intense figure. I like the "clouds" of my Carvin quilt better than the small "pillows" found on more expensive quilts.

    Even then, some makes change their own rules. Gibson's "AAAAA" grade used to be "AAA" or simply "flametop." Their "AAA" used to be "AA" or "figuretop."