Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by clef360, Oct 14, 2003.

  1. I've heard people talk about there being carvin bashing threads, but I did a search and I couldn't find any :confused: . So...what don't you like about carvins? Even if you own one and like it, what kind of trouble have you had with it?
  2. ZonPlyr


    Apr 29, 2003
    Pasadena, CA
    I have a Carvin BK4a that i built. The only problem i had was that the push pull pot on the active circuit was bad. I called Carvin Customer Service and they sent one out that day, no charge. Service was great. I really like the bass also. I don't use it as much as I probably should but I do really like it.
  3. KB


    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    I had a couple of Carvins in the past. They worked ok, but the tone was just kind of blah. I think that if they improved their pickups and pre-amp they would have great basses. The construction was very good and the finihes were great, but tone is the most important part of a bass.
  4. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    I think most people who don't care for Carvins have the exact same thoughts as KB. Myself included.
  5. mike mcd

    mike mcd

    Dec 11, 2002
    Much has been said about the Carvin electronics being the weak link. This is hard to evaluate since tone is purely subjective. I would listen to the sound samples on the Carvin site and on Ed Friedland's site to hear them in action and then decide for yourself. You can also hear my Carvin on the third song on my website, Hope Road,at, and compare the tone with track one which features an Alembic and track two which features a Zon.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    (C'mon Carvin experts chucko and Richard Lindsey!)

    My experience with them has been that they use cream-of-the-crop woods, (albeit, not very exotic), and their workmanship and finishes are very fine. Beautiful to look at.

    The downside is that their pups/preamp just don't have the "money" sound. By that I mean, if you paired up a Carvin with a plain-Jane American Precision, the Carvin would lose out.

    I had to return my Carvin LB75 to them in one year because, after two trips to their repair shop (which they paid for), they found a fault in the wood.
    HOWEVER, this was quite unusual and not at all typical of the fine woods they use or their high quality workmanship.

    I think if they would just use big name electronics such as EMG/Bartolini/Basslines, (et al), they would be a heavy hitter in the bass world. But company founder, Lowell Kiesel, began making pups about the same time as Leo Fender and I think his two sons who run today's Carvin Corp. won't give that up.
  7. so can anyone describe this "blah" tone a little bit more?
  8. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    It lacks character. It has no groove. It's a kind of "scooped" tone without attitude. It is just too polite and "one-dimensional".

    I won't blame you if you don't understand what I mean with the above. :D It doesn't exactly sound BAD, but it doesn't sound GOOD either. It just sounds "blah". Boring. Lame.

    If you're not the tone fascist far too many players become once they have some experience (and money), you might be perfectly happy with a Carvin. But you got to hear them yourself before knowing that for a fact.
  9. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    :meh: I thought mine had pretty kickin' tone



    Both in 1992 with my LB75 through my AMP BH-260 and Bag End S12 + S15. I always played Stainless rounds and bridge pickup soloed.

    (both recorded on a couple SM57s in the room at rehearsal... yeah we sucked)
  10. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Keep thinking that! Life will be much easier and you will be a lot happier!
  11. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    I agree with rickbass in that if you could choose Bartolini, Duncan, or EMG when you order a Carvin, it would be a big improvement. Afterall, most bass companies DO use those electronics...why not Carvin? They could have Carvin pickups standard and you could opt for brand names and pay extra for the option.

    I suggest getting a Carvin with the Jazz style pickups, then swap them out with something else later if you want (drop in replacement). Nobody thinks twice about swapping out Fender pickups, why not do it to a Carvin to hotrod the tone a little?

    It's true that I am biased because I own one, but I really like my Carvin bass! It's real comfortable and plays well. I traded the neck jazz pickup for a Bart and I suppose it improved the tone.
  12. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    The only trouble I had was with the input jack. It got crackly and I had to replace it.
  13. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I wanted for no other bass when I owned it. I only sold it when I got fed up with musician drama and quit music for a couple years.

    here it was in a Pop band I played in in the early 90's

    And I am usually Happy... it's all in the perspective :bassist:
  14. grinx


    Mar 24, 2003
    Raleighwood, NC
    i had a problem with the input jack also. very cheap.

    other than that, i love it. owned an LB70 for 10yrs now. still plays and looks great.

    emg's soon.
  15. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Well, I like 'em, but I ain't a fanatic!;)

    I share your good opinion of the wood and the general workmanship, and my experience with their customer service has been very good. I like the electronics a bit better than you do, I guess. I played them for years quite happily, and never once felt like I had to apologize for my tone. I've used 'em on a couple records and got no complaints. Still, I couldn't fairly say it was my ultimate sound; "better" tone--whatever that may mean to any of us individually--can certainly be gotten. But at the price point they're a damn good option. If someone doesn't like the Carvin electronics, they can slap something different in, and it can still be a good deal, especially if you snag one used.

    As far as their using other makers' stuff, I think you have it right--they've been doing things their own way, and they want to keep doing that. Sorta like Fender and Gibson. For them to offer other PUs--and it's been talked about on the BBS--would be a logistical pain in the neck for what is, let's not forget, *not* really a custom shop but a manufacturing operation with an unusually high number of ordering options.

    And just to be heretical for a minute, I don't necessarily think aftermarket PUs are invariably all that they're cracked up to be. Rick, with your experience I know you learned long ago that what's in a name *sometimes* isn't very much. I've certainly heard *some* Barts (just to pick one), for instance, that did little for me. Not to knock those fine makers, just to say that a "name" PU isn't automatically an improvement in everybody's book.

    But the original poster asked about problems, and I have digressed! The one big problem I had with a Carvin bass was when I ordered my 2nd LB76, a fretless that I got in all mahogany, neck and body. Rick, being a wood maven, could probably have told me that wasn't the wisest choice for a thinnish 6 string bass neck, but I hadn't thought it through at the time. Anyway, this thing just would not take an adjustment. I remember sitting in the studio adjusting it three times a day (always tightening, never loosening), and it still never felt right. I was playing my fretted more at the time, so I put the fretless away for a while. Pulled it out a couple of months later and tried to adjust it, only to find that in the process of trying to reduce the relief to bearable levels, the truss rod had actually started to push a piece of wood out the back of the neck!

    Naturally, the bass was just out of warranty. My luck. But I called Carvin, told them what happened, and they built me a whole new bass (slightly more expensive than the first) for $200, even though they technically didn't have to. Fair enough in my book. FWIW.

    I've yammered too long, but a final note: I don't play Carvin basses now. I moved on to an English custom maker, Jon Shuker. It's just that next step or two up. But I still think the Carvins are good instruments. Not to everybody's taste, but what is?

    P.S. I play guitar too, and the Carvin Holdsworth (regular and Fatboy) is a *hell* of a guitar, by any standards that mean anything to me.
  16. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    Oh, all... RIGHT.

    I will admit to being a fanatical Carvin collector. But I recognize that they have their weak points. And I know they won't suit everyone.

    I've been very happy with my new walnut/maple BB76P. With one J99, a "MM-style" splittable humbucker, and piezos in the bridge, I can get quite a range of tones out of it. The balance is much better than the LB76. It's not perfect, but for what I paid, it's awfully good!

    I've also been happy with my basic black B5F. I was very pleasantly surprised at the sound and feel of this fretless. It has reminded me that neck-thrus aren't necessarily superior to a good bolt-on. It also has a J99 and a humbucker. It balances nicely, sounds great, and was very reasonably priced.

    I think the active/passive electronics are just fine for what they are. They won't sound like a J-Retro... but they don't cost like one either. I'm getting better at finding the sweet spots in their tone adjustments. And if you really want a J-Retro, you can buy one and drop it in.

    Carvin generally does a good job of shielding the electronics cavity, and their J-style pickups are also properly shielded. Some exposed-pole-piece P/Us will buzz slightly - including Carvin's own humbuckers.

    Construction quality? Superb, especially for the price! Whether Carvin's designs suit your hands and eyes is a matter of personal taste, but you have to admit they are well built and well finished. And the woods used are top notch.

    What don't I like?

    My usual gripes center around the pickups. I am not a big fan of the J99. I don't think the J99s are suited to 6-string duty. I've tried a couple of other brands of pickups in their place, with mixed success. But I've been finding the J99s more to my liking lately.

    The LB75 and LB76 are neck-heavy on me, even when the house brand tuning machines are replaced with Hipshot Ultra Lite tuners (a straight drop-in, BTW). Every Carvin bass I own has the same dead spot on the G string at the 7th fret/position. The 15" radius fingerboard, while crafted precisely to spec, can appear to have "high spots" on the outer strings around the 7th fret, limiting how low you can set the action. (A professional fingerboard or fret dressing can fix this.) And I've seen one or two nicks in the fretboards, apparently from fret dressing boo-boos - the only evidence to date of less-than-perfect construction.

    I find Carvin's commitment to post-sales support admirable. Richard Lindsey is not the only one who has had Carvin rebuild an out-of-warranty bass for a nominal fee. Personally, I have only needed a couple of replacement parts, which were always sent promptly and at no charge to me. Even the phone call is free.

    Are there better built basses? Certainly. But you'll probably pay a lot more for them. Are there better sounding basses? That's a matter of personal taste. I'm happy with my Carvin basses.

    Oh, and I also love my Holdsworth H2. It is the sweetest g**t*r I've ever owned. I couldn't be happier with its tone and playability.
  17. Samurai


    Sep 13, 2003
    I have an LB76-P and think it is an extremely good bass. I actually get quite a few compliments on my tone and I have no complaints myself. Also, as far as a well run company, I called them up 500 times asking questions about anything I could possibly think of before ordering it and they were always helpful and friendly, something you want in any company you are planning on dropping a lot of money in to.

    I won’t say it is the best bass ever because I don’t think there is a best bass. But I will say that I have never played a bass that out did any aspect it.
  18. Samurai


    Sep 13, 2003
    Oh, and also my 6 string is lighter than my MIJ p-bass.

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    I had one for two weeks and i agree the sound and lack ouf out put was the main concern with the bass and also i realized if i kept it and soon after wanting to move on to a better sounding bass i would never make my money back. The finish was top noth it really was a headturner, Greenburst.
  20. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    if you pick up one used you cant go wrong.
    i am not a fan of the old pre amp, the pickups sound fine to me. the cure? i just dont use it. when i use the bridge pickup i turn the bass up ever so slightly and BAM we have

    i might try an aggie or p retro in it. not a fan of onboard mid control, but i am not desperate. nice clear sounding bass with even responce.
    and for 500 for a 6 string fretless with a flame maple cap, you cant go wrong:hyper: