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Has anyone built a Carvin bass from the kit?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RSmith, Jan 3, 2004.

  1. I'd like to put together one of the Carvin kit basses and I thought I'd ask for feedback first. $349.00 is an excellent price although I may end up upgrading the pickups. The bass player who opened for my band on new years had a Carvin bass with stock pick ups and his tone was excellent so I guess I'll have to check it out and see!
  2. Minimaul


    Jun 22, 2003
    I've been thinking about doing the same thing. Although , I was thinking about fretless.

    Either way, I'm getting a Carvin.
  3. Their catalog states that only the body needs to be finished. Can we "assume" from that statement that the necks ARE finished? I'm considering a fretless myself, but don't want to screw around with finishing the neck.
  4. I'm pretty sure you still have to tung oil the neck. But that's very easy. Of course, you could gloss or satin finish it if you want to, but you don't have to.
  5. I think it would be a very fun project and see no downside to it. It's also very good value (unlike Warmoth, which nickels and dimes you to death).

    You might want to try the standard pickups before changing them. More people have complained about the MM pickups than the J's.

    But since you live in San Diego, RSmith, why not spend some time at the Carvin store trying out the B4's, and you can decide for yourself.
  6. What about the H50Ns over the J99s? Is there anything to be gained or not?
  7. Fo' Shizzle

    Fo' Shizzle

    Aug 28, 2003
    Hi guys. I built a 5 string fretted version 4 years ago (I named her Desiree'). It has been in and out of the starting rotation over the years but has been my primary gigging bass for the last 18 months. I'm currently in the studio with it.

    First things first..... do it. It is an absolute blast. the price is right. It plays great. I'm getting great tone in the studio; punchy, deep, it's sitting in the mix very nicely. The package I put together only offered single coils. If given the choice I would either do the humbuckers or maybe replace them with Barts. My only other beef with the bass is that the B isn't as tight as I'd like. But I've kinda shaped my tone to accomodate it.

    As to putting it together, it's a piece of cake. The finishing is the most fun. You do have to finish the neck and body. I stained the alder body a dark red oak color. I also taped off the back of the headstock and finished the face of it to match the body. I left the back of the neck maple so it would look uniform from behind.

    Because Carvin is so into the CNC technology everything came together perfectly. The neck joint is perfect. Every hole is exactly where it should be. The only soldering is two leads to the circuit board.

    This is a great way to get your feet wet. Any caveman can do it. I'm looking forward to doing another one. This time from Warmoth.

  8. chardin


    Sep 18, 2000
    H50N is a stacked humbucking pickup.

    J99 is a J-sytle single coil pickup. Carvin also has a single coil J that is reverse wound.
  9. I have spent a fair amount of time in the showroom trying their basses. In fact I used to work there in the shipping dept. so if you got a bass shipped from them in 1998 chances are I played it before I packed it!

    I've always liked the way the 4 strings played but I was never crazy about the tone through their amps. I still drop by the showroom about every two months to make sure. Last time I was there I surprised myself and found some decent tones! Anyways I'd still be interested to hear the jazz pick-ups through my GK 800rb.

    It just seems like building one would be a fun project. Plus it seems about half the price of a Warmoth and I already know it will play well. The pick ups would be easy to swap if I don't like the stock issue!
  10. sobie18


    May 5, 2002
    Shaw AFB, SC
    I built a 4-string fretless that I LOVE to play. Feels great, sounds awesome, and was simple to assemble. I stained my body dark walnut and tung oiled the neck and body. I went with the J99s and they sound great. Definitely look into building one....
  11. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    You can get lots of advice from people experienced in bulding the kits at Carvin's BBS. Try the guitar forum as well as the bass forum because it gets more traffic and there are more people who've bult the guitar kits. The process is pretty much the same for either. I can't help you much. I have a B4F, but I bought it as a finished bass and not a kit.

    I have the H50N in the neck position of my BB75P and two J99's in my B4F. The J99 single-coil is somewhat scooped. It has a more agressive sound to my ears. The H50N stacked humbucker is smoother sounding and I suspect it's flatter across the frequency range. I like them both. Most people seem to like the H50N the least of the pickups Carvin offers, but I wouldn't say that. I'll probably get H50N's on a BB75PF (fretless) I'm planning.

    In size, shape, looks, and wiring, they are identical. But you can tell them apart because the J99 has a small dot before the Carvin logo and the H50N has no dot. [The Fall/Winter 2003 catalog has pictures of J99's by the description of both the J99 and the H50N. That's wrong and has been corrected in the new catalog that's just come out.]

    I just got my B4F, my first fretless, less than a month ago. I'm really lovin' this thing.
    Pics in the Gallery and on my website.
  12. So...what are you waiting for?
  13. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    All the options available on a B4 or B5 are also available on the kits. You can get other woods besides the alder or swamp ash offered on the site or in the catalog, and other woods for the neck if you want. You can get maple or birdseye maple fretboard, different size frets, various headstock overlays, and different shapes of headstocks. All the figured tops available on Carvin's basses and guitars are also available for the kits. (But someone said something about figured tops being full-price rather than the half-off option deal. Not sure about that, call and verify.)

    You can also get the instrument finished by the factory so that all you have to do is bolt it together and string it up. I'm not sure how much that costs, but it's still cheaper than buying a complete instrument.

    Always call and talk to a sales rep in person. Don't order online unless you're getting the most basic stuff. (And I would call even then.)