NBD (maybe temporary?) : Carvin Icon 6-string bass. It's purdy. It's got issues.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Real Soon, Sep 17, 2020.

  1. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    So I was out being my usual ne'er-do-well self when I ended up at the local Guitar Center. Happens to the best of us.

    It so happened that there was a 6-string bass in there for $999.99, and I happened to be trading in another bass for a modest sum. It also happened that it was closing time, and I was in the market for a 6-string bass since I was turning in another extended-range bass, and thought wow, this particular one sure is purdy. And the neck is nicely profiled. And it's quite light for a 6, the tuners are THE smoothest I've ever turned, and it's capable of blow-across-the-strings low action. And it's closing time, and GC has a good return policy if I don't like it.

    So I took it home. And I DO like it, but it's got problems in the electronics department, and one fret that seems to have popped up enough to need a luthier's touch.

    This is the Carvin IC6P (from ~2014 per GC) with five knobs that are, and Carvin/Kiesel experts correct me if I'm wrong here: Master Volume (push/pull for active vs passive mode), Blend (bridge vs neck pickups), Blend (both of those vs piezo pickup), Concentric Bass & Treble boost/cut, Concentric Mid Freq & Mid boost/cut.

    Electrical Issues: the mid boost/cut seems stuck on max boost. If I dial it down to fully cut, suddenly the whole bass gets an obviously wrong thin, distorted, tiny sound. Also the passive mode sounds kind of dark and muddy...and the piezo blend doesn't do anything in passive mode. Dunno if that's normal or not, though when I boost with amp EQ, I get some really big sound happening. Finally, both sets of concentric knobs kind of grab each other. But not at the knobs; it's happening inside the pots. They must've been banged pretty hard.

    I have to say, I like the bass. But that's not exactly a steal of a price for one that was clearly thoroughly used, needs a bit of fretwork, and I suppose needs a whole new preamp.

    But it's purdy, and clearly capable of greatness. What do y'all think? Return it and do some more saving? Invest in new electronics and love it long time? Look at competitively-priced alternatives?

    Here's the bass btw, since I keep saying it's purdy:

    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
    kevin wells and CTBassGuy like this.
  2. CTBassGuy


    Feb 3, 2018
    Danbury, CT
    Unfortunately, I don’t have specifics to offer, but, generally, Carvin’s main criticism for a long time has been their electronics. The instruments themselves, though, are great (IMHO); I have 2 1988 LB90s that are excellent (one of which I bought new and was my #1 for all those years). I’ll never part with either of them.

    If you are in to it for not a lot of $ after your trade, and you like the bass itself, which it sounds like you do, it’s worth putting some $ into it to repair/replace the electronics.

    And, as you said, it’s purdy! :drool:
  3. If I'm once disappointed, I'm always disappointed...me I'd have to return it and start fresh
  4. Mastodon2


    Feb 27, 2008
    Send it back, once you factor in repairs it's not that great a deal. You can get more for your money, without the headache of trying to diagnose and fix problems.
  5. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    I personally would say it's probably not a keeper. The general idea is a fixer-upper is usually not cost effective and that's usually still true on Carvins too.

    A new Icon 6 from Kiesel would be somewhere around $1800 to double what you'd pay for this one. But, with much improved pickups and preamp and it wouldn't have the high fret and everything else about it would be brand new and under warranty, etc. The old Carvin soap bars were notorious for being rather bland sounding....

    My guess is, by the time you got it up to speed with electronics in the old one that you liked, you'd probably be in spittin' distance of a new one from Kiesel....

    At least that's how it's always gone in the past when I've gone the fixer-upper route.

    Unless the discount were a fair bit steeper than $1000, I probably would pass on this one.

  6. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks for the responses thus far!

    I slept on it, and yeah it really plays like butter, instrument-wise. But I think I'm looking at a minimum of $200 more to get it really solid, and that's not what I signed up for.

    Plus, it has another man's name written in script under the paint on the back of the headstock, the original owner's.

    I gotta take it back, but I'll say the build of the thing overall left me curious about what Kiesel might have for me once I save up some more cash / clear out a bit more gear.
    CTBassGuy likes this.
  7. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Temporary it was. I returned it today and all is as it should be.

    Disconcertingly, the cat who handled my return was NOT interested in the reason for it, so I'm planning to follow up with the manager if it gets relisted at the same price, in the same condition, as before. Maybe it's a fool's errand, but I'm definitely a four-star fool.

    In the meantime, I've had the idea that really close within reach are some Ibanez 6-string basses, incl the new SR1346B, which is 34" scale (I really prefer it; the Carvin was 34" and I dug it and loaded with Nordy Big Singles)...so that may be the route I take. Otherwise it's closer to $2000 for a new or newish Kiesel, and up from there for any other 34" 6-string that isn't 11lbs.

    Or I could revive the idea of converting a 5-string to EADGC tuning. So many possibilities!
  8. Ohabanero


    May 17, 2019
    Interesting bass in that I've never seen an icon piezo with the first generation bridge. And most certainly second generation electronic setup . I bet that bass was apart and reworked already which may have been some of your problems . Its remotely possible it was built right at the transition period but the carvin museum specifically shows they moved to the new hipshot a style piezo when they released this model . I wonder if it was a home schooled frankencarvin . Either way you did the right thing and yes there's no piezo at all in passive mode on these. You simply get the magnetic pickups in passive regardless of the piezo pan position. Every single carvin piezo first Gen I've seen had three knob preamp instead of 2 stacks . I did see only one ever for sale just recently that the owner had sent back for new electronics and they put in what was on yours but left the extra front knob as a dummy to prevent a hole there. Its possible I guess the original buyer could have request the older bridge or possible carvin built on spec and sold in the store during transition. Could have been a one of a kind . Mid sweep was the best feature of this generation. Still in use at Kiesel today . Without that working properly it would be a bummer for sure .
  9. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    I like Icons, very sharp basses and that's a great looking one you have there, a shame about the issues.
    I'm sure you'll get them worked out so Congrats!
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