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Regarding the Carvin pickup myth

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Oct 10, 2004.

  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hi everybody.

    I have a Carvin BB75 with a J99 neck pickup (single coil) and a HB bridge humbucker with coil splitter. I love the way this instrument sounds, but I also know that I don't have the possibility of making a comparison in the place I live. Recordings can hide the real tonal qualities of an instrument, so I don't think it is a good idea to judge by recordings. My bass is one of the best sounding ones in my town, along with a friend's Yamaha TRB-6, but maybe if I ever put my hands on a StingRay (for instance), my bass will start sounding like crap to me. I've been reading the general opinion about Carvin pickups and that makes me think of an upgrade. I know that tone is a matter of personal taste (and you don't have my ears so it's hard to guess what I'm looking for), but in general terms, do you think it is a good idea? I'm not looking for an specific kind of tone. Since I play many different kinds of music (from classic hard and progressive rock to salsa and Dominican merengue), something that I always look for in a bass is versatility. That's one of the things I like about my Carvin. That pickup configuration with the coil splitter gives you many options. I highly appreciate your input on this. Thank you very much in advance.


    P.S.: Again, recordings are not a good comparison point, but if you want to hear my BB75 (Geocities permitting :spit: ) just for having an idea, you can visit <a href="http://www.geocities.com/alvabass67/Alvabass.html" Target="_new">my modest homepage</a>, which holds some (mostly) homemade recordings. All of them but the "Cathedral" main theme were done with the Carvin.
  2. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I played a Carvin LB75 for years... sounded fine live and studio. I actually got complimented by a couple of engineers for the tone of the bass. It was a 1991 with the J shaped humbuckers and the 2 band pre of the day (no switches and the next year they added a mid control as an option).

    Live I soloed the bridge pickup, studio I'd use both full to fatten it up on tape.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I tried some Carvin J's and thought they were perfectly fine, if nothing outstanding.
  4. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    I've played my share of pups from various manufacturers but only two Carvins - H50N's and Alnico MM. The Carvins stood up as well as any of them and in fact the Carvin was the only MM I kept cause it sounded most like an original MM but didn't require special routing. All manufacturers make pups that some will like and some won't. The endless variables besides personal preference that exist to me make it basically impossible to rule out any given pup, let alone manufacturer.

    If your're satisfied with the tone, that's all you really need to know. You can go through LOTS of pups trying to get such a set - no matter what you pay. In my experience, there's no direct correlation of any significance between what I've paid for a pup and my satisfaction with the tone it's put out. However there is a very consistent correlation between a given manufucturer/model of pup and what it sales for new and used in a given condition. So if you want to experiment some, buy a used set of pups you feel confident you can get your money back out of and try them out. If you sell them for what you've got into them if you don't like them, you're not out anything but your time and you've learned what you wanted to know.

    I've also had a '98 Carvin LB70. Quality craftsmanship and a beautiful bass. There's a lot of things I didn't like about the bass but there was nothing wrong with it, just wasn't my cup of tea. I've had enough experience with Carvin that I personally don't buy into the Carvin is substandard theory.

    Correction, the Carvin was an '89 stereo bass not a '98. It did not have the H50N's.
  5. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I've also come to the conclusion that there's nothing inherently wrong with Carvin pickups.

    Besides, all pickup manufacturers have their champions and detractors ("EMG's are cold and sterile." "No, they're clear and bright." "Barts are dark and muddy." "No, they're warm and woody.")
  6. I have one LB76 with the H50N stacked humbuckers and another with the J99/Large Humbucker. Both sound superb. There is nothing at all wrong with the pickups on Carvin, IMHO. I agree with your myth debunking... :ninja:
    I have recordings both live and studio that have tremendous tone... :D
  7. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    I have a Carvin with the J99/H50N configuration. It's a great sounding bass--I get compliments on it all the time. I use this bass way more than any of my Fenders ( and one of them is stock early 60's Jazz.)

    I also have a Carvin fretless with two stacked humbuckers and it's about as warm sounding as a bass can get.
  8. Funny you mention that, I get more complements on the tone of my LB76 with the H50N stacked humbuckers than the J99/HB combo. IMHO both basses sound smooth as they possibly can. :hyper:
  9. at one stage i was considering putting a pair of h50's in an sx jazz with the active passive module...i like what the catalog says..but people on here seem to dissaprove of carvin...but id still like to try them
  10. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Never had the H50's, the bassplayer review on them was less than stellar, and I don't recall any raves over it. I think the H50N was the older version and it's the set I had, and the one that was in the LB 70 that won the bassplayer shootout. Regardless, in any given bass with given strings and given rigging, it may be just the ticket. Don't know till you try. But they're apparently not the same pups.
  11. 73jbass

    73jbass Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    I have a Carvin LB76P that I got about 3 weeks ago, and I noticed that the pickup is noticably weaker in the upper registers than my SR5's with a similar pickups. My SR5's have the Basslines alnico replacement, and are very responsive all over the neck. The Carvin seems to get weak as you go from the d to c string. Is this normal? Everything is set up properly,I just can't stand the lack of response on the lower strings, especially when tapping. Any info or ideas on how to fix this will be greatly appreciated. Thanks folks.
  12. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Although there's nothing desireable about it, in my experience, it's not unusual for a pup (regardless of who makes it) to be unbalanced in terms of transmitting various characteristics of tone: volume, sensitivity, clarity, and cut for example.

    Aside from setup and pups, it could be something like strings, eq'ing, whatever, but it's not unusual for pups to be the source.
  13. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    My personal opinion is that the Carvin J-style pickups don't have a wide enough magnetic field to properly handle a 6 string. For a 4 or 5, they're plenty adequate.
  14. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    Yep, not out of the realm of possibility but I would hope any manufacturer would have the smarts to design a bass more efficiently before putting it in production - though I've seen otherwise. Sometimes I use a small allen wrench and drag it across the pup if I have questions along those lines - my routings allow the pups to be slid over but I'll use the allen wrench first to see if moving it's necessary. Invariably that screws up the low-end but at least then I know if that's the problem. Also use Schaller roller bridges so I can move the string laterally some.

    If I liked the sound of the pups otherwise, I'd raise the pups up on the treble side or drop the string if I could (counting the turns and measuring the string at the 12th fret so I could get it back where it was if needed). And I'd stick another string on it if I had one laying around.

    Finding pups with a tone you like is not easy but when you've got somethng like this, it's hard to enjoy playing the bass.
  15. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    It's weird, the H50N pickups on my LB76 don't have any problem covering the string width. The B and C strings are equal in volume and tone as the others. But I've read various testimonies on both sides of this issue: for some people something's not right, for others there's no problem. I don't know if the J99's are any different, as I have no experience with those.
  16. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    I don't have any Carvin bass pickups, but I have a Strat that I dropped a Carvin S/S/S prewired pickguard/pickup set into, and it sounds FANTASTIC. Couldn't be happier with it.