Was Carvin Audio the Lastest of the True USA Made Amps?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by 74hc, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. 74hc


    Nov 19, 2015
    Sunny California
    Other than boutiques, I cannot think of another that built the electronic boards and cabinets from plywood sheets in-house. The only thing they did not do was the raw PC board (toxic... my employer gave up on in-house back in the late 80s due to that), and sheet metal (same reason).

    The only one exception I can think if is Mesa, but I've heard that some of the sub-assemblies are now contracted out (excluding the IcePower modules). I think they still populate many of the electronic boards in-house up in Petaluma.

    Almost all, either contract entire amp lines out (usually overseas), or much of the sub-assemblies like the electronic boards.

    Anybody have some more information on bass amps that are truely made in the USA?
  2. I think you must consider that this is much more than an issue of geography.
    If the US didn't have minimum wage and child labor laws, there would be a lot more made in the USA products. available. I don't have a good feel for that being good or bad. Longitude and latitude by themselves have no bearing on the cost of manufacturing a product.
    Is it just that the older companies that once built in the USA moved overseas to cut cost? Or are recent startups doing the same, or just skipping the USA build altogether and outsourcing everything to somewhere else?

    Regarding Carvin, was it a decision to shut down rather than move manufacturing as in was a move analyzed?
    Did they think "built in the USA" was the only option for them from an idealistic or patriotic standpoint?
    Was the initial cost of moving overseas too prohibitive?
    BadExample likes this.
  3. mysteryclock

    mysteryclock Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Franklin, TN
    I believe GK still builds a lot of their amps domestically, don't they?

    Peavey is long gone from US manufacturing, sadly.
  4. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    IMO the Carvisaurus likely went extinct from growing to large and slow. They just failed to change with the times. Sad, I think. I hope someone buys the remains and does something with it, but it seems unlikely with the quest to liquidate the entire inventory. I wonder what the back story is...
    TerenceE likes this.
  5. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Mesa Boogie
    Gallien Krueger

    Are all made in the USA. I'm sure many of the little resistors and other components are made overseas though, but assembly is done in the USA. But even Carvin went away from using USA made speakers years ago.
    agedhorse likes this.
  6. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    Absolutely. The electronic components are no longer made in the US. That was farmed out to cheaper labor overseas decades ago. There are or were some exceptions to that, but usually specialty stuff like hybrid IC's (multiple dies in one chip wired together and hermetically sealed), or very sensitive (secret) military/aerospace custom made parts. Carvin most likely died from not responding to changing markets fast enough. Died of starvation. It's a shame.

    I imagine changing to imported Celestion speakers was probably an attempt to keep their heads above water a bit longer. They might regret that decision about now, but there's nothing wrong with the speakers they changed to IMO.

    It's too bad they didn't sell their soles to one of the other US manufacturers rather than closing the doors. Maybe they were too different and there was no interest. Or maybe some kind of warped pride got in the way of survival. Either way, they are likely gone forever now :(
  7. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Inactive

    Which is a great pity in my mind. They made great stuff and their instruments were second to none. I have four of their basses. People on this site would dis the company without, often, ever actually trying their stuff out. For years Carvin has been my goto place for anything that I needed and I have never regretted a single purchase.

    My avatar shows my LB76WP. It’s a dream to play.

    Tonight I play my LB76F Koa Fretless through my little tube pre-amp and a Carvin HD2000 Class D power amp. I’ll be using one of my PA systems built around a Carvin DCM1204 four channel power amp.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
  8. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Not sure if you're aware, but the instrument side of Carvin is unaffected. They split off a few years ago and are totally separate and are going strong. I think they saw the writing on the wall for the amp side, they must have been in trouble for a while.
    BadExample likes this.
  9. 74hc


    Nov 19, 2015
    Sunny California
    I forgot about the speakers, but I think Carvin always purchased rather than build speakers. Is this correct?

    GK - I've been told their class D bass amps are built overseas, and some of the sub-assemblies for the RB line of amps.

    Quilter - don't know much about them, but the internal shots give the appearance they might manufacture in the USA. Do they populate the electronic boards in-house, or do they treat the electric boards as contracted sub-assemblies and in USA or overseas?

    Aguilar - I've been told they basically do final assembly in-house of contracted sub-assemblies. I've heard both ways... contracted overseas and in the USA. So does anyone know?

    The only other large scale manufacturer of bass amps resembling Carvin Audio's philosphy of building in house is Mesa Engineering, that I can find. I've heard that has started to change in the last year though with some sub-assemblies moving to contractors.

    As to the active and passive components, it's a given to us who worked or work in the electronics industry that these things are made overseas for decades. The marketplace for resistors, capacitors, pots, etc., are very mature with slim margins. One has to be a high volume, low margin manufacturer to survive. Thus you see consolidation to overseas factories with cheap labor, and less costly country regulations (like polution). I should have mentioned this.

    Of my employer's products in the past and present, just about the only component that is not made overseas is the transformers. There are still custom winders in the USA marketplace.

    So it looks like Mesa is the last remaining choice for a large manufacturer with good support if you like Carvin's philosophy of in-house manufacturing. Exception is the power amp module, of course, but I view this will be changing to an in-house design in the future.

    Carvin's class D amps like the BX250 and BX500 were inhouse design and manufacture. They based it on Infineon's IRS2092 chip, and I recall Infineon's power mosfets. That's one half of an IcePower module, and the other half is the switching mode power supply which Carvin did in-house as well. I forget who's switch mode control IC they used, but they used transformers wound by a company in the greater L.A. area in the past.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
  10. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    G-K briefly had their amps built overseas several years ago, but changed back to US production fairly quickly.

    Quilter amps are built on the QSC production line in California, AFAIK. Not too surprising given that Pat Quilter = the Q in QSC.

    Source, please?

    Educate me please-- on ICE power modules?
    BadExample and Killed_by_Death like this.
  11. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    IcePower has nothing to do with the Infineon chipset, that's just mythology pulled out of somebody's butt.
    BassmanPaul and BadExample like this.
  12. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Say it ain't so... Or_wink.gif
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  13. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    But it IS powered by the Infinity Gems from the Marvel universe...
    Isn't it? :D
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