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What do Carvins sound like?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassman1185, May 15, 2001.

  1. What do Carvins, especially B5s with the HB2 option, sound like? I've heard that you can get a StingRay sound, I've heard that you can't get a StingRay sound... I don't care if it sounds EXACTLY like the bass(es) you name, but if you can give me a ballpark opinion, I'd appriceate it.
  2. Just bringing this up again, but I was also thinking of a swamp ash body.
  3. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    Well.. the sound is in your hands, my friend. Some basses have such distinct characteristics that they will sound unique no matter who is playing them, but I don't think Carvins and MusicMans go in this category.
    What I can tell you is, about 7 years ago, I had a Carvin 4-string and replaced it with a MusicMan Sterling. The Sterling absolutely blew the Carvin away, soundwise. TONS more balls. And a really sweet high end, too.
    If you want the Stingray sound, I'd get a Stingray.
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    bassman - I have an LB75 with the Carvin humbucker, Music Man-style pup in the bridge position and the J99 in the neck position.

    My opinion is that you can forget about the Stingray comparisons. If I wanted the Ray signature sound, I'd have bought one. I think the Stingray comparison you heard may have been due to the fact that both basses give a very defined, articulate, sound. But the Carvin isn't the bad beast that the Ray can be.

    While mine isn't a B5, Carvin B and LB basses are variations on the same theme, IMO. Sure, mine is somewhat different - a neck-through-body, quilted maple/alder/maple & koa neck, with active/passive electronics and the B5 is a passive bolt-on, but there are neck-throughs on the market that can get punchy as Flea, and bolt-ons that can get as warm as Jamerson. I think the pickups are going to retain their basic characteristics, regardless of all the other jazz.

    The J99 isn't a bad pickup. It has a very scooped sound - no mids and it is powerful. Its piercing highs and deep lows are crystal clear and "singing," in short, "modern" sounding.

    The HB5 MM-style, when used alone, is pathetic, IMO. I find it is weak, boxy sounding. (BTW, I run the bass through their RL1018 stack and their Cyclops most of the time and those R series heads can shape a lot of sounds). The HB5 is useful for me, in that, I almost always keep it evenly blended with the neck pickup to balance it with some mids and punch. The only other way I use it by itself is to get an upper end, "unbassy," raw sound with overdrive or distortion. Soundwise, I see how it could be compared to a Ray.........a Ray with no guts or aggression. How they can charge twice the cost of a J99 is beyond me. Once I finish paying for a custom, (NOT a Carvin "semi-custom," I'm having it replaced, probably with a Basslines MM pickup. You might think, "Well, blend in some of the J99 and you're close to a Ray." But the low end of the J99 is very different from the Ray's.

    The swamp ash body option with a maple as the main neck wood should definitley add some punch to the B5.

    If you get one, you'll get a superbly crafted instrument with flashy woods. Just don't expect a Ray. You should see agreement between what Dave Siff and I have to say.
  5. Actually, it is active. I was thinking, what if you replaced the HB5 with a real MM or, like you said, a Basslines, and the J99 with an upgraded j-style pup? Could you get a little closer that way? Thanks for tolerating me.
  6. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    I'll third what Dave Siff and Rickbass1 said. I had a Stingray. I bought a Fender American P-Deluxe because the Stingray couldn't do smooth. I missed the Stingray ('cause a P-Deluxe can't do Stingray) and tried a Carvin B4 with HB2 to try and get a Stingray plus neck pup. No go. No way. I returned it in the 10-day trial (I knew after 2 days it was going back).

    Maybe with changed electronics it would sound like a 'Ray. But you could always take a 'Ray and add a neck pup if that's what you are after.
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Sorry, I meant to put "passive/active".

    You're definitely closer. The Bassline or Bartolini MM would get you close. An upgraded J with it would give you a "faux Ray" plus another entirely different "personality" that is fatter and warmer, unless you get one of the brighter model J's.

    You could tell Carvin to leave the pickup routings empty IF they would knock some money off the price and you could use the savings towards your upgraded pups. I don't know if they would sell just the body. I was going to tell them to build my LB75 without pups and send it to Lane Poor to put in his electronics/pups. BUT, that was the same month Poor "disappeared."
  8. Rickbass, have you tried rewiring the Carvin humbucker in series? It's wired in parallel, which is probably why it has no beef to it.
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    No, I'm a tech idiot, analog. But I do know what you're saying makes sense. For one thing, in passive series, one pup could pass through the other for much better sound.

    Do you think it's tough to do?
  10. Randy Payne

    Randy Payne

    Jan 1, 2001
    Rickbass1, when I asked Carvin about selling a bass without the pups, so I could put my own in, they told me to pound sand...

    Did you get farther with them??

  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Randy- Sorry to hear that. I didn't have to go that far with them.

    At the time I ordered, I really needed a snazzy looking, "modern" sounding, bass for upcoming, big ticket, Christmas and New Year's gigs. When Poor went off the radar, I needed to let Carvin get going because they were going to fulfill a special request I had made about the quilted maple top. The bass arrived on Dec. 19...right when a pretty full calendar was hitting us. So, I kept it past the 10 day trial period.

    They deny some special requests for things that seem to be simple "can do's" to the customer. They regularly get asked to sell their tremendously well-constructed cabinets without their okay speakers or asked to offer their basses with a pickup upgrade option, and they have turned them down every time. At least they're consistent. :rolleyes:
  12. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    I had a Carvin LB20 Fretless awhile back made for me. I Loved it. Great construction, great neckfeel and what not. The Pickups could be replaced for a better sound.. But I remember that day when I recieved my Carvin and when I opened that case.. god, that finish smell that filled up my room for weeks

  13. I think what i might do is get the Carvin neck and body, and put in Bartolini pups and preamp in. I was thinking about getting the kit anyway, so now I'd have a real custom.
    I agree that it's kind of dumb for Carvin to call themselves a "custom shop" when they only give you three pickup choices. True, you do get more finish/neck options than most, but that only does so much for your sound.

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