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What's the low down on Carvin basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by gottliver, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. gottliver


    Dec 20, 2004
    I'm thinking about a Carvin B4 (bolt on) with an ash body, rosewood board and j style pups. What do y'all think about 'em?

    I've never tried one, being in Montreal Canada, and currently play a Godin Freeway 4.

  2. Mark,

    Carvin seems to be one of those things you either love or hate. Personally I love their basses. I'm not really into the looks of the bolt-on models but I'm sure they're excellent basses. I had an LB75 and it was a great bass.

    Everybody seems to agree their quality is top notch. The difference of opinion is usually focused on the electronics. Some say their pickups and pre-amps are not very good. Others, like myself, feel they are as good if not better than the stock pickups of any other manufacturer who supplies their own electronics. They're not on the level of pickup specialists like Bartolini or EMG but they are as good as what you get with a new Fender IMO.

    There are a lot of threads on Carvin basses. Do a search and you will find plenty of information. Remember, they have a 10 day return policy if you find it's not your cup of tea.
  3. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I took advantage of the Carvin 10 day return as I had never played one either. I went with a Claro Walnut lined fretless 6 with all the options. It is a great playing bass, feels good to me and looks very nice. Not an Alembic, but nice.

    I did grow to not like the electronics. I didn't think they were very versitile. I replaced the pickups and preamp with a Bartolini system and I think it sounds much better. I also have the same system in my Yamaha BB605 fretted 5, so I guess I'm a bit biased.

    They are well built, attention to detail, and a beautiful finish. I like mine very much. When I was looking for a 34" scale fretless 6 that wasn't a $5,000 Alembic or some other big name bass, this was a good option.

    You can see a pic at my web site.
  4. gottliver


    Dec 20, 2004
    Thanks guys. Anybody else?
  5. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    A friend bought a new LB90 koa back in the late '80's and it is still his main bass (he is a virtuouso player, by the way). I finally broke down and got an LB20 4 years ago (mahogany body/neck) and for me, it's the cat's appendix. I've always played JBs and this one is essentially a set-neck JB. With the mahogany, it's quite light, and I have fitted it with ground roundwound strings (GHS Briteflats?) and it does what I need it to do. I generally play more quietly, backing up acoustic folkies etc, but I have also done quite a lot of recording with it. Like anything else, if it does what you want, it's great, and if it doesn't it, you need a different bass. It essentially is a JB-sounding beast. The 10-day trail period ought to give you enough time to check it out. FWIW, I love mine. If I get my **regular** computer back from the repair shop tonight I'll post a pic.
  6. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    I've owned two Carvin basses including a B4 and it was a great bass. Sold it only to help finance my Conklins. Been toying with the idea of a fretless Carvin 6.. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
  7. Andre_gt7


    Jan 4, 2005
    Atlanta - GA
    I absolutely LOVE carvin, they are great, their service is great, the Customer service is great...and the J99 pickups blow....
  8. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    Anyone with a BB76 out there? I've always wanted to try one of these as a cheapish intro to ERB (if 6 string is still ERB) because they've got a wide board.

  9. bedrock


    Sep 6, 2004
    As a former Carvin owner and a private teacher who has seen several Carvins come my way, I have seen a consistent flaw with these basses. The truss rod in the neck is too flimsy to support the tension of the neck. I owned a neck-through a few years ago, and was constantly having to adjust the truss rod. Eventually, the rod actually started to bend. I had to have a whole new truss rod installed, And when the old rod was removed, the repairman commented on how it was the skinniest truss rod he had ever seen in a bass. I have also seen the same problems with other Carvins that belonged to students of mine. To the best of my knowledge, Carvin has not rectified this problem. If it were not for this issue, I would wholeheartedly recommend them, as they are an outstanding value as far as materials and construction for the money. Although I am not crazy about the pick-ups and electronics, these can easily be upgraded. A new truss rod is a whole different story.
  10. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    Interesteing post. I've almost never heard of Carvin truss rod problems. In fact, the necks on Carvins are absolutely fantastic IMO. I've yet to find a more playable neck. The craftsmanship is exceptional. I love the tones I can get from my LB70. Of course, all that being said, playability and tone quality are up to individual opinion. All I can say is that I've never played a bass under $2000 that I liked as much as my Carvin. Just my $.02.
  11. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I've had an LB76 for over ten years now, still going strong. Interesting comment about the truss rods though. One thing I wish Carvin would do on their 6 strings (and perhaps 5's too) is to have dual truss rods in their necks.
  12. I had a Carvin LB75 and now play a Carvin XB76 (35.25 scale 6-string) and really dig them both. In my opinion , unless you're going WAY hi-end ($3000 plus) , Carvin is the only way to go. Order the bass and have a blast !!!
  13. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I've reported about neck problems I've had with them too. My LB70 and LB76 necks always had to be adjsuted about every two weeks or at least a month, they were always shifting around. Taking them on the road where they were going from the trailer to the stage and back got to be no fun real quick tweaking the necks, so I sold them off.

    I agree for what they are is a great value, but once I spent enough $$ for upgrading the electronics I felt I could just buy something else.
  14. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    I'm going to try and be diplomatic here. I used to live in San Diego and visited the showroom many times and had friends that worked there.
    My observation: Good quality overall, good value.....but I think they get hurt a little when it comes to doing all the little but IMPORTANT things that are important to the public. I think its a matter of perception.
    And I have heard comments about the owners not being totally flexible or listening to others input. These were comments made by one insider in a position to know.
    I think maybe it comes down to having fixed ideas about "what the public wants" that might have some flaws in it. Example: GK always had a place in the market like Carvin does, but GK busted into a whole new higher level competing with high end manufacturers by producing "a greatly improved product while continuing to find out what is needed and wanted" by thier public-musicians. Its accomplished by doing surveys.

    My perception about Carvin is that they don't care to know, they have "thier own viewpoint" about what people want. Thin truss rods or so-so bass cabs (except the new ones look interesting) or 34" scale 5 string basses. Its like "don't upset the assembly line" mentality.

    Forgive me if I sound a little critical, but its based on first hand observation and its only an opinion, not an indictment.
  15. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    I bought a used fretless 6-stringer with top-of-the-line EMG pickups and tone controls.

    It's (seriously) my favorite fretless that I've played, ever.

    I prefer it to my old Pedulla Pentabuzz. That's very high praise for a bass I walked out the door with for $700.

    That said, I haven't been terribly thrilled with a lot of the other Carvins I've played. I hate their bass amps and cabs. Seems like their electronics aren't so hot. I did have good luck with their Power amps though.

    Attached Files:

  16. honeyboy


    Oct 31, 2004
    I just put together a nice walnut 5 string bolt kit with the J style as well as the MM style bridge pickup.I used tung oil on the walnut and stained the maple neck to match the body. It is sonically very versatile and has the option of either passive or active.My friend who has 2 Music Man basses really loves the many tones it gets.The neck feels better(different) to me than my MIM Fender 5 string and my '83 Japanese Squire which I also like.I have had no problems with my truss rod or neck.
  17. I ordered a BB75 with a swamp ash body, quilted maple top and a 5 piece maple/walnut neck. Beautiful instrument, well made and the tung oiled neck played very nicely. It sounded good but it wasn't quite the tone I was looking for, I think it may have been my choice of woods. I sent it back within the 10 day trial period.

    Carvin makes a great bass and is well worth checking out. And for us Canadians, there is no duty charged. The only drawback is that shipping to and from Canada is more expensive should you decide to return it.

    Here's a photo of the BB75.

  18. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    Beautiful bass!! I think I would have kept it and maybe tried a different preamp.. :meh:
  19. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Every Carvin I've tried has always left me with a sinking feeling that the tone isn't guiet there. They have excellent quality. good workmanship. electronics are a bit dubious but certantly not poor. And my experience with friends who have purchased has been 50/50 some love them and some dump them pretty quick. They do seem to be a repuitable firm so I guess it's worth a try,but they have TERRIBLE RESALE so why not buy one used? I've seen LB76's for 500, I've thought about buying one myself and slapping some good pickups in them, at that resale you can't go wrong used.
  20. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    If I owned a Godin :bassist: (and I do) or owned one previously (I did), I would not consider a downward trade towards a Carvin. Though I must confess to never actually owning a Carvin, I have had the opportunity to play through several of their 5'ers, and one AE. Beauty is only skin deep. I am not going to bash Carvin, as their are those who have posted their love affair with their Carvin basses. For my taste buds, ears, hands, and groove, Godin eats Carvin for lunch (and dinner, and midnight snack). Just my 2 bits. :D