whats wrong with Carvin???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tim Schnautz, Oct 27, 2001.

  1. Tim Schnautz

    Tim Schnautz

    Jan 30, 2000
    What's the beef with Carvin.
    I know, I know,. Sorry if this is an old rehash, but seriously.
    Alot of people think that Carvin Bass's/ guitars are junk, or laughable stock, to say the least.
    A friend of mine has 5 Carvin bass's. 2-5 strings (1 is fretless) a 6 and the other's are 4's.
    I've played them all but the fretless 5 and I think they're about as good as some of the best stuff out there.
    Of, course, I'd be satisfied with a P or J Fender, but I have some nice stuff too.
    And, I figure if Carvin was little more than lowly and tastless, wouldn't they have gone the way of Kingston and Tiesco?
    Just curious.
  2. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I had a Carvin 6 string a few years ago.

    The B string sounded anemic, to say the least. The electronics couldn't hold a candle to Bartolini's, Duncans, or EMG's.

    The wood and fretwork were fine, but a 5 or 6 string bass with a B string that doesn't have the same character as the other 4 strings has a definite problem. Perhaps they've solved this now with the new 35.25" scale basses they just started offering . . .

    BTW: resale was crap. Paid $1200 new, sold it a year later and all I could get was $600. That's pitiful as far as bass resale goes . . .
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Nothing's wrong with Carvin. They're great values if you want to play rather than collect or sell. Everyone complains about the electronics, but the one's I've tried aren't any worse than the stock electronics in a lot of similarly-priced instruments. Okay, they're conservative-looking and they sound a little bland, but I've sold a few instruments because they had too much "character". As for resale, you can expect to get shafted whenever you order an instrument highly customized ie. ugly to everyone but you. On ebay, expect to recoup 2/3 of the price for Carvins in the $600-800 range. But Eric' right; people won't pay much more than $600 used regardless of how the instrument is tricked out.
  4. I have to agree with the earlier reply. To wit, nothing! I have two, a fretless five-string and a fretted six-string and I think they would be a bargain at twice the price.


  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Carvins are good for the price, and have way above average fit & finish, but the electronics are their weak point IMHO.

    I could have bought a quilt tiger eye BB76 instead of my Cirrus 6, and saved $400, but then I would have to put $400 worth of pickups and preamp in it to get a tone that I was happy with.

    Mid and high end makers that offer Duncans or Barts have an advantage, because that's what players want. The Peavey Cirrus is still underrated, and one reason is that most people don't realize how good the preamp and pickups are. As good as most aftermarket stuff, IMHO. I have 2 basses with Bart pickups and preamps, and the Cirrus sounds as good as one and better than the other. YMMV.;)
  6. When it comes to some awards, Bass Player doesn't have a beef, apparently.

    The pickups and the speakers are what I've experienced as the weak points. I've concluded that's where they skimp as part of the reason their prices are so good (the other reasons being the factory direct thing and volume sales).

    I've heard their pups are Korean but I haven't determined if the source is reliable or not. I've been in contact with luthiers and people in the pickup business who share my disrespect for their pups.....not that they're bad, (except for the MM-style loser), just that they're not first class.

    The only other thing I can mention is that their LB's make a lot of click and clack noises, like string/fret noise. That is an assertion by a lot more owners than just me. It can be managed though, with technique and set up. I don't know if any other models do it.

    The knocks about their electronics are whack. Even Lane Poor had a picture of a Carvin control cavity at his website to show what excellent wiring and shielding look like.

    The knocks about their service may or may not be justified. It seems to be a matter of whom you deal with in that large company. Right now, my LB is in their repair shop for the second time this month. Although it's 9 month old, they had UPS pick it up at their expense both times. The first trip didn't correct the problem I'm having so they picked it up again.

    Anyone who says they're junk must be thinking of "bass" as in "fish", is just mouthing off, or, is on badly made drugs.
  7. KB


    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    I have had my Carvin LB70 for 2 years and I really like it. However, I did change out the HB (MM style) pickup with a Basslines ceramic musicman. But I left the J99 neck pickup (not too bad of a sinlge coil) and the carvin electronics alone. the sound improvement was tremendous. The pre-amp (while not top of the line) is better than a lot ofother mid-range preamps. You can definately hear a change in the bass, mid and treble when you adjust the knobs and it is fairly quite. Also another easy modification i did was to change the parallel/split coil tap to a 3 way series/split/parallel and now the bass became even more versitile. the series mode adds a ton of punch. Don't buy a Carvin for resale or investments, buy it to play. It is by far the most comfortable bass I have ever played, and now the sound is above average to match (probably a 7.5 on a 10 scale - which isn't bad for a bass that can be had for less than $1000 including the cost of the pickup and swtich change).

  8. KB


    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    oh yeah, forgot to mention that I don't really get the click/clack noises. Mine plays very smoothly and the fretwork is very well done. maybe I got lucky??:)

  9. SWMR


    Apr 2, 2001
    Houston, Texas
    i usually play a '78 p-bass i own but everyonce and a while i play a carvin LB 5 string and i really like it. it a nice solid bass. but i aggre with the others in that the pickups are their weak point because they don't hold anything to my active basslines.
  10. Tim Schnautz

    Tim Schnautz

    Jan 30, 2000
    The pickups and the speakers are what I've experienced as the weak points

    That's interesting Rick.

    I cant confirm, nor deny, but I have HEARD that their speakers are made by Eminence, which is supposedly a premium speaker company.
    Of course, if that be the case, then they could have a lesser line as well.
    Like I said, I don't know.
  11. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    I've had an LB76 fretless and a LB75 fretted.

    The fretless had the H50 pickups and older electronics without midrange. Their electronics, like the rest of the bass *are* very well-made. Great shielding. But the frequencies of the bass and treble control don't work for me. Increasing the bass is good for leveling condos (I know, this is good, but only some of the time :) ), decreasing it useless (zap! there goes the bottom). The treble is similarly extreme. It is pretty high-frequency. When I got my new bass with NTMB, the treble made *much* more sense to me - it was what I wanted when I reached for the knob. Also, the combination of pickups and electronics on that one (the fretless) is pretty sterile.

    The LB75 I had for about a year, it had an HB2 bridge with the newer J99 neck pickup. Overall I liked this better than the setup on the fretless, also it had a mid control which was nice. The sound was good, not great, I'd imagine with an SD MM in there it would be pretty darn good. But I had a hard time getting good action (don't I always :) ) with that one. I don't like the new Hipshot bridges. When I got a Hanewinckel 6 it was not a very hard decision to sell the LB75.

    Good points of the fretless:

    - it is pretty light (koa body, maple neck)
    - it never goes out of tune (has the older locking tuners)
    - pretty good action, one string has been problematic

    As for the speakers, I never used any. But, I know there's a lot more to a bass cab than just the driver (I think they use Eminence, yes. Eminence has a very wide variety of MI speakers, however). From what I've heard, the 10s didn't have much low-end and sounded (guess what) sterile. Whatever that means :)
  12. SRSiegel

    SRSiegel Guest

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    OK, im gonna start my rant now...

    <begin ranting>

    I love carvins stuff. half of my entire bass rig is carvin. well start with the bass. mine is a 2001 LB75PFW. thats the fretless five string with a 34" scale, 18v active electronics, the HB in the back and the J99 in front. its got a five piece maple/walnut neck, that is the nicest neck ive ever had my hands on... and these mitts have been around. i was just at a guitar center last night and i still am completely satisfied with my bass. its incredibly strong, and feels good. my bass also has the lowest action ive ever seen. its fretless, and the neck is straight. i have it set up with almost no relief, and it plays like a dream with little or no effort. I looked at other brands at teh guitar center, and i could not find anything that looked as good imo, or that looked/felt nearly as solid. and mine cost about a third as much as some of the super high end stuff. the bass is comfortable, light, and well designed in my opinion. as far as the B string goes... i walked around just plucking B's... i tried th etop of the line BTB, a couple warwicks, a concklin, yamahas, and fenders. I still am happy with mine. the only one that better (barely) was the warwick (thumb) the others were all comparably, except the fender was way too floppy. call me wierd, and send me all the hate mail you want, but i wouldnt be cought dead playing a J. i just hate them. i also didnt like the warwicks that the guitar center had, or the conklins... yamahas and ibanez's were nice imo. anyways... so i lovemy bass... even though i might only be able to sell it now for $600 versus the $1100 i paid for it, i dond care, as i never intend on selling "jade" yes i even named it... i am completely obsessed... next subject...

    my amp is based around an R600 series 2 head, which is housed in an RC210 combo. I bought an eminence 18" omega pro and build my own woofer cab for the bottom. The RC210 alone was a good combo. I used it for a year in jazz band with an upright and my two electrics. (fretted and fretless) it was comparable imo to anything i have ever played through. just not that loud. add the 18 and it projects massive amounts of sound in about a 3 mile radius. (yeah ive actually had people call my house who lived three miles away and ask me to turn my bass down, as it was thier dinner hour) i know the speakers arent the best thing out there, and they do make claims like "18 lb magnet structure" on thier 18's... (btw the "magnet structure" includes the frame. the actual magnet in my 18 is 109 oz. no where near 18 lbs, and its bigger than the carvin ones...) but then recall that I paid about $1000 for a 2x10 + 18 stack, which can run up to 700 watts. and sounds prety damn good! i dont see anything wrong with that. i love the sound it makes. if i upgrade anything i will simply add another poweramp... so i can push the 18 with a thousand watts or so. wouldnt ever trade in my R600.

    i too, am amazed by the amount of carvin bashing that goes on here.. and the amount of people who love fenders to death. I do not mean to be insulting when i dont quite understand. I played a few, and they were really well built, and they did look nice. the also did have a good tone. but i found i couldnt change that one range of tones that much. (i didnt mess with an active one) these bases are nice, and they do have their niche, but they never suited any of my playing styles (for smooth jazz, rock, and latin i have my fretless carvin. for hard rock, blues, and funk i have my Ibanez usa atk) i think that it is up to everyone to find what tool suits them the most for the job they have to do. my equipment suits me very well. it does have its shortcomings... ( i will admit i have defenitlyt heard some better sounding pickups in my day) but like someone said... electronics, strings, pickups, these are all replacable... however there is no replacing the wood on your bass, or changing the finish... (without a lot of work) that is why i chose carvin. in my opinion it was the best looking and playing bass for the money i had to spend. i could also get it exactly how i wanted. I am also impressed my the cirrus line, and the stingrays, i just chose not to take that path. i honestly think that you dont always get what you pay for. sometimes you dont get it at all, sometimes you get a ton more, its all in what matters to you as a musician, and what you are looking for in your playing.

    <end rant>

    now i must apologize for anything i might have said that would anger anyone. i dont ever remember what i typed in the previous paragraphs. oh well. perhaps it was the fact that my head is still swimming and turning from rehearsal tonight.... :)
  13. KB


    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    I agree basically with what SRS says basically. I also have a carvin amp stack (yes I know this is a brief amp discussion in the basses forum, so I'll keep it brief). I have the series III R600 head with the 2x10 and 1x15. It has great thunderous sound and I feel I definately got my moneys worth.

    For Carvin in general, while they may not be top of the line, the are excellent basses (and amps) for their price range and if you don't like the sound of their basses, changing the pickups is no big deal (as like I did with the HB pickup).

  14. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Carvin builds beautiful guitars and basses. Electronics maybe not so hot, both in the instruments and on the floor. You will not find better looking instruments for anywhere near the price. So just drop in some Barts and you've got a first-rate instrument.
  15. phogchris

    phogchris www.scarsoflife.com

    May 27, 2000
    Boca Raton, FL
    I agree that Carvins are good for the money AND better than MOST of the basses at GC...but, they had a Pedulla ET5 there that was amazing, a Carvin could not come close to this bass. I had a Carvin, but for roughly the same price, my Cirrus is much better, IMO....and my Modulus, another world...
  16. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Looking at the Carvin catalogue, I get G.A.S, even though the ones I've played haven't really impressed me. Just Ho-hum sounding. They seem to play very fast.
    But if I get new pickups for it...
  17. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    Nice basses. Play easily, quality hardware. Electronics weak, not a lot of tone. Probably could be corrected with the installation of quality pick ups.
  18. elbass


    Aug 6, 2001
    San Antonio TX
    I have a Carvin BB75 fretted bass (the Bunny Brunel model). Other than the features of that model bass, it's stock. It feels great to me-very sound stucturally. I thought the preamp left a little to be desired, but all in all, the bass is great for the price. However, I recently aquired an Augular preamp from Jon "Pacman" Packard and put it in the Carvin...WOOO WHOO- WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

    Incidentally, one thing I especially like about the Bunny bass-I have a much easier time slapping on this bass becuase of the wider string spacing. 'Course that's just me...

    Oh, I also slapped a Hipshot D-Tuner that I had lying around on the B string. I holds petty stable down a step to an "A."
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Carvin basses are pretty nice. I did a full Bartolini upgrade on my LB75 fretless after owning and gigging it for six months. It was Koa with the two band EQ, Sperzel locking tuners and J pickups. Had a very nice feel to it. I too thought the

    I like the sound better after the upgrade. Then I played a Zon Legacy fretless and heard what I was missing.

    Is that bashing?;)
  20. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    I have lived near the Carvin Factory for 20 years. First, they were in Escondido; now they've moved a few miles south into the city of San Diego. Before I bought my Stingray in 1980, I tried them. This was when they were made of all rock maple, and had set necks and 22-pole humbucking pickups. I thought they were OK, but I liked my Stingray better. I've sort of followed their evolution, but I never found them overly exciting. I always thought they were well-made, but just not thrilling. They used to seem kind of stodgy, but now, they are pretty modern. I recently went up and played a couple, both bolt and neck-thru. There is a quality to the sound that I can't really quantify, that I just don't like, at least when I'm playing them. A MIM Jazz may not have as good build quality, but I like the sound better. Now, I've heard other folks play them and they sounded OK, so maybe I'm the problem.

    I might point out, that even though my sig. says, "I'll take a Precision, thanks", I'm a little disappointed in my Precision lately. I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I'm not going to buy a Carvin. I've tried to like them, but unsuccessfully. For the price, they have unbeatable features, and they're U.S. made.