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Working to get my chops, step 1: New Axe

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Myster Thumbs, Jul 13, 2002.

  1. First of all,
    I just came across this site this morning and was impressed by the depth of knowledge that so many of you bring to the site...it is going to be a useful tool in my newly reacquired quest at playing electric bass.

    I've played for some 25 years, however the last 15 or so (while I was married) it was just not something I did. Now recently divorced, I sat in on an "open-mike" jam on Thursday, and once kicked in the butt by the guitarist to "just relax...let it go!" I honestly surprised my self...not just in how the licks came back to me, but how it FELT to play again...that expression...like painting a picture almost.

    OK, the meat of the post: I'm kicking around buying one of the 5-string Carvin Bunny Brunel model basses; I've done a bit of reading over the last few months and it seems that Carvin does have good reviews as far as bang for the buck. In time, I'd like to think I'll go to a high-end axe, but for now, the Carvin's seem to be VERY nice basses for a reasonable investment. Any comments, pro/con, are greatly appreciated.

    Again, a good site...and it's sure good to play again!!!
  2. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    Wecome to TB! Glad you're here!

    Regarding Carvin, I think you'll find folks firmly on both sides. Having had a fretless made by them, I thought the construction was very good but the tone was just okay. That may have changed in the past couple of years, but I've heard of several folks switching out the electronics.

    They are certainly a good value if you are happy with the sound.

    Take care,
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Welcome to Talkbass!

    I've no first-hand experience of Carvins (only time you get to see those in Germany is at the Frankfurt Musikmesse), but they seem quite a good value for the price.

    You might want to check out some other stuff too, e.g. Peavey Cirrus. There's some great mid-/upper-range basses available today.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Welcome, MT.

    What Jeff said is very true. It's possible you could be very happy with a Carvin Bunny Brunel. As far as bang for the buck, Carvin has lots of competition and I don't think they have anywhere near a lock on that, if they ever did.

    You may want to give more specifics on your quest, like price range, string configuration, what kind of sound you want, what kind of music, etc. There are excellent basses available for ~$500 new and depending on budget, the used market couldn't be better from a buyer's standpoint.
  5. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida
    Bienvenida a TalkBass! :)

    Carvin is a good place to start. I don't want to sound like an ad, but I really like my ESP C-305. Its neck-through, which is good, it feels tight and well-constructed, not to mention its awesome tone. I definetely recommend that for 5-stringers.

    Anyways, just tryout as many basses as you can and go on first impressions always. If the bass feels just wrong or slightly off what you're looking for or like, throw it in the bin. Find the one that feels the way you want it. As I said before, first impressions are key when buying this stuff.

    Good luck on your bass seeking journey!
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Carvin's construction is comparable to high-end basses. If you're into figured wood, they ARE the best bang for buck. I'd get a really bitchen looking one, then drop in some Barts. Now that would rule.
  7. I'm impressed!

    I figured that it might be tomorrow before I saw any responses...nice to be among some musicians who do want to improve...

    As far as specifics, my first love is blues, straight and simple. I am very comfortable improvising in jazz, fusion, funk, "classic" rock, etc. I started out playing trumpet and worked through most brass to a point in junior high that I was playing tuba, which made playing bass an easy skill to begin.

    For sound, I do love the "old" Fender BITE...I'm not real big on punchy, aggressive top-end (although I do admit to being pretty inthralled w/ Rick 4003's back in the 70s/80s...Chris Squire, y'know. For right now, I really want a versatile 5 string w/ active elecs that with the right amp/eq/effects will allow me enough flexibility to "spread my wings". Good input about the Carvin's tone...interesting in how all I've read in Bass Player, etc. really raves on their workmanship...must be wood quality perhaps.

    Again, this ROCKS!
  8. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I have no experience with Carvin, but based on your description, I would check G&L 2500. It is very well built, and very versatile tone-wise. Used, you can find them in about the same price range as the Carvin.
  9. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    Welcome to TB, and back to playing bass as well.

    As others have said, Carvin is good bang for the buck from a construction and playability standpoint. I have an LB75 myself, but I rarely if ever play it anymore. Mostly it's because the tone is lacking character when compared to most of my other basses. (I have Carvin's standard jazz pickups installed.)

    I would look at other basses in the price range as well. As someone mentioned, the Cirrus is quite a nice bass, and I recommend those highly. Finding one used would be a really nice deal. Good luck!
  10. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Welcome back to the fold, Myster!!! May you prosper here!

    IMO, Carvin's are very good basses - top notch woods, precise woodworking, good fret dressing.

    My main knock is - DON'T get that godawful MM-copy humbucker pickup. If it was any more of a dog, it would have to get rabies shots. The J-99's are good pups for the money.

    If you can get a neck without the candy-coat poly goo on it, go for it.

    Personally, if I had to do it all over again, I'd use the money I spent on a new Carvin and get a better used bass. OR, I'd get a Lakland Skyline, (which I did). For the same money I spent on a pimped-out Carvin, I got a Skyline 55-02 that will eat any Carvin as if it were a light snack.

    Moreover, I've found Lakland's customer service to be much better. Dan Lakin personally responds to my emails, not some hourly wage guy at the Carvin factory.
  11. Howdy!

    I'm chiming in for the Cirrus too. I just picked up a Cirrus 5 a few weeks ago and playing it is heavenly. With the active electronics, you can dial whatever tone you want. Try one out -- you might like it :)
  12. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    DEFINATELY check out the Lakland Skyline 55-02,, comes stock with Barts,, you can get the deluxe model with quilted top for around 1200. I love the Carvin BB 75 myself,, I find playability to be excellent,, and it sounds good to me too. You could always put different pickups in it later. I would say to forego the "Meaty MM Humbucker",, and just stick with the 2 jazz type pups. I find the carvin MM to be ok sounding,, but the problem is that no name brand Pup companies make them in that size.
  13. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    i just bought an older 6 string fretless carvin and i could not be happier. the only knock is the pre amp so i just bypass the onboard and use my handy dandy sadowsky pre. like butter i tell ya. everything else is on par with the big dawgs in my opinion. DEFINATELY buy used sice they dont hold resale value worth a poo. you can find em all day long for REALLY good prices. if you can get away from the bunny model and look for a regular one you will be in for quite an affordable treat
  14. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    Hello Myster Thumbs, welcome to TB. Get ready for a "whole lotta" free advice over the next few days :D !

    I think the best advice I could offer is to visit as many music stores as you can and play as many fivers as you can get your hands on BEFORE you buy anything. Play things in your price range, out of your price range, neck-thrus, bolt-ons, whatever you can find so you have a good basis for comparison. If possible, play them through a few different amps (cheap combos, high end combos, stacks, etc...) to see how they'll sound. Also, don't be afraid to check out used instruments as well.

    Regarding Carvins... As others have said, you'll find that most TBers are impressed with the looks, "fit & finish", and playability. Most of the arguments occur over the quality and sound of their pickups and electronics. Some have been pleased, others have been unimpressed and feel they are subpar compared to other offerings in the same price range. Peavey's Cirrus line is usually mentioned in comparison with Carvin because they are neck-thrus in the same (roughly) neighborhood pricewise, and both have a pretty loyal following. I purchased a Redwood Cirrus 5 last year. I had no intention of even picking it up because of the Peavey name, but once I did, I couldn't put it down. That's when I knew it was the bass for me. Tight B string that sounded and felt even with the rest of the strings, fast, low action, full, punchy tone, no EQ hiss, and a beautiful quilt top. I paid $1250 for mine.

    My issues with Carvin are few, but significant (at least for me). First, I want to play the bass before I plunk down $1000 or more (I know I can return it, but it's much easier to play the thing in a store and hang it back on the wall if it doesn't move me). Second, although I've never played a new one, the B strings on the used Carvin fivers I've tried have been a little too floppy for my tastes.

    Of course, that's just my opinion, which is worth about what you paid for it. ;)

    Peace (and good luck),

    - Frank.
  15. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Yeah, a 55-02 would rule as well.

    Hmmm... parallel universe. I started on trumpet when I was 8, switched to tuba in junior high and played it in high school and college, then switched to bass guitar right when I graduated from college. WEIRD.
  16. Welcome to talkbass,Thumbs! :)
  17. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Welcome to Talkbass!:)

    I'll also recommend the Peavey Cirrus or Lakland Skyline 55-02(or 55-01) over the Carvin.

    Carvin has beautiful woods, and great construction, but the electronics are not up to the standards of the Peavey or Lakland(which has Bartolini electronics).

    Also, the B string on the Lakland and Cirrus blow away the B on the Carvins, although I haven't played the new extended scale Carvins.
  18. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    a new cirrus and 55-02 are both above the 1g mark. a used carvin will run you prolly half that. is it half as good as the peavey. not by a long shot. i personally dislike the cirrus a great deal. the 55-02 on the other hand is a beast. at the price of any of the 3 basses new you can find just about anything on the used market. BUY USED!
  19. MacDaddy


    Jan 26, 2002
    Provo, UT, USA
    I guess I should comment on the subject. I am mainly an upright bass player. Have been playing for about 9 years now. I wanted to expand my horizons so I picked up Bass Guitar.
    I started talking to friends and what not. My brother is a big jazz drummer dude down in the great state of UT and has the opportunity to play with some really great bass players. I came into contact with a guy named Denson. This guy is a monster. (he goes by the name Bassius by the way) I noticed that he had a lot of Carvin audio gear and checked them out. I got his opinion, through my brother, on Carvin equipment and figured I'd order one and check it out (he has 3 Carvins, I believe).
    I have a LB70 with a very nice figured walnut top that is absolutly gorgeous. The sound kinda got to me though. I'm used to that thundering bass tone from my upright and thought the Carvin was kinda lacking in that field. Since then I've seriously pondered swapping out the pups for some Bartolini's which will hopefully help out the low end of the Carvin. In the mean time I play mostly above the octave, the bass really excels up there.
    I don't know exactly the price of the Bart pups but I'd assume you could buy the Carvin, swap out the pups for a reasonable price. I doubt you'll find any bass that has the workmanship and all-out beauty of the Carvin for a similar price. Carvin + Bartolini = Perfection, IMO.
  20. Hey Myster: Welcome!! Your story sounds like mine; you'll meet some great supporters and teachers here, and you will keep feeling great about playing again.

    Whatever bass you get, make sure it "fits" and feels like home. If you are excited about the bass, then practice will be even more exciting and you will look forward to it always. This has helped me tremendously, going from 20+ years of almost no playing to 1-2 hours per day of practice - just like when I was kid in the old R&B band!

    I was lucky and found a great deal on a used high-end bass; but if I was to start over again without that opportunity I would go for a Cirrus (FWIW).

    Cheers! Keep the groove going, man!

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