Jump to content
Hamer Fan Club Message Center

Carvin Guitars--what's the REAL story?


Recommended Posts

I been looking at the Carvin Guitar website, and the guitars they have displayed are very nice. But after doing some research, it seems there are either Carvin lovers or Carvin haters.

Does anyone have any first-hand experience with them?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 63
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

what's up w/ companies making a sexy product like an electric guitar and then naming it like its an air filter? ibanez is bad about that too, my newer guitar is called something like RGEX$@#EHFM...

I don't like Carvins because I think I recall seeing on the Internet that they were built by Oompa-Loompas in sweatshop conditions. That would explain the tone issues, but I kind of doubt it, as Veru

The common denominator in all of the Carvins I've detested over the years were those 22 pole pickups. Horrible.

Yes. Basses are ok, but not for me. Every time I've played in a band win a guitarist using a Carvin, they were the worst sounding guitars Ive ever heard. Maybe the new ones are better, but used to be I could close my eyes and when I heard a lousy sounding guitar, I would know it was a Carvin. Ugh. Put me in the. 'Much hate' category, just below Heritages. ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've played a couple, including a vintage V220, a custom-made bass and a custom-made DC-something.

IMHO, those are great player instruments. They are really well crafted and offer a good quality/price ratio. Some even dare to say their necks are the best on the market, and while I'm not enough experienced to evaluate them fairly, I do think they feel and play awesomely.

PS: Considering buying one? A colleague had one green DC some months ago FS. Great guitar, in mint condition (I tried it myself). I can ask him if it's still available.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't played a Carvin since the late 80's, (yeah I am THAT old). Back then they were really ugly designs, they kinda wanted to be cool metal guitars - but they looked just the opposite. And, as Serial says, they sounded like crap and they felt cheap. As I understand the quality has been improved and they have moved towards more traditional designs.

Still, a brand I consider as unsexy as say Ibanez (or PRS even if they most certainly are very good guitars). They have extremely ugly headstocks too. Just not for me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The common denominator in all of the Carvins I've detested over the years were those 22 pole pickups. Horrible.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I kinda liked Carvin's pickups.

I had a self-build (not built by me) Bolt that rocked, still regret selling.

I also had a cherry burst bolt with an ebony fretboard that I still regret selling.

But I picked up a few older Carvins from eBay at good prices, and they were all falling apart. Compared to "can buy with confidence" you get from built-like-a-tank used Hamers, I just gave up on them. The ones that were in new condition all seemed slightly overpriced when compared to other decent quality used guitars like Peavey Vandenbergs, Alvarezes, Westones, etc, that are all slightly less quality than Hamer, but much less expensive.

So if I had $500 to spend, I'd rather sniff out a few used Yamahas or Westones, or wait around for a beat-up appearance but functionally flawless Hamer USA shredder than a used Carvin.

If I had $1000+ to spend, I'd rather wait around for a pretty much mint Hamer USA or get a brand new Jon Kammerer guitar than a new Carvin.

But I'd jump on a $300 mint Carvin if someone angry woman was selling her ex-'s guitars in a revenge sale.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I"m looking for a new semi-hollow, and I am considering a Carvin SH or having a Heritage H555 custom made.

Put me in the. 'Much hate' category, just below Heritages.

What makes you hate Heritage so much?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had one of the older SH models (Actually 2 of them----SH-225, IIRC)-----An early attempt to offer a "335" vibe. Very nice guitar. Hard to find these days. But for some reason I never quite bonded with it.

The new ones look nice and well made. I would definitely try to find one to try out before shelling out that much.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never played one (and I don't even hate the headstocks) that was anywhere close to the hype. Decent guitars? Sure, but not great and miles below the Gibson Historics or Hamer stuff I've owned.

Most of them are butt ugly IMHO as well-too close to classic shapes but made just a little different in all of the wrong ways.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the workmanship is nice... if you ever open the back, they have little countersunk standoffs under the backplate...

and the wiring is nice and clean... just never thought that workmanship transferred over when you plug the guitar in.

probably the pickups, but I also think it's the combinations of wood, and maybe some of the designs...I just find them

very sterile, not warm at all...

also, they sell direct, which I think they don't get feedback from retail about stuff, like their pickups are awful... but I'm

sure its a profit center for them or else they wouldn't keep doing it. .

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sterile----THAT was the word I was looking for.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The common denominator in all of the Carvins I've detested over the years were those 22 pole pickups. Horrible.

This/\

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had a few Carvin basses, and I've always unloaded them. Dave L nailed it when he said 'sterile' - somehow the Carvins just don't define themselves.

I did luck out with a DC127 once, great player and good tone (in a nasty way). But it didn't last either.

Carvin's World Domination Headquarters are just up the road from where I live.

I've tried many of their instruments at one time or another and they are well built, and comfortable to play, but nothing jumps out.

If you're looking for a 335-style guitar, take a look at an Eastman.

I have one of their jazz archtops and it's wonderful! These are serious instruments.

http://www.eastmanguitars.com/thinline-electrics/

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only played enough (less than a handful) to put me in the "meh" camp. Not dreadful, but not in the least bit interesting. Hated the sound, but figured that could be tweaked with pup changes, etc. Never found one I liked enough to bother trying, though. I know at this point I never will, 'cause even if I see one now, I have no intention of picking it up to try...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have owned six or seven of them. Serial's take on the pickups is spot on. I do, however, have a killer blonde California Carved Top CT-6 that I stole on another forum about five years ago. I intended to swap the pickups upon arrival, but the previous owner said he had them wind his pickups with Alnico II magnets. It's the warmest and round sounding of all the Carvins I've owned or played. Coil taps are, however, worthless (too weak).

More important than the pickups having a "healthy amount of suck (thanks, Kiz)" is the horrible resale value.

It's the one on the left....the other two were "dumb-blondes". Great to look at, but no personality!

TheFamilyOne.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, you guys are rough :P I love them. I have 2 right now and looking to buy more. The quality is awesome and I love the C22B and M22SD bridge pickups. The M22T is lifeless and sterile and that use to be their basic pickup for many years in the bridge starting in the 90`s sometime. Now the C22B is and the M22SD is very hot. I love most everything about them. My favorite are the older set neck, all maple 24.75 scale ones and I have 2 of them. A DC125C from 1987 and a DC135C from 1989. That M22T pickup was so horrible I almost thought the guitars were horrible until you change out that nasty pickup. I am ordering a new DC125C soon with the "ST" strat body option. But as I always say, to each their own and I love many different guitars including Hamer and Jackson and a very good LP as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a DC400A Walnut. It was a fantastic guitar. It had a Holdsworth headstock, P-Rails, and jumbo SS frets. Played fantastic. Very comfortable body with the rounded edges. Played very balanced. It had a Wilkinson which I didn't like. The switching in the P-Rails didn't really seem to do much in either passive or active mode. I sold it because I needed to get rid of some guitars and I didn't like the Wilkinson. If it had a TOM on it, I'd have kept it - probably. Always felt like the PU switching/tapping should have had a more dramatic change. It was all wired correctly. Maybe it was the fundamental of the neck through blasting through everything. Great funky cleans in spite of its shredder heritage.

I have a Carvin 6 string fretless bass. Fantastic guitar. Great mwah. Good pickups. It is natural finished and has a really classic, subtle look.

I don't know why folks don't like them. I am not a very boutique guy. And I think in many ways, Carvins' are anti-boutique.

I think one reason folks don't like them is they marketed in the "if you can't afford what you want, get a Carvin for less" type of position for many years. I think the new basses Carvin sells may be changing that as folks now get Carvins to get those particular models (SB and Icon).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm about 15 miles from their factory and have never felt the slightest urge to go check it out. I've never played one, yet don't feel like I'm missing anything.

They may be great guitars, but nothing in their branding/marketing has ever made me want to find out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm about 15 miles from their factory and have never felt the slightest urge to go check it out. I've never played one, yet don't feel like I'm missing anything.

They may be great guitars, but nothing in their branding/marketing has ever made me want to find out.

Yes. I do owe it to myself to try one or a few. I like the made-in-USA angle, the fact that they kind of do their own thing. But the website is hideous. 3D type, explosions, hype like the "rapid play neck assures the best possible string action..." all add up to an "as seen on TV, act now, not sold in stores" vibe that scares me away. I know this is about the guitars not their marketing but their image isn't very appealing to me. Compare to the Hamer site or the Suhr site, which come across as quietly high quality. But I'm old fashioned.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had one of the older SH models (Actually 2 of them----SH-225, IIRC)-----An early attempt to offer a "335" vibe. Very nice guitar. Hard to find these days. But for some reason I never quite bonded with it.

The new ones look nice and well made. I would definitely try to find one to try out before shelling out that much.

If I'm not mistaken, the older semi-hollowbody Carvins were license-built by Hofner in Germany. The electronics and setup was done in CA.

Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was growing up, Carvin had the biggest, free catalog available. Always thought that was cool. When they came out with the Bolt (S-type) Hardtail, I loved the fact that they put a switch in to allow all pup configurations. When they began making them out of ash, I ordered one.. it's still, the best, most brashest, vocal piece of ash I've played. Also, the most uncomfortable neck profile I've played - should have been called the 'Wide and Flat' profile. It will never feel like an old guitar. However, the neck is pretty vibrant as well. At the time they were touting dual graphite bars imbedded in the neck.. it's fuzzy now.. might have been the truss rod itself.. at any rate, it's loud unplugged with great character and attitude plugged in. And.. of all the guitars I own, even those before I got the Bolt.. the Bolt shows the most wear on the frets of any guitar I own.

The stock pups did not last 24 hours.. and they use 500K pots for their single coils, so it was a whole new harness to swap them out.

Seems like I remember something about their humbucker mounting rings being a non-standard size? You have to replace them anyway if you change to traditional pups, but I want to say the screw spacing is different?

Don't think I'd ever go new, but you see them pretty cheap every so often on the Craig's.. and it's always fun to play something different.

We have way too many choices

Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a AE-185 12 string.. Kinda Carvin's take on a 12 string duotone. Every now and then get the 12 string itch, play 'em for about a month and then they sit. It wasn't a bad guitar, used it more on the piezo pickup more than anything. The only true pawnshop score I ever got. Paid $200 or so for it, flipped it when the economy was at it's strong point for $600.

PICT0122_zpsb10bc700.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

The M22SD was a good pickup - great sound...to me anyway.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The N/Ts they pushed in the catalogs back in the day were great players under my hands, but sounded tinny/thinny. No go for me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


×
×
  • Create New...