Carvin Bel Air. Anybody know much about these amps?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by divakaz, Aug 3, 2006.


  1. divakaz

    divakaz Member

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    I'm looking for a new amp for blues, fusion, rock and general all round playing. I have had a peavey classic 50 and 30, a randall rg50tc in recent times. I have never heard the Bel Air and wondering what it was like.
    Would it be a better choice over something like the new Epiphone blues custom?
     
  2. woude

    woude Member

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    I've played it a few times. It's ok on the clean channel, but the overdrive sounded very raspy and unmusical to me. The actual owner of the amp liked it a lot though, so maybe it's just me and my taste. The carvin certainly does blues, fusion and rock! I've never played the Epiphone custom.
     
  3. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Among others (I actually have two Carvin amps) I have a Carvin Vintage 33 which is to the Bel Air like the Peavey Classic 30 is to the Classic 60 I think.

    Personally, I think the cleans on the amp are phenominal. Also they "take pedals" well.

    As woude mentioned, the Lead channel....yuch. The overdrive is just too dark and EVEN though there is seperate EQ on each channel...I can't get mine to lighten up even with the bass at 0, and the trebly at 10, and playing with the mid...

    There are some mods I intend to do soon (I really don't use mine that much right now... but it is NICE to have! I lent mine to a big band guitarist in a bind, and he raved about it after!) and there is a Carvin Forum with more information and opinions than you can ever read...at
    http://www.carvin.com/carvinbbs under amps.

    I believe you can search there without signing in....LOTS of info.
    There is a mini-celeb named Hasserl who has worked out a series of mods for the Bel Air that from comments by others is WELL worth doing and can transform the amp (with regard to the Lead channel) into a really nice sounding beast. Not sure if he does them (I THINK he might) for a price.
     
  4. Monkeyboy23

    Monkeyboy23 Member

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    Great amp. The clean channel is lovely and the reverb is nice and smooth. Nicely built. I mostly use it as a single channel amp, clean with my pedals in front of it. Super for some country or blues or rock. IMO it spanks pretty much everything in it's price range.
     
  5. bluescube

    bluescube Supporting Member

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    The Bel-airs now come with Celestion Vintage30's.
     
  6. hasserl

    hasserl Member

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    I do mod the amps, and I sell kits for them. You can read about most of the mods here:
    http://www.geocities.com/rlhassebrock/nomaddioderemoval.html

    Note I have another set of mods for the lead channel of that amp that is not listed on that page, they involve changes to most all the resistors and capacitors in that channel and make an incredible transformation into a fire breathing tone machine (if I do say so myself).

    I agree with Stompboxblues description of the amp as is, it's pretty accurate. The Vintage 33 though is a bit different though the basic design is very close.

    My advice is to pickup a used amp, they are available on eBay frequently for a good discount off the new price, and mod it to the Stage II mods, and swap in a set of speakers. You'll end up with an amp that rivals the best of the big buck amps touted around here for a mere pitance in comparison.
     
  7. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    I had one for six months, bought it new @ the Hollywood Sunset Blvd store. Have to agree, the clean channel is real nice, the lead channel is anemic. I put some old Celestion G12H30 55hz cones in there and that tamed the lead channel raspiness quite a bit, but I could never dial in a lead tone that worked for me on that channel.

    I wound up putting together a TS-808, and some other pedals and just used the clean channel the whole time...the FX loop was cruddy, at best in mine (5 years ago now).

    I hear that an NOS tube and speaker upgrades (my H75's were mentioned on the Carvin site at one time, but they pulled that post I believe) make for a much better amp. And if the mods that hasserl has made/mentioned improve the tone, that would be an improvement, too.

    Ultimately I sold the amp, and got the Gibson Super Goldtone GA30-RV combo, which was a much better amp, but also cost over double what the Bel-Air cost. I still have a GA-30 RVH head, and donated the Goldtone combo to Macy Grays' music school in North Hollywood (the V30's in that combo got to my ears after awhile, replaced those, too).

    Good luck!
     
  8. SFW

    SFW Member

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    I had a Vintage 33.... and will own one again. If you put a dark speaker in it the amp smokes. I had a Celestion Silver 60 in mine. It tamed the highs on the lead channel. The only reason I got rid of the one I had was the need for quick cash. I've been searching for another one for a while now.
     
  9. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Hey! Hope you don't mind I referred to you as a "mini-celebrity", cause you know it was meant with respect.

    It was kind of a stupid thing to mention actually...but you have kinda become famous in certain circles for those great mods!
     
  10. Tallhorses

    Tallhorses Member

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    Great bang for the buck....Agree that the clean channel is nice and takes pedals well.
     
  11. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    For the price a very good amp, but the cab and speakers are terrible. I had a Holland 2x12 combo at the time and so I plugged the amp into those speakers and it sounded 4x better.
    So if you get one, I'd convert it to a head and get a 'real' 2x12 cab to go with it.
     
  12. Mwoodbro

    Mwoodbro Silver Supporting Member

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    Has anyone compared the Carvin Belair, or Nomad, to the Peavey Classic 30 or 50 amps? If so, what did you think/hear?
     
  13. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Again, the Vintage 33 is a lot like the Belair and Nomad I think.

    I have the Vintage 33 and I have a Classic 30.

    Overall, I'd say the Vintage cleans are much cleaner, somewhat thinner, more glassy tones. Of course, one can use EQ a little, but generally. The Classic 30 OD channel uses shared EQ with the clean "channel" but in my limited experience, they did a good job in that I can set the cleans to be nice (my first priority) and the OD channel sounds really good too. (It also has an extra boost button, but I never use it).

    I don't mean to imply the Classic 30 doesn't have a great clean, it is really nice. I can get a lot of different tones out of it, but I would say it is a little touch darker and fuller. The OD channel on the Classic 30 is really nice, as I said upstream...unless you do Hasserls' mods, the distortion channel (EVEN with it's own tone stack EQ) is too dark...the classic "sounds like it is under a blanket" sound..and I sure haven't been able to dial it out. An EQ pedal in front of the Vintage helps a lot...but still.

    Other than that, I would say the reverb on the Classic is a good deal better than on the Carvin. At least dialing it in well is much easier.

    Personally I am glad I have both, I am going to do Hasserls mods on the Vintage, and also try a few of my own, and use it as a "learning tool" amp.

    The Classic 30 is a really nice amp for the money, and I have been very happy with it. The only thing..it only has a 16ohm tap for the external speakers. May or not be a problem. The Vintage 33 (at least my version) only has two different outputs for speaker (the combo speaker is plugged into one of them...has to be unplugged if you use a cabinet) one which is 8 ohm one which is 4 ohm. You can use one OR the other, but not both at the same time.

    The Carvin's tweed look is nice. If they had just done better on the tone in the dist., otherwise I think Carvin really does it right on their amps, with sperate EQ, footswitchable channel AND reverb, not sure now 100% on the vintage but on the MTS3212 I have the LED shows you which channel you are on (in case you set them fairly close sonicly)...things like that.
     
  14. hasserl

    hasserl Member

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    No offense taken! :) :AOK
     

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