• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

Carvin guitars, compared to Fender and G & L

bluegrif

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,093
While I've been aware of the quality of Carvin build quality forever, I was never interested when the majority of models were neck-through, super strat types. And you used to be stuck with one neck profile and fingerboard radius. Neither of which suited me. All that has changed with the addition of set neck models and more neck options.
Actually, the model that has grabbed my attention more than any other is the HH2. As a player who's done a lot of touring by air, I can see a big upside. I could stick two of those in a bag that would fit in the overhead just fine. I've never really liked the style of most headless designs, but the Carvin looks really nice. And since it can now be ordered with my preferred neck profile and radius, it's hard to imagine any serious drawback. it's definitely an option I'm exploring.
 

sleep

Member
Messages
3,186
I would say, no style. That's the problem. They don't have their own visual identity like Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, Martin, G&L, etc. Lots of their guitars have wild finishes and are bling'd out as hell, but to me, they are tacky and not aesthetically pleasing. (I know this is subjective). The plain Jane models are just 'meh' looking. The body styles leave a lot to be desired.
Their website is all over the place and in need of a redesign, too.
Agreed. Everything they make is a cheaper but flashier version of something else (except the Holdsworth). They've recently ripped off the PRS headstock shamelessly.

Once they hit the used market they have little value because they aren't what they pretend to be, much like other copy guitars. It's a "well, it's like a strat or Les Paul", but it isn't, and the tops are trying way too hard.

I've owned a few Carvins over the years, mainly through trades, and I've never, ever been inspired to buy one. The G&Ls (two) I've had were both great guitars. I would definitely choose G&L over Carvin.
 

bluegrif

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,093
Agreed. Everything they make is a cheaper but flashier version of something else (except the Holdsworth). They've recently ripped off the PRS headstock shamelessly.

Once they hit the used market they have little value because they aren't what they pretend to be, much like other copy guitars. It's a "well, it's like a strat or Les Paul", but it isn't, and the tops are trying way too hard.
Sorry but I can't really agree with this at all. Not that I've had experience with the guitars themselves. Regarding the quality I defer to those who've owned them and most find the quality excellent, though many complain about the electronics (and I understand they've improved that in recent years).

I don't see Carvin as ripping off anyone's designs any more than the majority of manufacturers. Why is it that builders of nearly exact replica Strats, Teles and the like are revered, and a company like this that does indeed actually design their own guitars is dismissed as pretending to be something it's not. Sorry but I just don't see it. On their set neck guitars, Carvin does use a design somewhat similar to PRS, but hardly a blatant rip off. It's similar in that it's going for straight string pull, but that's about it. I would agree the solid body set necks are similar to PRS guitars, but so are a bunch of others including many almost universally respected builders. I'm always seeing an ad for some fancy topped boutique guitar and my first thought is, "that looks like a PRS".

I'm not a Carvin partisan by any means. As I said, I've never owned one. But to call them a cheap copy guitar seems a pretty unfair characterization. I don't see how they're either.
 
Messages
873
I think most people (me included) who like Carvins appreciate them for what they are, which they kind of have their own thing going on.

If your looking for a Strat, Les Paul, or tele, then Carvin is not a road you need to go down.

I own or have owned every traditional style guitar ever wanted, so I'm not in the market for standard stuff anymore. I've got specific needs/wants when I get a guitar nowadays, and I can't get exactly what I want off the shelf. On the other side, I can't pay 4k for a guitar. Carvin provides a perfect market for someone like me.
 

Evo5150

Senior Member
Messages
1,102
I owned one, a DC127, I think. Two hum buckers that could be split into single coils, neck through, it was a beautiful guitar. I thought it would he the guitar that would do it all.

It didn't do anything well. There's a reason why people buy Fenders and not Carvins, and it's not because people don't know what's best for them.

I can't think of any Carvin I'd take over basically any Fender or G&L equivalent.

All style, no substance... that's Carvin. And I didn't want to believe that...

I've had five Carvins, and I'd put them up against an American Fender any day. Yeah, there's a reason people buy Fenders not Carvins; they're susceptible to marketing and salesmen at GC.

I'm not saying Fender isn't a good guitar, but to say they're superior to Carvin in some obscure way you've not quantified is silly.
 

bluegrif

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,093
I think most people (me included) who like Carvins appreciate them for what they are, which they kind of have their own thing going on. If your looking for a Strat, Les Paul, or tele, then Carvin is not a road you need to go down. I own or have owned every traditional style guitar ever wanted, so I'm not in the market for standard stuff anymore. I've got specific needs/wants when I get a guitar nowadays, and I can't get exactly what I want off the shelf. On the other side, I can't pay 4k for a guitar. Carvin provides a perfect market for someone like me.
I'd like to see people get over comparing everything to Gibson and Fender. Okay, I get it. All the players you grew up admiring mostly played those two brands. But guess what. At the time, there really weren't all that many quality brands to choose from. Hey, I'm not a rock guy but my influences mostly played those brands as well, when they could afford them. If you wanted a quality electric in the 50s and 60s you had those 2, plus Gretsch, Guild, and Ric (and Epiphone, but those were Gibsons after 57). My Dad's generation considered most other production guitars to be junk, played by hobbyists or musicians who couldn't afford better. Today there's a huge number of excellent companies, both large and small. Many very consciously set out to produce guitars that sound like Fenders and Gibsons, but some do not. Every time I read that such and such guitar has "no mojo" or sounds "sterile" I often feel what's really being said is, "doesn't sound like a Fender or a Gibson". I love fenders and Gibsons too, and usually have at least one of each. But I also like guitars that are different than those two. And I'm not into Gretsches or Rics at all. Different is good. Different keeps things interesting.
 

Evo5150

Senior Member
Messages
1,102
I'd like to see people get over comparing everything to Gibson and Fender. Okay, I get it. All the players you grew up admiring mostly played those two brands. But guess what. At the time, there really weren't all that many quality brands to choose from. Hey, I'm not a rock guy but my influences mostly played those brands as well, when they could afford them. If you wanted a quality electric in the 50s and 60s you had those 2, plus Gretsch, Guild, and Ric (and Epiphone, but those were Gibsons after 57). My Dad's generation considered most other production guitars to be junk, played by hobbyists or musicians who couldn't afford better. Today there's a huge number of excellent companies, both large and small. Many very consciously set out to produce guitars that sound like Fenders and Gibsons, but some do not. Every time I read that such and such guitar has "no mojo" or sounds "sterile" I often feel what's really being said is, "doesn't sound like a Fender or a Gibson". I love fenders and Gibsons too, and usually have at least one of each. But I also like guitars that are different than those two. And I'm not into Gretsches or Rics at all. Different is good. Different keeps things interesting.

Very well put.
 

Floyd Eye

Senior Member
Messages
13,838
The TL60 is not supposed to sound like a Tele and I have heard no one, including Carvin, make such a claim. I own or have owned a lot of nice vintage Gibsons and Fenders. Never have I played a guitar with a neck even close to as nice as the neck on my TL60.

Even after wading through hordes of American Teles, the one I bought can't touch that Carvin in playability. It sounds exactly like a Tele should though. I paid about half as much for the Carvin.

On a side note, you couldn't give me a Carvin speaker cabinet and I ain't too fond of any of their amps either.
 

sleep

Member
Messages
3,186
Sorry but I can't really agree with this at all. Not that I've had experience with the guitars themselves. Regarding the quality I defer to those who've owned them and most find the quality excellent, though many complain about the electronics (and I understand they've improved that in recent years).

I don't see Carvin as ripping off anyone's designs any more than the majority of manufacturers. Why is it that builders of nearly exact replica Strats, Teles and the like are revered, and a company like this that does indeed actually design their own guitars is dismissed as pretending to be something it's not. Sorry but I just don't see it. On their set neck guitars, Carvin does use a design somewhat similar to PRS, but hardly a blatant rip off. It's similar in that it's going for straight string pull, but that's about it. I would agree the solid body set necks are similar to PRS guitars, but so are a bunch of others including many almost universally respected builders. I'm always seeing an ad for some fancy topped boutique guitar and my first thought is, "that looks like a PRS".

I'm not a Carvin partisan by any means. As I said, I've never owned one. But to call them a cheap copy guitar seems a pretty unfair characterization. I don't see how they're either.
I'm one of few, apparently, who has no reverence at all for any of the copy builders. It's lame no matter who does it, and because it's legal doesn't make it cool IMO. If Fender and Gibson had been allowed to patent those specific body shapes, the guitar world would be a lot less boring today and builders would have to sell on what they can do, not who they can copy.

Carvin had an identity at one point; their early guitars (sixties/seventies) are cool if weird, there is one particular bass/guitar double neck that is really cool. But once they hit the eighties, it was over for originality. They aren't a copy builder the way Yaron is, they just don't try too hard.

The X220? A flipped over and distorted ML.

The Ultra V? A flipped over Rhoads V.

A variety of Jacksonesque superstrats.

Now some stuff that looks like a combo ESP/Gibson hybrid copy and some PRS looking stuff.

That sums up their creativity to me. They react to styles, but they don't have any of their own... just fancy tops. I think they do make high quality products, but they are just... boring, and they make up for that with the tops.

If anyone wants people to "get over" comparing Carvin to other brands, Carvin should spend some time designing appealing, non-derivative guitars, which they've shown they can do with the Holdsworth, but nothing else.
 

celticelk

Member
Messages
2,056
Lots of their guitars have wild finishes and are bling'd out as hell, but to me, they are tacky and not aesthetically pleasing. (I know this is subjective).
Since Carvin's model is "build to order," I think you have to blame the customers for that to a large extent. Lots of guitarists have really bad ideas about what makes for a good-looking guitar, IMO.
 

Evo5150

Senior Member
Messages
1,102
I'm one of few, apparently, who has no reverence at all for any of the copy builders. It's lame no matter who does it, and because it's legal doesn't make it cool IMO. If Fender and Gibson had been allowed to patent those specific body shapes, the guitar world would be a lot less boring today and builders would have to sell on what they can do, not who they can copy.

Carvin had an identity at one point; their early guitars (sixties/seventies) are cool if weird, there is one particular bass/guitar double neck that is really cool. But once they hit the eighties, it was over for originality. They aren't a copy builder the way Yaron is, they just don't try too hard.

The X220? A flipped over and distorted ML.

The Ultra V? A flipped over Rhoads V.

A variety of Jacksonesque superstrats.

Now some stuff that looks like a combo ESP/Gibson hybrid copy and some PRS looking stuff.

That sums up their creativity to me. They react to styles, but they don't have any of their own... just fancy tops. I think they do make high quality products, but they are just... boring, and they make up for that with the tops.

If anyone wants people to "get over" comparing Carvin to other brands, Carvin should spend some time designing appealing, non-derivative guitars, which they've shown they can do with the Holdsworth, but nothing else.

There are only so many ways to make a guitar. Everything is going to be derivative to an extent, unless they make the shape completely odd, just to be different. At that point, you run the risk of turning people off because it's too different.

In the end, Carvin (and every other company) makes what customers want. They wouldn't have reissued their V, if people weren't asking for it.

If anything, Gibson and Fender are derivative of themselves, because they rarely come up with anything new that's worthwhile, and generally just stick to 50 year old designs. There's nothing wrong with that, if that's what people want to buy, and they do.
 

MONSTER ZERO

Member
Messages
1,856
I've never played a Carvin that struck me as a really fine instrument. They always seemed to be in the "Peavy" quality range.

Since their resale value is so low, how many here would rather buy a used Carvin, instead of a used Fender or G & L?
HAHA!! What? I'm not really a big Carvin fan ( I did own a DC127) but every single Carvin I've ever laid my hands on was a high quality instrument.

Peavey BTW does make some excellent guitars. They make some crap ones too but I owned a pair of EXP Specials that were Korean made and they were great guitars.

Now to your question. I'd always choose a Fender over anything because they are my favorite guitars but that other stuff is crazy talk.
 

sleep

Member
Messages
3,186
There are only so many ways to make a guitar. Everything is going to be derivative to an extent, unless they make the shape completely odd, just to be different. At that point, you run the risk of turning people off because it's too different.

In the end, Carvin (and every other company) makes what customers want. They wouldn't have reissued their V, if people weren't asking for it.

If anything, Gibson and Fender are derivative of themselves, because they rarely come up with anything new that's worthwhile, and generally just stick to 50 year old designs. There's nothing wrong with that, if that's what people want to buy, and they do.
I disagree, I just think that because it's so easy to do what's already been done few people are trying anything new.

Gibson and Fender are derivative of themselves, but they have the right to be; if they want to turn themselves into antique furniture reproduction companies (like they are) that's literally their business.

If guitar sales are slow now (see many other threads), maybe it's because the companies aren't making what people want, and the market for derivative guitars is saturated at the high and low end. Maybe people don't even know what they want because so few makers have any new ideas to try.

When you're sitting down, the guitar body generally contacts you at two points that mean anything to how the guitar is used; the waist of the guitar and where your picking arm is (and I guess the back, so 3 points). When you're standing up, it's the back of the guitar and where your picking arm is. There are endless design variations within that constraint that could be both functional and beautiful... but designing something like that is a lot harder than copying a strat body.
 
Last edited:

Stinky Kitty

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,331
I've been buying/selling guitars for 35 years and have bought/sold many Carvins in that time frame. Their depreciation is average, and usually only approaches the :mad: level when you're trying to unload a highly customized instrument, especially if you went way off the grid in creating it. There isn't a huge market for Tele-shaped, humbucker guitars with a Holdsworth headstock.

What really makes me chuckle are some Warmoth owners, who will list the details of their builds and then attempt to recover 90% of it on eBay. Credit to those who understand the market and price their pre-owned builds accordingly. It's comical to see someone declare their Warmoth cost $2000 to build, compare 'em to Anderson, Suhr and Tyler and thus it has to be worth $1800 used. They lanquish on that site for months with no bites whatsoever.

As for made-in-the-USA Peaveys, ain't nothing wrong with them. Solid guitars, especially the HP series which were built after Eddie left.
 

Larry Mal

Member
Messages
1,751
I've had five Carvins, and I'd put them up against an American Fender any day. Yeah, there's a reason people buy Fenders not Carvins; they're susceptible to marketing and salesmen at GC.

I'm not saying Fender isn't a good guitar, but to say they're superior to Carvin in some obscure way you've not quantified is silly.
"Superior" is a pretty vague term, and it doesn't really mean anything at all when it comes to guitar, does it? Say what you will, but ultimately it's about the sound, and the sound of the electric guitar, in the minds of the general public as well as to the vast majority of guitar players, is not Carvin.

I remember back in the day that Carvins were arguably "better" in construction than Fenders were, I mean, I still remember getting those catalogs Carvin sent out and tearing through them. I read all the literature, drooled over all those pictures, and selected my specific things I wanted my guitar to have. I bought a Carvin. I mean, when I look back on it, the only marketing I really was susceptible was from Carvin: I saw the ad in a guitar magazine, I had a catalog sent out, I read about why they considered their guitar to be better, and it all made sense. I read about Timothy B. Schmidt, and Steve Vai. I read about neck-through and how cutting out the middleman meant that I was going to get a better guitar. Oh, I know about Carvin's marketing... they hardly don't market their product, you know? I bet there's an ad in like, every guitar magazine that's on the shelves right now.

I even bought a Carvin amp, for the love of God. I had the guitar and the amp!

Neither any good. Like I say, I wanted to believe that there were better things out there than what they big boys were forcing on us, I was leery of tradition, I didn't need to play the guitar that Eric Clapton played. I was no chump.

I just didn't like my guitar. It didn't have identity. It didn't have a particularly good, individual or interesting sound. I soon picked up a Jazzmaster, and that was the end of my Carvin. My Jazzmaster had all that... the Carvin was just a bunch of hype and gloss.

Pretty guitar, though. Well made. I'd kind of like to have it back, for nostalgia if nothing else. I just didn't like the way it sounded. It didn't sound like anything. Maybe it was the electronics, people here are sure bad mouthing them.

Regardless, though, Fender and Gibson certainly do advertise, but the fact is they are guitars in the minds of most people. They almost don't need to. When you go out to buy a guitar, you'll not know a lot about them, so you'll pick the one that a guitarist you like plays. Why would you not do that? I can't think of a single good reason not to do that. Like, you like Led Zeppelin, you'd be happy to sound and play in a similar way to Jimmy Page, so you're going to buy a completely different guitar than what he plays? You must know that's not what anyone does. I'd bet that you didn't do that. I didn't do that... I bought a Squire 2 Stratocaster as my first guitar. Absolute garbage, and then I learned to kind of think for myself.

And then I learned that thinking for myself wasn't working out either, because it led me to buying a Carvin. I later just got lucky stumbling across the guitar that would change my life.
 
Last edited:

MONSTER ZERO

Member
Messages
1,856
I've been buying/selling guitars for 35 years and have bought/sold many Carvins in that time frame. Their depreciation is average, and usually only approaches the :mad: level when you're trying to unload a highly customized instrument, especially if you went way off the grid in creating it. There isn't a huge market for Tele-shaped, humbucker guitars with a Holdsworth headstock.

What really makes me chuckle are some Warmoth owners, who will list the details of their builds and then attempt to recover 90% of it on eBay. Credit to those who understand the market and price their pre-owned builds accordingly. It's comical to see someone declare their Warmoth cost $2000 to build, compare 'em to Anderson, Suhr and Tyler and thus it has to be worth $1800 used. They lanquish on that site for months with no bites whatsoever.

As for made-in-the-USA Peaveys, ain't nothing wrong with them. Solid guitars, especially the HP series which were built after Eddie left.
Bingo on the Custom Warmouth jobbies. I always have a chuckle when I see people asking $1500+ for a guitar that has very little re-sale value.

After I had a bunch of my stuff stolen I decided to buy only cheapy guitars and upgrade them myself. I have a bunch of em now and probably always will because I realize I'm not gonna get half of what I've got into them if I sell them but that's ok with me because they are all players and so am I.

I have one guitar that might fetch me north of 1K and that's it. The rest I'll just keep on tweaking to my liking and playing them when I can.

I did make a good profit on my DC127 when I sold it but that's because I got lucky on a craigslist deal and got the Carvin for 200 cash. Sold it for 500 to a guy that never even played on it once.
 

AdmiralB

Member
Messages
3,060
I've been buying/selling guitars for 35 years and have bought/sold many Carvins in that time frame. Their depreciation is average, and usually only approaches the :mad: level when you're trying to unload a highly customized instrument, especially if you went way off the grid in creating it.
Yep. They start out cheaper, so they end up cheaper. As a percentage of new cost, I agree, it's average.

I've owned two Carvins - an LB70 and an oiled koa DC135, both from the mid '90s. The bass went to a friend who's still playing it, and the koa...I don't remember where it went, but I wish I still had it.

I recently tried to buy a Bolt, but sent two of them back after paying the $100 upcharge for 'light weight' and getting boat anchors. I'd love to buy a new Carvin, but their feature set - expansive though it is - doesn't really have what I'm after.
 

goldtone

Member
Messages
513
"I just didn't like the way it sounded. It didn't sound like anything."

What were you expecting it to sound like?
 

Evo5150

Senior Member
Messages
1,102
I disagree, I just think that because it's so easy to do what's already been done few people are trying anything new.

Gibson and Fender are derivative of themselves, but they have the right to be; if they want to turn themselves into antique furniture reproduction companies (like they are) that's literally their business.

If guitar sales are slow now (see many other threads), maybe it's because the companies aren't making what people want, and the market for derivative guitars is saturated at the high and low end. Maybe people don't even know what they want because so few makers have any new ideas to try.

When you're sitting down, the guitar body generally contacts you at two points that mean anything to how the guitar is used; the waist of the guitar and where your picking arm is (and I guess the back, so 3 points). When you're standing up, it's the back of the guitar and where your picking arm is. There are endless design variations within that constraint that could be both functional and beautiful... but designing something like that is a lot harder than copying a strat body.

Designing something like that, AND having it be something people will buy because it's still an attractive guitar is difficult. That's why nearly everything on the market is a derivative of one of a handful of shapes; not just Carvin.

I'm not even sure what Carvin has to do with any of this in particular at this point. Every manufacturer does this. Schecter, Ibanez, Suhr, Jackson, etc.
 






Trending Topics

Top Bottom