I've never tried one...are Carvin amps any good?

Swarty

Member
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1,130
Depends on who you ask. Build quality-wise they are like other amps in their price range. There is a Belaire in our church's youth room that is capable of some very nice tone.
 

bilbal

Member
Messages
8,485
A buddy of mine bought one of the MTS Series heads. It's loud with PLENTY of headroom but tends to be on the bright side and piercingly loud when in front of it. If you are off to the side so the speakers aren't projecting directly at you, it's better but still not full of a whole lotta tone. I have no idea what he paid for it or what the going price is for them, I hope it's not a lot because IMO the amp doesn't offer much. Remember fellas, before the flame wars start, I said IMO!!! If you have one and enjoy it - that's all that should count. Certainly don't make any decisions merely on what I have said.
 

jjasilli

Member
Messages
100
They sound good. But I have a friend who owns 2 Nomads and a Belair. One of the Nomads is fine. The other 2 amps have intermittent noise issues which defy repeated attempts at repair. Not a great average.
 

hasserl

Member
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4,708
Depends on who you ask. Build quality-wise they are like other amps in their price range. There is a Belaire in our church's youth room that is capable of some very nice tone.

What he said, build quality is on par with other mass produced brands. And as design & production of more amps move to China Carvin's will be one of he better built. They are made in San Diego CA, BTW. Good quality, easy to service; sound quality as always is subjective.

They sound good. But I have a friend who owns 2 Nomads and a Belair. One of the Nomads is fine. The other 2 amps have intermittent noise issues which defy repeated attempts at repair. Not a great average.

Typical for these amps is corrosion of the FX loop jacks. Give them a good cleaning and that will likely take care of the problem. But I've found a few with problematic connectors for that loop harness at the pcb. Replacing the harness has cured the problem on most. You could have your buddy contact me if he wants more help, I've been inside more Carvin amps than anyone outside of Carvin, and probably more than most there. The Nomad and BelAir amps are my specialty. (sorry for the plug, just trying to help).
 

PremiumPlus

Member
Messages
1,150
Hasserl, then you might be interested in this. I put a straight Fender tone stack in my BelAir because I didn't like the way the Carvin was voiced, and then I made a big mistake; I traded the amp for a new ASAT Special. I think I'm going to buy another BelAir one of these days. I'm not kidding, it sounded absolutely great! And the conversion was really easy, you just take out the pots, put in the right values (Super Reverb stack), I think I had to cut a trace on the board, it's been a while...but it really made that amp sing. I'm missing it. The overdrive voicing and the cleans were both real nice.
 

mge80

Member
Messages
12,483
hasserl turned my BelAir into the equivalent of anything out there in it's class. Bar none. This is the one amp I will never part with under any circumstances.
 

guitarist58

Member
Messages
6,005
I gigged with an X-60 1-12 combo back in the early 90's and have played my friend's BelAir several times (with a band at "band volume"). I really liked the old X-60 and like the cleans on my friends BelAir. Didn't care for the overdrive, just used pedals instead. My friend is mainly a bass player and has quite a bit of Carvin gear. Pretty good reliability with all. Of their current amps I hear the Vai model ("Legacy" maybe?) praised quite a bit, fwiw.
 

GearHeadFred

Member
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1,639
I live 5 miles from the Carvin factory.. Have owned many Carvin amps over the years.. X100B, X60, Belair.. I have since traded/sold them all. They are well built amps. In my opinion, they have their own voice - aka, they don't sound like a Fender, Marshall, Boogie, etc.. Doesn't mean they sound bad, though.

One thing to keep in mind.. Since Carvin sells direct, bypassing retailers, you will never hear a kind word about them from anyone in the retail music business.
 

hasserl

Member
Messages
4,708
Hasserl, then you might be interested in this. I put a straight Fender tone stack in my BelAir because I didn't like the way the Carvin was voiced, and then I made a big mistake; I traded the amp for a new ASAT Special. I think I'm going to buy another BelAir one of these days. I'm not kidding, it sounded absolutely great! And the conversion was really easy, you just take out the pots, put in the right values (Super Reverb stack), I think I had to cut a trace on the board, it's been a while...but it really made that amp sing. I'm missing it. The overdrive voicing and the cleans were both real nice.

Yeah, Carvin uses a Baxandall tone stack, which works a bit different than the typical Fender Marshall stack. Other companies, like Ampeg, used them also. It's not a bad stack, just operates differently. One of my standard mods for these amps is to change some of the resistors and caps in the tone stack to voice it more as I like it to be. There's a few other tricks I do to them also and they come out really nice. See mge80's reply below. Get em set up right and they sound very, very good.
 

RyanPitch

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
384
I have been a fan of the x100b head and, over the years, have owned 5 of them. I still own my favorite one, one of the script logo (I believe ~1985) EL34 versions. Or heck, maybe it was a 6L6 at one time, but by the time I picked it up in 2002, it was an EL34 and I like it that way.

In my opinion, it sounds different and better than all of the 6L6 versions of the head. And I'm not talking about "you have to crank it to really hear the difference in the tubes that I'm talking about" kind of way. I mean, it's obvious at any volume.

The weird thing that I've experienced: on more than one head, I've had the same exact problem with the XLR footswitch jack in the back. The thing has sketchy connectivity. So I'd re-solder the XLR end of the footswitch. Didn't work. I'd replace the XLR end of the footswitch. Better, but problem not completely solved. I've opened the chassis and reinstalled a new XLR connector in the amp. *Still* better, but problem not totally solved. I am an electrical engineer. I cannot tell what the heck I'm doing wrong. My multimeter says I soldered a clean install. And this has happened on more than one x100b head. Weird.

I've got the schematic for this amp and I think I'm going to take one apart, maybe mod it, re-cap it, mess with it. Overall, I think it's a badass amp that, with a few tweaks, could be a major contender with aggressive rock/gain tone.
 

PremiumPlus

Member
Messages
1,150
Yeah, still in the stable are an X-60 and an X-100B head that I have reworked the tone stack in, not like the Fender makeover that I did to my BelAir, but they really are good platforms. Hasserl, I couldn't remember the Baxandall term but you're right, that's exactly what it is. I wasn't sure what the different components of that style tone stack did, and modded the BelAir with the Baxandall stack, toying with different values, and it still didn't sound like I thought it should so I ended up changing the whole architecture. I know what different values will do in a Fender style but I didn't need to change anything from stock Fender values. Worked out great and I want to do the same thing to the X-100B head BUT it's a lot more involved with that board.

RyanPitch, I don't have the schematic handy but I think they use a flip flop in there to do the channel switching duties. Could be that a decoupling cap or some loose grounding causing some instability. Just a thought...
 

Axekisser

Member
Messages
1,157
I've had a Nomad for 10 years with no problems. I mainly play smaller Fenders because of volume issues but My Hasserl modded Nomad is great for outdoor gigs where the amp can breathe a bit.

The greatest improvements were NOS tubes in V1 and changing the stock speaker to a Weber Blue Dog. I think the cleans are very good and with the new speaker the dirt channel works well for me. Very vintage sounding and worth the money.
 

frankencat

Guitarded
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,045
I had a Carvin Legacy that sounded great. Really nice cleans and od channel and LOUD.
 




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