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Are Carvin Basses Any Good?

Are Carvin Basses Any Good?

2020-10-14

Kiesel basses, formerly known as Carvin, are USA-made instruments with top-notch build quality using the most beautiful top woods and tonewoods that deliver excellent value. The styles range from bolt-on to neck-thru to multi-scale to classic P or J style bass guitars. They are highly customizable.


Kiesel’s new expanded catalog includes additional customization options, revamped electronics, and highly competitive pricing. They are high on specs and features and leave you the option to decide if you want a no-frills bass or an over-the-top spec’d out custom order.


In terms of customization, there is a plethora of options for selecting the neck/body tonewood, exotic top woods, instrument finish, fingerboard wood, fretwire, scale-length, electronics, hardware.


Kiesel/Carvin’s noteworthy bass guitars include the SB5000, PB5, JB5, B25, and Vader headless bass. All allow for an extensive level of customization, and have a 10-day “no questions asked” return policy if you aren’t satisfied with your purchase.


If you aren’t after a customized bass, on the other hand, you can choose from an equally comprehensive range of currently available models from the Zeus, Vader, JB, PB, LB, Icon, Thanos, Osiris, and Artist Signature series.


Unlike most brands, Kiesel/Carvin has chosen the special order and direct-sales business model. You won’t find their instruments in local stores, big or small. Instead, Carvin basses are made specially on request using the materials and design to be sold directly to you.


Here is a quick rundown of the greatest strengths of Kiesel/Carvin bass guitars:

Outstanding build quality for the money

Top-notch components and hardware

Fully customizable: You can choose what it looks like

Neutral Tone & Hi-fi/Modern Electronics

Neat wiring in the control cavity with copper foil shielded

Some of the top headless bass designs in the world

Let’s dig in a bit more.


Pros & cons of Carvin/Kiesel basses

Construction & quality

The consensus is that Carvin basses are highly playable instruments that are solidly built with practicable and attractive components. Being able to pick all the woods, electronics, and hardware/finish down to every minor detail is highly gratifying.


Kiesel basses are unique and have a different approach than what most musicians are used to. They offer excellent value, provided you feel comfortable with the Ibanez-like ultra-thin neck thickness – roughly 0.78” with most models sporting the standard 14-inch neck radius.


Tone & electronics

Carvin offers a hi-fidelity neutral tone. It’s a great starting point for those who seek a versatile bass tone that can be sculpted to suit your style. It helps to think of them as a blank canvas rather than a colored sound – they are good for people looking for a clean and transparent tone that is open-ended.


As you spend time exploring what the electronics can do, you will find that these basses are capable of fitting into most musical contexts. Carvin/Keisel instruments, are more chameleon basses, like high-end Ibanez that can sound neutral to some and sterile to others.


If you want your bass to have a soul – a tone coloration or “character” out of the box, you may be disappointed. That said, if you find the tone too generic, you can reap the benefits of their customization/build quality and replace the electronics to get the best of both worlds.


Value for money

Carvins are well respected in the bass world, and these basses give you the best “value for money” in the “custom” builder arena. Since the rebranding in 2008, the Kiesel/Carvin catalog has drastically expanded its offerings and improved the electronics.


That said, if you want a truly high-end boutique instrument and have the budget for it, there may be better options out there.They may not be as customizable but they do offer stellar build quality, resale value, and tonality.


Top Carvin basses to look at

The PB4/PB5 is a testament to Carvin being at the top of its game. These instruments are gorgeous, well-built and they play like a dream. You have the option of a single-coil in the bridge pickup for extended tonal range.


The alder body P-style Carvins have a volume/ tone control panel. They offer everything that a Fender P has and more. You can roll off the treble and palm mute them to get some memorable double bass (upright) tones, or you can flip to active and get some thrashing-good fat and assertive tones.


Carvin Vanquish Series – multiscale basses

The USA-made Vanquish Series includes the regular V58K and the multiscale VM49K (4-string), VM59K (5-string), and the Roy Vogt Signature 6-string. They are stage and studio ready bass guitars with all the hallmarks of a top-class boutique build.


The entire series has rock solid bolt-on necks that are lightweight (ranges from 8 to 10 lbs) with great feel and finish (tung oil). They have ash bodies with walnut/purpleheart necks.


The styling on the Vanquish series is modern and assertive with the quality of features you’d only find in a boutique build.


Overall, these basses have superior balance and the beveled contours are ideal for comfort and ergonomics. The thoughtful ergonomic design is the real highlight of this series. For example, the neck plate with ferrules on the V59K significantly increases comfort while accessing the upper frets.


The electronics are versatile enough for any genre but work particularly well for funk, fusion, and any modern style that needs a glassy, hi-fidelity sound. The single-coils are crisp and snappy and the humbuckers are warm and thick.


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