I looked at PRS (too expensive, very limited options, and access to the upper frets is limited due to that chunk of wood at the joint), the Carvin AE185 (did not seem as durable), Baker (way out of my price range) and a few other custom guitar makers that would have charged me over $ 5,000 for similar but limited options. My only gripe about Carvin guitars is the location of the pickup selector switch. It is just right of where my strum ends and live I sometimes hit it accidently to the bridge PU (I use the neck PU 75% so it can be a problem). With this being the only thing I would change I say that's a pretty good record.
I used this in the studio both direct and amp miked and the sound was incredible. Due to time pressure I didn't really utilize the stereo output (and single acoustic only output). The panning between piezzo and pickups has a lot to offer but I have yet to explore all the sound possibilities in this gtr. Like I said no noise from the active electronics or pick-ups and a clean jazzy sound that would rival my hollow bodies. I even recorded what sounds like a mandolin using the upper octave frets (amazing what 24 frets can get you) as a skeleton recording but the sound engineer suggested that I keep it because we could hear so little difference between the mandolin and the Carvin!
Recommendation: Go to the website and just order one...but do your homework first. Ask for your guitar to be set up with 10's or higher. There are some options that are available that don't appear to be available on the "build your own guitar" webpage. Ask lots of questions. Most of the sales reps @ Carvin are really generous with their time and effort. Great personal customer service in this age of automated service. You deserve to have a guitar that you can truely call your own. For a look at mine check out thetomboys.com under lead guitarist. I think we also may have some sound bites on there as well.
Model Year: 2001
Price: $1000.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Carvin Custom Shop
As everyone has mentioned before this is a beautiful instrument made in the USA and well worth every penny. Mine is absolutely gorgeous with a caramel (natural) quilted 1/2 inch maple top (many companies use a thin vaneer), double cutaway, rounded sides (highly recommend due to comfort) mahogany back and neck which are also natural and really compliment the lighter maple quilt, the back of the 24 fret ebony neck is tung oiled (I wish all my necks had this option), and I opted for the reverse headstock for easy access to the locking Sperzel tuners without changing my hand position, the active electronics (phase, coil splitters), the Allen Holdsworth H/H pickups and the new Fishman acoustic string thru body bridge...sweet! (Basically this is a DC400 without the abalone blocks...I really like the look of just the dots on this sleek ebony neck, not to mention it ended up must cheaper purchasing it this way). Carvin also practically gives away the cool tweed hardshell case so I couldn't refuse @ 55.00 and of course the installed strap locks are cheaper than purchasing them @ retail.
If you play a Carvin neck (24 frets by the way) once, you will be hooked...I have small hands compared to guys so this thin neck suits me fine...I actually feel like I play better. My Gibsons have a fatter neck and although I love their tone their neck is not as fast. The frets could have been smoothed out a bit on the ends but they're not cutting my hands up or anything...my Gibsons and Fender are 20 + years so maybe their frets were sharp at one time.
I use several amps Carvin: vintage 50 w tube Nomad; Fender: twins, bassman, performer hybrid; Roland: jazz chorus (selling some of these by the way...too many and this old lady is getting too old to lug anything over 40 lbs) Anyway, at first the guitar sounded a bit too bright for my taste (got the tele sound down immediately). Once I got the treble tone under control this sound was workable (I am very picky about tone spoiled by my old hollow body Gibsons and Fender strat). I must say though I bought this guitar for the stage to avoid changing guitars and for this purpose it does everything! Like I said I can get a tele, strat, LP, Gretsch, acoustic and CARVIN sound with just a twist of a knob or switch. No other guitar for this money can do this and with such grace and beauty! PS The Holdsworth Pick-ups are very quiet but HOT!
I would not want to drop this baby because of the beauty of the finish however I think the solid mahogany could withstand a clunk or two without damange. I was worried about the tung oiled neck but I've put a capo (gasp) on it several times and left no marks. Like I said for 5 bucks Carvin will install the strap locks for you. It is a solid body so I imagine it will hold up well even with this east coast weather. LIVE PLAYING, that's where this guitar shines...it is rare as well as beautiful so it's a real eye catcher on stage. As I mentioned I purchased this to use as my main ax to avoid having to switch guitars all night. Stay in tune? You bet even after an evening of bending the h@#% out of the strings.
Here's the deal: if you have three grand laying around and you want to go and get yourself a Les Paul or PRS, go for it. But for those of us with more normal budgets, $900 goes a long way with Carvin. Even so, I would compare the quality and sound of my Carvin to any LP or PRS, plus it is far more verasatile. Other comparable guitars I considered before going for the DC 127 were the Peavey Wolfgang and the Fender US Fat Strat with the Floyd trem. To me, Carvin offered the best quality and price...and you get to pick all of your own features! Of course I didn't know it at the time, but it also blows these other guitars away in playability and tone. How could it be better? Well, if it made coffee that would be cool, but for my needs I can't ask for anything more. My favorite feature of this guitar is the neck and the way it plays. Plus, it looks great with the white finish and gold hardware. My least favorite is the straplocks. They look kinda cheesy, the part that snaps on I mean. I just don't use them. If it were lost or stolen, I would punch something several times, and then take the insurance money and buy another one just like it. One more thing: Don't let buying direct put you off to buying a great guitar. The most you have to lose is the cost of shipping the thing back if you don't like it.
Model Year: 2001
Price: $0.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Carvin direct
Made in USA, San Diego I believe. Super strat style body, mahogany neck and body, neck through, Floyd Rose original trem, 24 frets, maple fingerboard, 2 humbuckers (M22SD bridge, C22 neck), tone and volume knobs, 2 coil splitter switches, phase switch, straplocks, Sperzel locking tuners, classic white gloss finish, gold hardware. BTW, a newly delivered Carvin SMELLS so great! It makes the whole room smell woody.
The action on this guitar is great for my playing needs. The neck is very fast. I love the maple fretboard. I have played a lot of guitars that just didn't feel right, but this one fits like a glove. It's great! Too bad more people around the country can't try these things out when they are guitar shopping. I have a feeling Carvin would quickly be outselling most other companies.
My main amp is a Peavey 5150 with matching cab. I run a Zoom RFX 1000 Digital reverb unit through the effects loop. Both pickups sound great. The M22SD is more "metal" and higher output, while the C22 is more mellow. There are a wide variety of tones available with the coil splitters and phase switch. Even though I generally play heavier music, I think this guitar is capable of any style. For heavy distortion, I use the M22SD with both coils on. It sounds very thick and dark, but with great harmonics. I have another guitar with high output DiMarzios that doesn't sound as heavy as the M22SD. For clean and some leads, the C22 sounds great, in dual or single coil mode. It is really the best of both worlds. The amount of sustain is unbelieveable, I guess due to the neck through contruction and the pickup quality. I think this is a great guitar for stage or studio, but if you bring it to the studio it will likely be the only one you need.
I really hope I never have to find out how durable this guitar is. It just looks so terrific. I know the Floyd can take a pounding, and I'm sure the mahogany body is very sturdy. But I'd rather not find out how well it survives a bounce off of a cement floor. I see no reason why it wouldn't be reliable for everyday gigging. As far as adjustment and climate, it endured a week long ride in a UPS truck in the middle of the summer and arrived perfectly intonated and in tune, except for one string which was slightly flat.
I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I ordered this monster, but I knew if it didn't play well, I would have a really nice piece of art to hang on the wall. After playing on Strats, Les Pauls, Ibanezes, and tons of other top namebrand stuff (not to mention shelling out well over a grand for them) I have found that this is the most exceptional guitar in all situations. Most company's bids for custom guitars start at $1500. After shipping and a $120 case, this guitar still cost me under $900, and it's the best guitar I've ever played! I've gotten nothing but compliments by everyone who has played it, and I myself have never played a guitar for so long! This is the best sounding, most comfortably playing, high quality, low-priced instrument the world has ever seen! If you haven't checked out a Carvin, you owe it to yourself to do so...I guarantee you will be blown away by every single aspect of their amazing instruments!
Model Year: 2001
Price: $889.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Carvin
The Carvin DC127C is an excellent U.S. made guitar. Because the guitar is ordered straight from the factory, this allows you to select just about every option imaginable for the type of guitar you want at an extremely low price. I had the entire guitar made out of maple, because I prefer it's bright sound and durability, however you can choose from many other materials, including exotic woods. The basic setup has one volume and one tone knob (this can be changed if you opt for active electronics) and also has a useful and unique feature, which is a coil splitter for each humbucker.
The configuration is two humbuckers, though a similar model with one humbucker and two single coil pickups is available for the same price. The pickups are "stock," however Carvin lets you choose between all of the pickups they manufacture, so you get the sound you want. My guitar has an M22V at the neck and a M22SD at the bridge. These pickups work great for modern rock sounds as well as classic rock, jazz, country...anything you throw at it, this baby can handle with superb quality.
The finish is a gloss finish over natural maple. I really dig this finish because you can't tell if you scratch it very easily and it looks killer! It has a standard strat shaped body but is reaer routed for a nicer appearance and better sustain and has extra deep cutaways that let you play with ease all the way up to the 24th fret. My guitar is equipped with a Floyd Rose Tremelo, which sits comfortably parallel to the body (did I mention they set up the guitar at the factory for maximum playability). The guitar has no locking nut, instead it has a graphite nute and Sperzel locking tuners. Even without the locking nut I can do pushups all day long on the whammy bar and the guitar won't drop out of tune.
The DC127C has the most comfortable playing neck out of every single other guitar I have ever touched. The action is set perfectly so that you can play up and down all six strings on all 24 frest endlessly with an unmatched ease.
The guitar's overall sound quality is amazing. The coil splitter and three way pickup selector (and a tone knob that actually works!) give you a whole new array of sounds to fiddle with. I've played every style of music on theis thing from punk to polka and it hasn't let me down for a split second. I've used it on every amp in the POD unit as well as on a variety of Marshall and Crate amplifiers. The guitar has a bright tone with excellent midrange, though the tone knob can transform it into the deep mahogony sound of a Gibson. The guitar has no buzzes or pot or jack noises, even when I play it a foot away from my computer (which drives all of my other guitars crazy). Which brings me to the last point...this guitar performs beautifully in both studio and live situations (I've gotten many compliments in both situations).
Carvin's DC127C is very reliable in a touring/live situation. I've played it in amny situations that have seriously tested it's limitations, and it has come away unscaved every time. So far I haven't had to make any adjustments to any part of the guitar...it still plays like new! The climate does not affect this guitar nearly as much as other guitars that I have played...even the strings stay in tune in extreme situations!