I was visiting Southern California last week and made a special trip to the San Diego Carvin store just to try these new 7 & 8 strings out. I had my BFR JPXI 7 with me to compare. I have to say that I bonded with the Carvin 8 string more then I did with the 7. The stuff people say about the necks on the 7 is true,... it's not as skinny (flat) as the JP but not too meaty either. It's in the middle. I was also pleasantly surprised by how easy the 8 was to play though. The neck profile was actually better to me then the 7 (which is weird)
I also agree about the pickups. I am a passive PU guy all the way, and didn't care for the 7's actives, HOWEVER, the 8 string ones on the Carvin where oddly perfect for the tuning and gauge strings. I REALLY liked the sound, and yeah, it's weird...like a very hot passive pick up with some tasteful active qualities to it. It was it's own sound. I played more on the clean then I did the dirty (which was also weird) but it really had a tasty tone to it through out the range of strings. I couldn't put it down. It handled all the complex chording on the clean setting I could throw at it. You could really hear the notes very well. And the dirty didn't loose the high notes either when chording similarly. I played eleven chords and you could hear all the range of notes through out the strings from thick to thin which was impressive to me.
I, too, had to set the amp's clean and dirty in a weird way to accomodate the tone of the 8 but I didn't mind doing that at all. Once I dialed it in I was in heaven and wanted to put down cash for the 8 right away... (but restrained myself)
I used the last 2 channel Carvin Legacy in the store (the first one not the 2nd) It was a match made in heaven. The clean was beautiful and clear, and it's own tone. It was almost made for the 8 string. The dirty was great...though there are more aggressive amps out there, I thought it sounded fine with all three guitars, especially my JP.
Lastly, FLOCK helped me out for like an hour! He is by far the coolest, most refreshing "guitar store guy" on the planet. He was thoughtful, excited and informative and set up all the guitars I tried for me including his own custom Carvin 7 so I could hear the different sounds. He had Dimarzios in his Carvin and said that if you come INSIDE the store and buy your Carvin from him, he could arrange for the builders to open up the passive slots to accept standard passive pickups though they won't install other pickups for you there. (which is what he had them do for his) He also offered to select the woods personally for your guitar as well. SUPER helpful guy! Very respectful and patient and a great ear for tone. He is also a very avid fan of 7 string and 8 string guitars for styles OTHER THEN JUST METAL which was very helpful to me. We mainly focused on the guitar's clean sounds and how different woods effect the tone.
Just wanted to share that with you guys. Flock is the man! and the new 8 strings are affordable and to die for. I think Carvin nailed it with these and am anxiously awaiting the new Legacy 3 to come out.
Cheers on the new, sexy guitar