Carvin DC400T

Discussion in 'Guitar Reviews' started by Edika, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Location:
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    Features
    Starting with the specs of this guitar:

    Body wood: Alder wings
    Top: 5A flamed maple
    Neck wood: Maple
    Colour: Antique brown stain
    Fretboard: Ebony
    Fretboard radius: 14'
    Scale length: 25'
    Pickups: Carvin C22B and C22N classic combo and Carvin piezzo (one jack)
    Tuners: Sperzel locking
    Bridge: Wilkinson VS50
    Frets: 24 medium jumbo nickel-silver
    Controls: Passive volume and tone (upper two controls). Passive volume is push pull and in push position activates circuit. Active high and low frequencies pots (lower two). Three way toggle switch, two coils split switches and one phase reverse switch.

    As you can see the features Carvin provides for the price (or for higher prices) are a lot. The only complain I have is the Wilkinson VS50 bridge that is rather unreliable. I mean if you're going to offer specs why not offer the significantly better and that much more expensive VS100?

    Sound
    This guitar has a lot of sonic possibilities. The controls can let you create a wide arrange of sounds. The pickups themselves are Alnico V's with moderate output. They don't bring out the brutes but are quite articulate and you can do a lot of genres with them. For a bit of extra output one can engage the active circuit which then turn them into higher output pups with a bit more sparkle. The only drawback is the added amount of noise the piezzo system creates.
    What is more impressive in this guitar is the clean sound you can make with it. The coil splits are convincing and the reverse phase switch with some effects can create some interesting sounds. For a well rounded player that is interested in a variety of sounds there are a lot to be had. I would say it would be an ideal guitar for any player except a purely metal player. For metal a few spec changes would be in order (different pups, fixed bridge or OFR, maybe jumbo frets, no active circuitry).
    A lot of people don't like the Carvin pups. My verdict, after having a bit more experience with other pups, is that the C22 set can't do the more extreme metal genres too well but can perform rather well in most other genres.

    Action, Fit and Finish
    When I bought this guitar it was from a music store in my home town and it was setup perfectly. I couldn't find any imperfections and it was (and still is) stunning to look at. The action was very low and the neck profile was a bit more rounded than what I was used to. A fast neck but it took me a bit of time to get used to. This was my first expensive guitar and I was very impressed with it. Aesthetically and sonically it was above everything in it's price range from the guitars I could find. Frets were perfect and playability was and is very good. The neck heel is very comfy and upper fret access is very easy. The 25' scale makes the frets a bit small after the 17th fret and that's the only downside.

    Reliability
    I have this guitar for 6 years now. I haven't been playing it all these years, as for a couple of years it was stored at my parents house. There are some issues I have noticed and it mostly has to do with the metallic parts of the guitar. The frets are oxidizing rather quickly and become completely white. I have seen that other parts have oxidized, like the support for the toggle switch as well as the studs. They have greenish taint. The saddles where my palm rests have lost their plating quite early on. The electronics have become a bit more noisy besides the copper tape insulation inside the cavity. The strange thing is that the guitar has spend it's life mostly in the case when this happened with the silica gel pack inside. So either the Carvin case sucks and lets some moister in or the metallic parts are really bad quality. The most strange thing are the frets since I haven't seen this kind of oxidation in any other guitar I have/ had, even a Carvin DC747.
    I really don't like the Wilkinson bridge and I am thinking of upgrading to VS100. The Wilkinson trems are dive only, but can be set to floating since there is a bit of leeway. You can do vibrato and a few tricks, even the flutter effect. However with stretched strings any dive will bring the strings out of tune. Either the Sperzels don't work as they should or the Wilkinson isn't returning to pitch.

    The only reason why I put reliability to 4 is because I am not sure if the case is responsible for some of the oxidation of the metallic parts or if they are actually bad quality. It' not that the metallic parts have rusted out it's just this green taint and blurring that's occured. The DC747 I had didn't have these kind of issues so I don't know what to make of this. The guitar is well built and has been stable wood wise, no frets popping out or sticking out, not drastic trussrod adjustments.

    Customer Support
    I didn't need it for this guitar but I the DC747 I bought came with a few issues as it was used. The customer support reply was very good for that guitar but I'll mention it when I review that guitar.

    Overall Rating

    As I mentioned it was my first expensive guitar and I was very satisfied with the purchase. I think the honey moon period lasted a lot longer than any other guitar I have. However after so many years and having played other guitars I have identified some issues that I covered above. I still give it a 4 since it is one of the best guitars I have owned but if there wasn't the issue with oxidation and blurring of the metallic parts. The only thing that is of average quality is the Wilkinson trem. This is an easy and not so expensive change. I am not a big fan of the chrome hardware (even to it's advantage it's matte chrome) so maybe a change to black will give it a better look. Sonically it is a very versatile instrument. Depending on what you want to do you might not feel the need to change the pups. For what i want to use this guitar, it's perfect as it is.
     
  2. Carvinkook

    Carvinkook SS.org Regular

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    Welcome to the club! I've had two 80's DC200's for a decade and a half.. Best bang for buck around..
     
  3. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Thanks man, I actually have had this for 5 years now and really love it. It has a puzzling issue with the oxidation of frets and electronics and the not so great Wilkinson bridge but it's a joy to play!
     

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