Carvin’s 60th Anniversary Celebration

For such a company with a reputation, they did a terrible job. Since i’m a San Diego native, I wanted to go to their factory and see what was happening for the 60th anniversary. Carvin has a bunch of good people under their name like Steve Vai, Tony Macalpine and Allan Holdsworth, and they were all going to be there for their anniversary. Not only that, but CAB was playing, so I wanted to be there. These are some of the most talented musicians alive, playing some of the highest quality instruments around, so I had high expectations for good reason.

I got there at 10 AM when it opened, and my friend and I took the factory tour. Very cool factory, lots of good machinery and technology for guitar building. The sad thing was that it was limited to 15 minutes per tour, and I wanted to see more. The make some awesome instruments, and it’s nice to know that your guitar is set up by a real guitarist instead of someone in a large factory in a foreign country.

We got outside, and I went into their showroom. Based on the recommendations ofguitarists and aficionados, i’ve had extremely high hopes for Carvin. So I played all of the different models; bolt ons, through necks, semihollows, Holdsworth models, amongst plenty of others. And I regret to say that based on personal opinion, not only did I find nothing special, I didn’t like any of the guitars. The holdsworth’s neck was HUGE, not to my liking, and much was the same for the rest. These were instruments built for speed and tone, yet had the comfort of a wood block. As a person who likes thin necks, Carvin is not my bag. I’d take a Jackson, a Charvel, Ibanez, or any of the others before i’d want a Carvin. They seem to tailor to the big-handed, not the small handed guys with comfort in mind. Don’t get me wrong, they look FANTASTIC, and they represent fantastic workmanship! But they don’t feel that way. Professionally set up, showroom models of their best guitars were unimpressive, at best. The reason I liked Carvin were for their beautiful carved tops, the fantastic choices of wood, and the American made quality, but when I got my hands on it, it wasn’t what I wanted. Think of it as seeing the most beautiful car you’ve ever seen, driving by you on your block every week and teasing you, only to find out that the thing drives like bread dough, and has the engine from a go kart. Sure it looks great, but it’s not something you could use.

I left the place at around 11:30 because there were only a few bad local bands playing, but I went back at 3:30 to see CAB playing. As I got there, I saw Steve Vai was signing autographs, but I wasn’t about to wait in line for 5 minutes (i’ll get to this short wait), i’d rather see CAB. I walked over to the stage, and then CAB started to play about 5 minutes later. CAB would’ve been awesome, had the sound guy not been absolutely dismal. There were no more than 100-200 at the entire place, yet they had sound worthy of an outdoor festival. Not only that, but the guy behind the soundboard didn’t think to turn down the rest of the band a little when someone was soloing, he would turn the soloist up, and that was it. So basically, the one person soloing would be turned up, and the rest would be the same, in turn making the entire place louder, instead of keeping it even. Even worse, when 2 people were soloing, they were too loud, and they clashed like neon green parachute pants and a black sport coat. When Tony Macalpine was dueling with Patrice Rushen, you couldn’t really tell what was going on due to the overwhelming sound. Carvin makes lots of sound gear, you think they could find a decent sound guy. Spectacular to see the drum mics die out right when Virgil Donati goes into his monster solo…

The only highlight of it all was having Steve Vai jump onstage with CAB, but it was ruined by the horrible sound guy who was too far away to understand what the crowd was hearing. That’s why all venue’s put the sound guy in the middle so they can get an even feel of what everyone’s hearing, not put them 100 feet from a tiny stage.

As I was leaving and LIT was playing (Yes…Lit) to a crowd of 40 people compared to CAB’s 100, I saw Steve Vai sitting there alone at a table, but felt no desire to meet him. I’m fine not meeting my idols. He was sitting with Tony Macalpine and Bunny Brunel for their signings, but for some reason I don’t really find joy in getting autographs.

Carvin should’ve gone all out for this. There were some of the best musicians alive at this place, and only 200 people were there at most. They took out a full page ad in Bass Player, and put in on their website, but made no real effort to inform the city about it. It was completely free, and Steve Vai alone could’ve drawn 500 people, but he was sitting there signing autographs to a crowd of 30 people. But it’s too late now, the whole thing was terrible. I expected a whole lot, and got a whole lot of nothing.

My apologies Carvin. Your potential is outweighed by your utter disregard for those of the people who went to your event which was a major milestone. And for that, you will not receive my business. Keep sending me those catalogs though, free guitar pornography is just fine.


Filed under 60th Anniversary, Bunny Brunel, CAB, Carvin, guitar, guitar rant, music, Steve Vai, Tony Macalpine

5 Responses to Carvin’s 60th Anniversary Celebration

  1. “free guitar pornography is just fine.” Now that’s a statement! You guys meet Steve Vai like you meet your neighbors so cool. 🙂

  2. mario sangermano

    This comment is for the disgruntled guy who thinks carvin did a terrible
    job on their 60th aniversary. I have used carvin Basses for over 15yrs
    and played many of their guitars and the look, feel, craftsmanship, beauty,
    playability, and sound BLOWS AWAY all those other brands you mentioned.
    Sounds like because you were not treated better than you deserve your
    feelings got a little hurt. To say Ibanez, and Jackson are better quality
    is absured. They don’t come close in any way nor do any of those brands
    give you the wide range of options Carvin does. Well as the saying goes,
    ”you can’t please everyone”, and some people refuse to be pleased
    no matter what anyone does for them. You need a reality check.
    By the way I have small hands also and their necks are great for people
    with small hands. The Bass necks on a 5 string are like playing a 4 string,
    the guitar necks except for the Holdsworth model are also fit for small
    hands. What, are your hands the size of a 5 year old? I wish I would have
    seen this post when it was written, but I just saw it now( 2008).

  3. mario sangermano

    My last question on the the Carvin 60th disgruntled guy is, why dog
    the company just because what they offer is not your cup of tea?
    You really did a lot of reaching to try to make Carvin look bad,
    but the good thing is that those of us who use Carvin on a regular
    basis and know what good quality feels like and great tone sounds
    like, we forgive you for being clueless.

  4. You should have known carvin has no idea how to build a guitar.They stink!

  5. A little late

    I was working in the factory during the anniversary I myself found many problems with the show and with the tours. im glad to hear that you appreciate the talent that goes into such beautiful instrument but I gotta say the event had been handed down to one of the youngest sons who will one day run Carvin into the ground so its no surprise to me that the newer designs and the show bombed. if you didnt notice that the sons passion is for racing cars and not guitars which is why I felt your car analogy was quite ironic. the carvin racing car was there and even the day before the youngest blew out the engine in the drag car in the back lot so they rolled it to display the night prior knowing full well there was no where else for it to go. Carvin is now buying more parts from other countries and taking more jobs away from san diego just to save a few bucks to spend on bigger names so as long as we have lit then we will have to play shit

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