Kiesel/Carvin guitars, are they worth it?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Blazer, Jan 24, 2020.

  1. Blazer

    Blazer Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I have been building on a small scale again just to have something to do and I had struck upon a concept of what would be my ultimate guitar.
    Strats.JPG
    Hard tail Strat style, with three of-on pickup selectors, Dimarzio FS-1's in the neck and middle positions and an SDS1 in the bridge. I'm currently getting all the stuff I need together to make them the way you see them here myself.

    But I also am tempted to contact a custom shop to build me a guitar based on that template but wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg to do so. Kiesel's prices are very reasonable but are they worth it?

    Kiesel/Carvin owners, could you chime in on this?
     
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  2. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Afflicted

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    I've got a mid-90s Carvin TL60T Tele-ish that I bought used in 1998. It is what I call my "Swiss Army Guitar" meaning that I can do all kinds of stuff with it. It is really a high-tech through-neck guitar hiding in the Tele form. It has 24 frets on an ebony board with a 12 inch radius and 25" scale. The fit and finish are second to none. It now lives at the studio where I work so that it is close by, in case I need it.

    [​IMG]

    Bob
     
  3. alnico357

    alnico357 Tele-Holic

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    MY avatar is my 1986 custom ordered Carvin DC-125. It will never leave my possession.
     
  4. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Has anything changed there since the '80s and '90s?
     
  5. alnico357

    alnico357 Tele-Holic

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    The big change is one of the sons of a son of the original owner has broken away to form Kiesel Guitars. In my opinion, owning only a 1984 bass and 1986 guitar, Kiesel has taken the company from making very good well made guitars at a good price to probably (no personal experience) very well made guitars at a much higher price.
     
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  6. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    My only, single experience with Carvin guitar stuff was an unfinished, fretless bass neck. It was exceptional quality. I put it on an Asian (don't remember exactly which country) Squier P-Bass body. It was so impressive, a guy kept throwing cash at me until I gave in and sold it to him.
     
  7. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Holic

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    Very limited experience, but back in the 80s I used to borrow a buddy's Carvin all the time since it was much nicer than my crappy guitar and he didn't really play much. Although geared towards the hair metal crowd, and not the punk/alternative stuff I played, it was a super nice guitar!

    With the 3 on-off switches for the pickups, are you planning to wire the pickups in series like Brian May's Red Special, or in parallel? I think it would be cool to have them in series for a Carvin style guitar although it will definitely be less stratty that way. Also with those higher output pickups it in series may be a little over the top.

    Interesting reverse angle for the bridge pickups. I've seen it before but never played a guitar that has it. Is the idea to get a snappier tone from the low E-A strings? Genuinely asking out of curiosity.

    Good luck with your project -- looks like a cool build!
     
  8. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    Since the 1980s I have never heard anything bad about Carvin. There aren't too many companies I can say this about, least of all Gibson and Fender.
     
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  9. Treadplatedual

    Treadplatedual Tele-Holic

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    I've bought and sold about 5 kiesels now. They are amazing instruments, and some days I regret selling.

    But I sold them so I could get into building, and wouldn't look back.

    That said, the fit and finish is excellent, and you can't come close to the pricing from any other custom shop. You will probably want to replace the pickups - that's the only thing I'd change about what they do.

    Here's the last one I let go:

    s6.png
     
  10. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Tele-Meister

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    Did a Carvin Bolt kit in mid '00. Its excellent, perfect fit. Strat pickguard fit perfectly. I liked the AP11 pups in the neck and middle. Where to brighy for the bridge though. Replaced pors and switch eventually with cts. The neck plate and position of the neck srews and body holes is not standard fender.
     
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  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    I would say go for it with Kiesel.
    You are getting MIA direct from the factory. No distributor markup. No retailer markup. All the money is going to the product and the factory and builders on the floor.

    However, you can also do a build inexpensive too...

    Used MIM Strat. $10 Tort ebay reverse Hendrix angle pickguard on a MIM Strat. Decked bridge (though sometimes I block with wood).
    This is wired with an Armstrong Blender (SSS blends to HSH) but otherwise stock MIM pickups and control parts.
    Additional aluminum cavity shielding, shielded cable to the jack, I would have liked a maple fingerboard but challenging to find in the used guitar market.

    [​IMG]

    .
     
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  12. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    All I know is I wish I would have ordered one when they were still just carvin. custom shop appointments at a regular price
    I used to get the catalogs and would look at them for hours
    Keisel is probably just as good just doesn’t seem as much of an established classic brand to me
     
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  13. vintagelove

    vintagelove Tele-Meister

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    They make incredible playing guitars.
     
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  14. Blazer

    Blazer Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Well a few months ago I saw THIS picture of an RS Custom guitars number Strat-style.
    cool_740x.JPG
    And that one inspired me to start building my own take on that.

    Meet "the Reverso"
    DSC02211.JPG I guess the name and the Jimi Hendrix inspired paintjob says enough on what I was going for. Although I'm not going to keep that particular neck on it, and already started work on a proper neck with a reverse headstock.

    I found a couple of specs on the Reverso were really hitting the sweet spot for me, the reverse bridge pickup being one as it takes away the ice pick of a normal start bridge pickup. The three of-off switches also give me so much more versatility.

    But although a flipped over strat body looks cool, I can't get used to the strange balance it had, it makes for a neck heavy instrument. And being actually able to reach the highest frets also isn't something to be taken for granted.

    So with this project I'll go back to a right handed body but with the pickup set up and switching system of the Reverso.
     
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  15. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I have a Carvin LB-50 bass I bought new in 1983. I sold my P-bass back-up because I never needed it. The Carvin has traveled the world with me. It is family.
     
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  16. alnico357

    alnico357 Tele-Holic

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    I read posts saying Carvin pickups are not good. I emphatically disagree. Their M22V neck humbucker is my all time favorite pickup. My M22SD bridge PU does cleans very well. I play clean probably 60% of the time. The M22SD will OD very well, as it should, being a super distortion PU. I am not changing them after 33 years of use.
     
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  17. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I’ve had several of their pieces. Very good quality. The newer Kiesel branded stuff I’ve played has been EXTREMELY high quality.

    Be aware- they are not a *true* custom shop unless you wanna spend a whole lot of money. Things like custom pickup routs, custom electronics, etc they will do, but they’ll charge an arm and a leg.

    Anything not listed directly on their options list will do two things-

    1. jack up the price quite a bit.
    2. Make the guitar automatically non-returnable.

    Some custom options won’t cost extra. For example, I don’t think they charge anything if you want to supply your own pickups and not use theirs.

    From a quality standpoint I’d not hesitate to purchase another. I’ve been eyeing some of their headless stuff for quite a while now. Might have to order one this year...
     
  18. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Their various options are interesting, but I have NEVER heard anyone rave about Kiesel/Carvin guitars. In fact , I've never seen one in the flesh. They strike me as the Kustom guitars built in the late 60's 70's. As a $300-500 option they might have some interest.
    Add to that that Carvin essentially abandoned their amp, PA buyers that were problematic (before closing the doors) and I can't support them in any way.
     
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  19. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    They are no longer a single company. If you wanna be mad at Carvin for “abandoning” people then do it. But don’t take it out on Kiesel. The two companies are not affiliated. The family members couldn’t hash out how to handle doing business together any longer, so Jeff took the guitar business and continued independently from Carvin as the Kiesel guitar company.

    Other guy kept the PA and amp, etc business and continued as Carvin. Kiesel has nothing to do with whatever Carvin has become.

    I for one will rave about the build quality of Kiesel products. I haven’t owned one yet, but I’ve played several, and have owned several Carvins. The Carvins were great guitars, but Jeff stepped up the quality in pretty much every respect when he broke off and became Kiesel. There are definitely some Kiesel instruments in my future.

    Their quality surpasses just about everything else made in the US. I’d buy a Kiesel in flat second before I’d buy a new US made Fender. They just aren’t comparable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
  20. trahx

    trahx Tele-Meister

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    My lefty 88/89 Carvin DC-135 is worth every penny and then some. Awesome guitar!
    20191118_Carvin  01.jpg
     
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