Carvin Bolt With Fixed Bridge Reviews 4

$677.99 including shipping and HSC. I purchased my guitar new from Carvin on their web site. I had been looking for a single coil for quite a long time. I had nearly decided on an American made Fender Stat when I started looking harder at Carvin. A buddy plays a Carvin bass and I also receive their catalog. I've really never heard anything bad about Carvin instruments, so I thought I should look harder before I made a purchase. After plenty of study and online research, it appeared that with the Carvin Bolt I could get everything I was looking for in a Fender Strat -- and more. I was able to get several upgrades, yet it still cost me less than a standard American made Strat. For example, on the Bolt I got Sperzel locking tuners (very nice); swamp ash body (versus standard alder); pearloid pick guard, greenburst finish with matching painted headstock (exceedingly cool); ebony fingerboard; and 7-way pickup switching (which includes the normal 5-way, plus the mini-switch for an always-on bridge pickup). This similar package from Fender would have put me in the 'duluxe' catagory, which would have run me $1100-1200, but I still couldn't have received some of the features (like the 7-way switching). And it wouldn't have been as personally customized as I got with Carvin. This instrument is truly "my" guitar -- "my" color and "my" features. There are probably very few out there like it.

There are numerous features that I like about this guitar, starting with the things previously mentioned. Namely, I received so much for the money. It is a terrific VALUE for a guitar with a base price of $615 (before shipping and case). THE SOUND -- I am impressed with AP11 single coil pickups. This is my first single coil, but I own (and have played) numerous guitars with humbuckers. The 7-way switching allows for a variety of sounds. I'm not a pickup expert by any means, but I like these. They're not noisy, and they're responsive. THE PLAYABILITY -- The Carvin Bolt is a very smooth playing instrument. I have had it for over a month now, and at first it took some time to get used to. I've been playing an Epiphone Les Paul and a Hamer semi-hollowbody. Both of these other guitars have a thicker, painted neck. The Carvin has a very smooth, tung oiled neck. It is also thinner than my other guitars. I love the smooth feel, but the thinner profile took some getting used to. I found that I have to apply a little different leverage when playing barre chords because the way my thumb fits on the neck. No big deal, especially after getting used to it...but it was different that what I am used to. The action was high when I received it, but after tinkering with it, I got it to where it is comfortably low with no buzzing. The nice action combined with the Elixer Nanoweb strings (these babies are awesome -- I'm converted!) make this a very nice playing and sounding guitar. QUALITY: I'll say more about this in a later section, but all the extra features, along with the fine workmanship make this a beautiful, well constructed guitar.

There really isn't anything particular about this instrument that I don't like. It is a great looking, playing, and sounding guitar at a nice price. In spite of all that (which practically sounds too good to be true), there is one thing about the Carvin experience that was/is a frustration -- their Customer Service. Before ordering online, I called to ask some questions about the guitar. I was on hold for 20 minutes before I got to a live body. Once I got to him, he was a dud. He gave me the basic info I needed, but he didn't give me a compelling reason to buy a Carvin guitar. I had planned to call my order in, but after that experience, I decided to order online. Once I finally ordered, the email communication was weak from Carvin. I couldn't get the online UPS tracking mechanism to work, so I emailed Customer Service from the web site. It took two days for them to get back to me. Once I finally received the guitar, I emailed the Customer Service guy to help with adjusting the action (I now had a name!), but it still took 2 days for him to answer me back! Carvin guarantees 1/16 inch action when it leaves their factory, but I have a hard time believing it with my guitar. I was at least twice that when I received it. Maybe the neck can move that much when shipping, but it was a little frustrating to pull it out of the case and have it so high. It would have been nicer to have better response time from Customer Service. My big beef about all this is simply that for a company that is primarily factory direct, you would think that Customer Service would be EVERYTHING to these folks. Apparently not so. In fact, when I filled out my warranty registration online, I shared my disappointment with their Customer Service. A month later, and I haven't heard anything from them. Seems odd to me, especially if they really care about customers and their reputation. Interestingly enough, just about every online review I've read about Carvin mentions that they have crummy customer service. That's a shame. In that sense, if you're looking for that hands on, love-ya-in-the-morning Customer Care...you might want to stick with a Fender Strat from your local guitar shop. You'll pay more, but you're likely to get excellent service.

The quality and construction are very, very nice. Excellent finish work with paint; the matching painted headstock is super cool. The neck joins the body superbly. All hardware was snug and tight. I've played it hard now for a month, and I'm satisfied. This is obviously where Carvin is paying attention.

Although the whole 'Carvin Experience' could have been much better, I am very happy with "my" guitar. For me, it all comes down to the bang for my buck. I own a number of guitars in several price categories, but with this one, the features, the sound, the playability, the looks, and the quality make the Carvin Bolt a very smart purchase. I'm confident that I will enjoy this guitar for many years.

timszy rated this unit 4 on 2004-02-23.

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