The Sweet Sound of Home: Carvin’s Contribution to U.S. Made Gear loves all things Carvin.  In other news today, the sun rose in the east.

Really, declaring our affinity for the California-based guitar, amp and pro sound manufacturers is something that regular readers have heard time and time again.

But as we’ve



 you for some time now, Carvin has always delivered the goods when it came to premium, custom shop quality products at prices that won’t put you on saltines and tap water for four months.

In this article, we wanted to pull ourselves away (as hard as it is) from the world of Carvin Guitars and take a look at Carvin Amplifier’s amplifier offerings.  The Carvin Amplifier name can easily take it’s place alongside other legendary U.S. amplifier makers.  First of all, they’ve been doing it since 1946…almost 70 years!  Of course, just because someone has been doing something a long time doesn’t mean they are worthy of entrance into the hall of fame of anything, but looking at what Carvin Amplifiers has done during that stretch of time will easily close the case.


carvinlegacyConsider the Legacy 3, Carvin’s collaboration with pioneering guitar virtuoso Steve Vai.  Three footswitchable channels plus a boost and assignable reverb in a compact, all-tube, microhead format built in the U.S., designed in conjunction with a player lauded for his musical sense of tone.



Carvin-V3MAlong the same sort of lines, Carvin offers the famous V3M model; a shrunken version of Carvin’s full-size tonal monster, the V3.  For many players, either of these amps could be the be-all-end-all, providing just about every tone and level gain you might ever need for anything from bedroom to studio gigs to live performance.



v3pss__10520_zoomOf course, sometimes nothing but a full size head will do, and few heads look as good enthroned upon a couple of 4X12s as Carvin’s V3 head.  Yet another avatar of Carvin’s thoughtful design process, the three channels are highly tweak able and customizable, giving you serious control over how the amp is configured.  The V3 also features two “Smart Loops.”  These loops can be assigned to individual channels, with the setting saved by the amp until you change it again.

Carvin also offers a strong selection of vintage-flavored designs, with expertly integrated modern features that keep the old school vibe alive.  These aren’t just modern designs with some tweed slapped on the cabinet to make them “vintage.”  Built upon a classic-sounding EL84 power section, the Vintage, Nomad, and Bel-Air lines deliver the woody, organic, mid-centered tones that classic tweed amps are famous for.  And by the way, if you want be heretical and not dress one of those amps in proper tweed, Carvin can accommodate you (this author’s protests notwithstanding).

200811_carvinx100_2Continuing on with our vintage theme, we now look at a Carvin amplifier that made a huge splash in the ’80s and ’90s: the X100B.  Every maker has that one amp that is thought of as the timeless classic, sort of the “elder statesman” of the line.  In this writer’s opinion, the X100B is it.  And now Carvin offers this legendary amp in reissue form.  A two channel amp heralded for it’s bulletproof road worthiness and ability to generate both classic tones and new sounds, Carvin’s reissue features a power section bias switch to accommodate 5881, 6L6, or EL34 power tubes, a four button footswitch, assignable 5-band graphic EQ, and a cabinet-voiced XLR balanced out.

And since every amp head needs a matching cab, Carvin can hook you up with a variety of cabinet configurations to complete your rig.

While overseas manufacturing has offered musicians an unprecedented amount of gear to choose from without breaking their budgets, U.S.-made gear still has major cachet worldwide.  More than simply being a U.S. manufacturer, Carvin has a distinct identity: workhorse amps, built for pros and joes alike, that offer amazing tone, versatility, and value.  A custom shop for the people.  You dream it, Carvin will build it.

Carvin not only moves with the times, and even sets the pace for them in certain respects (notice how many manufacturers have foregone the distributor model and started selling direct? Carvin was doing that in the ’50s!), but they’ve never compromised on the pillars that make them one of the top gear producers around.  And that is yet another reason why we here at love Carvin.


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