Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

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Omsong
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Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby Omsong » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:47 am

So what do you think of the Carvin Vintage Amps and how they compare price and performance wise with the other tube amps that are out there? Are they a boutique quality amp at an assembly line price? Are there any other American made amps less than 1 grand available (not used)? (I know Peavey's used to be American made, but I think a lot of their amps are now made in Asia.)
Ichi on Jobutsu (Enlightenment in one tone.)

Kiesel
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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby hallwayminstrel » Thu Jun 15, 2017 12:59 pm

The Carvins are great. They aren't hand-wired, they use PCB's, but that's how they can keep costs low and also have lots of knobs on a small chassis, like say the V3M.

As far as vintage goes, I love mine. My favorite Carvin is the V3M because I like three channels and the light weight. It depends on what you need. If you don't need high-gain channels, get a VT16 or if you just need one high-gain, the VT50.

If you need more than 16 watts, then VT50 or V3M. (Or their combo versions.)

Anyway, the website for that is here: http://www.carvinforum.com
2011 V3M412 - GT12's
2012 SH550CE - S22's
2012 VT16 Vintage 16 Head
2013 Bolt V - S60A's
2013 212E 2x12 Vintage Cab - GT12's
2013 Son's Bolt Kit - S60A's
2016 VT50 Vintage 50 Head
2016 TLB60 - AP11's
2016 1983 Used X60B - 6L6's
2016 Used VT16 Combo - Spring Reverb
2017 MB15 Bass Amp

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby spudmunkey » Thu Jun 15, 2017 1:18 pm

hallwayminstrel wrote:If you don't need high-gain channels, get a VT16.


I literally missed that one by like a week before it was discontinued. :(

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby hallwayminstrel » Thu Jun 15, 2017 1:36 pm

spudmunkey wrote:
hallwayminstrel wrote:If you don't need high-gain channels, get a VT16.


I literally missed that one by like a week before it was discontinued. :(


Oh, yeah, I forgot, they only offer the combo version of the VT16 anymore. :x

Anyway, I bought Elf's old spring-reverb VT16 combo and it's pretty cool. I've gigged it for a high-school production of Grease. It was perfect for that music.

I like the sound of the head/cab version better, there's more bass that way.
2011 V3M412 - GT12's
2012 SH550CE - S22's
2012 VT16 Vintage 16 Head
2013 Bolt V - S60A's
2013 212E 2x12 Vintage Cab - GT12's
2013 Son's Bolt Kit - S60A's
2016 VT50 Vintage 50 Head
2016 TLB60 - AP11's
2016 1983 Used X60B - 6L6's
2016 Used VT16 Combo - Spring Reverb
2017 MB15 Bass Amp

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Omsong
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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby Omsong » Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:24 pm

That's good to hear as the designs of the Vintage series must go back at least 15 years or more because I remember seeing them in their catalogs around 2001/02. Of course some of the best sounding amps ever (aka. Fender) were built in the '60s and '70s. By that era, tube amplifier technology was pretty highly developed.

I guess some purists will only settle for hand wired circuitry, but there is nothing wrong with a well designed quality PCB. Besides, a good PCB layout can reduce and make any stray residual capacitance's predictable and therefore more controllable with component compensation.

I did a lot of point to point wiring during my career and know how labor intensive and time consuming it can be. But, there is nothing prettier in electronic construction than a neatly hand wired chassis. Oh, those were the days... :)
Ichi on Jobutsu (Enlightenment in one tone.)

Kiesel
- '17 Fatboy, Deep Lava Flame
Past tense
- '02 Fatboy; '04 CT6M; '07 Fatboy; '11 Bolt+

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby Omsong » Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:32 am

hallwayminstrel wrote:The Carvins are great. They aren't hand-wired, they use PCB's, but that's how they can keep costs low and also have lots of knobs on a small chassis, like say the V3M....
Anyway, the website for that is here: http://www.carvinforum.com



Thanks for the link to their Forum!
Ichi on Jobutsu (Enlightenment in one tone.)

Kiesel
- '17 Fatboy, Deep Lava Flame
Past tense
- '02 Fatboy; '04 CT6M; '07 Fatboy; '11 Bolt+

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby 2Plus2isChicken » Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:14 am

My VT16 is probably my favorite amp I own. It is a perfect pedal platform amplifier.
Guitars:
2x Carvin Bolt
DC145
AE185
Ibanez RG1570 and Mikro
2x Fender MIM Strat
Ovation Celebrity
PRS SE Custom 24

Amps:
V3M
Legacy 3
VT16
Quilter 101 Mini Head
Peavey JSX Head
Fender Super Champ XD
Carvin Vintage 1 x 12 cab
Carvin Legacy II 2 x 12 cab

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby spudmunkey » Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:17 am

ITT: people calling the combo "VT16", unknowingly artificially inflating internet search results for the head only version of the amp, when the combo was called "Vintage 16". :laughhard:

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby hallwayminstrel » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:17 am

spudmunkey wrote:ITT: people calling the combo "VT16", unknowingly artificially inflating internet search results for the head only version of the amp, when the combo was called "Vintage 16". :laughhard:


Yeah, I've always called it VT16 combo. Maybe if enough of the internet complains to Carvin and forces them to bring the VT16 head back, then I'm actually doing the internet a favor? :lol: :applause:
2011 V3M412 - GT12's
2012 SH550CE - S22's
2012 VT16 Vintage 16 Head
2013 Bolt V - S60A's
2013 212E 2x12 Vintage Cab - GT12's
2013 Son's Bolt Kit - S60A's
2016 VT50 Vintage 50 Head
2016 TLB60 - AP11's
2016 1983 Used X60B - 6L6's
2016 Used VT16 Combo - Spring Reverb
2017 MB15 Bass Amp

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hallwayminstrel
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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby hallwayminstrel » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:20 am

Oh, yeah, and let's not talk about searching on V3M and f1zz. So glad all those posts are gone. It kind of snowballed on itself there for a while.

My V3M's gain channels are to die for, IMO.
2011 V3M412 - GT12's
2012 SH550CE - S22's
2012 VT16 Vintage 16 Head
2013 Bolt V - S60A's
2013 212E 2x12 Vintage Cab - GT12's
2013 Son's Bolt Kit - S60A's
2016 VT50 Vintage 50 Head
2016 TLB60 - AP11's
2016 1983 Used X60B - 6L6's
2016 Used VT16 Combo - Spring Reverb
2017 MB15 Bass Amp

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2Plus2isChicken
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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby 2Plus2isChicken » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:52 am

Both the head and combo are "Vintage 16". VT16 is just what we use as an abbreviation.

Also, some say the combo is boxy sounding, but a lot of that is caused by the voicing of the amp itself. I run my Quilter through it and it has plenty of low end.
Guitars:
2x Carvin Bolt
DC145
AE185
Ibanez RG1570 and Mikro
2x Fender MIM Strat
Ovation Celebrity
PRS SE Custom 24

Amps:
V3M
Legacy 3
VT16
Quilter 101 Mini Head
Peavey JSX Head
Fender Super Champ XD
Carvin Vintage 1 x 12 cab
Carvin Legacy II 2 x 12 cab

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby Omsong » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:45 pm

There is a lot of competition in the low wattage tube head category these days so the market for them must be large. Guess more and more of us are living in high density housing (or our significant other's are getting tired of shouting at us to turn down). I would think Carvin could sell a ton of 16 watt heads these days. Considering the Vintage 16 sells for $450 a head would probably list at around $375 - $400.

In my amp search, so far, for solid state modeling I've narrowed down to the Katana 100, for a hybrid either the Super Champ 2X or Vox AV60 and for an all tube amp either the Blackstar HT40 or PRS Sonzera 20. I want an amp with terrific cleans and ample clean headroom in a 12" combo (or cab). I've heard that the Blues Jr III and new Bassbreaker break up at fairly low volumes. Now I'm thinking that I should add a Nomad to my list.

Guess this discussion should be on the Carvin (not the Kiesel) forum!
Ichi on Jobutsu (Enlightenment in one tone.)

Kiesel
- '17 Fatboy, Deep Lava Flame
Past tense
- '02 Fatboy; '04 CT6M; '07 Fatboy; '11 Bolt+

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby spudmunkey » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:04 pm

2Plus2isChicken wrote:Both the head and combo are "Vintage 16". VT16 is just what we use as an abbreviation.


Oh, I know, but VT16 is the name of a specific product. :-). Like...one shouldn't abbreviate "Mustang II" to "Mustang". :lol:

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby wickid » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:00 pm

spudmunkey wrote:
2Plus2isChicken wrote:Both the head and combo are "Vintage 16". VT16 is just what we use as an abbreviation.


Oh, I know, but VT16 is the name of a specific product. :-). Like...one shouldn't abbreviate "Mustang II" to "Mustang". :lol:


No, ... no dude, ... just, ... no ... I believe a dude can get his azz kicked for that. :mrgreen: :wink:
(Mustang II and Pinto on the other hand ... )
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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby Koshchei » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:32 am

Omsong wrote:So what do you think of the Carvin Vintage Amps and how they compare price and performance wise with the other tube amps that are out there? Are they a boutique quality amp at an assembly line price? Are there any other American made amps less than 1 grand available (not used)? (I know Peavey's used to be American made, but I think a lot of their amps are now made in Asia.)


This is a complex one and I'll try to break it down:

Price: Carvin amps are very well priced for what you get. I took my Legacy 2 to a custom amp builder recently to trouble-shoot and replace a burnt out resistor and cap in the clean circuit and here's the gist of what he said after taking things apart:

- Carvin circuits are well designed and their boards are very intelligently laid out. Nothing stood out to him as weird.
- They use high quality components in their builds and their board jumpering and alterations are very clean: "You won't find quality stuff like Mercury Magnetics transformers in Marshalls or other amps at this price point." (The LEgacy 2 has some VERY high quality iron).
- "It'll be a huge pain in the balls when it's time to replace the caps on this thing in 20 years."

Performance: Carvin amps have their own voice, so can't really be compared apples:apples to other tube amps. To my ear they fall somewhere between the dark British EL34/84 sound and scooped Fender sound. The clean channel's headroom is just epic.

Boutique quality: Carvin amps are very well made for their price-point but they are not boutique. Boutique is a totally different thing than a high-quality, reliable, and great-sounding amp; they're typically turret-mount or point-to-point wired circuitry that people pay a premium for because they're hand-made. They DO NOT perform better or worse than PCB amps, but do tend to be a lot simpler electrically (can you imagine what a PTP-wired Mesa Mark V would look like? Yikes). You can expect a boutique amp to be noisier, more temperamental, a LOT more expensive, and much easier to work on than a PCB amp when something burns out. But yeah. DIfferent axis than quality -- boutique is more about exclusivity and craftsmanship.
Last edited by Koshchei on Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby Omsong » Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:31 pm

Thanks, Koshchei for your comments.

From the Youtube reviews I've watched, the cleans are to die for - exactly what I want. The only downside with Carvin is, perhaps, that their resale value is probably less than a Fender, Vox or Marshall. But, then again, all amps (except vintage) take a beating on the used market. Anyway, resale value is not a primary factor in my selection criteria.

Interestingly, Carvin is running a hefty 20% sale for Father's Day, but a number of amps are out of stock. That seems strange for a direct marketing manufacturing company that is planning a Grand Re-Opening. I'm wondering if they are in the process of revamping their product line and clearing out old stock.
Ichi on Jobutsu (Enlightenment in one tone.)

Kiesel
- '17 Fatboy, Deep Lava Flame
Past tense
- '02 Fatboy; '04 CT6M; '07 Fatboy; '11 Bolt+

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby spudmunkey » Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:42 pm

That's been the case for at least a year... many things shown as "out of stock" online.

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby Koshchei » Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:50 pm

It just means you have to wait for them to build you one, as all the manufacturing facilities are on their premises. Not a big deal.

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby spudmunkey » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:02 pm

Koshchei wrote:It just means you have to wait for them to build you one, as all the manufacturing facilities are on their premises. Not a big deal.


Perplexity, the website won't let you order if it's not "in-stock".

They seem to manufacture in batches. :think:
Last edited by spudmunkey on Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Carvin "American Made" Vintage Amps

Postby Koshchei » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:37 pm

Oh, maybe! I haven't ordered from them since the split. Does calling still work?


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