Saturday, October 21, 2017

Carvin Audio Closes It's Doors After 71 Years Of Business

Carvin Audio


On October the 11th, the owners of Carvin Audio announced that after 71 years of being in business they are closing.




LC Kiesel demonstrates
a mandolin pickup and an amplifier
Carvin guitars and amplifiers is a company started by Lowell C. Kiesel in San Diego California back in 1946. At that time Mr. Kiesel had created a stringed instrument pickup. This was at a time when the steel guitar was very popular, especially for Country and Western bands that were spring up in Southern California.



LC Kiesel playing steel
 on a Martin guitar


Kiesel was an accomplished steel guitar player.

Within a year Kiesel moved his location and began manufacturing steel guitars. By 1949 he set up a larger facility in Baldwin Park, California  This same year Lowell changed the companies name from Kiesel Guitars, to Carvin Guitars. Carvin was an amalgamation of the names of Lowell’s sons; Carson and Gavin.

'56 Carvin #1-SGB


The companies earliest guitars, and basses were very basic, but functional. They utilized necks made by Höfner, and pickups manufactured by DeArmond. In addition to their own guitars, Carvin also offered Martin guitars, Fender guitars, and Sonola accordions. They also offered a complete line of steel and pedal steel guitars.




1976 Carvin guitars
By the mid 1970’s the quality of Carvin guitars had greatly improved, and in addition to  their own line of amplifiers, they were offering professional audio equipment.

Later in the decade they expanded into recording equipment, stage lighting, and other studio equipment.


1976 Parts and Kits



Carvin offered guitar kits as early as the 1960’s. Carvin continued to manufacture their own pickups.





'54 Carvin #3664 -
2 - 12" speakers 25 watt
s
The Carvin company began building guitar amplifiers as early as the 1950’s. The appearance of their early amplifiers were similar to Fender or Gibson amplifiers. The amplifiers were every bit as good as comparable Fender amplifiers, but were sold direct to the public at half the price as Fender amps.

1957 Model #3-SGB


Carvin’s sales were always direct to the public. This was a niche that other manufactures never pursued, but it was the key to Carvin's success. Their only stores were their own retail outlets, that were not opened until 1991. These three locations were in Southern California, and include their Escondido factory.



1956 Catalog cover



Their early catalogs were crudely done as mimeographed flyers, with descriptions of the guitars and amps. They had black and white photographs of the products.





1976 Carvin Catalog



By 1976 Carvin began offering color catalogs.








1976 Carvin CM96 guitar


This same year, Carvin guitars came with all the bells and whistles, that included pickup phasing switches, coil tap, and stereo controls. Bodies were made in the USA, the necks were made in Germany by Hòfner.





Kiesel Guitars
In 2015, Carvin split into two divisions. Their new guitars were re-branded under the brand name Kiesel. Audio equipment remained under the name Carvin Audio.


1979 Carvin Audio and Amplifiers
As best as I can tell, Carvin began offering first class audio mixing consoles, and power amplifiers in 1979. Their equipment was of professional quality. Initial offerings were from 4 channels to 16 channels with 8 outputs. Carvin also manufactured stage monitors, and professional speaker systems.

Recently they added digital mixing boards, microphones, wireless systems, in-ear monitors, and power conditioners.

Carvin Endorsements


Carvin guitar amplifiers were legendary. Steve Vai was an endorser. The late Alan Holdsworth played his Carvin signature model.


Carvin Vintage Series 16/5 watt amp



Carvin Vintage series tube guitar amplifiers were comparable to better known brands, at a much lower price.






Carvin BX 1600 bass amp


Carvin bass amplifiers, sold as the BX series and as well as their cabinets were great values. These were rated from 250 watts to 2000 watts RMS.

Carvin Audio

Unfortunately Carvin equipment will no longer be available. The website is offering remaining stock, but most stock has already been sold.


2017 Kiesel FG1
Kiesel still offers gorgeous guitars and basses, as well as guitar and bass pickups, bodies, kits, necks, and parts.

Carvin guitars and amplifiers have always been under the radar when compared to Fender, Gibson, and Vox.

Those who own Carvin products swear by them.

Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications





1 comment:

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